Compline – Sermon 188

13th February 2011 Off By Derek Buckthorpe

Prayer to start

May the words of my lips and the thoughts of our hearts be graciously received for the Glory and Honour of our Lord Jesus Christ



When sheep are taken to the slaughterhouse they know instinctively – that its a bad place-

They can smell or sense something -which warns them of danger –

So when the lorry carrying them stops outside – and the gangplank is let down – they will refuse to move –

A slaughterhouse owner in Cambridge – however devised a way of getting around the problem –

They keep a sheep on the premises who is used to the place – and doesn’t mind it anymore – and they take it up the plank on to the lorry –

and then when that sheep is taken down the plank again – quite happily – the other sheep – seeing one of their own leading the way – will follow –

The slaughterhouse workers call this sheep – Judas


pMain point    Betrayal

Tonight’s reading focuses on one of the principle characters and key events of Holy week. – The Betrayal of Jesus by Judas Iscariot

It’s a time of immense distress for Jesus – not only because of what He knew was to come – but because He was also grieving for His friend – who was about to throw His life away

Our reading places Judas and ‘the disciple who Jesus loved’ close to Jesus. These were two people who were at extreme opposites – when it comes to loyalty to Jesus –

They were so close that they could easily talk or whisper to one another without attracting the attention of the other disciples – or allowing them to hear what was said –

Jesus’ announcement of a betrayer disturbed the group – but – Judas – wasn’t named – instead Jesus continued to treat him as He treated the others – in the hope that he might admit his sin – and change his mind –

We should remember also that this event came after the foot washing – so Jesus would have known He was washing the feet of His betrayer as well as as His friends –

Then when ‘the disciple who Jesus loved’ – egged on by Peter – asked Jesus the question – that the others all wanted to put – Jesus gave Judas another chance to come clean –

“It is the one to whom I give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish” said Jesus

Dipping a piece of bread in the dish and passing it to someone is a sign of a special friendship – and Jesus chose this way to tell the ‘beloved disciple’ – not only who would do the deed – but what the deed would be –

It was to be a betrayal of an intimate and close trust –

Jesus gave the bread to Judas – and he accepted it – and must have realized then – that Jesus knew everything – and that the truth of his actions were laid bare –

“do quickly what you have to do” – said Jesus-

As Judas leaves – the other disciples thought – he was just running an ordinary errand – giving something to the poor –

in verse 30 as Judas leaves – John tells of the door opening into the dark night and Judas disappearing into it –

Judas’ walk in – perpetual darkness had begun – If he hadn’t known then – surely he would have realized later that the friend he was to betray was non other than God Himself – and as the other Gospels tell us – the guilt and burden would become too much to bear

There have been many attempts to explain Judas’ behaviour – jealousy towards the other disciples- bitterness that his worldly hopes had fizzled out- fear of political reprisals – even trying to get Jesus to reveal Himself – and display His powers – a bit like the third temptation in the wilderness – maybe he was just like the sheep living in the slaughterhouse – he got so conditioned to not seeing the bad side – that he was used by others to lead Jesus to the slaughter –

Its not easy to spot a Judas in a group of disciples – even Peter and ‘the disciple who Jesus loved’ – had to find out by asking Jesus directly –

In this passage John uses the Greek word for betrayal – which can also be interpreted as ‘hand over’ – or ‘give up’. Its also used when the Jewish leaders leave Jesus in the hands of Pilate – and when Pilate sends Him down to be crucified –

Throughout that night – and over the next 3 days – it will seem as if the darkness has triumphed – Judas leads the soldiers towards Jesus – and betrays Him – with a kiss – a sign of affection – Jesus was arrested – brought to trial and finally beaten and nailed to a cross to die – but on that third day – the light returned – and darkness was defeated –

As Jesus puts it – “the Son of Man is glorified –and in Him God is glorified – In the days to come Christ’s death and resurrection will become – a light that will shine brighter than anything seen before –

Jesus shows us that the only way to respond to betrayal – is to turn the shock and anger into love and compassion – He didn’t let his anger at sin turn into anger towards the sinner – but tried to help Judas turn back from the path he had chosen – before it was too late – we too must always seek the forgiveness of God – no matter how far we have strayed –

The figure of Judas serves as a reminder both of the awfulness of sin – and of God’s power to effect salvation of His people –

So in this Holy Week – As we offer ourselves to God – Lets – remember the story of Judas – and recognise that no matter how bad it gets – the shepherd will always be prepared to look after His sheep


Closing prayer


Video of Sermon 188 on You Tube