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Sunday morning Bible study.

This mornings men's bible study, a continuation from last week, covered John 13:18-30. An odd place to end but it is what it is, and I am not the leader. Sometimes it is good that we do not carry on with longer passages.
This was one of the better meetings we had. 
One brother is fairly new and I was pleased to hear him asking the same kind of questions I would have asked. (I have to remind myself to let others talk.)

John 13:18 NIV "I am not referring to all of you; I know those I have chosen. But this is to fulfill this passage of Scripture: 'He who shared my bread has turned against me.'

Judas – The debate rages on. 
Let me explain, and this is my thinking. 
Judas died prior to the age of grace, that means he was under the law. Now I am not a Jewish scholar so I cannot say whether died as a lost soul or not. But I see where there could be an out for him.

In death Jesus went and preached to the captives 
(Psalms 68:18 AMP “You have ascended on high. You have led away captive a train of vanquished foes; You have received gifts of men, yes, of the rebellious also, that the Lord God might dwell there with them.”
 We see this again in Ephesians 4:8 AMP “Therefore it is said, When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive [He led a train of vanquished foes] and He bestowed gifts on men.” )

Is it possible that Judas was there when Jesus showed up? 
Jesus, the God of love that gave his life as a sacrifice for a world that neither knew him or for the most part wanted him.

What if Judas was merely misguided by the enemy? He was not the first or the last. 
If none of the other disciples got it, then Judas did not either, so I am going to lean toward a God of mercy because “mercy triumphs over judgment.”

You might notice that I did not attempt to discuss the aspect of suicide. My own father verbally sends anyone who commits such an act to hell. 
Really? 
I seriously doubt that very many people who do this are in their right minds to begin with. So let's just say that they are mentally compromised. 
Another aspect of suicide has nothing to do with suicide at all. Jesus died once for all so by his own words we know that the world will not be judged for sin but for their lack of acceptance of him as the sacrifice. Again, none of the disciples got that concept until later.

What will it take to show that Jesus took the penalty for sin away?

The other side of this coin, and many have said this, is that there is that possibility that Judas was made for this one thing only. 
While I do not have the theological background to state this in one or two words but the concept alone fights against what I understand about God. I have had far too much mercy showed to me to think that God is anything but merciful to those who run to him. 

If Jesus came into the captivity of hell, showed himself to them as he really is - the majesty and glory of the Father, and strips Satan of his power right there in front of them. How many would continue to deny that he is God there before them.

'He who shared my bread has turned against me.' Obviously there is a point of turning against the Lord. I see the topic of Judas as a can of worms that in the face of judgmental people I do not wish to open.

John 13:19 NIV "I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I am who I am.

He was speaking of Judas (the context) but the statement applies to so many things he said. He wanted us to believe that He was God and that he was telling the truth.

If you paid attention to the way God presented himself to man throughout scripture it almost always came with the statement, “as for me.” 
God was always telling them before hand; why? So they would believe that he is so he said he is, and that he could be trusted.
Genesis 17:4 KJV As for me, behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be a father of many nations.

John 13:1 NIV It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.

When you think about how many times the Pharisees had tried to kill him, changing the game plan. Everything had led up to this moment. Jesus was not about to let Satan change the game plan.

John 13:20 NIV Very truly I tell you, whoever accepts anyone I send accepts me; and whoever accepts me accepts the one who sent me." 
This too opens a can of worms. The Greek word translated accept is: lambanō Thayer Definition: 1) to take 1a) to take with the hand, lay hold of, any person or thing in order to use it.
Obviously we are not to capture those sent and chain them in our basements. Clearly Jesus is referring to the words and deeds. 
Now ask yourself, what did the Apostles/disciples of Jesus have for words? They really only had experience from their time spent with Jesus, so they conveyed what they heard and saw, and they saw the most amazing things.

Now consider. 
Is he telling us that the receipt of the person with the message or the belief in what they convey is the way to Jesus? 
I think the answer is obvious, the belief in what they convey. So all my concerns about how poorly I deliver the message suddenly seem irrelevant, especially when God has his hands on it. How can it be difficult to convey a message when you are merely re-telling, excitedly, what you have witnessed and heard? The problem comes when it is a second-hand story. That is not a bad thing, but when challenged about 'what did he say next' and you do not know because you were not there is when things get uncomfortable, as you may suddenly realize that this is not your story. Hmmm! 
My suggestion to you is to make it your story by accepting Jesus Christ as your salvation. In receiving Jesus Christ, the messenger, one receives God.

John 13:21 NIV After he had said this, Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, "Very truly I tell you, one of you is going to betray me."
They were still clueless. 

To turn against him does not necessarily mean that you are going to betray him. Imagine their thoughts. He rattled their cages severely; I wonder why? Surely he knew how that would affect them. And in the very next verse John, who had been leaning on him, describes everyone in the room looking around the room in disgust at the others.

John 13:22 NIV His disciples stared at one another, at a loss to know which of them he meant.
John 13:23 NIV One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him.

John was being polite. He was writing about himself. When you consider the emotions that John must have gone through during the Jesus years. He was called one of "the Sons of Thunder", not necessarily a good thing, for he was more than willing to call fire down upon an entire town for their refusal to let Jesus in, and Jesus let him have it for his misdirected zeal. 
What would you feel if you were leaning against Jesus and he made a statement like that? Would you pull yourself away as you said to yourself, 'what reason would he have to distrust me?'

John 13:24 NIV Simon Peter motioned to this disciple and said, "Ask him which one he means."

However they were sitting, Peter was able to catch John's eye. We cannot say that John was not also looking around the room in disgust at the others. 
Did John have some level of trust with Jesus that the others did not have? Don't know. What we do know is that they had no clue, so if Judas had given them reasons to distrust him they did not see it or care.

One of the things we learn about Judas is that he had stolen from the money bag they carried. Obviously someone saw that; either they did not care or no one said much. As long as you were being taken care of would it matter?

John 13:25 NIV Leaning back against Jesus, he asked him, "Lord, who is it?"

I am amazed at the relationship we see here. A grown man, quite possibly putting his weight into Jesus, and Jesus does not mind. It is hard not think with a human mindset as I read this. The devil has corrupted our minds so that we cannot think about this setting in a proper way. And there is the manly thing where this should never happen. I think that my twisted thinking is an example of the devil polluting relationships with sexuality and corruption. Does that mean. I want to lean into you? Not hardly, but I am a little jealous of John's relationship with Jesus, because I want that.

John 13:26-27 NIV Jesus answered, "It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish." Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. (27) As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him. So Jesus told him, "What you are about to do, do quickly."

How could Jesus not have heard everything they said. He heard, and he answered Peter. His movements were deliberate and may have even caught Judas off guard. 
As soon a he took the bread. 
Wow. There are dynamics going on here that are widespread and overwhelming. What do I do with this?

John 13:2 NIV The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus.

I think my perspective needs to be that John wrote this. Yes, inspired by the Holy Spirit but almost 60 years later everything is in retrospect. One might assume that our human understanding has to come into play. We also have the historical account of Judas making the deal with the Pharisees to frame the reference.

John 13:28 KJV Now no man at the table knew for what intent he spake this unto him.
One of things we see here and beyond Jesus death is that the guys did not get it. It wasn't until he began reappearing to them that they began to understand. Did he talk in parables at this point? No. He was clear and direct and still they did not understand. Compare this with us, the modern-day believer. Nothing gets past us; yeah right.

Here is the problem we all have. If Jesus, and by extension the Holy Spirit, speaks to us and tells us what to do, do we listen and do what he says? From experience I can tell you that I did not. Your curiosity asks what my outcome was. Well, I got my trophy looking wife. I can tell you that trophies merely hang on the wall and offer little to no relationship with you. You merely look at them from a distance, pointing out some of their unique characteristics, but the relationship is now dead and merely a memory of the hunt. While I got what I wanted I lost the greater prize and that was bible college. I wonder how different my life would be if I had stayed with the original plan. Another aspect of my first marriage was that I either became co-dependent or it really reared its ugly head. My life no longer was dependent upon God but upon her and what ever emotion she was feeling that day.

John 13:29 KJV For some of them thought, because Judas had the bag, that Jesus had said unto him, Buy those things that we have need of against the feast; or, that he should give something to the poor.

One of the points we made during bible study this morning was that John pointed out that everyone was staring at the other. 
When you think about this process of Satan entering someone, what was happening as they stared at each other.

What if this works.
Proverbs 7:10-12 KJV And, behold, there met him a woman with the attire of an harlot, and subtle of heart. (11) (She is loud and stubborn; her feet abide not in her house: (12) Now is she without, now in the streets, and lies in wait at every corner.)

If you will allow me to equate this to the deceiver and his tactics, then we see that he is subtle, attractive, a constant threat, and he lies in wait. So it only makes sense that the devil would jump on this opportunity to infiltrate the boys. 
We do not witness any discussion about the problems the guys had with Judas stealing from the money bag, but if it made it into scripture that he had been then surely they knew it. 

The only thing that makes sense about their lack of reaction would have been, if while with Jesus every need they had got met and we had men with families and single guys. All these needs would have been different. 
This should not be a new concept to the an established believer because the theme of God meeting your every need (not want) is all over the scriptures. The Jews who would have had to memorize the scriptures would have been aware of the passages in Deuteronomy which promised that God would bless those who invested their time and lives in him.

1 Peter 5:8 KJV Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour:
So they sat there stunned and confused. Staring at each other, playing out scenarios in their minds that fueled their arguments. If they knew about Judas and his stealing they surely would have stared at him and John probably would have made note of it. But then there was Matthew, a former tax collector, a man who worked for the Romans when they found him. What was to say that he had not gone behind their backs to make a little more money. 
All of this was conjecture and untrue. 
Jesus knew what was to come with Peter and that conversation was only moments away but not part of the equation at the moment.

John 13:30 NIV As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out. And it was night.
I cannot even imagine what Judas felt at that moment. 
Some will tell you that he was a Zealot and wanted war with the Romans. 

One of things we see as we read the New Testament is that all Israel, with few exceptions, anticipated a warrior messiah, and Judas was merely trying to force Jesus into that role. That might have been the case, but can we be certain. But what if Satan really entered him, and the hideous convulsions that television portrays is what happened. 
I think most of us never realize when we have let the enemy in, merely passing off our lousy behavior to far to many beers, not sleeping well, or your lousy day at work. Truth is most of us made a quiet but active choice to give into the enemies game plan.

Now as I read these passages and give them some thought I see Jesus Christ, directed with purpose. Destined to give us life that was about to cost him in terms of indescribable pain and eventually death. 

That death was in two forms, but keep in mind that our life was his determined purpose. That speaks nothing less than mercy regardless of the side journey called Judas takes us on.

Nothing in scripture is a side journey, nor is it pointless. It is there for a reason, and if it challenges our judgmental attitudes then it served a purpose. I say this because one of the men, who demonstrates a lack of understanding when it comes to mercy decides to throw in some commentary stating, "how am I supposed to deal with a church that permits homosexuality in it."
Stop there. 
No church, that I have seen, hangs a sign outside that says 'this is a church full of homosexuals.' And, even if there were, would you or I know it? 
So really his problem is that he sees their acts as an unforgivable sin and that they cannot be allowed or condoned.
I have to admit this 'brother' got my hackles up and here is why. I have a family member that decided to live a homosexual lifestyle and I do not wish to see them perish. But the point is Jesus forgave them of their sins, that day on the cross. Jesus stated that he would not judge them for sin, but his word would. They (meaning anyone outside of Christ) will be judged for what they did with Jesus. For example: Did you accept him as the price paid for your sins, accepting the love of the Father, and now you are waiting for a life with him because of the hope you now have? If you did that then the relationship with the Father began and like a flower blossoms progressively.

There are not categories of sin. Sin is sin. You don't get to sin a little and get by with it, it's all bad if you are going to live under the law. So to say that homosexuals are at the top of the list and only bound for hell is wrong.

I can tell you that I have allowed my anger to so enrage me that I was willing to kill. Thankfully I did not, but scripturally to think it, is to do it. So have I committed murder? Yes, and according to this brothers rules I am destined for hell. Fortunately he is not in charge. 
My sins, and the sins of the homosexual are covered just the same. 

Having spent a little time in a 12 step group I have come to understand a couple of things: 1st The church is full of sinners saved by grace. They are living, or should I say hanging on by a thread, one day at a time and 2nd the alcoholics will tell you that their days are consumed by the thought of where will I get my next drink.
The brother says, “why don't they just stop it!” Oohh, wouldn't that be easy if it worked. Allow me to point something out.
2 Timothy 2:24-26 KJV And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, (25) In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; (26) And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.

People are caught, often at will, by the devil. Yes, there are many dynamics to this equation, but telling them to stop will not work for them and demonstrates nothing more than your lack of concern for those caught. 
Besides that, they cannot see the freedom you might see.

2 Corinthians 4:3-4 KJV (3) But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: (4) In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.

So what should be your approach? Try showing some grace and mercy. 

As I sit in my step group, a Christ oriented one, a man says, “I am not a believer, and I am struggling to believe.” Without grace and mercy the leader could take the narrow-minded approach and tell him to get out, but no; he tells the man, “you are in the right place.”

A blog I read spoke about a lesbian that went to church after church. Why? Because she knew something was amiss but did not know what to call it or how to resolve it. Divulging the “sin” only got her judged and thrown out. Are you serious! Absolutely.

How about using this approach next time. Throw an arm around them and tell them, “you are in the right place.”

A personal experience. At work, a brother in Christ got hired on and I was excited because I thought I now have someone else that I can share the mercy of God with. 
I quickly perceived that my attempts to share with him were met with clear boredom and disinterest so I quit. 
One day he comes in early and stops to tell me that he has had a failure. I replied, “we have all had failures, so pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and carry on.” He goes to explain that this was a moral failure, apparently making it worse. I asked him if he intended to have a lasting relationship with this lady; to which he replied, “oh no!” 
Now here is where I have to draw some kind of a line. I cannot just pat you on the back and say that's okay, because it isn't! You do not have the right to hop into bed after bed, using people. That is not who we are.
This saga with the guy from work takes on a whole different atmosphere if I was in an in-depth relationship with him, but I am not, so I find  myself limited to what I can say to the man.

If you do not understand that we have an enemy who is after our souls, then allow me to enlighten you. Satan is in the business of destroying anything that looks like Jesus. Seeing that we were made in God's image that is strike one in Satan's book. Accepting Jesus into our lives places us in Christ, is strike two and ups the ante. You should understand that he is pulling out all the stops in this case. Read your bible and you will find this to be true.
The battle is a daily one, and all this strife and condemnation we dish out only prohibits us from being able to share the love and life that is Christ with others, playing right into the hands of Satan. 

Sharing the love of God, his mercy and the hope in him is our mission above all others.
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