‘Jesus called his twelve disciples together and gave them authority to cast out evil spirits and to heal every kind of disease and illness. Here are the names of the twelve apostles:
first, Simon (also called Peter),
then Andrew (Peter’s brother),
James (son of Zebedee),
John (James’s brother),
Matthew (the tax collector),
James (son of Alphaeus),
Simon (the zealot),
Judas Iscariot (who later betrayed him).’
When we read these verses, we’re awed. Inspired. Excited. And relieved—or maybe that’s just me.
I mean think about it, this ragtag group of men included several fishermen, a despised tax collector, and an impulsive political zealot. None of them were Biblical scholars, seminary trained, or saintly. They were rough around the edges and worldly. None of them were public speakers, leaders, or had a following of their own. Nothing separated them from the typical person, made them stand out. They were average at best. But Jesus called and equipped them to be uncommon, to do the extraordinary, to be leaders and teachers. He invited them to be His and to spread the Good News to the world.
Each name makes our excitement build. Each name reminds us that we too are chosen, invited, equipped. Each name holds a mirror up to our heart, reflecting our love for the Messiah.
Wait. What? Betrayed?! That can’t be!
How could one who experienced what Judas did, saw what he saw, learned what he learned betray Jesus? He, the 11, and Jesus were inseparable for three years! Judas was as close to Jesus as humanly possible, intimately connected, more intimate than family—how could he sell Him out for 30 pieces of silver ($600 to us), the price of a slave? How could someone who was invited, called, and equipped double-cross Jesus especially after enjoying every benefit He had to offer?
It boggles my mind!
But then again, it doesn’t.
Every one of the 12 was called. Invited. Chosen. None were drafted or forced to be there. Each accepted the invitation and walked away from his previous life to follow Jesus. Each was given the authority to cast out demons and heal every kind of disease and sickness as they spread the Good News first to the Jews and then to the Gentiles.
Judas, one of the chosen, one of the called.
Judas, one of the equipped.
Judas, the one whose heart harbored greed.
Judas, the one whose life is characterized by hypocrisy.
Judas, the one who later betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.
What are you thinking? Feeling?
What comes to your mind and heart when you read Judas’s name?
What are your reactions?
Most of us hiss and boo like he’s some Vaudeville Villain. We’re resentful, incredulous, full of judgment. “How could he do that? I would never…” We feel superior, righteous in our faith.
But underneath your indignation do you feel a tinge of fear? Fear that you too could betray Jesus? I mean, if a man who was with Him day-in-and-day-out for three years betrayed Him, could I? Could you?
There was a time, not too long ago, I wrestled with those questions and fears. It wasn’t my favorite season, but I am thankful I went through it because the more I learned about Judas, the more my faith grew, deepened, and matured. Not because he was a stellar example of abiding faith but because his life serves as a warning to me and to all who chose to follow Jesus.
Beloved, I’m desperate for you to learn these lessons too because like me, I’m sure they will encourage you and offer you a sense of freedom and peace.
My prayer is that through this series you will fall more and more in love with Jesus, that you will cling to Him, and worship Him like never before.