Falls, Rises, and an Unshakable Kingdom
Falls, Rises, and an Unshakable Kingdom
The last few weeks have been extremely eventful for our nation. As we watched the capital of our nation overrun there were no doubt many emotions that came through. People have said and done things that are unnerving, and just knowing there is such division in our country makes you stop and feel how unstable everything is. Even nations. You feel betrayed. You are sad and disappointed. Will this continue? Can this continue? We feel the rises and falls, ups and downs, more downs than ups, and you get worried, fearful.
There are times in life where our security and ability to move forward is threatened. Loss will do that. You may feel the uncertainly of safety, business, income, and you may fear that you cannot continue with this. And often our concern is not just if this will continue, but how will we survive. Will we make it. Will I make it.
In Scripture we see that things in life come and go. People, places, organizations, they rise and fall. But God’s kingdom is eternal, it is unstoppable. When we rest in that, we are on unshakable ground.
God’s kingdom is unstoppable and moves forward despite the falls and failures of others.
We are going to see this in our passage of Scripture today. The disciples are dealing with the loss of one of their own. The loss, and betrayal of Judas Iscariot. God’s mission does not fail or fall short because people fail and fall short. The mission moves forward. It reminds us we are a part of something much greater than ourselves and our personal kingdoms. Through the rise and fall of others God’s kingdom remains.
During these days Peter stood up among the brothers– the number of people who were together was about 120– and said: 16 “Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled that the Holy Spirit through the mouth of David spoke in advance about Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus. 17 For he was one of our number and was allotted a share in this ministry.” 18 Now this man acquired a field with his unrighteous wages; and falling headfirst, he burst open in the middle, and all his insides spilled out. 19 This became known to all the residents of Jerusalem, so that in their own language that field is called Hakeldama, that is, Field of Blood. 20 “For it is written in the Book of Psalms: Let his dwelling become desolate; let no one live in it; and Let someone else take his position. 21 “Therefore, from among the men who have accompanied us during the whole time the Lord Jesus went in and out among us– 22 beginning from the baptism of John until the day He was taken up from us– from among these, it is necessary that one become a witness with us of His resurrection.” 23 So they proposed two: Joseph, called Barsabbas, who was also known as Justus, and Matthias. 24 Then they prayed, “You, Lord, know the hearts of all; show which of these two You have chosen 25 to take the place in this apostolic service that Judas left to go to his own place.” 26 Then they cast lots for them, and the lot fell to Matthias. So he was numbered with the 11 apostles. (Acts 1:15-26 CSB)
First thing to see in this is:
- The Fall of Judas
Judas could be history’s most famous traitor. Enigmatic in that there is not a lot about him.
-V16 Judas became a guide to those who arrested Jesus.
We are told of his death. V18
-18 Now this man acquired a field with his unrighteous wages; and falling headfirst, he burst open in the middle, and all his insides spilled out. 19 This became known to all the residents of Jerusalem, so that in their own language that field is called Hakeldama, that is, Field of Blood.
There are different accounts. Matt 27:1 says he hung himself. How do we reconcile this with him falling headlong and inside bursting. Some say he hung himself by a violent hanging such as throwing himself off a cliff or hill that would cause the insides of a person to come out. Regardless, it is a horrific death that warns one from choosing the path he took, warns of going against the Lord’s plan, against repentance.
Judas’s Sin. What did Judas do? What are the unrighteous wages. Disillusioned when Jesus showed little interest in fomenting a rebellion against the Romans and reestablishing an independent kingdom of Israel? Wanted things to come faster? We don’t know the specific reason.
God knows hearts. V24 they pray to God who is the “knower of hearts.”
Ultimately Judas betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. How many people betray Jesus for the same. How many betray him for so less. If pick between instant success or long term, want it now. We take what the world offers and hand over our walk.
Unrighteous wages. Instead of following Jesus you follow the pursuits of the world. Get caught up feeling the pressures of the world and scared to go against it. Driven by fear rather than confidence in God and his ways. And we hate it.
Judas was a fraud all along.
“He didn’t say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief. He was in charge of the money-bag and would steal part of what was put in it. (Joh 12:6 CSB)
There is a weight we should feel. We want to hear about the promise of the spirit in Acts 1, the thousands getting saved in Acts 2, God blessing their work, but we don’t want to hear about the failure of Judas. This is why we preach through books of the Bible, so you don’t cherry pick the passages you like.
Judas as an insider. He was in the church. And yet his heart was not there. We have to ask ourselves are we committed to Jesus. Are we committed in his mission the way he calls us to, or have we handed him over to go our own way. Most today would never admit to handing Jesus over, but their actions show his purposes, his people, his mission isn’t nearly as important as their work.
Judas’s ultimate failure is he rejected Jesus. His plan. His teaching.
In Jesus you can be forgiven of any sin. Nothing is too great. Do not keep pushing the Lord aside because you say he can’t forgive you. He can. He is greater than your sin. You need to see God for who he is.
There is no account of repentance and turning to the Lord. Peter wept tears of sadness for his betrayer. Judas continued a path of running from God. He felt sorry, but not enough to do the right thing.
People make distinctions between old and new testament. God is holy. He is loving. His love burns hotter than you can imagine. Even in the NT you see his holiness. You see passages that tell you don’t mess with God. Don’t go against his commands.
Warning against excuses. People want it their way and ignore Jesus’s commands. It doesn’t go well. Are you committed to Jesus? Are you committed to the things he calls you to be committed to? That’s a real question. Most today don’t deny Jesus, but they are going about Jesus mission in the way most convenient to them, haven’t published their dissertation on why they don’t believe, it’s just they have other things to do. Are you committed to him and the things he calls you to?
Judas’s was a fraud all along, but the disciples did not know it. When Jesus said someone would betray him they couldn’t figure out who.
How do you think the disciples felt after Judas betrayed Jesus. Even after the resurrection you lost one of the twelve!
- The Restoration of Peter
In this passage we are reintroduced to a main character of the book, Peter. Peter stands to address the situation of replacing Judas.
Peter is demonstrating leadership. He is owning the situation. He is leading through it. A far cry from the one who while Jesus was being beaten and interrogated would cower at the inquiries of a servant girl.
The Bible is a message of restoration. You have fallen. You can be restored. You have to humble yourself. Hit a brick wall of life. You can rebound. If you are not where you would like to be, turn to the Lord, pursue him, do what he calls you to do, trust in him, and you can change.
Jesus’ death and resurrection makes it possible to be forgiven for any sin: abandonment, rejection, cowardice, hate, murder, betrayal. But Judas never repented. He never changed. Peter had a change of heart and his actions will show how drastic his repentance was. Judas never did.
Then Judas, His betrayer, seeing that He had been condemned, was full of remorse and returned the 30 pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders. (Mat 27:3 CSB)
Peter has changed and been changed. God makes it possible for failures and mess up to be a part of his unfailing kingdom.
- Continuance of the Mission
This passage is primarily concerned with replacing Judas. They see a void in their leadership and so they are addressing it, by filling it with another person.
They appoint a new disciple to take Judas’s place. One has fallen. Another steps in. This is the kingdom.
[it is necessary that one become a witness with us of His resurrection.”] (Act 1:21 CSB)
The fall and restoration of individuals is deeply painful and deeply encouraging. And yet in this we also see a pattern. A pattern for the kingdom. A pattern for our lives. When a tree dies a new one sprouts.
This is to a role within the church. Concern to maintain their witness. This is what Jesus calls them to do. This is why they are praying continuously to receive power from the holy spirit.
It is necessary to appoint another man. If the mission is to continue, someone needs to step up. Note they conclude this from:
Bible. Psalm 109
This is a church, a community of people praying for God to use them, going all in. It’s not just an individual. Only get this when people are committed. A community of people committed to being together. Committed in prayer and devotion. He steps in. There is one from among them.
If you feel stuck in life, at a dead end, wondering if you can get past that wall, then you need to put yourself in the stream of God’s people. This is a church. Not a building. Not four walls. But a group of people together, crying out to God for his work to be done. What happens in the church shows you what can happen in life.
People want to be an apostle but they don’t care enough about prayer, devotion, community. Both meet qualifications. Can’t go wrong. This will be the last time lots are cast. The church will be led by the Holy Spirit in the future.
There are setbacks, but God provides a way forward. Story of disciples. Story of Jesus. You will experience setbacks in life. People will turn against you for various reasons. Sometimes just go a different way. Sometimes they oppose you. It may feel like the end of the world. But God is greater than those people.
People you are in church with today may not be here tomorrow. Some of the people I looked up to in ministry when I first started are not following the Lord today. Some deny the faith and are working to help others turn from the faith.
One person falls. God brings another. One door closes another opens.
When you lose somebody like that. When you see a person walk on a cliff so to speak, it is grievous. I have friends that I was in ministry with years ago, who are now no longer Christians and are actively recruiting others to deconvert.
The gospel is just as beautiful. Most of them started to have moral lapses or grumblings. It was not a surprise.
You will see people fail and fall.
God is bigger than any individual. His plan is greater than any one person.
- God is faithful even when people are not.
- God is good even when people don’t see it. The sun shines but clouds may hide it for a time. It’s still there. It’s still brilliant.
As we replanted there are times we lost people and I thought we were done. I have seen people leave in other churches, and you always are concerned about it, but when you are small like us you are even more concerned. But God. But God. He has provided a way. No one is irreplaceable in God’s kingdom. You will be replaced one day. I will be replaced. You are going to see people come and go.
It’s a reminder, when you hit a dead end. When you think there is no way out. When you think it is over. When it feels everyone has abandoned you. God can make things go forward. You are part of an unshakable kingdom.
In ministry we want to build into other people so they are ready to stand in. That is what discipleship does.
His plan is not dependent on people, but his own inviolable plan.
We need people to fill shoes.
You have experienced loss and hardship in your life. You are having a hard time moving forward. Exhaustion. Apathy.
You will experience loss in life. Jesus redeems that. You will have others fail you. You will fail too. But in Jesus our mistakes can be redeemed and we can be restored.
-Love our enemies as our selves.
-gentle answer turns away wrath.