Wow! It’s been a long time since I’ve written and I’m sorry about that. We had some family stuff going on that distracted me from writing. But I’m back and my goal is to post at least once if not twice a week.
Enough of that stuff, let’s get into God’s word!
This time we will be looking at the first time the 12 apostles are listed all together. Today’s reading can also be found in Mark 3:13-19 but I am going to focus on Luke’s version of events:
“One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles: Simon (whom he named Peter), his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called the Zealot, Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.” (Luke 6:12-16 NIV)
I was thinking of all the ways we could approach this reading: we could look at name origins, we could look at what it means to be an apostle… but there is one thing that keeps drawing my attention, “and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor,” (verse 16). It really makes me stop and think because Jesus is God, right? And God knows everything, right? So it follows that Jesus would have known what Judas was going to do so why call him to be a close companion? I mean these are his most intimate friends- his cohorts in crime, if you will. Yet, Jesus purposely called Judas to be one of his closest allies knowing he was going to betray him to the enemy. Not only that but he put him in charge of their money knowing that Judas would steal from them (John 12:1-6). I’m not saying that Jesus should have tried to thwart God’s plan of him being turned over to be crucified but did it have to come from a “friend”? But yet isn’t this what God does for us? Doesn’t he call us to be his close friend knowing we will betray him through our sin? Yes, he does. He invites us into his inner circle knowing we will turn our backs on him. He gives us control of the money bags knowing our propensity to steal. This is the heart of grace. Speaking from personal experience, I am the biggest of sinners. I have turned my back on God more times than I care to tell you about. I am Judas Iscariot. I have taken God’s trust and broken it. Even still, God forgives me. He accepts my sincere apology each and every time and removes my sin. I don’t claim to understand it- I just know it happens even though I don’t deserve it.
My question is this- do we realize how pitiful our situation is? Do we realize how closely we relate to Judas? And because of that do we realize the extent of God’s forgiveness? Do we realize the depths of his love for us despite our poor choices and blatant betrayal? Or do we think that we are doing God a favor by loving him? Do we forget the height from which we have fallen? The danger of forgetting the miserable state from which we came is we become judgmental people who think we are not nearly as bad as others. Yes, God has cleaned me up inside and out but there was a time I was like a rotting corpse. The stench permeated my soul. Then God graciously brought me to new life through Christ. How am I to look down at someone else? Yet this is the danger that faces us. Once saved it is easy to forget the old, embrace the new, and forget how terrible our position was; we forget that we were all Judases at one point. And instead of wanting to share our new found love, we point fingers at others who have “worse sins” than ours.
I know, you never expected all of this from a list of names but it is important to remember that from which we have been saved. Judas always gets a bad wrap for being a bad guy and we tend to forget that we are no better. Never forget that you have God’s grace because you were first a sinner- first class.