Out of the Heart - Luke 22:1-6

            The Reserve Police Battalion 101st was one of the units responsible to carry out Hitler’s Final Solution. They were tasked to travel from town to town throughout Poland brutally executing all the Jewish people in those towns.  This particular unit was responsible for the execution of 38,000 Jews as well as deporting more than 45,000 to concentration camps.  Historian Christopher Browning carefully analyzed all the post-war interrogations of these 500 men to answer this question: How could these men commit such horrific atrocities? His findings were alarming, but not for the reasons you may think. Granted, he discovered and detailed the unspeakable acts of violence perpetrated by these men, but he also shows how similar their motivations are with our own.

            Browning argues in his book, “Ordinary Men,” that these men were not monsters, but they were acting out of their own fallen humanity. They struggled with loyalty to their fellow soldiers, cowardice, and wanting to pull their own weight within the unit so others would not have to pick up their duties.  It is a truly fascinating read to see how ordinary German husbands and fathers could commit such awful crimes.  It is uncomfortable for us to identify with the Nazis or Islamic Terrorists or Serial Killers.  We want to believe that we have nothing in common with these men. Could we, ordinary men and women, be led to commit horrible sin?

The Bible answers this question and it may cause us discomfort, but if heard rightly, it will offer protection for your soul. Jesus says,

“Hear and understand: it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.” Then the disciples came and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?” He answered, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up. Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.” But Peter said to him, “Explain the parable to us.” And he said, “Are you also still without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled? But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.” (Matthew 15:10-20)

The Bible says it is out of the heart that comes all kinds of evil.  Our hearts have the capacity for all kinds of evil. And as soon as we think we are above falling to particular sins, we make ourselves especially vulnerable. No one is above temptation, as can be clearly seen in this text.  We must guard our hearts as Jesus warns, “But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap.” (Luke 21:34) I pray that you see the capacity of the sin in your own heart, but realize One has come to give you a new heart.

Out of the Heart Comes Murder

Verse 22:1-2,  

Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread drew near, which is called the Passover. And the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to put him to death, for they feared the people. (Luke 22:1-2)

This is the beginning of the Passion of Christ and God has planned it perfectly.  Luke, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, draws specific attention to the upcoming Passover. The Passover should remind us of the horrible treatment of the Jews by the Egyptians. They were treated harshly as slaves, enduring beatings and other forms of mistreatment. At one point, Pharaoh ordered all male Hebrew babies to be killed. Years later, one baby that survived would lead the Hebrews to freedom, beginning with the first Passover. Luke reminds us of the lambs’ blood that was spread over the doorway of the Hebrews before their escape to “pass over” them, sparing them from the destruction of the Angel of Death in the final plague. Jesus, as the Lamb of God, was about to be slain and have his blood spilled to pass over the sins of the people.

The chief priests and the scribes should have been focused on the sacrifice of the lamb and on God’s power to save from the harshest of enemies. And yet, they could not see the true Passover Lamb who was coming to rescue them from their sins.  So instead of rejoicing at his coming, their rage led them to put Christ to death. Their desire for murder begins with its root: anger.  Jesus says,

“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. (Matthew 5:21-22)

The chief priests were seeking a way to murder Jesus because they were afraid of the people retaliating against them. They did not hide their hate.  They were seeking murder, because of their anger. Anger is seedbed of murder.  You may not be a murderer, but are you an angry person?

            Lou Priolo in his book, “The Heart of Anger” identifies these traits that typify an angry person: outbursts of anger, temper tantrums, argumentation or quarrelsome debates, disrespect, fighting, animosity, cruelty, strife, acts of vengeance, malice, bitterness[1]. These traits are pulled from Proverbs. “An angry man stirs up strife; and a hot-tempered man abounds in transgression.” (Prov 29:22)

            We may all have moments of sin, but this does not classify us as an angry man or woman.  Priolo says, “God classifies that person by the name of the sin that he allows to master him.” This is true not only for anger, but all sin.

What happens to a person who continually yields the members of his body to a particular sin? He becomes a slave to the sin by which he chose to be mastered. (Rom. 6:16)
What does God call an individual who continually gives himself over to folly? God calls him a fool (Prov 26:11)
How does Scripture classify someone who continually gives himself over to drunkenness? Scripture classifies him as a drunkard (1 Cor 8:11)
What is the biblical name for a person who habitually lies? The biblical name is a liar. (Prov 17:4)[2]
The question is not whether you have moments of anger, but are you an angry person.  There is a big difference.  Unchecked anger will lead to other sins. We must not give way to anger.

Out of the Heart Comes Betrayal

            The religious elite were pursuing murder.  They were not above that sin, neither was the man after God’s own heart, King David, who murdered Uriah the Hittite to cover up his sin with Bathsheba.  And even those who were in the inner circle of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, the God-Man in the flesh, were not above the sins that lie in the heart. Verse 3-4,

Then Satan entered into Judas called Iscariot, who was of the number of the twelve. He went away and conferred with the chief priests and officers how he might betray him to them. (Luke 22:3-4)

Judas Iscariot betrayed his master and friend Jesus Christ. He walked side by side with Jesus for 3 years. He ate with him, laughed with him, and ministered with him.  Luke explicitly points out that Judas was “of the number of the twelve.”  He was constantly exposed to the truth, living with Truth incarnate, but he did not remain true.

            Judas Iscariot should give us pause and should encourage us to analyze our own hearts. He was not an outsider, but within the community of faith. The text says that, “Satan entered into Judas.” The meaning is not entirely clear. The language is similar to the other possession already seen throughout Luke (4:31-34, 8:30). Regardless of the exact meaning, it does picture that Judas was under control of Satan.  Judas was the one who acted, but Satan was the force behind the action. Judas was led astray to do the will of the devil. 

Judas was one of the twelve and was captured to do the will of Satan. Therefore, you must be on guard so you will not be led astray. Here these warnings from God’s Word,

Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. As it is said, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.” (Hebrews 3:12-15)

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. (1 Peter 5:8-9)

God may perhaps grant them (God’s opponents) repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will. (2 Timothy 2:25-26)

No one likes to identify themselves with those who do great evil, but the seed of betrayal flows out of the heart. If you do not take care and protect your heart, you too may be led astray to do the will of the evil one. 
If you know there is an adversary trying to break into your heart, you must build your defenses. We must hold fast to the Lord and His Word.  We must delight in his commandments and love the brothers.  The best defense is a good offense.  If one is actively pursuing God, it will be far more difficult for that person to drift away.

Out of the Heart Comes Greed

There has been widespread speculation on the reason for Judas’s betrayal, but we know from the text that at least part of the motivation was greed. Greed is defined as an intense and selfish desire for something, especially wealth, power or food. Verse 5 says, “And they were glad, and agreed to give him money.” (Luke 22:5) Matthew fills in the exact detail that it was 30 pieces of silver that they paid him (Matthew 26:15). The language of Luke expresses intent from Judas to strike a deal with the leaders, meaning he asked for the money for his betrayal.

Judas saw an opportunity to gain wealth, but as he realized later, his greed was not worth it. Matthew writes of how Judas tried to give the money back,

Then when Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he changed his mind and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” They said, “What is that to us? See to it yourself.” And throwing down the pieces of silver into the temple, he departed, and he went and hanged himself. (Matthew 27:3-5)

Greed never pays. 

Many in our world have fallen to greed. Greed masks itself in many ways and the desires for riches flows from our heart.  It may spring from a lack of contentment or entitlement. It may come from a reaction to poverty or the desire to make others respect you because of your wealth. Take heart beloved, lest you be led astray from the living God by your greed.  Your desire for riches may lead you to betray God and hurt God’s people.  

Greed flows from the heart.  If you are not careful to discern your greed, it will grow.  Paul writes in Romans,

So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. (Romans 8:12-14)

We must put to death the deeds of the flesh by the Spirit of God. We must live by the Spirit for are who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. This principle is true for all sin. We need to put to death our sin.  To kill sin, we must identify it, turn from it trusting God’s Word, and then build defenses to guard our hearts.  Judas did not kill his greed so his greed killed him. Paul knows the power of money for he writes,

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. (1 Timothy 6:10-11a)

Paul’s advice to Timothy was to run from the love of money; to flee from it. I am firmly convinced that the best way to guard yourself against greed is to give. Greed desires to receive, so our giving can overcome this desire. Generous giving is God’s design to free you from the love of money so you can kill sin at its root.

Out of the Heart Comes Darkness

            Beloved, we cannot avoid the sin that lies in our heart.  We cannot dismiss it.  One of the ways we overcome our sin is to confess it and bring it to the light. Verse 6 says, “So he consented and sought an opportunity to betray him to them in the absence of a crowd.” (Luke 22:6) Notice how everything that is happening with Judas is happening in the darkness. The chief priests were looking to kill Jesus by stealth. Judas was looking to betray Jesus in the absence of the crowd from the shadows.  We can overcome by the darkness that lies in our heart by bringing it to the light by confession. 

            The promise of the gospel of Jesus Christ is that we no longer have to hide. We no longer have to live in the shadows like our first parents who sinned in the garden and were afraid so they hide. We can freely admit that we are sinners. We can admit that we are angry, betrayers, and greedy, for in our confession we are trusting in the blood of Christ to cleanse us from our sin. No person is free from sin, but when we confess our sin we allow the light of the world, Jesus Christ, to overcome our sin.  How beautiful is this promise!!!

We cannot overcome our anger by trying really hard to be less angry. We cannot overcome our greed by trying really hard to be less greedy.  We overcome the darkness in our hearts by freely and humbly admitting our inability to fix ourselves.  It is only in our confession that Christ gives us a new heart. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17) We admit we need Jesus and in response, his blood cleanses us and purifies us. The Apostle John writes,

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:5-9)

Beloved, do not hide your sin, confess it. Our confession brings our hearts out of darkness and into the light of the cleansing blood of Jesus Christ.

            Jesus Christ is the light of the world that shines into darkness.And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” (John 3:19-21)

Judas lived in the shadows.   This world trains us to hide in our sin, but Jesus Christ has come to we can hide in Him. Our confession of sin and trust in Christ says that we have died and our lives are now hidden with Christ in God. So now when Christ, who is our life appears, we will also appear with Him in glory. (Col 3:3-4)

We all are just ordinary men and women who were saved by an extraordinary God.  Come out of the shadows into the light. 

Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee;
Let the water and the blood,
From Thy wounded side which flowed, Be of sin the double cure,
Save from wrath and make me pure.

While I draw this fleeting breath,
When my eyes shall close in death,
When I rise to worlds unknown,
And behold Thee on Thy throne,
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee.

[1] Priolo, Lou, Heart of Anger 129 of 2899 on Kindle
[2] Priolo, Lou, Heart of Anger 131 of 2899 on Kindle
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