Keeping Your Friends close and…

“I am not referring to all of you;  I know those I have chosen.  But this is to fulfill the Scripture:  ‘He who shares my bread has lifted up his heel against me.’ ”  John 13:18.

How hard would it be to know your betrayer was one of your chosen close friends and not react to them every single day in a stiff or resentful manner?  On top of that to know when you chose him or her that they would betray you to your humiliation, abuse and death?

From what I know of Jesus’ knowledge about Judas I believe He understood from the beginning who he was and what he would do.  This info enlightens the way I approach the “enemies” within my own life, although I don’t know of anyone at the present time who would go this far in their pursuit to hurt me.  Still, I wonder how the Master did it without constantly treating Judas differently.  We know He didn’t make Judas stand out because none of the disciples had any awareness of who the betrayer was at the Last Supper.  If Jesus had done even one thing to him to identify him as a threat or possible problem besides give him the piece of bread at the end, the other disciples would have circled like vultures to take him out.

The division amongst the disciples on who would be the greatest in the kingdom merited rebukes by the Master several times.  This means, in the context of our discussion, that Judas hadn’t been called out yet nor had he shown his true colors.  The old saying, however, of “keep your friends close, and your enemies even closer” stands true even here.  Jesus took every opportunity to turn Judas from his destiny—not that I believe his “destiny” was set in stone necessarily without a choice to the contrary.  Instead, Judas’ constant choices made his destiny certain.  God’s foreknowledge didn’t make Judas’ action inevitable, rather God knew the character of the man and the decisions he would make so the prophecy fit the event.

Judas’ story didn’t have to end the way it did, however, for he could have repented and come back for a full pardon.  The Master forgave all the disciples for their cowardice and denial, how could Judas’ sin be any different?

If you have followed my blog at all, you know that feet in the Scriptures have a significance.  If one person throws a shoe at another, it is a dire insult which could cause blood feud.  To put up a heel against someone was to say betrayal and desertion.  It was the ultimate disloyalty in Middle Eastern culture to share a man’s bread then betray him to his death.

Though the disciples understood Jesus’ words, they didn’t grasp what they applied to or to whom.  Knowing this He told them,  “I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I am He.  I tell you the truth, whoever accepts anyone I send accepts me; and whoever accepts me accepts the one who sent me.”

I don’t know if I’m reading into this or not but I see a double-edged sword in Jesus’ words, for He later instructs Judas,  “What you are about to do, do quickly.”  In other words, He’s sending Judas on a mission to the priests and Pharisees, who accepted his help and by doing so acknowledged Jesus’ identity and rejected God’s plan for them.

How can we know they accepted Jesus’ for who He was?  In the parable of the Vineyard, the tenants say,  “This is the heir.  Let’s kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.”  (See Luke 20:9-19; Matthew 21:33-46; Mark 12:1-12.)  There’s no doubt many in the Jewish leadership grasped who Jesus was but they rejected Him because He didn’t give them the “inheritance” they wanted.  That, my friends, is scary.  By their very actions they showed Jesus threatened their lust for status and authority, which led them to murder the Son of God in order to preserve the culture they built for themselves.

Their punishment?

They lost their nation, seat of power and their children wandered for nearly 2000 years.

I am uncomfortable with dire warnings and cautionary tales, but this story confronts me with the need to be on my guard lest I reject the Son of God for the sake of my traditions or personal kingdom building.

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One Response to “Keeping Your Friends close and…”

  1. tlc4women Says:

    crazy that you would kill the one you’ve been waiting for. So often though we do just that when we refuse to heed the warnings he so plainly gives us through scripture because it doesn’t suit our purpose.

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