2018-01-21 – Acts 1:12-26 – A Lost Disciple

2018-01-21 – Acts 1.12-26 – A Lost Disciple

12 Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a sabbath day’s journey away. 13 When they had entered the city, they went to the room upstairs where they were staying, Peter, and John, and James, and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. 14 All these were constantly devoting themselves to prayer, together with certain women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, as well as his brothers.

15 In those days Peter stood up among the believers (together the crowd numbered about one hundred twenty persons) and said, 16 “Friends, the scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit through David foretold concerning Judas, who became a guide for those who arrested Jesus— 17 for he was numbered among us and was allotted his share in this ministry.” 18 (Now this man acquired a field with the reward of his wickedness; and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out. 19 This became known to all the residents of Jerusalem, so that the field was called in their language Hakeldama, that is, Field of Blood.) 20 “For it is written in the book of Psalms,

‘Let his homestead become desolate, and let there be no one to live in it’; and ‘Let another take his position of overseer.’ 21 So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these must become a witness with us to his resurrection.” 23 So they proposed two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also known as Justus, and Matthias. 24 Then they prayed and said, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which one of these two you have chosen 25 to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” 26 And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias; and he was added to the eleven apostles.

Good morning everyone. It is so nice to be able to spend some time with you all in fellowship with the Lord. Thank you and God bless you for being with us today.

We are going through a new series on the book of Acts in the New Testament. Last week we introduced this book of Acts, which was written by Doctor Luke, who also wrote first the Gospel book of Luke.

Like I suggested last week, Luke’s purposes for writing these books was to document and get evidence for a historical account of Jesus’ life, the starting of His churches, and the mission of the first Christians. In these books, Dr. Luke interviewed and lived with eye-witnesses so we could know our church history, and so our faith in Jesus could be validated.

Last week we transitioned from the last verses of Luke to the first verses of Acts.  If you care to catch-up you can always go to our website and read or listen to the message. I will suggest that you can also share any of these messages with your loved ones if you think it would be beneficial to them and their Christian walk.

We left off where Jesus told them to wait for the Holy Spirit and then go out into the world to make Disciples of all nations. That is what is known as The Great Commission for them and to us as well; Jesus wants us to share the good news gospel message to the world. After He gave that message He ascended into the clouds right before their eyes. I would bet that was just amazing to witness.
And that takes us to today’s passages for this sermon entitled A Lost Disciple.

Please turn in your Bibles to Acts 1:12, pg 118 in the Inspired, Infallible and Living Word of God, and let us start with prayer.

I heard a story about a cruise ship that was traveling the high seas when a storm broke out, and unfortunately a young girl fell overboard. While everyone was watching and to their amazement the oldest man on the ship jumped overboard and swam out to the girl and held on to her until they could pull them both out. After they dried out, the captain held a special dinner in recognition for the old man that saved the girls life. After the captain spoke, he asked the man to come forward and offered for him to speak. The old man slowly walked up to the microphone and said, “thank you, but I only have one question to ask: who pushed me?” Things aren’t always what they seem. Today we are going to talk about Judas Iscariot, A Lost Disciple. Somebody that really wasn’t who he appeared to be.   The name Judas = Son of waist. Don’t name your son Judas.

Our story starts here in verse 12:

12 Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a sabbath day’s journey away. 13 When they had entered the city, they went to the room upstairs where they were staying, Peter, and John, and James, and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. 14 All these were constantly devoting themselves to prayer, together with certain women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, as well as his brothers.

A couple of points in the text here: first Luke wrote that they traveled “a sabbath day’s journey”. Understanding they were Jews and were not allowed to work on the sabbath day, a sabbath day’s journey is only about a half mile, otherwise it would have been considered work and therefore a sin to travel more than that.

Next Luke said they went to the “room upstairs”, or other versions refer to it as the “upper room” is probably also where they had the “Last Supper” with Jesus, and also where Jesus first appeared to them after He rose from the grave.
This “upper room” was also their sanctuary. You must remember as we read this book of Acts, the Christians were referred as radicals, and they needed a safe place to hold meetings and rest. At this point there was about 120 members of their group, and although Jesus told them to wait before striking out “to make Disciples of all nations”, they continued to meet and pray with each other, as we all should be doing as well.

The names mentioned here are the remaining Apostle Disciples, and we will learn about many of them as we proceed through this book. Notice also there were “certain women” with them along with Jesus’s mother Mary. Although we wouldn’t think twice about women meeting with men today, in their culture, this was completely forbidden and still is practiced in many Asian and eastern countries today. Jesus has always recognized women and He was frequently harassed and ridiculed for doing so. In God’s economy, men and women are equal and don’t let anyone ever tell you differently. Now there are different roles within the church and within the family, but everyone is equal. God loves us all the same. In our text here, Luke kind of alludes that these people mentioned were the leadership group of that early church.

Mary and Jesus’s brothers were now also part of the inner-circle church leadership. But that didn’t happen until later in Jesus’s 3 ½ year ministry. Recall in Matthew 12 it says as Jesus was ministering, someone said, “look Jesus here comes your mother and your brothers”, and Jesus responded “Who is My mother, and who are My brothers?” Pointing to His disciples, He said, “Here are My mother and My brothers. For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.”
So there was some obvious separation at first during His ministry. But then right before Jesus died on the cross He appointed John to watch over his Mother. One might presume, at that point Jesus’s half-brothers hadn’t believed yet, otherwise Jesus might have given care of his Mother to one of them. But apparently after His crucifixion, resurrection and ascension, through those experiences, the brothers chose to believe and therefore were restored to fellowship and now part of this inner circle.

15 In those days Peter stood up among the believers (together the crowd numbered about one hundred twenty persons) and said, 16 “Friends, the scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit through David foretold concerning Judas, who became a guide for those who arrested Jesus— 17 for he was numbered among us and was allotted his share in this ministry.” 18 (Now this man acquired a field with the reward of his wickedness; and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out. 19 This became known to all the residents of Jerusalem, so that the field was called in their language Hakeldama, that is, Field of Blood.) 20 “For it is written in the book of Psalms, ‘Let his homestead become desolate, and let there be no one to live in it’;
and ‘Let another take his position of overseer.’

So here we have three groups of people listed by Dr. Luke. Peter and the Disciple-Apostles, the Believers, and the Crowd, and together they numbered about 120. Disciples, Believers and The Crowd. The types of people that were together that day were the same as the people we have in churches today.
We have Disciples, Believers and The Crowd. Disciples are those that love God’s word, those that carry-out the Great Commission. They put their belief to task and they are part of the mission. Disciples are also believers but they live for Christ. I would suggest that one out of ten believers will become a true Disciple.

Believers are those that have accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. All the people that day, including “the crowd” knew Jesus existed, they saw Him in person. Likewise, most all the world today believes Jesus was real. Even our secular history books tell of Jesus. That doesn’t mean that they accept Him as the Son of God and their personal Savior. True Believers take that extra leap of faith. They ask Jesus to come into their lives and to forgive them of their sins. Although I would argue that we should all endeavor to become a true Disciple for Jesus, however I also know that we are all on our own paths, and God loves all His children, wherever they are in their spiritual growth path. I hope that is clear

Notice in this gaggle of Disciples, Believers and The Crowd, the Apostle Peter boldly stood up it says. This is the same Peter who before was afraid of even being seen with Jesus. Peter denied knowing Jesus three times just as Jesus warned him in advance that he would do. Afterwards Jesus told Peter that he was to lead the church. Peter already failed Jesus once and he knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jesus was the savior messiah, and he wasn’t going to let Jesus down again. Peter is now taking charge and he calls out this issue of Judas.

Now Judas was the Apostle that turned Jesus over to the Jewish police to be arrested, beaten, judged and crucified. Judas betrayed Jesus. Many of you might not know that it was God’s plan all along. As our verses reveal here, what Judas did was prophesized many years before Jesus (or Judas) was even born. Jesus even said before being betrayed that He knew it was going to happen.

In John 6:64 Jesus said to the Apostles But there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.)
Then in verse 70 it says, Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the twelve? And yet one of you is a devil.” He spoke of Judas the son of Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the twelve, was going to betray him.

It is sad to know that one of the people that spent better than three years with the Jesus would betray him like that. It is also sad to know that even though Judas may have felt guilty and took his own life as a result, that he would be destined for hell for all of eternity. Look, although I will acknowledge that only God knows the ultimate fate of everyone, it seems apparent that God counted Judas as guilty. So much so that even the place that Judas took his own life is considered cursed. None of us want to see our friends and loved ones go to Hell. It certainly isn’t a pleasant thought, but it does happen. And Jesus doesn’t want anyone to suffer for all eternity either, that is why God sent Him in the first place, and that is why Jesus gave us that great commission. That is how much God cares for us. Again, the title for this message is A Lost Disciple, that is Judas. And at this point in our text, Peter and the Apostles decided to replace Judas with another qualified person. In verse 21 Peter gives the qualifications:

21 So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these must become a witness with us to his resurrection.”  23 So they proposed two, Joseph called Barsabbas who was also known as Justus, and Matthias. 24 Then they prayed and said, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which one of these two you have chosen 25 to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” 26 And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias; and he was added to the eleven apostles.

First notice in verse 25 Peter said “Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” You might recall the story Jesus told about Lazarus and the Rich Man. Lazarus was in a dark place, he was thirsty, he was alone. That is just some of the dread of what Hell is like according to the Bible. People that go there will be “in their own place”. Lonely, in pain, and such a travesty. God doesn’t want anyone to suffer that horrible fate, and that is why He sent His one and only Son Jesus.

As you probably know, Peter and the other Apostles were chosen directly by Jesus. Later Paul, as we will read about in the coming weeks, was also chosen by Jesus. Shortly after Jesus had ascended into heaven, he then appeared to Saul/Paul and chose him to be an Apostle. So Paul too was chosen directly by Jesus in person. But now the task of replacing Judas was before them. According to Peter here in our text, the qualifications for the one that would replace Judas would also be someone that was a Disciple that witnessed from the beginning of Jesus’s ministry and until He ascended into heaven. That was the criteria, and two were considered qualified, Barsabbas and Matthias. After they audited the qualifications of the position, they prayed for God’s will to be accomplished, then they cast lots for the final decision, and it was Matthias who got the job. You might find it funny that they cast lots for such an important decision. And If it were just that, I would agree with you, but in this case it was only the last step in the process. God’s will was all over this process. Casting lots is like flipping a coin, and is mentioned 70 times in the Old Testament and seven times in the New Testament. Remember the Roman soldiers’ even casted lots for Jesus’ garments.

However, may I suggest that nowhere in the New Testament does it imply that Christians should be casting lots or gambling to help with their situations. We now have God’s Word and the Holy Spirit to guide us; so there is no real reason to be using games of chance. Additionally we should always be mindful and sensitive to the negative influences of gambling. It just breaks my heart seeing all these gambling parlors in town, but that is another message for another day.

So Matthias was chosen and was now the twelfth Apostle replacing Judas Iscariot. We don’t know much more about Matthias. Various traditions have developed to possibly fill in the details of Matthias life and ministry. One says that Matthias evangelized in Ethiopia where he was martyred. Another says that Matthias traveled to Damascus and later died in Judea. A third tradition says that Matthias spent most of his time in Jerusalem where he eventually died. But the Bible doesn’t give us any information about him after his selection to the Twelve.

That completes the overview of these first verses of the book of Acts. Now I want to go back to talk a little about the person of Judas.
Judas was chosen by Jesus to be an Apostle. He walked with Him, he talked with Him, he ate with Him. However, although Judas followed Jesus with his feet, he didn’t follow Jesus with his heart. Jesus loved Judas and He gave Judas His personal time and attention; He discipled Judas and invested in him. Judas even had the position as being the treasurer of the group, so he must have been considered capable, but Judas was lost. There are many people who come to the church that look good, that work good, but are really not good at all in their hearts. But Jesus knew who and what Judas was; while predicting His betrayal earlier, Jesus even calls him “a devil” (Jn.6:70-71)

Questions come to mind like why would Jesus choose someone like Judas to be a Disciple in the first place? Maybe Judas was chosen for the purpose of denying Christ from the beginning to the end. We just don’t know and we may not have that answered this side of heaven, but God knows. He knows everything.

My concern in all of this is that maybe there is someone in our church family today that is like Judas. I know this is a tough question, and a question that many of you might be saying why even go there, but it is important. Each of us have to give an account of what we believe and who we believe. Ever hear the phrase “He was a wolf in sheep’s clothing”. Someone or something that seems to be good but is actually not good at all. That saying actually comes from Matthew 7 where Jesus said “Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves”. Just because somebody comes to church and looks and acts righteous, doesn’t mean they are truly Christian.

Judas received 30 pieces of silver for his betrayal. Then he hurried to kiss Jesus on the cheek to reveal to the captors Jesus’ identity. He later tried to give the money back but he was refused. Judas saw Jesus heal, preach, and save for 3 ½ years, but Judas was lost. He hanged himself and the devil drug his soul into hell. Judas betrayed Jesus, but Jesus knew who and what Judas was all along. Jesus allowed for Judas to do what Judas did as it ushered in God’s ultimate solution for all of our sin. Jesus knows everything. And just like Jesus knew Judas, He knows you and me just as well. God will not be mocked. He knows who are Lost and who are true. Matthew 7 says this about True Disciples:

21 “Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter.22 On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’23 But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’

In Matthew 7:13 Jesus also said:

13 “You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. 14 But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.

And the Final Judgment is mentioned in Revelation 20, it says:

The sea gave up its dead, and death and the grave gave up their dead. And all were judged according to their deeds.  Then death and the grave were thrown into the lake of fire. This lake of fire is the second death.  And anyone whose name was not found recorded in the Book of Life was thrown into the lake of fire.

Ladies and gentlemen, If you are not born again, if you are not saved by Jesus Christ and His stripes on the cross, then you will be judged by your works, and you will end up in the lake of Fire for all eternity.

I don’t want that for you. My plea and I beg you to consider if you haven’t already, accepting Jesus Christ as your own personal savior. Don’t become like Judas, A Lost Disciple.

And like the story we opened up with today about the cruise ship in the rough sea, this life we have before us is full of challenges, and things aren’t always what they seem. God wants you to be true to yourself and others. And He offers you His salvation today.

Would you stand and pray with me now.