THE CALLING OF THE TWELVE

LUKE 6:12-16

The primary method of Jesusí ministry was MEN. The first thing we saw Him doing following His baptism and temptation was to call a few men to follow Him. There were initially four: Simon and Andrew and James and John. Levi was called later. Now there will be a total of Twelve.

Why twelve? Because these will correspond to the twelve tribes of Israel. God originally called out these tribes to be a separate people and a holy nation. Now He is doing it again, this time through these twelve men.

 

A PRAYERFUL CALL

It was at this time that He went off to the mountain to pray, and He spent the whole night in prayer to God. (Luke 6:12).

Just as Moses had gone up onto Mount Sinai to receive the Law, so now Jesus goes up onto a mountain to choose those to whom He will entrust His teachings. He did not call all men at this time. He only summoned and chose these particular men. There is a lesson here. It is that Jesus was under no obligation to choose all men. Neither is He under any obligation to save all mankind. The fact that He freely offers salvation to all men is a matter of GRACE.

Notice that this selection was made after spending an entire night in prayer. When was the last time that you spent an entire night in prayer? That sounds like a long time to spend in prayer, but it really isnít. Iím sure that you have spend and entire afternoon talking to someone, especially if you had a lot to talk about.

I can remember when Paula and I were dating. To spend six or eight hours talking together was nothing. The time seemed to fly by. Why? Because there was a love relationship. I think that the reason we donít spend more time with the Lord in prayer is because we donít love Him more.

Now I want to ask you a question. Why do you think Jesus went to a mountain to pray? Couldnít God hear Him just as well in Capernaum or in the synagogue or in a house? Of course He could. The reason Jesus went to a mountain to pray was so that this time could be uninterrupted.

We live in a world of interruptions. You cannot spend an evening in my house without the telephone ringing half a dozen times. I am not saying that all interruptions are bad. God can still work in the midst of our interruptions. But every once in a while it is good to get away for a season to be alone with the Lord.

 

A REPRESENTATIVE CALL

And when day came, He called His disciples to Him and chose twelve of them, whom He also named as apostles (Luke 6:13).

Jesus had a lot of disciples. It was out of this group of disciples that Jesus chose twelve men. They had a special calling. They were to be apostles. This tells me something about these two terms. All of the apostles were disciples, but not all disciples were apostles.

The word disciple describes a student, a learner. It is one who sits at the feet of another and who learns. The word is used synonymously in the New Testament with believers: The disciples were first called Christians in Antioch (Acts 11:26). There were a lot of people who had come to learn from Jesus. They came for all sorts of reasons. Some came because they were impressed by the miracles that He could work. Others came because they liked the way He put the scribes and the Pharisees into the place. Some came because they had an inner longing that they could not explain. And still others came because they were frustrated by the military dominion of Rome and were hoping for a leader around whom they could rally. It was from this mixed group that Jesus chose out 12 apostles.

What is an apostle? Our word apostle comes from the Greek word apostolos. It is a compound word mad up from the joining of two Greek words together.

But the resulting compound means more than merely one who is sent out. It was used among the Athenians to designate the admiral of the fleet who would be commissioned and sent out with authority. That is the idea here. These men were sent out with the authority of Jesus. They were to be His deputies.

Twelve of these disciples are about to become more than disciples. For nearly a year, and even longer in some cases, these men have been following Jesus and learning from Him. Now there will be a change. These twelve disciples are commissioned as apostles. They are being commissioned with the authority of heaven. They will have authority over the church of God. They will have the keys to the Kingdom. They will have power to speak a thing upon earth and it will be done in heaven.

There are twelve of these apostles. This is no accident. They correspond to the twelve tribes of Israel. They are to be the leaders of the new Israel - a kingdom of Godís people called out from every nation under heaven.

 

A SPECIFIC CALL

Simon, whom He also named Peter, and Andrew his brother; and James and John; and Philip and Bartholomew; 15 and Matthew and Thomas; James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot; 16 Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor. (Luke 6:14-16).

The New Testament contains four different lists of the disciples of Jesus. It is noteworthy to compare those lists.

Matthew 10

Mark 3

Luke 6

Acts 1

First Group

Simon Peter

Andrew

James

John

Simon Peter

James

John

Andrew

Simon Peter

Andrew

James

John

Peter

James

John

Andrew

Second Group

Philip

Bartholomew

Thomas

Matthew

Philip

Bartholomew

Matthew

Thomas

Philip

Bartholomew

Matthew

Thomas

Philip

Thomas

Bartholomew

Matthew

Third Group

James

Thaddaeus

Simon

Judas Iscariot

James

Thaddaeus

Simon

Judas Iscariot

James

Simon

Judas

Judas Iscariot

James

Simon

Judas

There are three distinct groupings of disciples. Those who were with Jesus the most are mentioned in the first group. Those who are mentioned less often are in the second group. Those in the third group are hardly mentioned at all (with the exception of Judas Iscariot).

The same person always heads up each group.

It has been suggested that each of these three groups had a natural leader. We know that Peter tended to lead his group and, in fact, provided leadership for all of the disciples.

1. Simon Peter.

There is no disciple of Jesus with whom we are more familiar than the person of Simon. We are told here that Jesus gave him a nickname - Peter (Petros), "Rock."

Simon was a leader. He could not help it. Sometimes he led in the right direction and sometimes he led in the wrong direction, but he was always a leader. When he was right, he could have incredible insight and faith. And when he was wrong, it could have tragic consequences.

There is something loveable about Peter. We can hardly read about him without having our imaginations stirred. This was a man who did great things. Like all men of high magnitude, both his victories as well as his failures were great.

Great Success

Great Failure

It was Peter who first declared Jesus as the Son of God

And it was Peter who was rebuked by Jesus for trying to talk Him out of going to Jerusalem to be crucified

Only Peter left the boat to walk on the water of the raging sea during the storm

It was this same Peter who began to sink when he took his eyes off the Lord

Peter was ready to take on the whole Roman cohort when they came to arrest Jesus

Within a few hours Peter was denying that he even knew Jesus.

Peter stood up on the Day of Pentecost and proclaimed the gospel, refusing to stop preaching even when he had been beaten and throw into prison

This same Peter was later intimidated by legalists when they came to Antioch and saw him eating with Gentile Christians

If you had been called to pick the most qualified candidate on which to build the church of Jesus Christ, Peter wouldnít even have been in the running. There was nothing in his background to suggest that he could succeed in fulfilling the commission that Jesus gave him. He had received no formal seminary training. He had no management background. He was only a simple fisherman.

Donít miss this! The fact that Peter was unqualified to be a disciple of Jesus teaches us something about the kind of man God uses. He uses men who are unqualified. This is good. It means that He can use me. It means that He can use you.

What kind of man was Peter? His real name was Simon. It was a common name among the Jews, looking back to Simeon, one of the fathers of the 12 tribes of Israel. He seems to have been a practical, down-to-earth sort of man. He stayed home in Capernaum to watch over the family fishing business while his brother, Andrew, went off to become a follower of John the Baptist.

It was Andrew who first introduced to Jesus by John the Baptist. Andrew went on to follow Jesus, but not before he had gone and first brought his brother Simon.

One of the two who heard John speak, and followed Him, was Andrew, Simon Peterís brother.

He found first his own brother Simon, and said to him, "We have found the Messiah" (which translated means Christ).

He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, "You are Simon the son of John; you shall be called Cephas" (which translated means Peter). (John 1:40-42).

Can you imagine Andrew dragging his brother out to meet Jesus? I can just hear Simon grumbling about how the work never gets done because his brother always wants to follow some religious teacher.

It reminds me of the first time I tried to get my older brother to go with me to a home Bible Study. He agreed to drive me there and, when I suggested that he come inside and listen, he made up excuse after excuse. Reluctantly, he finally gave in. The result was electrifying. He went on to attend Bible College and then to go out as a missionary pastor to Germany.

This initial meeting with Jesus changed the course of Simonís life. No longer would he be the simple fisherman. We never again read of him catching a single fish unless directed by the Lord. From now on, he was going to be a new man. He was even given a new name. PETER. It is the Greek word for "rock." Its Aramaic form is Cephas. His name would stand for stability. He would be the solid foundation on which Christ would build His church. But this would take time. It would take time for God to transform this vacillating fisherman into the mature writer of the epistles that bear his name. Many experiences combined together to make this man into the rock of God.

2. Andrew.

Andrew was a Greek name. It is the common Greek word for "man." Andrewís claim to fame was that he was Peterís brother. Luke makes no further mention of him in this gospel account. I canít help but wonder if he ever got tired of being identified as "the brother of Simon Peter." I wonder if he ever felt like yelling out, "Hey, Iím more than merely the brother of Peter!"

Like his brother Peter, Andrew had started out as a fisherman from the lakeside village of Bethsaida. But he had left the fishing business to follow after John the Baptist. And because of this, he became one of the very first disciples of Jesus. It was he who brought his brother Peter to meet Jesus. Every time we see Andrew, he is bringing someone else to meet Jesus.

Andrew was one of those behind-the-scenes people. He was not always speaking up. He was not the one who would stand up on the day of Pentecost and preach to the multitude. But he was doing something equally important. He was bringing people to Jesus.

We arenít all called to be a Peter. We are not all destined to be leaders in the church. But that is okay. We can always be an Andrew. We can always point people to Jesus. You remember that it takes an Andrew to bring a Peter to the Lord.

3. James.

James is never mentioned in the gospels apart from his brother, John. Of the two, James is always mentioned first, indicating that he might have been the elder of the two. He was destined to be one of the early martyrs of the church (Acts 12:1-2).

James and John worked for their father, Zebedee, in the family fishing business. Their family was in a partnership with Simon and Andrew. The business was fairly prosperous, as evidenced by the fact that they were able to hire servants (Mark 1:20).

James and John had a nickname. You know what a nickname is. It is a name given to you for some personal characteristic. In my years working for the fire department, I have seen and heard a lot of nicknames.

Each of these was given because of some personal characteristic. The nickname that James and John had was given to them by Jesus. He called them Boanerges (Mark 3:17). It is an Aramaic term. It means, "Sons of Thunder." It sounds as though these two brothers were a couple of hell-raisers. Perhaps Jesus gave them this nickname because of the time they came to Him and asked Him to call fire down from heaven upon certain cities of Samaria that had not been very receptive to their preaching.

And He sent messengers on ahead of Him. And they went, and entered a village of the Samaritans, to make arrangements for Him.

And they did not receive Him, because He was journeying with His face toward Jerusalem.

And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, "Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?" (Luke 9:52-54).

Can you imagine this kind of request? It would be like me coming into church and asking the congregation to pray that the Lord would destroy the city of Fort Lauderdale because they didnít grant our request for a building permit. James and John had a zeal and a boldness for God, but they still had to learn about the love and the tenderness of God.

We know that James continued to be bold and outspoken for Christ because he was the first of the apostles to be martyred (Acts 12:2). Church tradition tells us that when James was being taken out to be beheaded, the soldier in charge of his execution was so impressed by his courage and his zeal that he declared himself to be a Christian and was beheaded alongside of James.

4. John.

John describes himself elsewhere as "the disciple whom Jesus loved." Because of this, people sometimes picture someone who is weak and effeminate who sat around meditating all day while leaning up against the bosom of Jesus. That is a false picture. John was one of the "sons of thunder." He may not have been as explosive as his brother, but he was still involved in the fire-from-heaven incident.

The Synoptic Gospels each refer to John by name. But the Gospel of John does not. Instead he refers to himself as the disciple whom Jesus loved (John 13:23; 19:26; 20:2; 21;&; 21:20; 21:24).

This was not a title that John used boastfully. He was astounded by the fact that Jesus loved him. He was amazed that the Lord loved the one who had wanted to burn up the Samaritans. He went on to serve the Lord in Ephesus for many years, taking care of Mary, the mother of Jesus. He was finally banished to the island of Patmos, a slave-labor camp.

5. Philip.

This is also a Greek name. It was the same name as the father of Alexander the Great. It means "horse-lover." Philip may have also had a Hebrew name, but we donít know what it was. For some reason, Philip always went by his Greek name. It is noteworthy that when some Greeks wanted to come and speak to Jesus, they first went to Philip (John 12:20-22). Because his name was Greek, perhaps they thought that he would be more willing to help them.

One insight into the personality of Philip is seen in the time Jesus fed the 5,000. While Andrew was bringing the boy with the loaves and the fish, Jesus asked Philip a question.

Jesus therefore lifting up His eyes, and seeing that a great multitude was coming to Him, said to Philip, "Where are we to buy bread, that these may eat?"

And this He was saying to test him; for He Himself knew what He was intending to do.

Philip answered Him, "Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, for everyone to receive a little." (John 6:5-7).

Jesus and Philip are standing on the hill watching a great crowd of people gathering. Jesus turns to His disciple and asks him a question. "How are we going to feed this mob, Philip?"

The question is for Philipís benefit. Jesus knows that He is going to perform a miracle. But Philip cannot read ahead to verse 11 to see that this is the case because it hasnít been written yet. He doesnít know the answer. And so, he pulls out his pocket calculator and does some quick figuring.

5,000 men + 5,000 women + twice that number of children = A lot of hungry people

Multiply that number by the price of bread and even if he had a small fortune it would not be enough to feed this group even a childís portion. To make matters worse, there is no local Burger King to which they can turn.

Philipís problem is that he did not figure in the supernatural power of God into his calculations. And that is encouraging to me. It means that God can use a pessimistic, analytical realist who canít see faith beyond the facts. It means that He can use me.

6. Bartholomew.

The name "Bartholomew" is made up of two Hebrew words. Bar is the Hebrew word for "son." This man was the son of Tolmai (Ptolemy). He is known elsewhere as Nathanael Bar Tolmai.

Nathaniel was from the village of Cana of Galilee (John 21:2). If possible, this village was even more obscure than Nazareth. Nathaniel was brought to the Lord by his friend, Philip.

Philip found Nathanael and said to him, "We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law and also the Prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph."

And Nathanael said to him, "Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?" Philip said to him, "Come and see." (John 1:45-46).

I am sure that Nathanael perked up a bit when Philip came on the scene, saying that he had found the Messiah. Nathanael had read about the Messiah all his life. But when Philip said that He is Jesus of Nazareth, Nathanael had an immediate problem. Messiahs do not come from Nazareth. Nazareth is a little too close to home.

Nathanael was prejudiced. He might be willing to believe in a Messiah that came from some exotic location, but he could not accept one that came from Nazareth. Nazareth was only a little village. Nobody of any importance ever came from Nazareth.

Fortunately for Nathanael, his willingness to come to the truth overcame his prejudice. When Philip asked him to come and see for himself, he could have refused. But he didnít. He came and he met Jesus and all of his objections were answered.

What kind of man does God choose? He chooses even a hardened, prejudiced Jew like Nathanael as long as he is willing to have those prejudices overcome.

7. Matthew.

This is the Greek name belonging to Levi of whose call we read in Mark 2:14. He had both a Hebrew name and a Greek name. This was not so unusual. There are a number of people in the New Testament who had both a Hebrew as well as a Greek name.

Luke has already introduced us to Matthew in Luke 5:27-29 where he used his Jewish name - Levi. Now he switches to Matthew. This seems to have been the name by which he was identified in later years.

Matthewís former occupation had been that of a tax collector. He had purchased a franchise from the Roman government that gave him the authority to set and collect taxes. He had paid a vast sum of money for this privilege. He was then able to recoup his investment by collecting taxes from his fellow countrymen. Obviously, the more he collected, the more profit he would make. Since he had gone into this profession for the sole purpose of making money, he probably made it a point to charge people as much as possible. He was permitted to set taxes on all sorts of things. He could tax you on how many axles were on your wagon or how much baggage you were carrying or even how much money you were carrying.

It doesnít take too much imagination to see how this man must have been hated by the Jews. He was one who had turned his back on his country to work for the Roman conquerors. He was a traitor to his people. He was doing work that the Romans considered to be too demeaning to dirty their own hands. He was an outcast, banished from the synagogue and the Temple. No self-respecting Jew would even sit down at the same table with him.

All that changed the day Matthew met Jesus. He was sitting by the side of the road that day collecting taxes and extorting money from people who passed along. Then Jesus came by and called him to follow. Matthew did not hesitate. He left his money and his taxing district and he got up and followed Jesus.

The first thing that Matthew did after he had begun to follow Jesus was to throw a party with Jesus as the guest of honor. Matthew invited all of his tax-collector friends. When Jesus and His disciples attended, the Pharisees were horrified. How could one who claimed to be a man of God associate with such people? They had not learned the principle that Matthew had come to see -- that Jesus comes to save sinners.

What kind of man does God call? He calls sinners who commit real sins. He even calls a renegade extortioner like Matthew.

8. Thomas.

Thomas has gotten a lot of bad press over the years. By the way most people talk of him, you would think that his first name is "Doubting." I think that he has gotten a bum rap.

Thomas left family and friends to travel with Jesus. He made a commitment that was to change his whole life. When the disciples resisted the plan of Jesus to go to Bethany and from there to Jerusalem, it was Thomas who was ready to go and to die with Jesus.

Thomas therefore, who is called Didymus, said to his fellow disciples, "Let us also go, that we may die with him." (John 11:16).

Thomas was low on faith, but he was high on loyalty. He thought that Jesus would be killed if He came near Jerusalem, but that did not deter Thomas. He said that he would follow Jesus and he meant it, even if it meant following Him to the death.

After the crucifixion of Jesus, Thomas and the other disciples were left in despair. When Thomas went out for hamburgers and returned to find the other disciples talking excitedly about the risen Jesus, he met their report with skepticism.

But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came.

The other disciples therefore were saying to him, "We have seen the Lord!" But he said to them, "Unless I shall see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe." (John 20:24-25).

Thomas listens to the claims that Jesus is again alive. But he knows better. There must be some other explanation. Perhaps they have suffered a hallucination. Maybe they have been drinking too much wine. He resolves to demand proof. Visual testimony will not be enough. He wants the kind of evidence that you can measure in a laboratory. It is not long before Thomas is offered the very evidence that he has requested.

And after eight days again His disciples were inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors having been shut, and stood in their midst, and said, "Peace be with you."

Then He said to Thomas, "Reach here your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand, and put it into My side; and be not unbelieving, but believing." (John 20:24-25).

A week later the scene is much the same. Once again the disciples are gathered together. Once again the doors are secured. The only difference is this time Thomas is present. There are ten disciples present who believe that Jesus has risen from the death. There is one who is still skeptical

Suddenly Jesus stands before him and He gives Thomas the exact opportunity for the physical evidence that he had required. Thomas can not only see, but feel with his hands the living body of the resurrected Jesus. He can believe.

Thomas answered and said to Him, "My Lord and my God!" 29 Jesus said to him, "Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who do not see, and yet believe." (John 20:28-29).

Doubting Thomas became Believing Thomas when he saw the risen Lord. The cobwebs of his uncertainty and doubt were blown away.

What kind of man does God use? He uses a doubter and a skeptic like Thomas, as long as that man is willing for his doubt to be turned into certainty and his skepticism to be turned into belief.

9. James the son of Alphaeus.

In Mark 15:40 he will be called "James the Less." That is an unfortunate translation. He was known as "Little James."

My younger brother is named Dennis. My older brotherís son is also named Dennis. For many years, it was the custom within our family to refer to them as "Little Dennis" and "Big Dennis." The problem is that Little Dennis eventually grew up to be bigger and taller and heavier than Big Dennis. But the designation has managed to stick through the years, much to the chagrin of Little Dennis.

I think that is what happened among the disciples. It became inconvenient to distinguish between James the son of Zebedee versus James the son of Alphaeus, so the other disciples took to calling them Big James and Little James.

Aside from his name and the name of his father, we know absolutely nothing about James. But that is okay. The Bible never tells us to do a study on the Twelve Disciples and pick out the one who had the best homiletical method or preaching and fosuc upon him. When we look at the disciples, our goal is not to learn something about the disciples. Our goal is to learn something about Jesus. He is the object of our study. He is the object of our worship. And when we look at the disciples, we learn what kind of a man that Jesus chooses. He chooses little people. He chooses the unknown. He chooses those who seek no glory for themselves.

The story is told of a famous artist who painted a picture of the Last Supper. When the painting was finished, he brought it to a friend to see it. The friend looked at the painting for a long time and then remarked, "It is wonderful! It has such detail! Those are the most magnificent cups I have ever seen." To the utter astonishment of the friend, the artist picked up his brush and in great sweeping strokes proceeded to paint over the cups. "What are you doing that for?" exclaimed the friend. "I failed," replied the artist. "I wanted you to see Jesus, but instead you only saw cups."

What kind of man does God use? He uses one who will call attention to Jesus rather than to himself.

10. Simon the Zealot.

The Zealots were a political party within Judaism. They were the nationalist party. They were intent on driving the Romans from the land and restoring an independent state. A revolt had been organized under a Galilean Zealot named Judas (Acts 5:37). Judas had been killed and his followers scattered, but the Zealots lived on.

They would finally bring about another revolt in 66 A.D. which would slaughter the Roman garrison in Jerusalem and defeat a Roman legion from Syria. The Romans would respond by sending a total of four Roman legions and Jerusalem would be destroyed and her temple burned. The last of the Zealots would flee to the south where they would find temporary refuge in the desert fortress of Masada. It would be here that 930 men, women and children would commit mass suicide rather than fall into the hands of the hated Romans.

Simon was from this movement. He had looked earnestly for the coming of a military Messiah who would lead the Jews to revolt against Rome. Perhaps he initially came to Jesus for this reason. But somewhere along the line, he would fall in love with Jesus.

One of the intriguing things about Simon is that he joined the same group of disciples to which Matthew belonged. No two people could be more opposite.

Simon

Matthew

Roman-hater

Sold out his people to work for the Romans

A patriot and a freedom-fighter

Traitor to his people

These two opposites would have been natural enemies. But they became comrades-in-arms when they became one in Christ.

11. Judas.

This is the Greek form of Judah, the son of Jacob who became an ancestor of the Messiah. This was a common name among the Jews. Two of the disciples had the same name. Judas had several nicknames.

We only see Judas Lebbaeus pistured one time in the New Testament. It was on the night of the Last Supper. Jesus was giving His disciples a special promise.

"He who has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me; and he who loves Me shall be loved by My Father, and I will love him, and will disclose Myself to him."

Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, "Lord, what then has happened that You are going to disclose Yourself to us, and not to the world?" (John 14:21-22).

Judas Lebbaeus had been thinking of the manifestation of the Messiah as an outward manifestation with trumpets and shouts and an earthly kingdom that would be visible to all. But Jesus taught that the kingdom would not be an external happening. He taught that the kingdom was already present in the hearts and lives of men (Luke 17:21).

12. Judas Iscariot, who became a Traitor.

Judas is the Greek form of "Judah." This was a common name among the Jews. The name "Iscariot" is made up of two words:

(a) Ish is the Hebrew word for "man."

(b) Kerioth was the name of a town in Judea; located near Hebron.

This designation merely tells where Judas was from. He was the "Man of Kerioth." As far as we can tell, Judas was the only one of the disciples who was not from Galilee.

Judas was initially attracted to Jesus. There was something about Him that attracted him as a follower. Even when others fell away, Judas was one of those who remained. He didnít start off any worse than the other disciples. Matthew was an extortioner. Simon was a rebel terrorist. The whole group of disciples were a motley group of sinners. But something happened to Judas. He turned from a disciple to a betrayer. He stopped loving the Lord and he began loving himself and the money which he could get for himself. And he ultimately sold his soul for thirty pieces of silver.

One special insight that we have into the character of Judas comes to us several days before the crucifixion. Jesus and His disciples had been invited into the home of Lazarus and his sisters, Mary and Martha.

Mary therefore took a pound of very costly perfume of pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.

But Judas Iscariot, one of His disciples, who was intending to beray Him, said, 5 "Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii, and given to poor people?"

Now he said this, not because he was concerned about the poor, but because he was a thief, and as he had the money box, he used to pilfer what was put into it. (John 12:3-6).

Notice that Judas was already intending to betray Jesus. The betrayal was not a spur-of-the-moment decision. It was not a matter of falling into temptation in a moment of weakness. Judas plotted his actions over the course of several weeks.

Also notice that Judas was only interested in what he could get for himself. He had been chosen to be the treasurer of the ministry of Jesus and it was his practice to keep two sets of books - one for Jesus and one listing what he stole for himself.

But that is not all. Judas hid all ofhis false motives under a mask of self-righteous hypocrisy. He looked at Maryís act of worship and he denounced it with a pious declaration of the needs of the poor. If he was really so concerned about the poor, then he would not have been stealing from the ministry.

It was not long after this that Judas found an opportunity to make some more money at the expense of the ministry of Jesus.

Then one of the twelve, named Judas Iscariot, when to the chief priests, 15 and said, "What are you willing to give me to deliver Him up to you?" And they weighed out to him thirty pieces of silver.

And from then on he began looking for a good opportunity to betray Him. (Matthew 26:14-16).

Judas had become a cheap crook. He was willing to sell Jesus for a relatively small sum of money. He had decided to cut his losses and run.

There is a principle here. When avarice is your sin, the amount doesnít matter. The sign of a Christian is an open hand. When you start closing your hand, you will close it on anything, as long as itís there. We need to pray to the Father to help us to keep our hands open.

To what are you holding? What is there in your life that you are reluctant to release? I guarantee that it is the one thing that God is pulling at. And your reaction to His pull is what makes you either a disciple or a Judas.


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