Have you ever thought about this fact? I’ve been a Christian since I was 8 years old….almost 40 years….and it has only been until recently that I’ve truly pondered this truth. And I’ve truly marveled at this idea!
Jesus. Chose. Judas. On. Purpose.
When Jesus began His public ministry, we see the journey He took in choosing the 12 disciples. Throughout the first four gospels of the New Testament, each author introduces the disciples at various intervals, but they all follow the same path. John the Baptist had been preparing the people for years, during his public ministry, declaring to them that the Messiah was here and coming to save them all. Remember now, that John and Jesus were cousins….John’s mother, Elizabeth, was visited by Jesus’ mother Mary while they were both pregnant. John lept in his mother’s womb at the sheer nearness of the Savior that Mary was carrying (Luke 1:41). God ordained even in that moment to prepare John spiritually for the ministry he would have in proclaiming the good news that the Messiah was on His way!
One more thing that had to happen before Jesus began His public ministry was that He was sent into the wilderness by God the Father, to endure various temptations brought on by the devil. Let me be very clear here ~ Jesus cannot give into temptation because He is fully God. And as fully man, Satan tried to tempt His earthly flesh, but Jesus was never in danger of giving into any of those temptations because He is fully God. This part of scripture shows us a few things.
One is that, God will always give us a way out of any temptation we face in our lives. ALWAYS!! (I Corinthians 10:13). Secondly, Jesus wanted to show us the key principle to use when the enemy is trying to tempt us is to go to scripture. Speak the truth of God’s Word into whatever the situation might be and keep the devil out of our life. There is nothing Satan can say that will ever trump the truth of what God’s Word says.
Satan tried to tempt Jesus three times and each time, Jesus reminded Him what the truth was. Satan’s job is to distract us from what God says is true; to try and manipulate God’s Word to make us think God is wrong and that His word doesn’t apply to our life. Everything Satan used to tempt Jesus, were things that already belonged to Jesus as the Son of God. There was nothing Jesus would gain from giving into temptations. We need to remember this because we are God’s child and as such we have been given the same authority over the principalities of the earth. We can tell Satan to hit the road and never come back!
After going through the 40 days in the wilderness and being tempted three times, Jesus didn’t jump up on the proverbial stage and declare His power and demand to be listened to. He went to find his cousin John the Baptist, and asked to be baptized. So John did just that ~ Jesus of Nazareth was baptized in the Jordan river and, we read in Matthew 3:16, “As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him.” What a powerful sight to behold that must have been!
Now, Jesus was ready to choose his disciples. The 12 men who would become the cornerstone members of the Christian church. Just. Twelve. Men. Not perfect men, not special men, not men with high ranking jobs….just human beings who were willing to follow Christ when He called them.
You can read all four gospels to get a unique perspective on who was chosen and how they were chosen, but for today’s blog, I’m going to be primarily using the books of Matthew and John.
In Matthew 4:18-22, Jesus begins by choosing Simon Peter and his brother Andrew, then James the son of Zebedee and his brother John ~ all four were fisherman and do you know what their response was, vs. 20, “At once they left their nets and followed him.” and in vs. 22, “and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.”
There was absolutely NO hesitation! I love that and wish I was more like that!
In Matthew 10:1-4, we read how He sent out the disciples to begin their ministries along with Jesus and look what He does, “Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness. These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.”
So you can see ~ these were just ordinary men. Fishermen, a tax collector, a zealot….and a betrayer.
He taught these men all that He knew and unfolded parts of the mysteries of heaven (healings, preaching, casting out demons) to them in order to give them authority to preach God’s truth throughout the lands.
This all included Judas.
Why would Jesus do this? Because He KNEW what Judas was going to do and He knew that it needed to happen. Jesus chose this disciple, this friend, knowing Judas would betray Him. Jesus had to make sure that His disciples, and all of His followers, would realize that it HE wasn’t caught off guard by His arrest and subsequent crucifixion. One of the ways that Jesus made it clear He knew what was going on and what was about to happen, is these passages in John 13 ~
vs. 18-20 , ““I am not referring to all of you; I know those I have chosen. But this is to fulfill this passage of Scripture: ‘He who shared my bread has turned against me.’ “I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I am who I am. Very truly I tell you, whoever accepts anyone I send accepts me; and whoever accepts me accepts the one who sent me.””
vs. 26-30, “Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.” Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him. So Jesus told him, “What you are about to do, do quickly.” But no one at the meal understood why Jesus said this to him. Since Judas had charge of the money, some thought Jesus was telling him to buy what was needed for the festival, or to give something to the poor. As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out. And it was night.”
Look at the parts of these verses above that I put in bold ~ JESUS KNEW WHO HE CHOSE AND WHAT JUDAS WAS GOING TO DO!
There is no question about it. This is further proof that every part of Jesus’ life was determined only by God the Father. Human minds did not bring God the Son, Jesus, to earth. Human minds did not determine where and when Jesus’ public ministry began. Human minds certainly did not dictate the why and how of His crucifixion. And most importantly, human minds did not and could not comprehend the beautiful resurrection of Jesus, completely the plan that God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, devised to bring about restoration and salvation!
One last piece to today’s writing that I feel cannot be missed, is a simple but an impactful fact. Jesus was betrayed by a friend. Just like Jesus knows hunger, exhaustion, delight, sadness, and the joy of obedience to the Father, Jesus knows the pain of betrayal. I’m sure like me, you don’t become friends with someone knowing they will betray you. Why on earth would we put ourselves through that kind of pain from the beginning of a friendship? Sometimes we are betrayed by someone we may have had an inkling was not a good influence on us, but most often the experience is one of the friend who chooses at some point in the relationship to turn against us ~ to betray our confidence, our trust, or the sincerity of our heart.
Rest assured my friend ~ Jesus knows this pain all too well. Cry out to Him and He will hear you. As with Judas, there was a purpose in his relationship to Jesus. May I suggest that the difficulties in friendships you may have had in the past, or may be currently having, have a purpose. It doesn’t matter your age, a betrayal of friendship can cut to the heart. At a recent women’s retreat I attended, the speaker made it very clear that forgiveness of a betrayal (no matter how big or small) does not mean that you have to automatically trust that person again. Forgiveness can be freely given ~ Trust must be earned.
Betrayal may feel like a wound that is impossible to heal ~ and you’re partly right…you can’t do it on your own. Only our Comforter, the Holy Spirit can come in and bind that wound and heal it in order to make us stronger for what’s coming next.
Jesus is the best friend we can ever hope to find. He will never betray you. He will never use your vulnerability against you. He will never sell you out.
He will always have your back. He will always care about your feelings. He will always have time for you.
Jesus will always love you.
Romans 8:38-39 declares, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Oh, and one of my absolute favorite reminders of God’s love for me ~
2 Thessalonians 2:16-17, “May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.”
Blessings to you my friend,