Doug Johnson: Make your race end well

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 31, 2023

One day, Jesus called His 12 disciples together and “gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease.” (Matthew 10:1)

Notice that Jesus gave ALL 12 of His disciples the power to do miracles, including Judas!

We all know that Judas was the one who betrayed Jesus—but there was a time when he was a fired up, anointed, miracle-working man of God.

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In fact, it wasn’t obvious to the disciples what Judas would do in the future.

When Jesus said: “One of you will betray me,” they all began to ask: “Lord, is it me?”

Not one of them suspected their friend, Judas! Even when he did betray Jesus, he did it with a kiss on His cheek—trying to hide it so no one would suspect him.

My point is: if we hadn’t read in the Bible the end of Judas’ story, then many of us would have a tough time imagining Judas as a betrayer because of the good deeds he did in the beginning.

I wonder what people said at his funeral?

Judas hung himself around the same time that Jesus was crucified.

And the Bible tells us that Jesus was buried for three days before resurrecting.

So, let’s pretend for a moment that Judas’ funeral was held during that 3-day period.

The disciples were all hiding in fear so everyone who knew the truth about Judas were nowhere to be found.

Let’s go back in time 2,000 years to sit in on Judas’ funeral.

It may have gone something like this:

“Dearly beloved, we’re gathered here today to pay our final respects to Judas Iscariot.

I’m Reverend Feelgood, Pastor of the First Church of the Frozen Chosen here in Jerusalem.

“When Simon asked if I would do the funeral of his son, Judas, I was at first saddened. But I am honored to be the one to lay this man of God to rest. Three and half years ago, Judas was a member of our church before he left to follow Jesus and began his own ministry.

“Over the last few years, I’ve had people come and tell me about the remarkable things Judas was doing for the kingdom of God. I remember a man came to me and said he had been an outcast, living outside the city gates, because of leprosy. He was dying a slow, painful death from that flesh-eating disease. Judas walked up to him, fearlessly laid his hand on him, prayed in Jesus’ name and he was healed. What a man of God!

“I remember a woman who told me she had been filled with demons. She kept hearing voices in her head telling her to kill herself. The day she met Judas, the voices told her to run away. But he spoke to the demons, told them to leave and she was set free!

“One day, in our church, a little girl stood and testified: ‘I used to walk with crutches because I was born with my left foot turned inward. Then I heard Judas preaching about how God can heal anybody. He looked at me and asked if I believed that God could heal me. I said ‘Yes’ and he touched my foot, prayed for God to heal me and He did! I threw my crutches down and ran all the way home!

“Now I know that many of you are upset by the way Judas died. But I want you to know that there’s no doubt in my mind that Judas loved Jesus. Why, the last time they were seen together in public was in the Garden of Gethsemane and Judas greeted Him with a kiss. The only thing I can figure is: Judas loved Jesus so much that when he heard they were going to crucify Him, he couldn’t bear the thought and he hung himself.

“So, let’s remember all the good things he did for God. Surely there’s a place in Heaven for such a man of God as this! Let us pray.”

As the closing prayer is made, Judas’ family and friends are left with a feeling of peace.

While Judas opens his eyes in eternity and finds himself engulfed in flames in the pit of Hell.

It’s not what people say about you at your funeral that matters—it’s what God says about you when you stand before Him.

Jesus said this about Judas in Matthew 26:24, “…Woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! It had been good for that man if he had not been born.”

Judas was one of Jesus’ 12 disciples, the treasurer and working miracles…yet he lost it all because he his greed convinced him to betray his Lord.

What about you? Are you closer to Jesus today than you were yesterday? We all can learn a lesson from Judas’ life: it doesn’t matter how great you start the race but how well you finish it that matters!

Rev. Doug Johnson is the senior pastor at Raven Assembly of God in Raven, Virginia.