Saturday, January 14, 2023
By Austin Barton, Journey High School Student
Then Jesus replied, “Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!” (He meant Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, who, though one of the Twelve, was later to betray him.) – John 6:70-71
We always talk about “The Twelve,” the twelve disciples of Jesus. We always talk about Matthew, the tax collector and betrayer of the Jews, his own countrymen. We always talk about Peter, the fisherman who became the “fisher of people”. But it’s rare we talk about Judas. He’s the weird one of the bunch. Chosen by Jesus, but he himself did not choose Jesus.
Let us imagine something for a second. Imagine you knew one of your best friends was going to report you to the government and inevitably get you the death sentence as a result. Also imagine that you knew, with 100% certainty, that this would happen. I don’t know about you, but I would stop being friends with them.
Well, this happened to Jesus. John 6:64 reads, “For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him.” A few verses later we learn that Judas was going to betray Jesus. Yet Jesus actively chose, in every waking moment he had with Judas, to continue loving him…even though Judas didn’t love him back. Unconditional love.
A couple versus later, John 6:66 reads, “From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.” And yet still, Jesus died on the cross for these people, even after they had turned their back on him.
I suppose this goes to show that Jesus can save us, but on the flip side, we must want to be saved. While Jesus wants everyone to come home, the choice is up to each individual.
I know almost everyone has had these thoughts: If God is infinitely powerful, why does Satan exist? Why do bad things happen? Why did Jesus allow Judas to exist if he was going to be used by the Devil? With how many people from which Jesus had driven demons, why didn’t he intervene with Judas?
Let’s go back to Judas. Jesus loved him, but Judas didn’t want to be saved. The truth is that Jesus wants to save you, but you must want to be saved. God wants relationships, not a dictatorship. He wants you to choose him, just like how he chose you.
But if God wants to give you the choice to pick him, he also has to give you the choice to pick the other side. It’s called free will. Jesus gave Judas free will to either choose him or Satan, and Jesus still loved Judas even though Judas would ultimately pick Satan.
John 6 tells us that Jesus will have some challenging messages, ones that will make us want to leave. But it also shows us that he loves us unconditionally. The story of Judas actually says less about how bad Judas is and more about how good Jesus is.
“Dear God, thank you for choosing me. Forgive me of the times I have betrayed and backstabbed you, and help me forgive myself. Help me to see that behind your conviction is unconditional compassion. Amen.”
Get to a place where you can focus and read the daily Scripture passage several times. From the passage of Scripture you read, highlight one or two verses that stick out. Write them down, and even consider rewriting the verse(s) in your own words.
Make some basic observations about the scripture you just read by asking these questions:
- Why was this written?
- To whom was it originally written?
- What is the author trying to communicate?
- What does the Scripture passage teach me about God and humanity?
After taking some time explaining the highlighted scriptures, begin to think about how they apply to your life. Ask yourself these questions and spend some time writing down your thoughts:
- What do these verses mean today?
- What does this verse(s) mean for my life?
- How does this verse challenge my thinking and actions?
- What changes do I need to make in my life as a result of this passage of Scripture?
Your response to the passage may take on many forms. You may write a call to action. You may describe how you will be different because of what God has said to you through the Bible verses. You may indicate what you are going to do because of what you learned. You may respond by writing out a prayer to God. For example, you may ask God to help you to be more loving, or to give you a desire to be more generous in your giving. Keep in mind that this is your response to what you have just read.