God of the last chance…
I wonder if you – like me – have ever pondered the seeming strangeness of Jesus calling Judas as one of the Twelve? The Gospels certainly don’t hide his deceit and greed. I think it’s safe to assume that his fellow team members had no illusions about him, yet, Jesus called him to this inner circle of training and fellowship.
Since the beginning of this year, Pete and I have been listening through the Word, and this past week I was in John again. The immensity of the narrative of our Lord pierces my spirit with its freshness and sharpness of truth. The words and actions of Jesus have gripped my imagination as I listen to Him saving and healing the multitudes but also pulling no punches when confronting arrogance and hypocrisy. Yet, we hear no condemnation or even correction aimed at Judas.
I almost held my breath, deeply moved as I listened to Jesus at table with his companions of three years. “Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, “Very truly I tell you, one of you is going to betray me.” When asked who it was … “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. “
Almost instantly I saw that our Lord Jesus, the One who knew someone’s character at a distance – Nathaniel for instance – - had known from the very beginning that Judas would betray Him. Yet, for three years he poured himself into that troubled soul, just as He did with the 11 others, and at the very last, gave him one more chance to save himself. What would have happened if Judas had drawn back from that offered piece of bread. What if he cried, “Help me Lord – please don’t let me be the one to betray you!”
Jesus described Himself as the good shepherd who always goes after the one lost sheep. I believe that He was looking for Judas from the day he first called him because “The Lord … is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” If anyone was given a chance to change his future, Judas was!
He is the God of the first chance, and he is the God of the last. He is the “Hound of heaven”, pursuing us relentlessly with a love that will not let us go because “… he knows how weak we are; he remembers we are only dust.” He is more eager to save than we are to be saved but God’s grace will never remove our need to repent. Sadly, Judas chose to embrace his sin and so doomed his soul.
Repentance can come too late – an unpalatable truth in this age of so-called hyper-grace teaching.