Tuesday, October 1, 2013

A Chance Worth Taking

Then Jesus replied, “Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil! (He meant Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, who though one of the Twelve, was later to betray him). John 6:70-71

The day before, the disciples and the crowds enjoyed a miraculous meal; five loaves of bread and two small fishes fed a multitude. Later that evening, caught in a storm on the Sea of Galilee, the disciples saw Jesus and one of their own, Peter, walk on water. Now, once again Jesus and the disciples found themselves surrounded by a crowd of thrill seekers in search of another miracle. When pressed to produce another spectacular sign, Jesus delivered a bone chilling discourse. Anyone wishing to follow Him had to eat His flesh and drink His blood. Those who came for a happy meal got a stomach turner. Many, including some of His own called it quits that day and left. He then questioned the Twelve’s commitment to stick with Him and in verse seventy Jesus made this startling statement, “Yet one of you is a devil!”

It’s curious that the same disciples who’d argue about which one of them would be the greatest in the kingdom were strangely silent on this issue. Why would Jesus tolerate a devil in His close circle of friends? Why allow a traitor to handle the ministry finances? To my way of thinking, Judas shouldn’t have been in the group; but then, I don’t always think the way Jesus does.

Jesus said He had hand picked each of the Twelve. Was Judas a devil from the beginning or was this a more recent development? The Bible doesn’t say. Still the question remains. Why would Jesus keep a traitor as a friend and confident? The answer may be in the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares.

A man planted wheat in his field and later discovered that an enemy crept in and planted tares also. When this was discovered, the owner of the field instructed his servants to do nothing. If the tares were uprooted, the wheat would be damaged and the harvest diminished. Jesus must have realized that to remove Judas would have been detrimental to the other eleven.

Although Jesus knew Judas’ true allegiance, He permitted him to remain. If Jesus said the man was a devil, then he was. Jesus wasn’t afraid; He demonstrated no fear with His enemy in close proximity. As far as He was concerned, satan was already defeated. It was all over except the crying. Now He had an opportunity to drive satan crazy.

I wonder if Jesus could literally see the devil cringe every time He spoke the truth. Could He see satan squirm and writhe in agony as He systematically dismantled sickness, disease and death? What fun! Any devil who lived that close to Jesus was in his own version of hell on earth- sweet! Besides, Jesus was unwilling to give up on any one, including Judas.

We’ll find ourselves in this same predicament. There will always be those influenced by demonic forces around us. This is no reason to run and hide. It’s an opportunity to stand our ground and face them head on. They’re the losing team that showed up, not us. There’s always the possibility they may choose to switch and join the winning side. That’s a chance worth taking.

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