DID JESUS MAKE A MISTAKE?
"At about that same time He climbed a mountain to pray. He was there all night in prayer before God. The next day He summoned His disciples; from them He selected twelve He designated as apostles: Simon whom He named Peter; Andrew, his brother; James; John ; Philip; Bartholomew; Matthew; Thomas; James, son of Alpheus; Simon called the Zealot; Judas, son of James; Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Him." Luke 6:12-16 (The Message).
Really Jesus! After praying all night, was that the best you could do?
Not a very impressive lot, I must say. From the little we know about most of them, there was not much to commend them. Simon Peter? A big-mouthed coward; Andrew? Hardly ever opened his mouth; James and John? Violent and volcanic; Philip? Bartholomew (probably the Nathaniel of John's gospel)? Very little said about them; Matthew, a greedy, conniving tax-collector -- a sell-out to Rome; Thomas? Didn't believe in Jesus' resurrection; James, son of Alpheus (who was Alpheus?)? Simon, called the Zealot --probably a political activist? Judas, son of James (which James?)? Know nothing about them!
And of course, bringing up the rear, Judas Iscariot! Everyone knows who he was. Why him? Did it take Jesus all night to decide to choose him?
From our point of view they all look like a bunch of losers. But Jesus saw something different in each one of them. Each one had potential -- characteristics and qualities which the Holy Spirit would refine and use in future days to continue the work Jesus began and take His message to the ends of the earth with faith and courage.
Even Judas Iscariot? Even Judas Iscariot! This is where the mystery of God's sovereignty and man's free will meet on earth in a way that we humans will never figure out. Did Jesus give Judas the same opportunity as the others to fulfil his potential? What potential? Like every other human being, Judas had the potential for great good or great evil. It all depended on his choices.
He was exposed to the same Presence as the other disciples; he heard the same teaching; he watched Jesus do the same miracles; he preached and did miracles and cast out demons just like the others did. Nowhere in the three years he spent with Jesus was he excluded from their activities...until Jesus' last days when Judas turned traitor.
What tipped him over the edge? We know that he loved money. John called him a thief because he pilfered the common money he was supposed to be in charge of. Why did Jesus entrust their resources to him, of all people? Was He such a bad judge of character?
Was Judas ambitious - like Brutus of "Julius Caesar" fame? Did he aspire to a high position in Jesus' kingdom? When Jesus was slow in making His intentions know, did Judas try to force His hand? Was he ticked off with Jesus for exposing his greed when He rebuked him for his mean-spirited attitude to Mary for squandering her costly ointment on Him? Perhaps it was a combination of these things and more.
I think there were at least two reasons why Jesus chose these men. Firstly, they were some of the rejects from the Beth Talmud, "rabbi school", and He was giving them the opportunity to become all that God created them to be...even Judas. Jesus' choice was not ignorance or stupidity but grace! Without Him they would never amount to anything but because of Him, they would become part of the foundation of His church (Ephesians 2:20).
Secondly, He knew that the Holy Spirit would transform them into a group of powerful witnesses for Him, if they chose to follow Him. Even Judas, but Judas lost the plot. And even there Jesus knew what He was doing. It was all in God's sovereign plan.
You can trust Him. Follow Him -- He has a good plan for you!
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