Lesson 11

The War Within

(John 12, Matthew 16, 26 & 27)
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Introduction: Last week we learned that at the cross Jesus won the conflict between good and evil. His victory gives us the opportunity to choose between good and evil, life and death. How are you choosing? Restoring our choice means that the conflict is still to be decided in our life. Let's explore how that conflict played out in the lives of two of Jesus' disciples.

  1. Judas

    1. Read John 12:1-2. Two weeks ago we discussed the emotions of Mary, Martha and Lazarus during the time that Lazarus was dying and Jesus did not come to help. What kind of feelings and emotions do you think they now have about Jesus? (They love Him more than ever! Imagine what an event this is - a dinner to honor the man who raised one of the hosts to life. I would like to have been there.)

    2. Read John 12:3-5. The perfume was "worth a year's wages." What is the average annual wage? Let's say that you bought a bottle of perfume that cost the same as a new car. Would that be sinful?

      1. Does Judas have a point? Isn't this a terrible waste of money?

      2. Why did Mary do this for Jesus? (I think Mary is a more emotional person than Martha. Remember John 11:20 tells us that Mary "stayed home" and did not come out to meet Jesus when He arrived after Lazarus had died. She was upset with Jesus. He had let Lazarus die. Now that Jesus raised her brother to life, her strong emotions have swung the other way and she wants to show Jesus how much she loves Him.)

      3. Who is Judas criticizing? Mary or Jesus? (Jesus. If he were criticizing Mary, he would simply say "Why didn't you give the money to the poor instead of buying this expensive perfume?" Instead, Judas takes the purchase of the perfume as a given and says "Why wasn't it sold instead of used on your feet?" Judas remarks are directed at the point that Jesus "takes control" of the gift.)

    3. Read John 12:6. Have you ever had someone question your motives for good work? Here we have Judas looking out for the poor, and John is questioning his motives, right?

    4. Read Matthew 26:14-16. What is Judas' motive for betraying Jesus? (It seems to be money.)

      1. How does this make any sense? Isn't Jesus the "cash cow," the "golden goose" for contributions? Isn't He the reason why people would contribute? Isn't it short-sighted to take money now to "kill the golden goose?"

    5. Let's read skip down one chapter in Matthew. Read Matthew 27:3-5. If money motivated Judas: a)What did Judas think the Jewish leaders were going to do to Jesus? b)Why would he give the money back or hang himself? (I think Judas' motivation was money and power, but not the 30 pieces of silver. Judas calculated that he was more sophisticated about this kind of thing than Jesus and the working-class disciples. He figured that Jesus would be forced to declare Himself King and take power. When that happened Judas would become a powerful man and have lots of money. The 30 pieces of silver were just "icing on the cake" for this smart move. What Judas did not expect was that Jesus (v.3) would be condemned. When Judas saw that Jesus was actually going to die, he felt remorse for killing an innocent man AND his grand future was down the drain. Without the future he planned, he killed himself.)

    6. What lessons do you learn from Judas that you can apply to your life? (We have a lot of money flying around in this story, but I do not think this is about money. The perfume Mary bought was the equivalent of wages for 300 days of work. The 30 pieces of silver were worth wages for 120 days of work. Judas' problem was the attitude that he knew better than Jesus how to usher in the Kingdom of God. When we look at the teachings of the Bible and decide that they do not apply to us because we are too "sophisticated," we make the same mistake as Judas. Mary took very expensive perfume to perform the role of a servant - washing Jesus' feet. Judas decided that Jesus should be servant to Judas' plans.)

  2. Peter

    1. Read Matthew 16:21-23. A few verses ( Matthew 16:16-18) before this Peter was complimented by Jesus because he recognized Jesus was the Son of God. Now Jesus calls Peter "Satan." Why? (This is the "Judas problem." Peter is sure he knows better than Jesus was the future holds for Jesus.)

    2. Read Matthew 26:31-35. What is Peter's attitude? Does he believe he is more faithful than the rest of the disciples? (Verse 33 reveals Peter's confidence he was more faithful than anyone else.)

      1. Do you think Peter is serious about being willing to die? Or, does he think he would never die defending Jesus, the Son of God?

    3. Read John 18:3-5, 10-11. Is Peter willing to die? (A detachment of armed soldiers has come for Jesus. However, the verses that I skipped contain the account (v.6) of the soldiers falling to the ground in Jesus' presence. Peter is certainly willing to fight. I'm not sure he thinks he will die.)

      1. Was Peter willing to have Jesus die? (No. Verse 11 records Jesus speaking to Peter on just that point.)

      2. Was Peter faithful? (Yes! Whether he is willing to actually die is not clear, but it certainly is clear that he is willing to fight for Jesus.)

    4. Read John 18:15-17, 25-27. Why the change in Peter? (Peter thought Jesus would never die. Peter was willing to fight to keep Jesus from dying. When it seemed that Jesus would not fight and He might die, Peter was uncertain of his ground. Things were not turning out as he had expected.)

      1. Are Judas and Peter similar? (Judas was looking out for himself. Peter was looking out for Jesus. What they had in common was an attitude that they were right about the future. Judas was willing to stake his "plot" on his view of the future and Peter was willing to fight for his view of the future. When the future did not turn out as they planned, they were both devastated.)

    5. Read Matthew 26:75. Judas went out and hung himself, and Peter went out and wept. What makes the difference between the two at this point?(First, we have a difference in attitude. One was looking out for Judas and the other was looking out for Jesus. Second, I think Judas believed that Jesus let him down. Life would not be as he expected because Jesus did not fulfill Judas' plan. Peter also saw things were not working out as he had expected, but he believed that he had let Jesus down. The one stuck with his plan and his pride and killed himself because there was no future. The other stuck with Jesus and repented.)

    6. How about you? Do you "manipulate" the gospel to make yourself rich and powerful? Do you have certain expectations of the gospel for which you are willing to fight - but only if things turn out as expected? (A theme I keep seeing in these verses is "Come, follow Me." Not, "Jesus, come follow my plan.")

  3. The Light

    1. Read John 8:12. What is the key to living in the light according to this text? (Following Jesus.)

    2. Did Judas or Peter understand the future? Were they living in the light?

      1. What was their failure? (They failed to just be willing to follow Jesus. Peter changed after he learned this lesson the hard way.)

    3. Friend, this is the secret to taking advantage of the victory that Jesus has already won - to put aside our own ideas and simply follow the directions of Jesus. This will give us a life "in the light."

  4. Next Week: The Great Controversy and the Church

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Lessons on The Cosmic Conflict Between Christ & Satan

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