Short Meditations in John 6: 71. Tragic Truth
Jn 6:71 (He meant Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, who, though one of the Twelve, was later to betray him.)
In the previous study we considered what it meant to be chosen but we did not get to the final part of that verse: “Yet one of you is a devil!” In this present final verse of the chapter, John explains what Jesus meant by that, with the hindsight that comes from having lived through the unfolding circumstances.
Now what is remarkable about these two verses together is that we have two apparently conflicting things. First, we have this idea that we have been pursuing that each of the twelve had been chosen by God the Father and Jesus the Son, as committed believers, true followers of Jesus – and that included Judas.
Consider that more fully: Judas who was one of that inner twelve for three years and must have been included in those Spirit-anointed times of evangelism when Jesus sent out the twelve and then the seventy and they had done the works of God. Oh yes, Judas had been used by God in exactly the same way as the others, for three years. The Synoptics give no prior clues as to what would follow and it is left to John to give us a little hint as to the underlying conflict.
In the last days Jesus had been at Bethany and was anointed by Mary and we read, “But one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, who would betray Him, said, “Why was this fragrant oil not sold for [b]three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” This he said, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the money box; and he used to take what was put in it.” (Jn 12:4-6) Wow! That’s a bit of an eye-opener, that Judas, one of the twelve, was actually a thief and, as their treasurer, used to help himself to their money! In Jesus’ presence????? Did he think that this Son of God would not know what was going on in front of him?
But let’s not get wrapped up in the extent of his failures because all of the disciples showed their humanity; Peter by his brash declarations, James and John by the partisan self-concerns and competitive and divisive spirit, and so on. Oh yes, when you come to think about it, none of them were perfect. Yes, Judas is going to betray Jesus, but Peter was going to deny him three times. The one would facilitate the taking and crucifying of Jesus, the other would bring about the death of his own self-assurance, equipping him to become an even more significant leader of the Church. Yet, we each have free will, let’s never forget that, and after a tumultuous chapter, let’s let these closing two verses remind us that we are all vulnerable to making a mess of things. Let’s try and avoid that with His help. Amen? Amen!