Thursday, March 13, 2014

Apostles and Disciples: the betrayer (Luke 6:13,16)

And when day came, He called His disciples to Him and chose twelve of them, whom He also named as apostles: Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor. (Luke 6:13, 16 NASB)

The first Judas listed is Judas the son of James. He is also called Thaddaeus as well as Jude and Jude Thaddaeus. Although there is some variation in translation of his name, it is clear he is not Judas Iscariot. Not much is written in Scripture about this first Judas, but he is thought to be the apostle later regarded as Saint Jude. 

The next disciple is not my favorite. Judas Iscariot. Jesus spent all night in prayer, He had divine input for His decision, yet still He selected Judas Iscariot as one of the apostles. Did He know what was to come? Did He know that Judas was a thief and a betrayer? Probably so. Certainly God the Father knew.  Regardless, he was chosen as an apostle. That decision tells us two things. Judas Iscariot was in the larger crowd of disciples following Jesus and in the smaller group of disciples who had been close followers. We don't know what weakness with which he had struggled, nor what mistakes he had made in the past. Was he doomed to betray Christ by the selection as an apostle? No. He had the same advantage of constant contact with Jesus as the other eleven men. He heard the same lessons, enjoyed the same close communion as all the others. His path of sin was one he chose and continued on to its deadly conclusion. 

Jesus confined Himself to flesh and came to earth with the understanding that He would be the spotless Lamb of God slain for the redemption of the world. He knew about the cross and He came anyway. He knew that He would be betrayed and He likely knew that Judas might be the source of that betrayal, but he certainly knew there was that risk. In fact, however, all twelve of the men were at risk of becoming betrayers. In a moment of anger or frustration or passion, all of us are at risk of betraying Christ. 

It saddens me to write this, but Luke could just as easily have put my name in that last spot of apostles. Leanna was chosen to be an apostle, yet she betrayed Jesus. He could have put your name. Every one of us has failed Christ in some way. More truthfully, we have failed Him in many ways, yet He still forgives and washes us white as snow by that precious blood He shed. 

Today, let's take stock of our propensity for sin, for betrayal. What is it that draws us away from our Lord? 

Pray today that we and our loved ones will willingly relinquish those things that draw us from Jesus and threaten to make us betray the One who loves us most. 

Link to last night's Lenten devotional: