“But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father. From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.” (John 6:64-66)
These particular verses in the book of John are among some of the saddest verses written. From all indications and appearance, the twelve disciples and others who followed His earthly ministry had cultivated a deep relationship with Jesus Christ.
The twelve disciples shadowed Jesus devotedly as He taught throngs of people, prayed in seclusion, fed a multitude of people, witnessed many miracles, taught in a boat upon the sea, saw demon possessed people healed and witnessed first-hand His power and authority. Other earnest followers trailed closely, on the outer edge around Jesus and His “inner circle” during His earthly ministry.
The Bible clearly teaches us that no man can come to faith in Jesus Christ unless God the Father calls him. God calls each person; giving them the power to have faith in Jesus Christ. God calls all, or “whosoever shall believeth in Him…” this often quoted verse- John 3:16 plainly states each man has an individual choice whether to accept the gift from God through free will; or to refuse, reject, and suppress, and flat out disregard this holy invitation.
“And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease. Now the names of the twelve apostles are these; The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus; Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him.” (Matthew 10:1-4)
These disciples were “handpicked” by Jesus. He gathered around Him twelve ordinary men; not the “cream of the crop”, or “near perfect” or refined men who had excelled to the top of their given profession. Jesus chose twelve everyday men from diverse backgrounds including tax collectors, fishermen, and even a political zealot. All were willing to drop everything, pick up when He called unto them.
Judas eagerly joined in the worship and teachings of Jesus as did the other twelve disciples. Judas had many opportunities to hear His profound teachings and preaching first hand. Maybe Judas even preached to crowds but this is never specifically stated in the Bible. It does, however, state the disciples collectively were given mighty power to heal diseases and sickness and cast out evil spirits.
Judas was a tax collector when called by Jesus. Greed and the love of money must have existed overwhelmingly in His mind, leading Him to choose to betray Jesus for thirty pieces of silver. Matthew also came to Jesus as a tax collector. Both were familiar with money and had experience handling money while functioning in their respective positions. They came from similar backgrounds, but both men clearly headed in different directions, when faced with the truth of Jesus Christ.
Peter was a fervent, sometimes overzealous, follower of Jesus Christ. He was eager and ever learning as he walked alongside Jesus, boldly professing Him as Lord. When the seas in Peter’s life began to toss and turn, rolling into huge waves he vacillated in faith; taking his eyes off the Lord and placing his focus amid the swirling storm battering about him. It was unforeseen to Peter that he would deny knowing Jesus. Jesus personally knew Peter’s heart and, yes, as the cock crowed Peter denied knowing Jesus three times.
Knowing all hearts; Jesus spoke about one of his disciples who would betray Him:
And as they did eat, he said, Verily I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me. And they were exceeding sorrowful, and began every one of them to say unto him, Lord, is it I? And he answered and said, He that dippeth his hand with me in the dish, the same shall betray me. Matthew 26:21-23
Each of these twelve disciples had clearly heard the Truth; each had ample opportunity to accept Jesus Christ as their Savior. However, like many occupying church pews today, many d profess publically their faith in Jesus Christ, but God alone knows each man’s inner heart condition. Ultimately life will cast each of us a “sink or swim moment,” that moment of truth where what is inside an individual’s heart comes outward and obvious to others.
Judas chose to accept thirty pieces of silver to betray the Lord in his moment of truth. The Bible never records a life-changing moment for Judas, a “Damascus Road Event” where he placed his faith in Jesus as Lord and called Him Master. Peter, on the other hand, had clearly testified of his love for Christ:
“He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.” (John 21:17)
Jesus calls whosoever will come unto Himself. Men choose, by free will, to walk down one of these three distinct paths: to walk with Him in faith until eternity and witnessing about Him to others as well, walk upon their own path aligned with the god of this world in disregard for the things of God, or walk with Him for a while in faith but when times get rough and the waves of a storm kick up around them turn away from the things of God.
Jesus called His inner circle of twelve to Him. Ten of the disciples died in martyrdom for the cause of Christ. Judas hung himself in shame and despondency after betraying Jesus Christ and went to Hell, and John died a natural death, after withstanding much persecution, and witnessing often for Christ on his path towards eternity.
It was up to each man to personally respond to His free invitation to walk to eternity with Him. All people are given a choice today as well. Sadly, some choose to turn away from God, going in an opposite direction without ever having put their faith in spending eternity with Him.
Some, like Judas, choose unbelief. Judas went to Hell for his choice of unbelief.
“Verily I say unto you, All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme: But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation” (Mark 3:28-29)
For Further Contemplation:
Have you turned towards Christ in faith on your personal Road to Damascus?
If you cannot recall a moment you understood your sinful fallen nature and your need for Jesus then chose today to turn to Him in faith being made spiritually alive in Christ for all eternity.