~This is the second part of the series on John 13 by Donna Baker~
Last Thursday we read how Jesus spent His last hours fulfilling the will of His Father in teaching and serving others.
God’s plan was in place.
Jesus was in lockstep with His Father in spite of what He knew He was facing.
The focus switches now to Judas.
During supper, the devil having already put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, to betray Him… —John 13:2
All sin begins in the heart. Only when it is acted upon does it become sin.
We can read about this downward slide in chapter 1 of James:
Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. —James: 1:13-16
If you look up the verses in the Bible where Judas is mentioned, you learn he was covetous. We know this because it tells us he was a thief. He didn’t need the money, he simply wanted the money. He had been with Jesus for three years. Did he think Jesus didn’t know he was stealing?
Our hearts deceive us too. We think God doesn’t see our secret sins but He does, just as Jesus knew Judas’ heart.
One of the most startling things to consider about Judas is that earlier in time, Jesus had also sent Judas to heal, cast out demons, etc.:
And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction.
The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James [the son] of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus; Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him.
These twelve Jesus sent out, instructing them, “Go nowhere among the Gentiles and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
And proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay.
—Matthew 10:1-8 (ESV)
Isn’t this astonishing? Judas was able to do all these things and saw these miracles and many more. He saw Lazarus and the others Jesus raised from the dead, and yet he still didn’t believe with his heart.
Sobering thoughts, aren’t they? Doesn’t it give this portion of Matthew 7 a whole new perspective to ponder?
Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’
And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
We all have preconceived ideas of what we expect of Jesus in our lives even if we are not aware of it. It is very likely that Judas had some preconceived ideas too—how he thought Jesus should be or do—and it was not working out that way. From my point of view, this is probably part of why he was contemplating betraying Him.
Here is one of my thoughts [and remember, this is my opinion, not the Bible’s]: we know that two of the other disciples thought Jesus was going to set up His kingdom right away and free them from the Romans. We know this because their mother asked Jesus to give them the two highest political offices, on the right and the left of Him.
Maybe Judas expected, as they did, to have an important “cabinet” position such as Department of Treasury where he could have both prestige and siphon off a lot more money to help him grow rich and powerful.
Does that sound like some of today’s politicians?
When it became clear to Judas that Jesus had another plan, he was probably disillusioned and maybe even angry. He seemed to have forgotten all the miracles of the past.
Remember, it is only a few days before Jesus will raise Lazarus from the dead! Judas was there!
How this applies to us.
Often when we pray, our preconceived or erroneous ideas expect God to answer in a specific way. Or maybe we wonder why He is sometimes silent. Perhaps there’s even some other way we are disappointed by the answer [or no answer] to our prayers.
We must guard our hearts so as not to let unbelief seep in and cause us to sin or to doubt that God always has our best interests at work in our lives.
Therefore, we must be like Jesus: keep focused on the mission.
To be continued next Thursday…
As I wrote you last Thursday, today begins the series on John 13 by my friend and mentor, Donna Baker. Again, thank you, Donna, for allowing me to share your heart with my readers.
Now before the Feast of the Passover, Jesus knowing that His hour had come that He would depart out of this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end. –John 13:1
This was not only the last night of Jesus’ life, but He knew in mere hours He would be tortured and crucified: the most cruel form of death.
And yet He spent His last hours fulfilling the will of His Father, in teaching and serving others.
If we faced that, would we be fulfilling our religious obligations, teaching others—calm, methodical, focused on the goal—or would we be ricocheting off the walls, focused on the end? It’s quite unlikely we would be calm. Maybe we’d even be crying and praying. Jesus did that too in the Garden of Gethsemane later that night.
He was after all, human.
He was obeying God and His written Word in spite of what faced Him.
It was the Feast of the Passover when all Jewish males were to go to Jerusalem to attend the Feast:
The LORD spoke again to Moses, saying, “Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘The LORD’S appointed times which you shall proclaim as holy convocations—
My appointed times are these:…
In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at twilight is the LORD’s Passover.’”
—Leviticus 23:1-2, 5
Jesus was not only to go to the Feast, He was to be the Passover Lamb, the sacrifice for all the sin of all mankind. There are so many Scriptures that say this, but I only want to dwell now on the one in John 1, where John the Baptist foretold of Him:
Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! —John 1:29
The Jews had wanted to kill Him for years, but they didn’t want to do it during the Passover. However God had other plans and His plans are never thwarted:
I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted. —Job 42:2
The Jews thought they were in control but reading about the last night of Jesus’ life should put that idea to rest with anyone who reads it. God caused all things to be as they were foretold in the Old Testament. There are too many to list here.
Be an Acts 17:11 Christian and look them up and you will be amazed at Your God!!
Now these were more noble-minded that those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so. —Acts 17:11
God’s plan was in place. Jesus was in lockstep with His Father in spite of what He knew He was facing.
Beloved, as you pray today, ask yourself these questions:
Am I in lockstep with God’s plan for me today?
Am I spending enough time listening to Him through His Word and in prayer?
Am I trusting God for my future even if it is a harsh future, or even death?
Am I praying and caring only for myself or for others as Jesus did in His last hours?
To be continued next Thursday…
I hope you’ve enjoyed all the colorfully illustrated Scripture passage images I’ve shared here for the past couple of weeks while I have enjoyed a self-imposed and much-needed break from my blog. It is really nice to be able to write posts ahead of time and schedule them for a future date.
While I was resting from all the blogging activity, I prayerfully realized I have been devoting too much time to my blog which translates to tons of time on my computer. I have learned not to take it lightly when God is trying to teach me something through several different means. In this case, God showed me in various ways that although I am sharing from my heart for the Lord’s purposes, all this computer time means sacrificing time in other areas: my quiet time with the Lord spent in prayer, meditation, Bible reading and devotions; time with my sweet and understanding hubby Rick; taking care of the home God has blessed and entrusted to Rick and me; fulfilling other writing obligations; and finally … just plain rest, which I sorely need because of ongoing chronic illnesses.
In other words, I have been so much into the work of the Lord that I have been neglecting the Lord of the work.
Not to worry, though. I’m not deserting my blog, just praying about how to reduce my computer time. I have a few ideas I want to mull over and pray about and I’ll share these with you a bit at a time.
For now, I won’t be writing every day but only as the Lord leads me. From past experience, I have learned that God always has a better plan than anything I could ever think up on my own, so I can’t wait to see what He has planned for the future of this blog.
Beloved, God’s love and faithfulness never changes. Because I know He wants the best for me, I also trust and know He will lead me to that best as long as I first and foremost truly seek to know Him better. And that will lead to my understanding His perfect will for my writing and bloggy life.