The Throne of Your Heart
In our reading in Mark 14:1-26 this week, Mark gives a hint of Judas' upcoming betrayal. Judas's life story can be better understood when pieced together the other Gospel writers' perspectives on him. John 13:27 says that Satan “entered in” to Judas. So does that mean he was an innocent victim in all this? Was he just a pawn used to start this chain of events? After all, Jesus knew Judas was going to betray him, so can Judas be held responsible for the betrayal? Those are some valid questions to mull over.
The first thing we need to understand is that one of the qualities of God is that He has foreknowledge of everything. Nothing happens that is a surprise Him, He doesn’t wring His hands in worry over what might happen, He doesn’t bite His nails because He is apprehensive, He doesn’t pace the floors of Heaven in fear. He knows! He has always known.
However, God’s foreknowledge is not married to pre-determination, allowing us to have no personal responsibility for our actions. Yes, God certainly foreknew that Judas, acting on his own free will, would betray Jesus. That does not mean that Judas was an innocent victim by any means.
The snapshots of Judas that the Gospel writers provided us with reveal his character. We know he was a thief, that he loved money, and that he was greedy. I think it may be possible he had pangs of being power-hungry as we read him interact with the high council, and it may very well be that he began following Jesus because he thought Jesus might be a political king and turned from him when he realized that was not the case. In Judas, the Scriptures paint a picture of a man who was more concerned about his own will, than God’s Will.
But he sure did put up a good front – covering up his sin with a phony relationship with Jesus. It is my belief that He was no true believer. He was a fraud- and a good one at that. The disciples didn’t realize even it until Jesus revealed Judas’s true heart to them.
James 1:14-15 tells us, “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin, when it is fully grown, brings forth death” (ESV). Ephesians 2:1-3 also describes the connection between sin and Satan, Dead in our sins, walking in the passions of the flesh, fulfilling the desires of body and mind, and THEREFORE, following Satan, the prince of the air.
Judas never gave his heart to Jesus and so left it wide open for Satan. Judas's heart condition prompted him to first dance with sins of greed and selfishness. And from there it was a seamless switch of dance partners, and Judas was dancing with the devil. All Satan had to do was put an idea into Judas’s sinful heart that appealed to Judas’s selfish motives. And Judas - Judas took it from there.
We live in a world that loves to divorce personal responsibility from one’s actions.
“I couldn’t help myself.”
“I am like this because of my childhood.”
“The Devil made me do it!”
But the Bible also makes it clear in Romans 14:12 and 2 Corinthians 5:10, that even believers who are saved by faith will give an account before God of their actions, both the good and the bad. All the more reason for us to fully give our hearts to Jesus, embracing the assurance that if Jesus is seated securely on the throne of our heart, Satan cannot be.
But things have a way of creeping up on that throne – don’t they? I’ll give you everything Jesus, accept this, you can’t have this!
Sometimes it can be seemingly good things – like our children, our ministries, or our volunteer endeavors.
Sometimes it’s our spending habits – “Excuse me Jesus your sitting on my purse, could you just scootch over a bit?”
Sometimes as Christians who are participating in the church, it’s our preferences.
“I just wish the pastor would ...”
“I like Bible study better when we...”
“This worship just isn’t doing it for me.”
“God didn’t give me that gift or skill set.”
“That’s not my thing.”
When I allow my personal preferences to reign – you know who is sitting on the throne of my heart? Me. I have squeezed my way onto the throne, and I have pushed Jesus off. I cannot have a deep, intimate, meaningful relationship with Christ if I am the one drawing boundaries on how I am willing to experience Him. Jesus needs to be seated securely on the throne of my heart.
Accept Him or reject Him? Let Him reign in your heart or let sin reign? What’s it going to be? We all have that choice.
Read Mark 14:1-26. Carefully observe the preparations for the Last Supper and the shock of the Last Supper.
A truth about God that permeates the Bible is that God is sovereign. That means that God is the ultimate source of all power and all authority. He is in control of all things and rules all things. A question that can arise is, how does personal accountability fit in with God's Sovereignty? Can we say we are "off the hook" for our actions and choices because God is sovereign?
Reflect on Jesus’s words in Mark 14:18-21. What do you think this passage reveals about personal accountability and God's Sovereignty?