The after shocks of Judas’ betrayal must have been immense. Strange how we are not told the way the eleven disciples coped with it. The anger, the self recriminations for not being alert to him and personal disappointment at being duped must have caused turmoil. Were they realising how difficult it would be to ‘love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you?’ Did the teachings of Jesus seem so much harder?
When you meet the disciples during the time Jesus was in the tomb they’re huddled together in the upper room. Fear held sway. Such fear would be compounded with uneasiness because of Judas’ betrayal and suicide by hanging. The thought of being seen in public didn’t have much appeal. In the letters of John and Peter we can read and thereby understand how they ultimately won the inner wrestle. Doing what the Lord commanded. The power of knowing, showing, expressing and receiving from fellow disciples Christ’s love!
The traitor’s spiritual descendants of darkness still breed. When a spiritual descendent of Judas infiltrates a congregation he or she is often undetected. Being cunning thieves of various hues it is sometime before they are unmasked. Chaos and hurt then bursts upon the Church and gossip runs rampant in the Community. The urge to find an ‘upper room’ and hide far from the accusations, innuendoes or shattered dreams of people is strong. The soul’s urge is to lash out on behalf of self and for others thus betrayed. Its force can be overwhelming. Wrath and revenge surge even as the Holy Spirit reminds about loving the enemy and leaving God to be the avenger.
Jesus over the period of His teaching warned His disciples about infiltrators. Men would appear to be the ‘goods’ yet be either self– obsessed or Satan possessed. In Matthew 7:15 is the description of false prophets being ‘ferocious wolves in sheep’s clothing.’ In John 10 the Lord again highlights the sad truth that His flock will suffer thieves, robbers and wolves. What is our defence against such intruders especially when they have the outward appearance of a sheep or shepherd? You must protect your people with the rod and staff of God’s Word. There can be no smoothing over of the mauling mayhem inflicted. Pious words about forgiveness don’t solve the problem either. Dealing with the aftermath of scattered, torn, frightened, disillusioned believers requires more than that. The wolves must be confronted and removed. The healing of the wounded and mauled requires grace and patience. The ointment of God’s word must be skilfully and tenderly applied. Worship must take on a distinct therapeutic nature under the Sovereignty of Christ. The biggest battle will take place in the Pastor’s and Elders' hearts. They would have suffered personally whilst having empathy with his people. They also carry the weight of the grieving flock before an inquisitive community. Fortunate the minister and Elders who stand with and surround each other with prayer, wisdom, a listening ear and grace.
The emotional and spiritual conflict can only be won on the knees. It will require many kneeling times as the leadership struggles with the wounded, the grieving and the inquisitive. The congregation must come together around the Lord’s Table: share their hurts and struggles: find God’s healing and hope. Only through this enabling will the members take Communion without bitterness. The healing of the wounds takes place as pastor, Elders and people share honestly with the Lord. There must be a candid yet merciful openness before the Lord. A willingness to apply His specific word to their situation will guard them from revenge. Love for the Lord Jesus will empower them to pray that the Judas will find repentance lest he spent eternity in the outer darkness.
What made the difference with the ‘Eleven’ so they could go and face the world? When the risen Lord Jesus came into the upper room and said ‘Peace’ victory was happening. As leaders and members there are times when you need Jesus to come into your ‘upper room’ and breath ‘Peace.’ There He breathed upon them the Holy Spirit. Oh how vital it is to be refreshed, renewed, empowered and enveloped by Him. Only then will we move from the 'upper-room' into a sceptical world with the reality of the cross and the grace of Christ Jesus.
Ray Hawkins June 18 2017.