What question did Pilate pose to the crowd at the trial of Jesus? He first asked, “What shall I do with Jesus who's called Christ?” The crowd cried, “Crucify Him!” Pilate then asked the millionaire dollar question – “Why?” That is the key question still today. The vast majority of people who live in our culture know that Jesus was crucified, yet, they do not understand why it happened. The answer to that question is simple – Jesus was crucified because He was innocent. In 2 Corinthians 5:21 the Bible teaches that says God made Jesus who knew no sin, He was innocent, so that He, by dying on the cross, could become sin for us. Jesus did not die on the cross because He was guilty. He died on the cross because you were guilty. He died on the cross because I was guilty.
When Jesus hung on the cross the Bible teaches that God took every sin you and I would ever commit and he placed it on Jesus and then God punished Jesus, though He was innocent, for our sin. Jesus paid the penalty for our sin so that we don't have to. He paid that penalty in full. He was our substitute. All that is left is for us to believe that and place our faith in Christ.
Pilate sentenced Jesus to be crucified but what was the main motive for his decision? In John 19 the Bible says that “Pilate made efforts to release Jesus, but the Jews cried out, if you release Him you are no friend of Caesar.” Matthew 27 tells us that he made the decision because he saw that a riot was about to start. Mark 15 clearly gives his motive when it says that he was wishing to satisfy the crowd. Why did Pilate make his decision? Because he was more concerned about the reaction of the people than he was doing what was right.
How many times in our life do we know what God wants us to do but we choose not to do it because we're more concerned about the reaction of other people around us than we are doing what's right? For example, we know that people need to hear the story of Jesus and that God has commanded each of us to be His witnesses. But statistics continue to reveal that 90% of Christians will never share their faith once even though they know it's right. The number one reason is because they're more concerned about what people will think. They're more concerned about being rejected. They're more concerned about being ridiculed. They're more concerned about losing a friend.
We have already seen that Judas loved money more than he loved the Messiah and that he was a fake not a follower. Now we learn that Judas was devious not devoted. Judas thought there was a good chance that Jesus could be the one to topple Rome set up His own kingdom. I think the whole reason Judas was following Jesus is because he wanted to be close so that when Jesus did this, Judas would be on the ground floor. But as time went on Judas began to realize that Jesus was not going to do this and that he had wasted 3 years following Him. Disillusionment turned to hatred, then treachery which opened up a foothold for Satan to get involved.
We become like Judas when we allow a root of bitterness to grow in our heart. Have ever been hurt by someone else? Have you noticed that those betrayals hurt the most are when they are at the hands of people who are close to you? Have you allowed a root of bitterness to sink into your heart? Judas did and it grew and ultimately gave Satan a foothold in his life. Like Judas, if you allow a root of bitterness into your heart it will grow and it will give Satan a foothold in your life, as well.
We have already seen that Judas loved money more than he loved the Messiah. Today we learn that Judas was a fake not a follower. In John 17:12, as Jesus prays for His disciples, He says that mot one of His disciple perished except one – the son of destruction – Judas. In John 13 when Jesus is washing the disciples' feet he makes it clear that one of them, Judas, was not clean. He wasn’t just a retender – he was a good pretender. When Jesus announces at the last supper that one of His disciples would betray Him, none of them suspect it is Judas. He had them all fooled.
Number three, we become like Judas when we pretend to be more spiritual than we really are. Is there an area in your life where you're pretending? Is there an area in your life where you're pretending to be more spiritual than you really are? Because if you're pretending you become a little bit like Judas. Not only that, Judas was resistant to the conviction of God that leads to repentance. He did not confess and change. He confessed and killed himself. Compare him to Peter who denied Jesus but repented. Is there an area in your life where you, like Judas, are resisting the conviction of God that leads to repentance?
What do we know about Judas Iscariot? We know that he loved money more than he loved the Messiah. This is evident in John 12 when Mary took very costly perfume and anointed the feet of Jesus. Judas reacts saying that the perfume could have been sold money given to the poor. That may sound commendable but the Bible clearly states that Judas' was really a thief who had been stealing out of the money box and his intention was purely selfish so that there would be more money for him to steal. Ultimately he betrays Jesus for money - 30 pieces of silver.
We become like Judas when we have a stronger desire for money than we do for Jesus. The Bible teaches that everything we have comes from God. He's the owner. We're just the manager. Our job is to use all of our money in an appropriate way which involves honoring God first with our money. Yet, statistics tell us that over 80% of Christians do not give to the Lord regularly. If you don't honor the Lord with the first of your money can you really say that you love Jesus more than money? Judas loved money more than he loved Jesus and we become a little like Judas when we do the same.
In 1 Timothy 6:10 we learn that the love of money is the root of all evil. The problem isn't money, it's our attitude about money. The question is not do you have money. That's irrelevant. The question is, do you love money? Let me give you some litmus tests. You know you love money when you care more about how much you make than you do the quality of your work. You know you love money when you never feel that you have enough. You know you love money when you want to flaunt it and what it provides. You know you love money when you resent having to give any of it away. When it bothers you when people ask you for a donation or when you get a fund-raising letter, chances are good you've developed a love affair with money. Finally, you know you love money when you will sin to attain it. When you'll cheat on your income taxes so you get more. When the cashier gives you more change than she should have and you don't say anything, you just keep it and consider it a bonus, chances are good you've developed a love affair with money and the love of money is the root of all evil. Jesus said you cannot serve God and money!
I struggle a lot of times with contentment. My list of what I wish I had seems to keep growing. As I read 1 Timothy 6, I find that the real issue isn't money, it's my attitude. I need to change my perspective when it comes to eternity. In verse 7 we are reminded that we have brought nothing into the world so we cannot take anything out of it either. Job said, “Naked I came forth from my mother's womb and naked I'll return.” When you die, you don't even get to take the clothes on your back with you. There's not one thing you can hold in your hands that goes with you when you die. You see, if we could wrap our minds around having an eternal perspective, it would change our attitude about money. It would totally change it.
There's really only one thing that we can take with us into eternity and you know what it is? It's the souls of other men, women, boys and girls who we were part of sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with. That's why it's so crucial that we are committed to meeting as many people as possible right where they're at so we can move them to where God wants them to be.
In 1 Timothy 6:6 we learn that godliness is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment. In other words, the way to great gain, the way to living a fulfilled life comes through two things and neither involved money or material possessions. The formula is this - godliness plus contentment equals great gain. Godliness is simply knowing, loving and serving God. The second ingredient is being content with what you have. If you are not content with what you have, you will never be able to live life to the fullest.
What's difficult about this is that we have a warped view of contentment. We live in a culture today where we think that if we could just have more we could really enjoy life. Ecclesiastes 5:10 teaches that the one who loves money will not be satisfied with money and the one who loves abundance will never be satisfied with their income. If you are searching for fulfillment in life through attaining some other object, some other possession, that's like trying to quench your physical thirst by drinking saltwater. All it does is make you even thirstier. The way to live life to the fullest is to know God, love God, and serve God and to be content with what you have. Godliness plus contentment equals great gain
Paul gives Timothy some warnings regarding money for three different groups of people. First, he addresses those who are not rich. Based on American standards, Most of us would put ourselves in this category. We don’t consider ourselves to be rich – after all, there are many people that have more money than we do. The second group he addresses are those who want to be rich. This group probably encompasses most of us as well. If I were to give you a choice that next year you can make exactly what you make this year or you can make triple what you make this year and you don't have to change a thing, my guess is that most would choose the triple amount because we would like to be richer than we are. But Paul also give instructions to those who are rich. Though we don’t consider ourselves rich, the truth is that if we compare ourselves to the majority of the world we are very rich. In fact, Paul defines rich in this passage as anyone who has more than the essentials. The truth is that each of us fit into all 3 of these groups. May I encourage you today to take some time and read 1 Timothy 6:6-19 and see what God wants you to learn about money.
As we read the last words in the Bible about Joshua we see his influence. The Bible says that Israel served the Lord all the days of Joshua. Now stop. That's influence, right? That's impact. As long as Joshua was their leader Israel served the Lord. How phenomenal. I hope that happens to you and me. I hope that as long as we lead our families and lead our children, lead our grandchildren, and lead our ministries that they'll all walk with the Lord but notice his influence goes deeper. It's amazing. Israel served the Lord all the days of Joshua and all the days of the elders who survived Joshua.
Think about it. Listen. Israel didn't just serve God while Joshua was alive but even after Joshua was dead as long as there were people who remembered Joshua Israel continued to serve the Lord. Now that's influence. We can all think of somebody in our life, somebody we rubbed shoulders with who today is with the Lord, and even though they've long since gone to heaven, their influence in our life still impacts us today. As long as we remember those folks who during their time on earth served Jesus we will continue to serve Jesus too. That's influence. That's spiritual impact. That’s a legacy! Who are you influencing?