It’s Passion Week and many of us are again reflecting on the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and the redemptive act of His death on the cross. While many of us reflect on what the death, burial and resurrection means for us, I want to take a deeper look at the war inside the inner circle of the 12 disciples. One of them tried with all his might to stop Jesus from His purpose, while another, often disdained as a charlatan and referenced as the son of perdition (John 17:12) could actually be celebrated as the disciple that ensured that Jesus fulfilled His purpose.
It’s often said that “God can use anybody” or “anything”. Balaam and his donkey are often the most referenced analogy to the Creator’s use of Creation for His purpose (Numbers 22:21-41). Judas is in that category, I believe. As we learn more about those closely following Jesus, I become more aware that each disciple had a purpose within the 12 with Jesus and in the world following Jesus’ ascension.
As we again re-visit the events of passion week, I wonder what would have come of Jesus on earth without Judas. Did Judas actually help Jesus? I would say that he did! Was Peter actually trying to stop Jesus from fulfilling His purpose? Inadvertently, yes! In the comparison of Peter and Judas, which disciple was ignoble? After careful examination, I believe it was Peter. Jesus said in the upper room that one of them would betray Him (Matthew 26:21), a prophecy fulfilled by Judas and that Peter would deny Him, which he also fulfilled (Matthew 26:74-75).
Jesus made clear why He had come to earth and even rebuked Peter (Matthew 16:23) when he told Jesus that he wouldn’t let it be for the savior to lay down his life for humanity. In Gethsemane when Peter backed up his words, Jesus in His divinity ensured that Peter didn’t ruin it for the world!
It’s passion week and I want to share with you how I arrived at the conclusion that God used Judas for His good work! We know that all things work together (Romans 8:28), but there’s more to it, beyond the surface. Considering Judas’ crucial role to Jesus’ arrest in Gethsemane, I believe that all things are working a means to an end! Things aren’t just happening, there all connected and God is the connector!
Peter is the disciple most people want in their corner- he’s a rough and tumble ride or die friend. Though, his carnality earned him numerous rebukes from the Jesus, still, he remains a ‘fan-favorite’ disciple, of sorts.
In Gethsemane, Peter removes his sword from its sheath and severs the ear of a soldier (Matthew 26:51). Jesus miraculously healed the soldier’s ear as He was led away, captive. In other settings, what Peter did was beyond noble! That’s the kind of stuff you want to see from your friends in an unjust situation. However, Peter remained a stumbling block in Jesus’ path to the cross.
It’s often unsaid, but Peter was bent on stopping Jesus from laying down His life (Matthew 16:22). The same Peter to whom flesh and blood had not revealed Jesus as “son of the living God” (Matthew 16:18) was later rebuked as an offence to the savior’s purpose (v23).
What about Judas, though? We don’t like him, he’s the bad guy in the midst of the real brothers, right? Until recently, I thought the same thing. Then I was gifted this revelation: Judas ensured that Jesus fulfilled not only His life’s purpose, but prophecy. Many of us have never stopped long enough to process exactly how Jesus would end up in the predicament of laying down His life. Judas was instrumental, he walked with Jesus, knew Jesus’ plans and apparently His whereabouts well enough to lead the soldiers to Gethsemane to apprehend him.
Many of us strive to be like Jesus in our everyday lives and many of us work hard to fulfill our callings and purpose, driven by the scripture to make our callings and elections sure (2 Peter 1:10). On that course, we’re sure to encounter people who we will befriend and work alongside in the process. It’s crucial to understand their roles and functions. Though they may not exist in direct correlation to Jesus and the disciples, I’ve learned to see Peter and Jesus through the lens of an archetypal illustration.
- Peter tried to keep Jesus from fulfilling his destiny; Judas made sure that he would, by betraying Him.
- Peter was closer to Jesus, but still misunderstood His purpose. Watch out for Peter- he means well, but because he misunderstands your purpose, He will unwittingly attempt to derail you on your way to fulfilling your life’s purpose.
- Conversely, Judas will hand you an experience only Romans 8:28 can explain. What is often carried out as betrayal is ultimately your delivery to the doorstep of destiny!
- Your experience with Judas serves a purpose, but Peter may hinder you from purpose!
- Jesus healed the soldier’s ear because it was for HIM to experience the cross, alone. What if Peter had been taken into custody along with Jesus? We wouldn’t have the experience of Acts 2:14-47.
- Be mindful of people who are unwittingly attaching themselves to your destiny. They can’t go where only you are designed to go! It is your duty to be sure that no one usurp your destiny.
- Jesus healed the soldier’s ear but no one marvel at the fact that Jesus healed him…why is that?
Jesus had one purpose and it was finally time for purpose to become realized. Jesus had already prayed and accepted the will of the Father. While He had accepted the will of the Father, Peter still hadn’t. Do your friends and family know what God’s will is for your life? Do you know it well enough to convey it to them?
While most of us would clamor for Peter, I want to introduce an appreciation for Judas. Peter could have interrupted the plan for salvation (Matthew 26:56), but Judas was key to making it happen. Ruminate on that for a minute…
Think about this, what if Peter by attacking the soldier had been apprehended with Jesus also? When Paul said that he too was crucified with Christ, he didn’t mean it literally. Peter risked it becoming a reality by his actions in Gethsemane, he would have inadvertently thrown off the course of history! Jesus was arrested, tried and died alone, as prophesied.
Without separation, there’s no elevation. How else could the words of Jesus be fulfilled: if I be lifted up, I will draw all men unto me.” (John 12:32) Just as Jesus fulfilled prophesy alone, so must we! What has God spoken to you? What are you called to do? Understand that we must not allow anyone close to us to hinder us from fulfilling our purpose. It’s our responsibility to be sure that we never allow our relationship with people to detour or distract us from our purpose from God. With friends like Peter, you’ll learn to be thankful for Judas!