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The Crosses Before the Cross

John 18



Jesus endured a couple of other crosses before He went to Calvary.


The treachery of Judas and the tragedy of Peter.

[read vv. 1-10]

v. 10        And so we got the saying, "Friends, Romans, lend me your ear!"

It's not hard to think of someone named after a disciple.  Andrew, Peter, Philip, John, James...Judas?  No, that name conjures up negative imagery in our minds.  Betrayer - traitor - evil - liar - hypocrite - greedy - devil.

It was about 2,000 years ago a mother held an infant in her arms and named him Judas...a common name in those days. 

But now it has a negative reputation.  It's the same with Paul, who was persecuted by Nero.  Today we name our kids Paul and our dogs Nero!


Judas walked with the Lord for 3 years, witnessed His miracles, even 3 resurrections which he witnessed with his own eyes.  He heard the words Jesus the Sermon on the Mount, which contained a strong warning against making a false profession of faith.


He did great works.

Matthew 7:21-23
21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

You can put Judas' picture beside those verses.  How about yours?


Judas didn't lose his salvation.  He never had it.  Jesus said he was a devil from the beginning.


On nine different occasions Judas heard Jesus say "I AM," taking upon Himself the great eternal name of Almighty God. [bread / water / door / way / resurrection / light of the world]

        There's no way that Judas could have not known that Jesus was God.  But he made a conscious choice, based on his value system.  He loved money more than the truth, and in the end he sacrificed the eternal for the temporary.


v. 1  The brook Kidron in the Holy Land is the same one King David crossed in the OT while fleeing Jerusalem during Absalom's rebellion. 


Kidron = dark waters.

        It is located in the valley between the mountain Jerusalem is set upon and the Mount of Olives.  History states that there was a man-made channel cut from the Temple down to the brook, for the purpose of draining blood from the temple.  With so many animal sacrifices, there was a lot of blood to be disposed of, and it would flow down that channel into the brook.

        This means that based on the time of Passover it was in our text, as Jesus stepped over this brook, it likely ran blood red!  In that moment, did He think about how HE represented every spotless lamb that was ever sacrificed in that temple?


Stepping over that little brook was necessary for Jesus, in order to get to a little garden He often went to for was the garden of Gethsemane, possibly owned by a wealthy friend of our Lord's.  He used it for relaxation and prayer. 


v. 2  Judas knew about this place.  He had been there with Jesus on several occasions.


In our text, Judas has ALREADY done his dirty deed.  Luke says that Judas 'communed' with the religious leaders for betrayal money.  The word carries the idea of haggling, like you would negotiate over the price of a horse.  They settled, finally, on 30 pieces of silver.  Imagine, Jesus is about to pay the sin debt of the whole world, and Judas is haggling over the price for Jesus, as if He was an animal.


v. 3  'band of men' is a big group.  Matthew calls it a multitude that came to arrest Jesus.  Imagine that -- scores or hundreds of soldiers needed to arrest one carpenter.  But they had heard about His powers, raising the dead and walking on top of the water, and feeding tens of thousands out of one sack!  

        Little did they know how unnecessary all those soldiers were.  They didn't know that Jesus had orchestrated all these events so that He WOULD BE arrested.  There was no resistance at all.


v. 4  'went forth'

        Knowing that they wanted to take Him to die He didn't run from the cross...He moved TOWARD it!  They didn't drag Him off kicking and screaming.  He laid down His life willingly! 


v. 5b        'stood with them'

        Who is Judas standing with?  The soldiers.  The enemies! 


This is one of the saddest scenes in the Bible!  Here's a guy, chosen to be one of the 12, taught personally by Him for 3 years.  And yet when the moment came to decide 'Whose side are you on,' he stands with the enemy.


And this week, it will happen to you.  Someone in your world will attack what Jesus is all about.  Where will you stand?  They will take His lovely name in vain.  Will you speak up?

        May it never be said of you or me, "I wish I knew which side you were on!"


v. 5          "I am he." The italics mean He didn't literally say that word.  The KJV translators were above all, honest.  Jesus said, "I AM."  This the great name of eternal God.  Moses saw a burning bush which told him to take off his shoes on holy ground.  Moses asked, "Who are you?"  "I AM that I AM!" was the response.

        "I always was, I AM, and I always will be!" 


v. 6          They all fell backward.  What a scene!

        Please notice on so-called Christian TV, people falling down at the power of suggestion.  It's what they've seen others do and they know it is expected of them so they do it too!

        In the Bible, the friends of Christ fall forward, voluntarily, in adoration and worship, and the enemies fall backward.


Truly amazing indeed:  He allowed them to get back up!  They had a job to do.  It was part of His plan.  He was not a victim.  He was not murdered.  And even when He DID die HE gave up the ghost!  It was an act of love to allow them to kill Him, for His death was FOR them, and us!


After Jesus was arrested, Judas couldn't live with his own conscience.  Your conscience is a built-in moral watchdog God put within you.  It tells you of right and wrong, unless you allow it to become seared [cauterized / calloused.] 


ill.--when God knocks on your door for so long with you not answering, eventually the knocking stops.  Is it that He moved on to someone else, or that you simply can no longer hear it?


Judas went out and hanged himself because of his guilty conscience.


ill.--a man was acquitted of a murder he committed.  He later wrote his attorney, "You saved me from the electric chair, but you cannot save me from my conscience!"


Judas was sorrowful, but not unto repentance.  He is in hell today.


"Eat the devil's corn, he chokes you with the cob."  There's a high price to be paid for low living!


ill.--the first time you commit a certain sin you breathe heavy, your heart beats faster, and you feel so guilty afterward.  The next time is a little easier, and so on.

        It's not hardening of the arteries but hardening of the heart!


ill.--old Indian proverb:  The conscience is a square block of wood in the heart with 4 sharp edges, which turns and cuts when you do wrong, but over time the edges wear down and you can no longer feel it.


Sin begins as a thought, a temptation.  Thought leads to action, and continued action leads to habit.  This is why we need to take every thought captive, and deal quickly with wrong actions, because by the time you have formed a habit, your conscience is calloused, and gaining victory becomes much more difficult.


Some of you have some pet sins you have fed and petted, and they no longer bother you like they once did.  THAT ought to bother you!


But God can peel away those calluses.  The Holy Spirit is still speaking, and Jesus still stands at your door knocking!  Answer the call!


Do you believe in giving people a second chance?  What if what they did was really bad?


What if you walked into church and saw me cursing and swearing in front of a teenager, and then when questioned about it, denied my faith in Christ?  Would you forgive me?  Would you be finished with me?  Would I be finished at FBC? This scene happened to Peter...


Jesus had to endure the cross of Judas' deception, and Peter's rejection.  Judas' treachery was a cross to bear, as was Peter's treason!


[read vv. 12-27]


vv. 10, 26        If someone tries to cut your head off you remember their face!


Anyone who knew Peter could see this coming from a long way.  He had some problems which led to this.  We call it backSLIDING because for the most part we don't fall into sin, we slowly slide toward it.


You hear of a Christian committing adultery.  I guarantee you, there was a process which led up to didn't just happen.


Lot pitched his tent toward Sodom, just looking in that direction.  Then he moved into the city, and then he sat in the gates, and THEN he had his big fall.


ill.--what we see in our text is Peter jumping off a cliff.  But rewind his life a ways and he was way back here, close to Jesus.  There were many steps he took toward the cliff long before he got to the edge and fell.


Steps toward sin:

1.     Presumption.

About 6 months before our text, Jesus asked, "Whom do men say I am?"

        Disciples began answering.  Peter said, "Thou art the Christ!"  Jesus complimented his right answer.  It must have gone to his head.  Study the record and you'll find that everything Peter said from then on was wrong.  He only opened his mouth to change feet! 


After a great spiritual victory we must be on guard, for we are most vulnerable! 

ill.--as a preacher I've noticed that it is after God uses me in some way that I am tempted to feel independent and self-reliant, putting confidence in myself, thinking I am something when I am nothing.


It was after the flood [great victory] that Noah committed drunkenness and indecent exposure.

It was after killing Goliath and many other triumphs that David committed adultery.

It was after Samson mopped up the floor with thousands of Philistine backsides that he messed up and his strength departed and in presumption he went out as before to take names but he wist not that the Spirit had departed from him!

It was after a great revelation that Peter began a downward spiral.

        I think his chest puffed out when Jesus complimented him.  I believe he turned to James and John and said, "Ya hear that boys?  God talks through me!"

        It was in that same conversation that Jesus revealed that He would be crucified and Peter said cockily, "Not so Lord!"  Now he's correcting God.  "Just put that thought away!"  Jesus said, "Get thee behind me, Satan!"


Presumption is trying to replace God's will with our own will. 

        Peter was accused of being with Jesus and his will was not to get into trouble, when it was God's will for him to take his stand!


We try to have it both ways when we say both NOT SO and LORD. You can't have it both ways.  Only the word YES can precede the word 'Lord.'




2.     Pride.

Peter got the big head.  Jesus explained that when He is killed, all will flee.  Peter says, "I will follow you even unto death!" [paraphrase: "That's disappointing about the rest of these dead beats, but you can count on me being the exception!"]


We can admire his courage, but his confidence isn't in the Lord, but in himself. 

ill.--Stand up, stand up for Jesus, stand in His strength alone, the arm of flesh will fail you, you dare not trust your own!


Pride and Sin both have 'I' in the middle!

        Read the gospels and I is Peter's favorite word.


ill.--one of our kid's first word was 'me'.  I won’t tell you which kid, but I will say that it became her favorite word.


The Bible tells us what to do with our self.  Are we to dedicate it?  Reform it?  Educate it?  No.  Deny it!

        If we don't deny self, eventually we will deny Christ!


Usually when we fail, it is not in an area of our weakness, but our strength.  It is our strengths that lead us to act independently from God.  And an unguarded strength is a double weakness!


Abraham was known for his faith.  But when famine came he didn't trust God, but went down into Egypt.  Then he lied about Sarah being his sister because he didn't trust God.  He failed in his area of strength.


David was known for his purity, as the apple of God's eye, a man after God's own heart.  But he failed in his strength.


Peter's strength was his courage.  He was the only one to get out of the boat and walk on the water with Jesus.  [Good thing he slipped beneath the waves that day.  If he had been able to walk back to that boat there would have been no living with the guy! He would have started Topwater Baptist Church]


"A failure that leaves us humble is better than a victory that leaves us proud!"


Earlier in our passage he is standing against hundreds of soldiers with a sword, and now minutes later he's cowering before a little girl!  Pride!


*Peter had the wrong enemy - as he went for Malchus' head I'm reminded of...

Ephesians 6:12
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

The devil loves it when we wrestle the wrong enemy.  HE is the real enemy, but we get off track with others.

        I deplore the mess in Hollywood, but that's not our real enemy.  It's the powers controlling them! [Washington / Planned Parenthood]


*Peter had the wrong weapon.

2 Corinthians 10:4
(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)

Peter holds his sword and thinks cutting and slashing is going to fix things.  Folks, we're in a battle with the forces of hell and we can't outgun them.  We will win these battles only on our knees!


*Peter had the wrong energy.

He was sleeping when he should have been praying.  He wakes up refreshed, in the energy of the flesh, pulls out his sword and starts fencing.

Proverbs 28:26
He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered.

1 Corinthians 10:12
Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.

His pride went before his fall.


ill.--the night before Mohammed Ali was to fight Joe Frasier he said, "There's not a man alive who could whip me.  I'm too smart.  I'm too pretty.  I am the greatest. I'm the king.  I should be a postage stamp...that's the only way I'd ever get licked."

        The next night Joe Frasier beat his brains out, and he was never the same after that.


presumption, pride...


3.     Prayerlessness.

Jesus takes Peter, James, and John into the garden to pray.  It's the most important night of His life.  These are His most trusted associates.  3 times He finds them asleep and has to wake them.

        The church today is sleeping when there's important matters to pray about.


Ravenhill, "A worldly Christian will stop praying and a praying Christian will stop their worldliness."


Are you a praying Christian or a playing Christian?

        Are you praying over your kids or playing games?

        Are you praying for victory over sin or just playing games?

        Are you praying for your church or just playing church?


The church is fellowship [two fellows in the same ship!] but it's not a cruise ship, it's a battleship!


ill.--a little boy was struggling to move a big rock in the yard.  His dad watched.  "Are you using all your strength, son?"  "Yes!"  "No you're not, you haven't asked me to help."


Well, for Peter there's a happy ending.  And failure doesn't have to be final.  Failure doesn't have to be a hitching can be a guide post!  You can fail forward.


As that rooster crowed Peter went out and wept bitterly.


ill.--the Puritans had an old saying, "True repentance is the vomiting of the soul."

        Ever been so sick you wish you could refund because you know you'd feel better?  Oh that we would get so sick of our sin that we would bring it all up in true repentance!

        That's what Peter did.  It wasn't just guilt like Judas had, it was real repentance!


And the next time Jesus saw Peter it was after the resurrection.  He asked him 'Do you love me?'  How many times?  3!  Three denials, and three confessions of faith!  This pictures complete restoration.  God's mercies are new every morning.  Where sin abounds, grace much more abounds!


Jesus bore these crosses before His cross.  Aren't you glad?  He wants to help you bear yours.  He's the God of second chances.


Judas was the first of millions to have profession of salvation without possession of salvation.  Don't make that same mistake!



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