That's a line in a Michael W. Smith song. It sends my heart soaring. That is, when it isn't doing a nose dive into dismay and regret.
I was reading John's account of what we today call The Last Supper and what they celebrated as the Passover Meal. It's in chapter 13 of his Gospel account. Here's the scene:
As John describes, Jesus and His closest disciples are eating the Passover Meal. It's the night before Jesus is to die by Roman crucifixion. Jesus has just finished teaching His friends / followers about servant-leadership by washing their feet. The Creator of the universe took the lowest position to be held in that society. He's told them that rather than a top down leadership style, servant leadership is how they must lead others. As the account unfolds, Jesus describes how He is the final Passover Lamb or sacrifice. And as they are reclining at the table John, the youngest in the group is reclining next to Jesus. If fact we're told that John is about to lay his head on the chest of God. Can you imagine?
O to be a friend of God.
As Jesus is explaining how history is about to unfold, He's just said that one of the group is going to betray Him to death. This arouses appropriate confusion and distress among the men and Peter motions to John, “Ask Him who it is.” John leans back against Jesus to ask, and Jesus says, “It's the one to whom I give the next morsel of food.” Jesus then dips some bread into the sauce and gives it to Judas.
Do you know what this means?
Think about it!
These men are reclining on cushions around what is probably a Middle Eastern U shaped table. Torso in, legs out to the side, resting on their left elbow.
John is close enough to Jesus to lean back and rest his head on Jesus chest to ask Him the question.
And where is Judas? Doesn't he have to be every bit as close to Jesus, only on the other side? For Jesus to reach over and give him the bread dipped in sauce, Judas is certainly within arm's reach, as was John.
I don't know about you but this hits me like a rock. Judas, the one who was about to betray His master, His Lord, His King, His Creator, not only appeared to be close to Jesus. He was close to Jesus. Jesus may have even allowed – no invited - Judas to "sit" in a favoured position at the table.
And this is what sickens me. For I am often like Judas. And I'm not alone.
. We Christians are all capable of allowing ourselves to be seen as being close to God. We are even capable of thinking - no more than that - we capable of believing that we're close to God while at the very same time being self-righteous, proud, judgemental, controlling, easily angered, bitter, and demanding. We're capable of seeming to be close to God while at the same time being seriously dangerous to others.
In a book titled, “A Dangerous Calling” author Paul Tripp says:
. We all have the ability to talk about God's grace yet be a husband or leader with little or no grace for those who annoy us.
. We can lead a boy's ministry to teach sexual purity but lust after women in the store or at the office.
. We can teach about self-sacrifice but be unwilling to serve at home.
. We can define Biblical humility to others but be so proud that we think no one has any right to comment on our leadership in the Church.
. We talk about the beauty of forgiveness yet harbour bitterness against families or leaders who have opposed us.
. We talk of the rest we have in God's sovereignty and then anxiously work behind the Board or Pastor's back when changes arise in music or programming, all to ensure that we get our way. A way that we're certain is the only right way to do things.
. We talk of giving God the glory that is His due, but secretly feel hurt and unappreciated when people don't acknowledge what a good job we've done with the program we're running.
. We teach people that rest can be found in Jesus, but we care very much what people think of us.
. We teach what it looks like to be content but quickly grumble, and complain and try to draw people to our side and against “them” when things don't go our way.
. We often forget how much we need everything we teach.”
I'm not guilty of all of these obnoxious behaviours, but I've seen them present in every Church we've attended and I know myself well enough to know that I could just as easily be Judas instead of John.
Thank Jesus for Your forgiveness, Your love, and mercy and most of all for Your salvation – so undeserved on my part, so gracious on Your part.