Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Judas or Paul?

In my Sunday school class, we have been studying the book of John. We talked about Judas.

Judas was not just a disciple of Jesus, he was an apostle. He is known as the one who betrayed Jesus, but that’s not always how he was seen by others. In Matthew 10, Jesus sends out his 12 apostles to “drive out impure spirits, and heal every disease and sickness” (Matt. 10:1) and Judas is named as one of those 12. He was given power to “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons” (Matt. 10:8).

When they are at the last supper, and Jesus says that one of them will betray Him, they all look around, wondering who it could be. No one looked at Judas as the obvious choice. Judas looked just like the other apostles. He performed miracles, he healed the sick and raised the dead, he had a personal relationship with Jesus.

Jesus knew from the beginning that Judas would betray Him, but no one else seemed to. So how could someone who walked with Jesus, saw His miracles, performed his own miracles, and had a relationship with Jesus turn around and betray him?
What made him different from the other apostles?

Judas was in a relationship with Christ for what he could get from it. As soon as following Jesus stopped benefiting him, he turned on Jesus.
I was thinking about this on my drive to work. I felt like I was missing something. That’s when it hit me.

This is exactly what we as Americans have done.

We follow Jesus so long as we get something out of it. We will do what he asks as long as…He gives us a spouse…He gives us a good job…we make a lot of money…we get a family…He heals a family member from a disease…

As long as Jesus does something for us in return, we have no problem following Him. But when He doesn’t do what we expect, we turn on Him.

We are only in the relationship for what we can get out of it.
I really had to examine my own heart. Am I upset when God doesn’t answer my prayer the way I think He should? Do I get angry when I feel like He isn’t holding up His end of the deal?

What is His end of the deal anyway? Where in the Bible did Jesus ever promise that He would give us things this side of heaven? Where does it say “follow me and I will give you everything you want” or “follow me and your life will be everything you picture”?

It doesn’t.

It says say we will have problems. “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds” (James 1:2). “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of their righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:10). “In fact, when we were with you, we kept telling you that we would be persecuted” (1 Thes. 3:4). “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Tim. 3:12).

Opposite Judas is Paul. Paul was a devout Jew who persecuted Christians. He didn’t have a relationship with Christ until Christ appeared to him and struck him with blindness. Then Paul spent the rest of his life following Christ. He was persecuted. He was shipwrecked. He was beaten and left for dead. He was imprisoned, yet he never turned back.

Paul wasn’t in it for what he could get from Christ, he followed because he believed in Christ. He followed because he was grateful for what Christ did, and following was his natural response.

Take a good look at your own heart. Why are you following Christ? Is it for what you think you should get from it? Or are you following Him because He loved you so much He sent His only son to die in your place, while you were still a sinner, and you can do nothing to earn His love? All He asks is that you love Him back, that you try to live according to what He laid out for you in His Word, the Bible.

Are you a Judas, or are you a Paul?


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