Introduction: Welcome to Calvary Albuquerque. We pursue the God who is passionately pursuing a lost world; we do this with one another, through worship, by the Word, to the world.
Nathan Heitzig: Lord, as we come into your presence, Lord, we do so with anticipation. Lord that you would speak to us, Lord that you would speak to us in spite of us, Lord, as we open up your Word. We know that your Word is living, that it is sharper than any two-edged sword, and, Lord, that it cuts through all the chaos in our lives and it hits us at our heart. And, Lord, we want you to do that this morning. We want to hear from you in a very real and powerful way. Lord, we want to be used by you. We want you to speak to us, in Jesus' name we pray, amen.
Turn in your Bibles to Matthew, chapter 5. We're going to be---sorry, not Matthew 5, Matthew chapter 10 verse 1 through 4. We're going to be in a message I've titled "The A-Team" this morning. But before we hit our text, I want to ask you a question: Who in here wants to be used by God? Who wants to be used by God? Awesome! That was good, good participation. Give yourselves a round of applause. [applause] We all want to be used by God, but the question is: What kind of qualities does God look for in the person that he uses? What kind of people does God use? Again, we all want to be used by God. We want to see God do incredible things in our lives. We all want to be equipped and empowered by Jesus Christ, but the question is how? How can we be like the apostles?
Question for you: Were the apostles that Jesus called, were they an elite, almost superhuman group of exceptionally holy men, or were they flesh and blood just like you and me? Did they walk around with those little plate halos that we see in stained glass? And did they talk in "thees" and "thous" to one another, and "Hey, brother, I'm praying for you," and "God bless you"? And did they sing hymns while they were on their fishing boat, like, "Oh, yeah, just amazing grace"? No. I don't think they were those kind of guys. But we think about these guys and we say, "Man, they must have been the A-Team, like, they must have had it all together. News flash---they weren't. The apostles, as we read about them, were a pretty ragtag, messed up group of people. They had lot of issues and insecurities.
They were the A-Team all right, but not the A-Team that we think of. They were the "Apostle Team." Were they dedicated? Yes. Were they men who honestly wanted to please and obey God? Without question. Were they men powerfully used by God to touch their world? It goes without saying. But were they flawless, superspiritual saints who never showed human frailty and weakness? Well, it couldn't be further from the truth. You know, sometimes we think in our lives that unless we're perfect, God can't use us. We think that we've got to have it all together; when we come to church, we've got to have all our issues sorted out; we've got to have all our sin hidden deep below the surface; we've got to have an answer for every question; and that unless we are, God isn't going to use us. Even worse, we expect others to be perfect as well.
Be honest with me and I'll be honest with you: Who in here has at some point judged another person in the church because they weren't perfect or they didn't live up to your expectations? I have. Who in here has been judged by someone in the church because you weren't perfect, because you had a flaw in your life? We as believers expect those around us and ourselves to be perfect in order to be used by God. We believe that the sins and the struggles that plague our lives somehow disqualify us from spiritual use. And we say, "Man, I really want to be used by God. I really want to do great things. I really want to see God do something awesome with my life, but you don't know my past. You don't know who I am. You don't know what I struggle with. You don't know what I deal with on a daily basis."
You know what? I don't. But I know some of the people that God used in the Bible, and I think you might find yourself in good company. Abraham was a liar, and he was willing to whore out his wife just so he wouldn't get in trouble with the king. Noah was a drunk. Elijah struggled with spiritual depression, extreme depression to the point that he asked God to take his life, suicide by deity, apparently. David had sex with another man's wife after he pulled a major creeper move and spied on her taking a bath. That's not normal. That will get you arrested in our day and age. Samson sacrificed his strength and his witness for a booty call. Peter denied that he had ever met Jesus, and then he cussed out a crowd for even saying that he had. These are the great men and women who live in stained glass.
These are the people that God radically used in the Bible to change the environment around them. And so you say, "Nate, I struggle with lust." Okay, so did David. "Nate, I struggle with lying." Okay, so did Abraham. "I struggle with peer pressure." So did Samson. "I struggle with having joy and keeping my thoughts in check." So did Elijah. Understand this this morning: no matter what your past is, God can use you. Now we go even further: no matter what your past is, no matter what your struggle is, God can use your past, and God can use your struggle to transform and change the environment around you. God can use your past. God can use your struggles. God can use the things that you think are your weaknesses. The things that you think can't be used, God can use those things to change the world around you, to spread his truth.
Because what happens is you begin to be filled with his power. As you begin to submit yourself to his will for your life, you see over time that it is less of you and it is more of him, that his power takes the place of your weakness, and he will use that to help others. Your shortcomings and your mistakes, Christian, are not proof that God can't use you; they are proof that God can use you. I'll say that again, because I think it's life changing for us. Your shortcomings and your mistakes are not proof that God can't use you, they are proof that God can use you. See, there's no room in the church today for people who think that they've got it all together, for people who think that they're perfect, people who think that they've never done anything wrong, and they say, "Man, I've just got it all together. I'm the perfect person."
Because people who think they're perfect are often the cruelest and most judgmental people just like the Pharisees. See, the Pharisees thought they had it all together. They thought they had all the answers. They thought they were perfect, holy, and righteous. And that's why God chose fishermen. That's why God chose a group of people who had very apparent flaws, people who the world looked at and said, "Man, those people can't be used by God. Those people don't have a purpose and a plan. You should pick the Pharisees. Pick twelve of those guys. Those are the ones who you should use. Those are the ones who you should equip and empower." But God chose flawed, sinful people. See, those flawed and sinful people are the ones who can show the grace and love of Jesus because they themselves have experienced that same grace.
I want you to know this morning that your story is powerful. Your story is powerful. Each and every one of you has your own story about what God has done in your life, where he has brought you, what he is currently doing, what he is sharing with you, and your story is powerful. Don't underestimate your story, who you are, what you've been through. Your story, despite how difficult it might be to tell, despite how dirty it might appear, it means something. And your story can be used by God to do great things. You know, it's funny with testimonies. I don't know about you, but when I was growing up, I was really embarrassed by my testimony. And I find it works both ways. I would go on mission trips and there would be these kids who would be on mission trips and they'd share their testimony.
And they'd be like, "Yeah, when I was 11 I started doing drugs. And that's why my voice is all raspy, because I smoked so many cigarettes." And I was always like, "Man, that's gnarly. They've got a cool testimony. They did all these crazy things." And so I would literally try to embellish my testimony. I'd be like: "Yeah, you know, I really struggle with saying bad words." "Oooooh. That's edgy. You're rough. You're tough." But I would try to make my testimony seem more intense than it was, not realizing that at the same time a testimony of someone who has walked with the Lord from a young age is just as powerful as a testimony of someone who says they came out of the worst kind of lifestyle. And I find that often times we want each other's testimonies.
The kids who have really good testimonies say, "Man, I want a gnarly testimony and what God brought me out of." And the people who have gnarly testimonies say, "Man, I wish I would have grown up in a home that wasn't plagued by divorce and adultery. I wish I grew up in a home with parents who taught me the truth and told me that Jesus loved me. I wish that I grew up without addictions to chemicals. I wish that I grew up with love and that I wasn't in and out of jail." And it goes both ways. But I want you to know that your testimony, whichever one it is, is powerful. Your story means something and no one else can live your story. No one else can live your life. And no one else can trade your testimony, because your unique story can reach another person in a way that no one else can. So let's look at this A-Team.
Let's look at them warts and all this morning as we look at our text, Matthew 10 verse 1 through 4. And this morning what we're going to do is we're going to read this text, and then we're going to focus in on a few of these apostles. We're not going to hit them all, but we're going to look at a few and see some traits in their lives. Verse 1, "And when he had called his twelve disciples to him, he gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease. Now the names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, who's surname was Thaddaeus; Simon the Cananite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him."
Just a side note, we're going to hit on Judas in a second, but what a horrible way to be recorded for all of eternity. Right? "Judas, who betrayed him." Like, that's the worst name that you could ever have. That would be like if you were recorded in history and it's like, "Oh, yeah, and Jonathan who was a dirtbag." Aw, man, that's a bummer. That's a bad way to be known for the rest of your life. And we're going to see why in a little bit. And we're going to study him a little bit deeper. But in verse 2 the first name that we're going to hit is Andrew. We see Andrew. Now, immediately when we hear Andrew we think of the fact that Andrew brought his brother Peter. Hey, who in here grew up with an older sibling that always seemed to overshadow you and everything that you did. You went to school and it was always like, "Oh, you're so-and-so's brother or sister."
Did anyone grow up with an older sibling like that? Okay, a few of you. There was more in the other services, I don't know why? But maybe it's just because you guys are like, "I'm not raising my hand. No one overshadowed me. I'm my own person." I don't know. [laughter] John 1:41 we read: "The first thing that Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, 'We have found the Messiah.' And he brought him to Jesus. And Jesus looked at him and said, 'You are Simon son of John. But you will be called Cephas' (which is translated Peter)." And I feel sorry for Andrew, because I wonder if when Jesus gave Peter this cool, new nickname, if Andrew wasn't like, "What about me, Jesus? I mean, come on, I was the first one to come to you.
"Where's my cool nickname? Like, I've got a good one. Why don't you call me 'Awesome Andrew'? That's a good nickname. That can be what you call me. He can be 'the rock' and I'll be 'Awesome Andrew.' " But poor Andrew always seemed to get overshadowed by "the rock," his big brother. We also hear about Andrew when we read the story where Jesus fed the five-thousand people. You remember the story? And he posed the question to the disciples in John 6:5, he said, "When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, 'Where shall we buy bread for all of these people to eat?' He asked this only to test him." Now I want to stop for a second, because I think this story's really funny. I find humor in the Bible in weird areas.
And it always makes me laugh, because I see the disciples and Jesus were regular guys in a lot of ways. But I think a lot of times we glorify what it must have been like to be an apostle, right? We're like, "Oh, man, I wish I could be an apostle, walk the roads with Jesus. 'Hey, buddy.' Do miracles, you know, eat fish and bread that he made---all this cool stuff." We're like, "Man, I wish I could be an apostle." But I want you to think about the pressure that it was to be an apostle. You're one of twelve guys who walks around with God and one of twelve guys who God asks questions to. Think about that. And I imagine every single time Jesus asked a question, every disciple was like, "Please don't pick me. Please don't pick me. Please don't pick me. [laughter] No, no, no, no, Lord," literally, "Lord, please don't pick me."
Because inevitably it was never a normal question, was it? It was never like, "Hey, Philip, uh, what time is it?" "Oh really? That's it? Oh, it's three o'clock, Jesus. That was easy. I got that one." It was never an easy question. It was always, like, a vague question there was a wrong answer to. Like, it was always like, "Who do men say that I am? And who do you say that I am?" And it always says, "He asks this to test them." To test them? "Come on, why can't you just give me a good question?" But he always asked these questions, and I feel bad because inevitably every single disciple would get the wrong answer. And then one dude is like, "You're the Son of God." And then all the other disciples hang their head in shame: "Dang it. He always gets the right answer. I always have the wrong answer. Why can't it just be an easy question?"
I always feel bad for them when they ask that question. So I want you to imagine Philip. Jesus asked the question: "Where shall we buy bread for all of these people?" "Please don't pick me. Please don't pick me. Please don't pick me." "Philip." "Dang it! He picked me." And then he's got to answer this question. And what does he say? He says, "Eight months' wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!" Ehhnnt! "Wrong answer, Philip. Andrew, it's your turn." "Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother"---again, "Andrew, Simon Peter's brother." It's like, you don't know Andrew, "Oh, he's Peter's brother? Okay, I know that guy."---"spoke up, 'Here is a boy with five small barley leaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?' And Jesus said, 'Have the people sit down.' "
Now Andrew didn't get it fully right, but he at least gets a 'C' for effort. I imagine the reason Andrew said that is because Philip just got the answer wrong, like, really wrong. And then Jesus turns his gaze towards him and he's like, "Hey, there's a kid over there with some food. Don't look at me, look at him." Right? He's kind of pawning off the blame. But there's something in what Andrew says that is important. He had a simple but a very strong faith. And I want to point this out: what little you have is enough for God. What little you have, what little you bring, the things that you think can't really be used by God, that's enough for God. If you bring God bread crumbs, he's going to make you a banquet. Andrew's like, "Man, it's just some fish and some loaves. It's not much. I don't know what you can do with it."
But that's enough for God. God says, "I want to take those bread crumbs, I'm going to take those fish, and I'm going to make a banquet for five thousand people." God wants to use exactly what you have to do great things. And so you might say this morning, "I'm not strong enough, I'm not smart enough, I'm not holy enough, I'm not passionate enough, I'm not brave enough to serve God." You don't have to be. Come to God with exactly what you have, and God will provide the rest. The Bible doesn't say that God is scanning the earth to and fro looking for somebody who can show themselves powerful. The Bible doesn't say that. But what does the Bible say? God is scanning to and fro looking for someone who he can show himself powerful through.
Do you realize what that means? God's not looking for someone that says, "Pick me! Pick me! Pick me! I've got it all together. I've got everything you need. I know the Bible front and back. I'm a really good person. Pick me!" No. He's looking for the person who says, "Man, Lord, I'm messed up. Lord, I don't have it all together. Lord, I'm not perfect and I never will be, but I want your Holy Spirit to come into my life. I want you to empower me and I want you to use me." Are you that person? It means the less you have, the more equipped you are. Because the less you have of yourself, it means the more power of God can fill you up. So next time you say, "God, I don't have enough," remember that you are enough. You're enough just the way you are, with all your flaws, all your fears.
It's enough for God and he wants to use that to do great things. It also appears that Andrew was a very humble man. As I said before, he was primarily known as Peter's brother, and that takes some humility to be known as Peter's brother. He was never as intimate with Jesus or used by him as publicly. He was part of the inner circle, but he was never as close as Peter, James, and John. And Andrew is the model for all Christians who labor quietly where God has called them. We might not know their names as well as others, but they are known by and greatly loved by Jesus. I want you to know this: there's no shame in quietly serving in the place that God has called you to---quietly serving, faithfully doing the small things that God has placed within your life.
As a matter of fact, more Christians could benefit from this kind of service. You know, a lot of Christians only want to serve God if they can be seen doing so. But think about what has come from some people quietly doing the small things that God has called them to. Well, there would be no Paul and no worldwide spreading of the gospel if it wasn't for Ananias faithfully doing the small thing that God has called him to do by inviting Saul, a pretty scary guy, into his house and discipling him. Now, did Ananias ever get the opportunity to travel the world? to spread the gospel? to start churches? No. But he got a chance to disciple the man who did. And God used the small thing that Ananias did to do big things in the world.
There would be no Samuel, there would be no revival in Israel if it wasn't for Eli faithfully serving in the temple and training up Samuel in the way that he should go. Does anyone know a name Albert McMakin? Anyone ever heard that name? I'm surprised if you do. Albert McMakin was a friend of Billy Graham. When Billy Graham was a young man working on a farm, Albert McMakin worked on the farm with him. And one day Albert McMakin invited Billy Graham to a big tent revival, and Billy didn't want to go. He didn't want to go to some evangelistic event. And Albert McMakin really pushed him, he said, "Come on, just go with me. It's not that bad. It's just one night, just come." Finally, Billy accepted and Billy went with his friend Albert McMakin to the big tent revival.
And it was at that big tent revival that Billy Graham gave his life to Jesus Christ and went on to become the man who has preached to more people than anyone in history. Now, did Albert know when he invited Billy that God gave him a special message? "Hey, Albert, that guy Billy, he's going to become the greatest evangelist ever---invite him to church." No. He didn't get a special revelation. He was just faithful to the small thing that God had called him to do by inviting a friend to church. And God used that small thing to do big things. If you are simply faithful to the small things that God calls you to do, you will be amazed at the big things he uses you to do. I'll say it again. If you are simply faithful to the small things that God calls you to do, you will be amazed by the big things he uses you to do.
A lot of times we get it opposite. We say, "Man, I've got these big plans, these big things for my life. I'm going to be a missionary. I'm gonna spread the gospel. I'm going to do to every continent." And while we're thinking those things, we're ignoring the small things. We're ignoring the person next to us who needs to hear the gospel. We're ignoring our family and friends who need to be shown the same love that we want to show others. If you're not faithful to the small things, God's not going to give you the big things. But if you're faithful to the small things, God will do big things with you. Next we see James and John. James and John, what's a nice way to talk about James and John? They were colorful. They were a colorful bunch. They were passionate. That's a nice way to categorize James and John. They were really passionate.
They were known as the "Sons of Thunder," and for good reason. These were two guys you didn't want to get on the bad side of. These guys were probably like the fictional idea that we have of, like, a roided-out monster truck driver that you don't want to get too close to because he'll back up over you. He was always looking for a fight. I mean, the very name "Sons of Thunder" sounds like a WWF tag team, doesn't it? Like, "Here's Thunder and here's Lightning." "I'm just gonna get you, brother." I mean, they just sound intense. On one occasion there were some Samaritans who weren't very hospitable toward Jesus, and the Sons of Thunder decided it would be a good idea to kill them all. And they said, "Hey, Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven and consume them?"
"Really? No. I don't want you to do that James and John. That's a bad decision. That is not a good way to get people into heaven. That's a good way to consume them and get them to hell." Bad idea. That would be like you and your friends walking on Central and somebody gives you a dirty look across the street. And your buddy says, "Hey, do you want me to go take that guy in the alley and stab him?" No. I don't want you to do that. He just looked at me funny. You don't have to stab the guy for looking at me funny." They were a little bit harsh at times. They were also a bit ambitious and insensitive. Another story that I find really funny in the Bible is in Mark 10:33, when Jesus said to the disciples, "We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and the teachers of the law."
"They will condemn him to death and hand him over to the Gentiles, who will mock him and spit on him, flog him and kill him." Whoa! If Jesus said that to you, what would your response be? "Can I pray for you? Is there anything I can do?" I mean, at that moment that's a heavy thing to hear. But after Jesus just told them he would be mocked, whipped, and killed, James and John say, "Hey, Jesus, can you do something for us?" "Well, sure, James and John, what do you want me to do?" "Hey, when you get mocked, whipped, and killed, when all that stuff happens, and you die and you go to heaven, can we sit at your right and left hand, because we really want to do that?" [laughter] Are you serious? Could you be more insensitive to what Jesus just said?
It'd be like your best friend coming to you and saying, "Man, I just went to the doctor. It's a rough week. I found out that I'm going to die in a week." And you were to say, "Really? Can I have your house and car when that happens?" "Seriously? Could you be more insensitive? Why don't you take my wife while you're at it?" Then in the garden when asked to stay awake with him, they all fell asleep. So you see, these men who live in stained glass, these disciples of Jesus could be calloused, selfish, prideful, insensitive, and unforgiving. In short, they were just like you and me. They were one of the pack. But Jesus didn't leave them the way they were. Jesus wasn't satisfied with keeping them how they came. John, earlier known for his harshness and ambition, became known for his great emphasis on love.
He was a very perceptive disciple. He would lean on Jesus' breast so as to not miss a single word. When he came to the empty tomb, he left believing. And Jesus doesn't leave us the way he finds us. So maybe you're here today and you say, I've got all these flaws, I've got all these fears, I've got all these reasons why Jesus can't use me." As I've already said, those reasons that God can't use you are the reasons that he can use you. But once he starts using you, he's not going to keep you the way you are. He's going equip you. He's going to prepare you for a great work that he has within your life. Verse 3 we see our next apostle Philip. Now Philip's a guy we don't know too much about. The Bible doesn't talk about him a whole a lot. But one thing we do know about Philip is that he was smart. He was an educated man.
We know that he read the Scriptures. We're told in the Bible that Philip said, "We have found him of whom Moses in the law and prophets wrote---Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph." So it indicates this he studied the Scriptures. He read the Bible, he read the Word, and he came to his own conclusions that Jesus was the Messiah based on the books and the teachings that he had read. So, he was a smart man. He was well educated. But that education had had a downfall within his life. When it came to his tests by Jesus that we just read about, what was his response? "Philip answered, 'Eight months' wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite.' " Now there's nothing wrong with that answer. As a matter of fact, it's a very logical answer. It's a very true answer.
They didn't have enough money. They didn't have enough resources to get everyone food. That was the logical answer. That was an educational answer based on the circumstances that they were in. But it would appear that Philip failed the test because he was too caught up with his own understanding and abilities. See, our expertise can get in the way of our faith. Our knowledge and our education can get in the way of what God wants to do. Imagine for a second if you didn't know that gravity existed. If you had no knowledge of gravity and I asked you to take at a step of faith and jump off a roof. And I told you that if you do, you could fly. Well, it'd be pretty easy, right, because you would have no knowledge of gravity?
But the second you have any knowledge of gravity, the second you have the capacity that when you jump off a building you splat at the end, when I ask you to jump off and fly, you say, "No way, Nate. I can't fly. I'm going to fall." You're knowledge, your education gets in the way of your faith. The same thing happens in our lives. God calls us to do something great, something supernatural, something out of the box, and we say, "God, you can't do that." And we have a very logical response, we say, "That's not possible. It can't be done. There's not enough resources. There's not enough money. There's no way that you can do that." And God says, "Stop looking with the eyes of logic, and start looking with the eyes of faith." That's not to say that the two are incompatible.
I think a lot could do for a little bit more. I think some people could do with a little more knowledge, and some could do with a little more faith. But Philip simply didn't see the possibilities. He was responsible, he was honest, but at times he lacked in faith. And that leads us our final apostle as we close, and that is, Judas. I say Judas because that's the way we say it, right? Judas without a doubt is one of the most mysterious and paradoxical characters in the Bible. His very name is with synonymous with evil and treachery. If someone says you're being a Judas, it's not a good thing. It is not a compliment to say you're a Judas. As a matter of fact, Judas is, like, on the top of the list of things you shouldn't name your kids. It's right up there with Darth Vader and Hitler. Those are bad child names, just a heads up for any soon-to-be parents.
Judas was the "traitor's traitor," one whose life ended miserably in suicide, because he sold out the Savior for silver. But there's more to Judas than that. I want you to picture in your mind Judas, just conjure it up. Maybe he's hunched over, pale skin, sunken cheeks, and he growls when we walks. [growling] I don't know. That wasn't Judas. Judas wasn't hiding in the corners as Jesus and the disciples performed miracles, like shaking his head, scowling, whenever a crippled boy walks by, he trips him. [laughter] No, no. That wasn't Judas. That's not who Judas was. That's an inaccurate picture of Judas Iscariot. If you were to have met him, he wouldn't be this sinister, evil man that you would suspect. In fact, you might be surprised to know that he would be upright, very considerate, very religious.
It's amazing to consider that Judas was one of the original twelve. Think about it. Judas walked around with Jesus and disciples. He heard the great teachings of Jesus: the Sermon on the Mount, the story of the prodigal son---ding-ding-ding. Come on, lightbulb, Judas. Prodigal son, that's you! He heard with his own ears Jesus say, "Not everyone that says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven." What was he doing, playing Tetris when Jesus said that? Like, "Man, I needed one of the long, skinny blocks, not the short, fat, square one---ugh!" "Wait, what was that, Jesus?" "Oh, never mind." He heard Jesus talk about hypocrisy. He heard Jesus talk about the tares and the wheat. He personally saw miracles: five-thousand fed, the blind receiving sight, Jesus calming a storm.
And he had countless opportunities to believe. But the same wax---the same sun that softens the wax, hardens the clay. And just like Pharaoh before him, Judas got harder. The more he saw, the more he heard, the harder he became. But Judas wasn't simply exposed to Jesus' words and miracles, it would also appear that Judas followed the words of Jesus, that he was a good man. It would appear that he was a good person. He was considerate. He was caring for the poor. Upon see woman washing Jesus' feet with her tears and anointing him with oil, Judas---in a very religious tone, I'm sure---said, "This should have been sold, money for the poor." And I'm sure all the disciples were like, "Oh, man, that Judas, I wish I was more like Judas. I wish that I was more holy and more righteous.
"He's a good example. Man, Jesus should just take him on, like, a solo trip, just him and Judas, buddies, because he's a good guy." Not knowing that the Bible said, "He didn't care for the poor, he did this because he was a thief, and he had his hand in the bag." No one else knew that. But this greed ultimately destroyed him when he sold out his Savior and his soul for thirty pieces of silver. But Judas wasn't always outright evil, it was a process. And I want to point out that Jesus extended the same love and forgiveness to Judas that he did to the other eleven. In the upper room greeted Judas with a kiss, and then he washed his feet. It wasn't like he washed James, John, Peter---Judas, nope, not washing yours---Bartholomew, Thomas. No. He showed the same love for Judas that he did for everyone else.
He loved Judas. And prior to identifying him as the betrayer, says "He was troubled in spirit." And said, "One of you will betray me." The Bible says that the Lord takes "no delight in the death of the wicked." "One of you will betray me." The disciples were perplexed by this. "Who was it? Who's going to betray you?" I want to point out they were actually confused and perplexed. No apostle had any idea that Judas was the one who was going to betray Jesus. He was so cunning that no one suspected him. It's not like one of the disciples, like Peter was, like, "Hey, Jesus, you have a second? Hey, is it Judas, because he's got shifty eyes? And I meant to tell you, the other day I saw him smoking cigarettes behind the temple. And I thought it was weird. I meant to say something. But is he the one who's going to betray you?"
No. There were no outward signs of deception, no outward signs of betrayal. As a matter of fact, in their eyes James and John were probably better candidates. "Yeah, those guys are loose cannons." He was so cunning that he had fooled everyone but Jesus. And John, leaning on Jesus' breast said, "Lord, who is it?" And Jesus didn't whisper in John's ear, "John, it's Judas, and after this go beat him up for me." No. He didn't stand up and say, "Hey, Judas, buddy boy, should you tell him or should I?" No. He didn't humiliate Judas. He simply told John that "It is he to whom I shall give a piece of bread when I have dipped it." Judas has sinned repeatedly against the light. He had entertained Satan's enticements and temptation. Even in the garden of Gethsemane when Judas was coming to betray the Lord, "Jesus said to him, 'Friend, why have you come?' "
He failed to see Jesus was offering him one last chance to repent. Now we could look at the story and see at the end of the story that Judas hung himself. And I'm sure James and John were like, "Serves him right, that traitor. If he wouldn't have done it, we would have." But I want to point out that wasn't the heart of Jesus. I'm sure it broke the heart of Jesus knowing that Judas, whom he had so loved, whom he had so desired to turn back to him, had died, presumably gone to hell. It wasn't in the heart of Jesus to see Judas die. It wasn't in the heart of Jesus to see Judas turn away. Jesus showed him love to the very end and he'll do the same for you. Maybe you're here today and you're a Judas. Strong words. What I mean by that, maybe you've got everyone fooled.
Maybe you have every single outward sign of a strong commitment to Jesus Christ, everyone looks at you and says, "Man, that person is a good person. They know the Bible. They have the right answers. They're so caring. They're so loving." But maybe you're just a really good faker and every now and then you see a glimpse of who you really are, and it causes you to shudder, or maybe it doesn't. You know, I wonder if Judas ever felt convicted, as he was hearing the words of Christ, there was ever a time where he was like, "Man, I gotta get my life right. I'll rededicate my life and then a week later I'll go back to my old ways." I wonder if Judas was a lot like people in the church today who hear the message and they say, "Man, I need to make that decision. I need to give my life to Jesus Christ, but what's my friend going to think?"
"What are James and John going to think? What's Peter going to think?" Judas never made a personal commitment. Despite what everyone else thought, what everyone else around him thought about him, he never made a personal commitment to follow Jesus Christ. And we see from all of this that initial appearances can be deceiving. See, the disciples' failures were outward, they were noticeable, but Judas' issues were in his heart. I wonder if the disciples ragged each other, like, whenever they got on a boat, they were like, "Hey, Peter, don't forget your floaties in case you sink." Or maybe when they're on the road and a horse and cart cut them off, they're like, "Hey, James and John, should we call down fire from heaven?" But they never ragged Judas, right? Because Judas didn't have any outward signs of sin.
He was a good guy, because his issues were in the heart. Christian, be transparent with your sin. Be like James and John and Peter. Let your dirty laundry be aired out every now and then. Go to your brothers and sisters in Christ and say, "Hey, I'm struggling with this. Will you pray for me?" Because it's better to have your sin outward, atoned for, washed by the blood of the Lamb, than hidden in your heart, rotting away at your soul. That will lead to an ultimate end like Judas. Question: What if Jesus had submitted this resume of these ragtag group of people to a modern management company? Well, the result might read something like this: "Thank you for submitting the resumes of the twelve men that you have for management positions in your new organization. All of them have now taken our battery of tests."
"And we have not only run the results through our computer, but also arranged personal interviews for each of them with our psychologists and vocational-aptitude consultant. It is the staff opinion that most of your nominees are lacking in background, education, and vocational aptitude for the type of enterprise that you are undertaking. They do not have the team concept. We would recommend that you continue your search to find better candidates. Simon Peter is emotionally unstable and given to fits of temper. He seems far too impulsive to be in a position of oversight. Andrew has absolutely no qualities of leadership. The two brothers James and John, the sons of Zebedee, place personal interest above company loyalty, and they also seem to be quite impatient with others."
"Due to this impatience and ambition, they could one day become disgruntled employees. Thomas demonstrates a questioning attitude that would tend to undermine morale. And we feel that it is our duty to tell you that Matthew has been blacklisted by the Greater Jerusalem Better Business Bureau because of his tax collecting practices. One of the candidates, however, shows great potential. He's a man of ability and resourcefulness, ambitious and responsible"---can you guess who?---"we recommend Judas Iscariot as your controller and right-hand man. Yours sincerely." See, God doesn't see us for what we are on the outside; God sees for what we can become.
So, perhaps you're a skeptic like Thomas, or impulsive and impetuous like Peter, or quiet and soft-spoken like Andrew, or short-tempered and quick to draw conclusions like James and John. Know this---God can change you and in turn God can use you to change the world. It doesn't matter who you are today, or what situation your sin has gotten you in, God can and God wants to use you if you'll let him. This reminds me of a man named Jonah. A man who wanted to be used by God, but a man who messed up. And he probably thought he had blown it so badly, sinned so horribly, there was no hope for him as he sat in the belly of a whale. And maybe that's how you feel right now. You say, "God won't listen to my prayer. I want to be used by God, but he won't listen to me."
Know this---the devil will always be there to whisper in your ear, "God can't use you. You think God will listen to you? You've committed the unpardonable sin." Listen, the only sin that God can't forgive is the sin you're unwilling to confess, like Judas. Satan will always try to keep you from the cross, but the Holy Spirit will always draw you to it. Though Jonah had forsaken God, God has not forsaken Jonah. Jonah remembered from where he had fallen. And you might not be in a whale's belly today, but you're in a difficult situation that you brought upon yourself: maybe you're addicted to drugs, maybe you're pregnant, maybe your marriage is falling apart, maybe you've lost your friends, you're lacking true happiness. I want you to know you can call out to God right now. You can be forgiven, and you can be used by God.
Let's pray. Lord, we thank you so much for your Word, for the truth that is in it. And, Lord, we want to be used by you. And we thank you for passages like this that show us we can be used by you, no matter where we're at in life. And so, Lord, I pray for people tonight who need that encouragement, people today who need to know that they can be used by you despite their past. Lord, I pray that you would equip them. I pray that you would prepare them. And, Lord, I pray for anyone in here today, Lord, who is like Judas, hiding their sin, keeping it inward, not confessing it. Lord, they've got everyone fooled, they've got everyone tricked, except for you. Lord, they need to come to you.
As we're praying right now, as your eyes are closed and your heads are bowed, if you're here today and you're willing to admit, "You know what? I am a sinner. I have messed up. And I don't have a real relationship with Jesus Christ." Maybe I've been pretending for a long time, or maybe I'm here for my first time, and I've never had the opportunity to accept Jesus Christ, but you want to today. If you want to accept Jesus Christ today, you want to be forgiven of your sin, and you want to know that when you die, you're going to go to heaven, and you can be used by God, I want you to just raise your hand up right now. Say, "Nate, pray for me." Amen, in the middle, over to my right, a couple of you to my right---several of you. Anyone else?---over to my left. Raise those hands up. If God is calling you right now---in the back, to my left; over here in the middle.
Lots of hands. Lord, I thank you for these people who have raised their hands acknowledging they need you. And, Lord, I believe there's many more who haven't raised their hands yet. Maybe they're embarrassed, but, Lord, I pray that you would speak to them right now, in Jesus' name we pray, amen. Hey, will you stand with me. As we close in a chorus of this song, I'm going to ask that if you raised your hand up, you'd come down from wherever you're sitting, and you come down to the front and you say a prayer to accept Jesus Christ. And I want to say this quickly, because I think it's important. A lot of times we say, "Man, I don't mind raising my hand in a room full of people who aren't looking, but you want me to actually take a step and you want me to be seen by people?"
I do, and here's why: Judas was never seen confronting his sin. He always hid it. And if you can't stand up for Jesus Christ in a room full of people that love him, how are you going to do it in the world that hates him? So right now is the opportunity for you to submit your faith, for you to take a step towards Christ. So, if you raised your hand, you come right now. We'll wait for you. Come right now. I'm going to lead you in a prayer. [worship music plays] Maybe you're on the edge of your seat right now, maybe you know you need to make this decision and accept Jesus Christ, but something's holding you back. You say, "What are my friends going to think?" Let me tell you something: your friend can't get you to heaven. Only Jesus can do that. So you don't worry about what your friend thinks, you worry about what Jesus Christ thinks.
Right now is your moment to get your life right with him. So if you need Jesus Christ, don't wait till tomorrow. You don't know if you'll have tomorrow. You don't know if you'll die in a car accident today. But you have right now, and so you use right now to get your life right with Jesus Christ, and you know when you leave this place that if you die, you're going to go to heaven. We're going to sing this through one more time. You come now. [worship music plays] Amen. We'll wait for you. Amen. There's always room at the cross for one more. And so there's more coming. You come, there's always room. It's never too late to come to Jesus Christ. Maybe you do everything in life late. You're late to work. You're late to any engagement you have. Don't be late today. Come now before it's too late. Come to Jesus Christ.
Anyone else before we lead these group of people in prayer? Amen. Amen. [applause] Praise the Lord. Praise the Lord. Well, I'm going to lead those of you who have come forward right now in a prayer to accept Jesus Christ. And this is a simple prayer. It's something you say from your heart. You say it to Jesus. You mean it from your heart. So I want you to say these words out loud after me: Lord, I know that I'm a sinner. I know that I've done many things that have hurt you, but, Lord, I believe that you died for those things and I believe that you rose from the dead. So, Lord, I ask you to come into my life, forgive me of my sin. I turn from my old life and I turn to you. Fill me with your Holy Spirit and help me to live for you, in Jesus' name I pray, amen. Amen. Let's give them a round of applause. [applause]
Closing: What binds us together is devotion to worshiping our heavenly Father, dedication to studying his Word, and determination to proclaim our eternal hope in Jesus Christ.
For more teachings from Calvary Albuquerque and Skip Heitzig visit calvaryabq.org.