As God challenges us, how do we react when we discover we are similar to Judas Iscariot? Do we act as citizens of heaven or similar to those in John 6:66?
66 As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore. 67 So Jesus said to the twelve, “You do not want to go away also, do you?” 68 Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life.69 We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.” 70 Jesus answered them, “Did I Myself not choose you, the twelve, and yet one of you is a devil?”71 Now He meant Judas the son of Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the twelve, was going to betray Him.
I have recognized a few subtleties in today’s passage. For one, I find it ironic that John 6:66 talks about people falling away from following Christ. I’m not one to get hung up on numerical symbolism, but it is ironic nonetheless. If we look back at the previous passage, Our Own Stumbling Block, we see that Jesus is drawing the line in regards to who is saved and who is not. We see here that many fall away because they cannot face the cold hard truth. It is not of our own will that we are saved nor is it of our own effort, but of His alone. How many times does God challenge us and our motives and as a result, we decide to stop following Him because we do not like what we hear?
I can imagine that this passage, if ever used for teaching points, is usually used to key in on verses 68 and 69, highlighting the importance of following Jesus because His Words have eternal life. However, how often do we neglect the importance of verses 70 and 71? I have noted 2 key points in this momentary exchange:
1) Previously, Jesus mentioned that God Himself chooses those whom will believe and those who will not and now He is reminding us that He picked the original 12 who believe. This is yet another proclamation of Christ’s godliness.
2) He chose people according to His purpose, not upon their own merit or goodness. He knowingly picked Judas as a disciple because it fit into His plan. Think about it: if Judas wasn’t a disciple, then He couldn’t have betrayed Jesus and if Jesus wasn’t betrayed, He wouldn’t have been executed the way He was, would He?
Certainly we can argue the “what ifs” all we want regarding what could have happened. Was Judas not a believer? Sure he was! All of the disciples believed in Him or else they wouldn’t have followed Him in the first place. Judas, I believe is a great example of a believer who still tries to remain tied to the world. It’s an example of how easy it is to betray the ones we love. We see later that Judas did love Jesus because of the guilt and shame he felt later.
How often do we turn away from God and His teachings because we don’t like what He tells us? Why don’t we like what He tells us? Because it goes against the grain of what we are used to. Like Judas, we try to be both: a citizen of Heaven and a citizen of this world. It doesn’t work that way and when we are confronted with the hard truth, we simply take the easy way out.