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What The "Bag" Is Saying About You
"The purse might have been a preservative against the vile temptation to sell his Master, and a test and motive for self-con-quest." - Pulpit Commentary - New Testament
"Temptation commonly comes through that for which we are naturally fitted." - Robertson's Word Pictures
"Strong inclinations to sin within are often justly punished with strong temptations to sin without." "Coldness of love to Christ, and a secret contempt of serious piety, when they appear in professors of religion, are sad presages of a final apostasy."
- Matthew Henry
"Betrayal of Christ, in some form or other, follows the love of money as regularly and as certainly as night follows day."
- Biblical Illustrator - New Testament
"Sinful motive often hides itself under the mark of reverence for another virtue."
- Pulpit Commentary - New Testament
Judas was a "thief." Yet the Scripture says that "he had the bag" - "This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein"(John 12:6).
It is written of him that he was "one of the disciples," yet it also says of him - "Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, which should betray Him"(John 12:4) and "Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil? He spake of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon: for he it was that should betray Him, being one of the twelve" (John 6:70-71). The Apostle Luke came out and called him a "traitor" - "And Judas the brother of James, and Judas Iscariot, which also was the traitor"(Luke 6:16).
Here we have it - "one of the disciples" chosen and called by Jesus just happened to be a "thief," a "devil," and a "traitor."
Did the Son of God make a mistake in choosing such a character to carry on His work for Him? Can He be accused of ever making a mistake in judgment?
The answer is "Absolutely not!"
Jesus knew who and what He was choosing when He called Judas to be one of "His own." It was no mistake in judgment on His part for Him to place a greedy man in the position of treasurer. This was all planned to teach us a very valuable lesson about ourselves and others. May we learn the lessons well which the Holy Spirit would have us glean from the Scriptures today.
First of all, it is no mistake on God's part that He has placed you in that particular position of authority that you share or has given you that particular gift or talent. But know this - that place of authority or gift and talent is meant to either make you or break you. It all depends on the condition of your heart. That high position or privilege will show you up for who you really are.
Here was Judas - "one of the disciples." As an apostle, he was healing the sick, casting out devils, and preaching the Gospel - just like the other disciples. But there was one place of distinction that he shared above the others - he "had the bag." The "bag" was originally a box or sheath for keeping mouthpieces of wind instruments. It was then used as a purse, chest, or coffer in which travelers put whatever money they had. "Having the bag" was a notable and trustworthy position for Judas. He was entrusted with the money for the group.
This disciple was counted as one of the apostle's number, but he proved to be not of their nature. He was an unblushing embezzler. With utmost secrecy, he carried on his thievery. He lurked under the disguise of the best profession. He did so well that even his comrades never suspected his evil ways and intentions. They never saw through the pretence by which he covered his foul iniquity of covetousness and ambition.
It's important to note at this point that iniquity has a mystery about it. It can speak the language of holiness and yet be so unholy. It can utter sentiments of benevolence and yet be filled with selfishness, dishonesty, and avarice.
Oh! Saint of God, never forget one thing - Sin is very deceitful! It can take on a disguise to cover up its true nature. In fact - it happens all the time!
Here was Judas - the man selected to be the treasurer of the ministry. Knowing Jesus to be Who He was - the others would automatically assume that Judas - His choice - was the most honest man on the face of the earth. But was he? Just because the Son of God placed him in a position of integrity, was he the most honest man around?
We can gather from this incident that God oftentimes(not always) places people in positions - not because they are highly qualified - but to show them and others their true makeup or to cause them to arise to a place of victory over a certain weakness.
How many times did He call you to a place of responsibility that you felt was a total mistake because you felt so inadequate? It was no mistake on God's part. He intended to reveal to you your greatest strengths and weaknesses. And your weaknesses - if not "soaked" in prayer - either made you or broke you.
Whenever the Lord places you in a position of authority or greater wealth, you must be on guard. This office is intended to test, form, and reveal character.
The "bag" - or position of wealth and prestige - will either be a "tree of life" to you or a "tree of death." If you take what is in the "bag" for yourself and not fulfill the "call" or purpose of God for it, it will eventually take from you. And sad but true - the "bag" in the end took away from so many their very own soul.
When Judas was chosen for the position of treasurer, he did not show any signs of treachery. But we find out, in John 13:2, that - as time moved onward - he did show signs of being under the influence of strong or corrupt inclinations. He yielded his heart to the seed of Satan. He opened the door to his heart for the enemy's design to deliver up Jesus - "And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray Him."
All along the "secret wickedness" of covetousness grew in Judas' heart. On the outside, he looked, talked, and acted as "one of the disciples." Yet in his heart, he was becoming more and more like the devil.
God had a plan. Exposure was pending. A Divine Set-up was orchestrated to reveal the true character of this man.
Believe it or not - what brought out his corruption was a costly act of worship toward the Lord Jesus. It was an act of worship that had to do with money or the giving thereof for the work of the ministry.
It's amazing how the hearts of people are revealed when a "call" is sent forth for money to cover the cost of the Gospel. Attitudes of covetousness, selfishness, and greed immediately surface in some hearts. Every excuse imaginable or every possible avenue of how their money can be spent on "better things" arises in their hearts.
John 12:3-6 explains Judas' Divine Set-up - "Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odor of the ointment. Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, which should betray Him, Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor? This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein."
Judas' reaction to Mary's costly act of worship revealed his true character. Oh! His mouth expressed that he had a love for the poor. But his heart was fuming. Why? Because he felt that the money could have been used for a better cause - to fill his own pockets. He cared nothing for the poor. This was all a cover-up. He wanted to look good in men's eyes. The other disciples may have swallowed such a lie - but Jesus did not! He knew that Judas was a "thief" and "traitor" from the beginning.
Judas' covetous heart grudged such an act of sacrifice and worship to the Master. It caused him - through envy and selfishness - to undervalue Mary's generous act. His nature was false and selfish. Mary's act of love for Jesus only ripened and revealed his true character.
Here is the truth of the matter - Judas valued the ointment which was priced at an entire year's wages more than His own Master. In fact, this ointment was priced at around $300.00. When it came to selling Jesus, he bargained for thirty pieces of silver - a much lower price.
Do you see the coldness of heart that this so-called disciple had for His Master - Who loved him enough to die on the cross for his sins? He hated Jesus. Mary's act of love magnified this hatred.
Judas was a lover of money rather than a lover of God.
And just because he was counted as "one of the disciples" or had the position of treasurer did not mean that he was a sanctified, Holy Ghost-filled, honest man. He was the total opposite.
The question you must ask yourself is this - What is the "bag" saying about you?
You may ask - What is my "bag"?
It is the position of authority or responsibility that God has placed you in at this time. Or it can be the wealth and success that you have been enjoying over the past years.
Others may look upon you and consider you to be the "favored" of the Lord. God has really blessed you.
Take heed here. This "bag" is intended by God to show you up for who you really are. You will see your strengths and you will see your weaknesses through it all.
Unlike Judas, this "bag" does not have to take away your soul. It can make you the man or woman of God whom He intends for you to become.
Watch out for Satan's evil suggestions and ungodly impulses to covetousness, greed, selfishness, and the love of money. Watch out for hypocrisy and pretense developing in your walk with the Lord. Keep your heart open to the Holy Spirit's will and ways and not the devil's.
Don't hide evil in your heart - repent of it. Don't act like you care for the poor - when all along all you care for is yourself and money.
Don't judge every book by its cover. "All is not gold that glitters."
You see the horrible ruin that came to Judas' life because he handled the "bag" wrongfully.
We plead with you - don't let the same thing happen to you.
May God Bless His Word.