Letters to the Prison - Week 67

Hello, Everyone!  We miss you.
We’re almost through John 6!  We haven’t considered everything that could be considered in those verses, but we’ve thought about a lot.  We’ll finish by considering Judas’ great conspiracy.  
But before we do, there’s something to look back on:  Another reason why the fake disciples walked away from Jesus.  It seems plain to us that Jesus didn’t literally mean we have to eat his flesh and drink his blood in order to have eternal life.  It’s probably safe to say, in fact, that to take such a statement as entirely literal might be illogical…silly… crazy, even.  So, should we dismiss the crowd of people who rejected Jesus at that moment as a bunch of bull-headed, illogical or silly people?  Definitely not.  Many of them likely understood exactly what Jesus meant… and that what he was saying demanded a lifetime of dedicated submission to his lordship --even unto death—with perhaps no earthly reward in return.  And many of his followers weren’t willing to make such a commitment to Jesus.  They wanted comfort and riches in this life, and they wanted it now.
They didn’t want to lay down their lives for Jesus.  They didn’t want to make the commitment to trust and follow him no matter what.  Is that like us?  Is there a point at which we would cease to believe, trust, or follow Jesus?  Would we follow him when it’s easy but abandon him when things get difficult or inconvenient?  We need to consider such things carefully.
Such was likely the state of Judas’ heart.  Judas was not a bull-headed, silly, or illogical man.  He probably understood full-well what Jesus was saying at this moment.  But he was also not all-in to follow Jesus.  He had a limit… a point at which he would no longer walk with Jesus.  But rather than simply abandon Jesus, Judas would instead one day betray him unto death.  
And Jesus knew it.  Look what he says after Peter’s great confession:
•70 Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the twelve? And yet one of you is a devil.” 71 He spoke of Judas the son of Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the twelve, was going to betray him.-John 6:70-71
John, looking back on this moment as he writes some 30 years after it happened, recognizes that Jesus was referring to Judas.  But at the time Jesus said these words, John and Peter and the other disciples couldn’t have known who Jesus meant.  They didn’t know the hearts of men.  They barely knew their own hearts.  Neither do we.  But Jesus does.  
Jesus says some amazing things about himself in this statement.  Consider his first words: “Did I not choose you…?”  It’s a rhetorical question.  Jesus did indeed choose his apostles… all twelve of them… including Judas.  Luke 6:12-16 records the moment Jesus selected these twelve men specifically from amongst his other followers.  And he made this selection after an entire night spent in prayer to God.  So, knowing the hearts of all men… and having prayed all night… Jesus still chose Judas.  Why?  Because Judas’ betrayal was part of the plan all along.  Jesus even says as much (Matt. 26:24).  It is amazing to consider that Jesus, knowing all of this in advance, still walked with Judas… still allowed him to live, even.  This is a dire warning to us.  Judas had choices to make, and he made them.  And Jesus, literally walking with him for three years, allowed Judas to make those horrible choices and suffer the consequences.  We too have the freedom to choose whether to follow Jesus or not... whether to obey him or not…  And we too get to own the consequences of our choices.
“…one of you is a devil…”  --that is a tough thing for our Lord and Savior to say to someone.  Worse, the phrase could easily (and accurately) read “one of you is the devil.”  Matthew 16:23 records a moment when Jesus specifically calls Peter Satan.  Later in our study, we’ll see Peter deny Jesus three times (John 18:15-27).  We have to imagine that these words from Jesus (“one of you is a devil”) must have stung to the heart when Peter realized that he too had caved under the social pressure to deny Jesus and had abandoned him.
These words claim a lot about us and our circumstances today.  First, they claim with certainty that the devil does indeed exist.  Satan is not a myth.  Second, they show that the devil can and will use humans as his agents against God’s will.  Third, they show that humans have a conscious choice about whether or not to act as Satan’s agents.  Look what James tells us:
•Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
-James 4:7
But in order to make the right choice, we have to realize that there is a choice to make in the first place.  We’re not helpless pawns in some cosmic spiritual game.  Whether we believe it or not, we are active participants in a war between God and the devil.  And we get to choose which side we’re on.  The Bible helps us to make an informed choice.  Which is why we choose to study it carefully.  It is also why the enemy actively opposes such activity.  If Satan had his way, we wouldn’t even know there was a question to ask, let alone ask ourselves “is Jesus who he says he is?”  The deception goes beyond denying or confusing the truth… he doesn’t even want us to know there’s a question to ask at all.
Another of the devil’s great deceptions is this:  That we’re smart enough to go our own way and make our own decisions apart from God and his word.  Looking back at the last verse of John 6, we see that Judas was “one of the twelve.”  Judas was among Jesus’ closest companions while he walked on earth.  Judas had the privilege of seeing and hearing Jesus… of seeing many of his works.  For three years, Judas literally walked with Jesus.  And he was still deceived into thinking he knew better… or that there was a better way.  And Judas made the wrong choice.  
This should be a loud warning to us.
We encourage you today to think for yourselves.  Don’t be swept away by the opinion of the crowds.  Don’t be led astray by the current trends.  Think for yourselves.  But do so with a firm grip on the truth.  Pray, dear friends, that we would do the same.  
•The sum of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures forever.
-Psalm 119:160
What we’re seeing here as we study the Bible is no less than God’s revealed truth about himself –and us.  We pray that you love studying it with us.  We love you!  We’ll start John 7 next week!

Dean A.



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