I was once a youth pastor (well, I suppose I still am in a sense, for I am a father). I assumed I was doing a fairly good job. I had core convictions that bled through my teaching. I believed the primary teacher and shepherd of my youth was their father (if their father was believing; see my reasoning here). I also believed in certain things the Lord has ordained to reach others: sacrificial love, intercessory prayer, and clear preaching of the Gospel in His Word (see my reasoning here).
I had a group of core leaders (who, praise God, also happened to be fathers) in this youth group. I looked up to them a lot and was thankful for their insight. I knew we had contentions on this core beliefs I held. They were more for an “Andy Stanley” type growth model. Nonetheless I wanted to move forward in unity. I made a few mistakes along the way, certainly. But I desired above all else to be able to remain unified.I remember it seemed things were heading that direction. We all signed a youth worker handbook in order to hold each other accountable on things we could agree on.
Then, one day, I remember the hour I spent in my office weeping, not knowing what to do, whom to turn to. One of these leaders, without discussing anything with me, went to the deacons (worked like an elder board there) and personnel committee to get my immediate removal. He enumerated several reasons which I was never told (and I’m thankful I was spared from those details).The following day or so from when I found out this person texted me and asked if I were going to a certain event. I didn’t know what to do. I wanted to continue to promote unity, but this person was trying to kick me and my family out onto the streets. All I could muster as a reply was, “I just feel betrayed.”As you could imagine, I got no response.
Betrayal is the supreme break of trust. It completely changes how we interact toward the person who betrayed us.But, thankfully, Jesus is not like us. I had no idea this person would betray me; however, Jesus knew all along that Judas would betray him.Notice how Jesus keeps this son of perdition as his disciple for three long years knowing exactly what he was going to do.What would I have done if I knew someone were to betray me? I’d get as far away as fast as I could because I wouldn’t want to experience that pain. Notice the great forbearance of our Lord!
He, knowing all this time, treated Judas no differently, even to the extent his other disciples did not know (however, they don’t have the best of track records when it comes to understanding…) Jesus is patient, even kind toward those who betray him. Jesus was willing to experience this pain of betrayal for the sake of all his other betrayers.
It’s one thing for me to look back on my experience thinking of how much more I could have been kind and patient toward my betrayer; however, I am the betrayer of God every time I sin, especially as a believer. I have been redeemed, given a new heart, His Spirit dwells within me yet every single time I sin it is as if I gaze upon my Lord on his cross and spit in His face. Every time I sin, I join with Judas to place Jesus on that cross, whether it be for thirty pieces of silver, pleasure, convenience, or pride. And, oh, how many times I have been like Judas and the Lord has looked down on me, not with that look of disapproval I so often give my children when they err, but with grace, and mercy, and love. Oh wretch that I am!
But the Lord knows whom he has chosen (John 13:18). Every deep search I take into scripture and into my own soul tends to squash any conditional bug I try to create to say I’ve earned my salvation. The reader must know this election can never be a prideful one. Whoever makes the deep doctrine of election one of pride distorts scripture. Peter reclined next to Christ and discovered by inquiry whom it was to betray our Lord. What was it, may we ask, that made Peter the one to cry aloud “You are the Christ, Son of the living God!” (Mt. 16:16), instead of being the disciple blind with greed seeking after the next coin? Was it his own flesh and blood, in that he could boast? Was it his own intellect that surpassed his peers? No, as Christ said, “my Father who is in heaven” (v.18).
As Christ says, “I know whom I have chosen” to his disciples, he could say they very same to us today who believe in His name.Even though we may betray our Lord, His patience and kindness toward us lead us to repentance. To God alone be all the glory.