We are creatures of habit and we tend to go with one of the following options for dealing with these 'problem texts':
1) We try and find another possible interpretation, rather than the straightforward, clear-cut one that sits in front of us.
2) We remember other texts that 'seem' to be saying the opposite and so we rest on those, calming our nerves.
3) We just forget about it, happy to drift away and not concern ourselves with such matters.
Let's take a look at a case study - Judas Iscariot. It is pretty safe to most (if not all) of the people reading this article recognise this name. For those who aren't familiar with it, Judas Iscariot was one of the twelve disciples of Jesus Christ during his earthly ministry. For three years, Judas followed Jesus everywhere, witnessing first-hand the perfect humanity lived out by the God-man. It is then all the more shocking when we read in the Gospels that Judas, manipulated by Satan and the desires of his own sinful flesh, betrays his Teacher with a kiss, handing him over to the authorities for thirty silver pieces. Driven into despair after this great act of treason, Judas takes his own life with a rope and tree.
The life and death of Judas Iscariot have left followers of Christ with some big questions since the events took place roughly 2000 years ago. Was he saved? If so, did he lose his salvation? Was Jesus caught off guard by his betrayal? If Jesus knew Judas was a bad egg from the beginning, why did He call him to be a disciple?
In a way only Jesus can do, he guides us not only to the beginning of the answers to these questions, but to glorious reasons for them being so. And again, in a way that only Jesus can, he does all this in a few, powerful words.
These come immediately after a mass rejection of him by people claiming to be his followers. Profoundly offended and discouraged by his words regarding their inability to come to God of their own accord, they turned back and no longer walked with him. "Do you want to go away as well?", asks Jesus to the shocked twelve. Peter answers him,
"Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God."
Peter, on behalf of the Twelve, declares their faith in Christ as the Holy One of God, the One sent by the Father to save His people out of bondage and slavery to sin. Intentionally relating to what he has just finishing preaching about in verse 65 (that no sinner can come to Jesus unless the Father grants it to him), Jesus then concludes this powerful passage with the following words -
"Did I not choose you, the Twelve? And yet one of you is a devil." - John 6 verse 70
Did you catch that? Jesus chose the Twelve (drew them to himself), yet one of them is a devil. Jesus chose them, but one of them is a devil. Jesus chose a devil. Why on earth would he do this? Why would he place within his inner circle a man who he knew from the beginning was a man of lawlessness? A son of destruction? A devil?
Due to a lack of words (and cognitive ability), I will not attempt to give an in-depth answer on this digital page. However, I will give you something to leave with. Something huge and quite difficult to chew (though the labour in chewing it is never in vain).
Not only did Jesus know fully of Judas' betrayal before Judas himself knew, but Jesus knew it was an indispensable part of God's eternal plan to glorify Himself in the salvation of sinners.
Or to put it more bluntly - The eternal God of all time and space planned/ordained/made certain that His only begotten Son, the second member of the Trinity, would be betrayed by one of his closest friends, and lead to a gruesome death on a Roman cross. Or to let the Bible speak for me - "It was the will of the Lord to crush him" - Isaiah 53 verse 10.
Why am I telling you these things? How are these lofty theological truths relevant to you and me? One reason, among many, stands out to me.
If at the moment of history's most spectacular sin, God was in full control and guiding the events to a climax that He had decided long before the earth span on its axis, then should we not be comforted when things don't go as we would have liked in this life? If the gruesome betrayal and murder of the Son of God was part of the definite plan of God (Acts 2 verses 22-23), then can we not feel secure and safe, knowing that all the trials and tribulations that fall over you in this life, are certain to end in His glory and your good?
Your car breaks down on the way to an important meeting. You have an awful fight with a loved one. You lose your job. You develop terminal cancer. The list goes on, and gets worse, but the reality is that none of these things are outside of the sovereign plan (and love) of God. Yes, God is loving to bring these things to pass.
So, brothers and sisters, let push aside every weight of sin that clings to us, every weight that compels us to confine God to the nice, little box of earthly measurements. Rather, let His Word resound when you read, letting it do the task for which the Speaker sent it - bringing glory to God and good news to the captives (you and me) through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
"And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose" - Romans 8 verse 28
Cody Knox lives in Wellington, New Zealand. He works in ICT for the New Zealand government and in his free time he loves to read, write, and run.
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