THE TREES THAT ARE SLOW TO GROW BEAR THE BEST FRUIT (MOLIERE)
How patient should we be? To what extent is godly patience practiced? How many chances should we give to someone who knowingly has bad intentions and wants to harm us? Very often, we act hastily at the first hint of an offense, and we are quick to condemn. Is our patience contained in a shallow vase that needs only a few drops more to overflowing which then pulls the trigger of condemnation? To bring truth even closer to the surface, we need to question the extent to which partiality plays in our rush to rebuke one and not the other. Our quick sentencing of others shows that we are not much better than they are.
What then, should we do when we are confronted with an abuse that makes our hair stand? We turn to the Word of God to find both answer and example; the example of perfect patience, one that is without partiality.
This divine attribute is fully developed and exposed in the life of Messiah Yeshua. Our Messiah was in fact, confronted face to face with such an individual – an individual who followed Him throughout all His ministry, perpetrating a crime that would be remembered as one of the worst ones in the annals of human history. The offender in question here is Judas Iscariot, who sells the Son of God for what was at the time, the price of a dead slave; 30 pieces of silver.
As the Gospel facts unfold, we are constantly reminded of Yeshua’s omniscience, reinforcing the certainty that He knew all along that Judas was not sincere, that Judas was slowly developing a hateful heart towards Him and towards the other disciples and that total betrayal would ultimately ensue. Yeshua knew that this man was not genuine and yet in each day of the disciples’ training period, for three years, He acted towards him with the same love and care which He extended to the others, a love that was without partiality and was evenly spread among the twelve disciples. How extraordinary! A magnificent example of the power of patience, rooted in love, which seeks to produce a godly repentance on the part of the sinner.
Let’s turn our attention to the last Passover meal which Jesus shared with His disciples. During supper, Yeshua not just once, but twice identified the one who was to betray Him. Two questions arise from this: First, why did Jesus choose to identify Judas and second, once Judas was identified, why didn’t the other disciples realize this and act upon this traitorous discovery?
In Matthew 26: 21-23 [i]we read: Now as they were eating, He said, “Assuredly, I say to you, one of you will betray Me.” And they were exceedingly sorrowful, and each of them began to say to Him, “Lord, is it I?” He answered and said, “He who dipped his hand with Me in the dish will betray Me.
In John 13:21-26 the betrayer is clearly identified. When Jesus had said these things, He was troubled in spirit, and testified and said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, one of you will betray Me.” Then the disciples looked at one another, perplexed about whom He spoke.
Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved. Simon Peter therefore motioned to him to ask who it was of whom He spoke. Then, leaning back on Jesus’ breast, he said to Him, “Lord, who is it?” Jesus answered, “It is he to whom I shall give a piece of bread when I have dipped it.” And having dipped the bread, He gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. Not only did they have this sign as a proof, but looking once again to Matthew 26:25 we also read: Then Judas, who was betraying Him, answered and said, “Rabbi, is it I?” He said to him, “You have said it.”
Why did Jesus identify Judas as the betrayer? Did Jesus publicly point out the betrayer for the benefit of the disciples, perhaps in an effort to warn them, or did our Lord do this for Judas? Were these attempts from our Lord designed to bring Judas Iscariot to true and godly repentance before he would commit this most heinous crime? Even though Yeshua knew what was to happen, He still offered him a chance and showed pure, impartial patience to His betrayer. Here Judas is a type of all of those who will repeatedly refuse the call of the Spirit of God. Up to the last opportunity, up to the last second, the Spirit of God will be there for anyone; He will be there until He is pushed out. And even if He knows that the individual will refuse, as in the case of Judas Iscariot, He will still be there. What a mystery! And this love and patience that our Lord demonstrated was steadfast to the very end, to the very kiss that led to Jesus’ arrest.
When Judas approached Jesus and offered up the kiss of betrayal, the response that came from the Son of God was, “Friend, why have you come?” of which Scofield writes, “Perhaps the most touching thing in the Bible…the Lord does not disown Judas”.1 How could such love be possible, and what evidence do we have that this uncompromising love of Yeshua’s was constant throughout His ministry?
The Disciples Blindness
Isn’t it quite amazing that after all these clear indications we are told in John 13:28 : But no one at the table knew for what reason He said this to him. Some disciples thought that since Judas was the treasurer, Jesus was sending him to buy something. That would be highly unlikely because it was a Passover evening and everything in Jerusalem must have been closed. Others disciples thought that Jesus was sending him to give alms to the poor. “But no one at the table knew for what reason He said this to him”.
What could be the reason for the disciple’s blindness to these obvious signs? The fact that the disciples did not at all acknowledge Judas as betrayer demonstrates that they all received the same love and care from Yeshua. not one was singled out, nor had received less love so they could not even conceive the notion that a betrayer was among them, even when it was clearly pointed out to them.
There could other reasons as well. Perhaps the Lord did not want the disciples to know because if they did realize Judas was the betrayer, they may have well attacked him, even there at the supper, which would have thwarted the plan to reach the cross at the appointed time and in the appointed manner. But there is yet another even deeper consideration to be made here. This “blindness” sets a precedence for our own godly behavior and attitude in the body of Messiah, in the Church, a precedence that was set in motion some 50 days before the church was to be born.
In Matthew 13, Jesus said that the coming Kingdom of God will be composed of wheat and tares. We are told in the epistles that many of these tares will enter our congregations. But unless the Lord tells us and leads us to know the heart of these individuals, we are to pray for them and show no partiality when it comes to love and patience in the context of their salvation. The disciples had no idea that one of their own was not a true believer, yet Yeshua kept it from them. Jesus loved all of them, without distinction of person.
This sets the precedence; we are not to search out and judge a man’s salvation, but we are to love them until the end, so that they may come to repentance. And when God will desire that their false faith should be exposed, it is He who will take care of them. In 1John 2:19, speaking of those who left the faith, the Spirit of God says: they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us. He will bring them out from our midst. These unbelievers are made manifest once their hearts are fully hardened, but before that, if there was one chance out of a million, God would use it. Likewise, we ought not to spoil that same opportunity by our own partiality and condemnation.
Whether the disciples were blinded because of the unconditional and impartial love Yeshua gave to all of them, or whether it was Yeshua Who kept it from them in order to carry out the precedence for not judging a man’s salvation, this we know for sure. The Lord wants us to love, in patience and without partiality. He wants us to love in the same manner He does. Perfect, fully matured love calls for no partiality, as the Lord Himself says that “
He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” in hope that such a love as this would bring a change of heart and godly repentance for the unjust and the unrighteous as well.
[i] Scofield Reference Bible, p.1039 ©1986 Barbour and Company Inc