God deliver us from the evil one. Amen.
Matthew 26, 21-25. And as they did eat, he said, Verily I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me. And they were exceeding sorrowful, and began every one of them to say unto him, Lord, is it I? And he answered and said, He that dippeth his hand with me in the dish, the same shall betray me. The Son of Man goeth as it is written of him: but woe unto that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! it had been good for that man if he had not been born. Then Judas, which betrayed him, answered and said, Master, is it I? He said unto him, Thou hast said.
The devil’s most terrible and hideous piece of work, — that one of Jesus’ own apostles betrayed the Lord, and then hanged himself, — was brought about through covetousness. So gruesome a deed could spring only from that most poisonous root. It is true, as Paul says, that “the love of money is the root of all evil.” What glorious gifts has it not destroyed, and how many abominable things has it not begotten! Balaam was a most highly favored man of God; but he allowed himself to be seduced by the gold of Balak, and then led Israel astray into idolatry and whoredom and great wretchedness, and died a miserable death by the sword of wrath. (Read the account in Numbers 22-25, and 31, 8; and compare it with Revelations 2, 14). Other examples for our warning are the sons of Samuel, the servant of Elisha, Ananias, Saphira, and many others. We ministers of the gospel are sometimes charged with being especially addicted to covetousness ; and there seems to be an impression that the “pious” are particularly fond of money. These accusations have not been dictated by love; and there probably is no more truth in them than there would be in decrying all the disciples of Jesus as rascally misers, merely because this was true in the case of Judas. But it is certain that Satan makes special efforts to lead the faithful, and more particularly the ministers of the gospel, into the snare of covetousness. He was able to catch one of the twelve apostles in his toils; let none among us, then, feel secure!
Our text shows us the terrible strength of the chain with which the devil had bound Judas. Jesus begins by saying that one of them shall betray him. Now, even this ought to have pierced Judas through marrow and bone; but though all the other apostles were “exceeding sorrowful,” he was not affected. As this does not awaken in him horror of the way which he had determined to follow, the Lord declares in definite terms that he knows the betrayer; and then he adds the solemn and heart-wringing statement, that Judas must, to be sure, serve God’s purpose, but that, as for him, “it had been good for that man if he had not been born.” It is all in vain. The covetousness of Judas has given the devil such power over him that the tempter now fills his whole soul, and the Savior’s warning has no other effect than to complete the hardening of his heart. Beware, Christian friends, of this horse leach, which is never satisfied! (Proverbs 30, 15). Put it to death at once with its whole brood; else it shall not only devour the needy round about you, but shall drink your own heart’s blood. Watch diligently, repent daily and thoroughly, obey the Spirit of God, remain all the time under the cross of Christ; so shall you be rid of the vice of covetousness, but become rich in noble deeds.
My God, “draw me to thee, and cure me of the terrible disease of covetousness; for no created thing can satisfy my hunger, or quiet my longing. Unite me with thee in the indissoluble bond of love; for in thee only can love find satisfaction, and without thee everything is sin and vanity.” Amen.
God calling yet! —shall I not hear?
Earth’s pleasures shall I still hold dear?
Shall life’s swift passing years all fly,
And still my soul in slumber lie?
God calling yet! —I cannot stay;
My heart I yield without delay.
Vain world, farewell! from thee I part;
The voice of God hath reached my heart.