Have you ever wondered what type of disciple you would have been if you were alive when Jesus walked on this earth? Would you have denied your Lord like Peter? Would you have followed Him to the judgment hall like John? Would you have sold Him for thirty pieces of silver like Judas? What went wrong with Judas? He had witnessed all the miracles of Jesus. He had seen the love and mercy Jesus showed to all that crossed His path. Would you have been a John or a Judas?
We are told by Ellen G White (1) that John had a love for his Master that was beyond a mere human friendship. He loved Jesus with the love of a repentant sinner. He had a warm and loving heart. He enjoyed fellowship with Jesus. It is true that John had some serious defects of character. We are told that he was proud, ambitious and quick to resent a slight or injury. John also had a deep affection for the Master and desired to become like Him. We are told that under the transforming influence of Christ’s love, John became meek and lowly in heart. John resisted self and submitted to his Savior.
(1) Ellen G White goes on to say that this is the result of communion with Christ. When we become a true disciple of Jesus, the power of divine grace makes us a new creature. It is Christ’s love that transforms us into His image. Several times John was rebuked by Jesus, along with the other disciples. When they were arguing over who was going to be first in the kingdom. When they suggested calling fire down from heaven on a group of people they saw as disrespecting Jesus.
Jesus rebuked his disciples saying, “...Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of” (Luke 9:55 KJV). The lesson here is that the disciples were enrolled in school, and Christ was the teacher. Those who were willing and open to seeing their defects and anxious to be like Him had plenty of opportunity to learn these lessons. John took every lesson to heart and worked on bringing his life into harmony with the divine pattern. Yes, John was prideful, but he bowed in submission to the work that Jesus was wanting to do in him, and then through him. Philippians 2:13 says, “...for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13 NKJV). It is hard to admit you are wrong. It can be hard to humble yourself and apologize. Clearly though, it is God’s will for us to do so when we have done wrong.
What about Judas? Judas was also prideful. He appeared to all that knew him as having a form of Godliness. He claimed to be a disciple of Christ, but his words and actions denied him. He had the same opportunities to learn as John and the other disciples. He had heard the lessons of Christ. He could have, if he had yielded his heart, been transformed by that beautiful divine grace. John was warring against self, earnestly working to overcome his faults. Judas yielded to temptations. He continued to practice habits of dishonesty. All this was transforming him into the likeness of the great enemy, not like Christ. The Bible tells us in Matthew 5:48, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48 NIV).
Christ’s mission was to show us the character of the Father. His mission was to die for our sins, to pay our penalty and to cover us with His righteousness. Even so, this divine, sacrificial propitiation does not influence a character that would rather cling to self instead of opening the heart to divine love and grace.
John or Judas. 1Ellen G. White tells us that these two disciples represent Christians of today. Those who profess Christ but do not walk according to His Word. They hear the message of truth but do not accept what it is asking them to do. The second group will be those who profess Christ and walk behind him with humility and meekness. We are sanctified through truth.
John recorded the words of Jesus for us: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the father except through me” (John 14:6 ESV). If we want to be a John we need to be daily dying to self, overcoming sin in the power of Jesus. Judas resisted the rebukes, the call to change his character. He indulged in selfishness and pride. This led to his denial of Christ. This led to selling his Savior for 30 pieces of silver. He was working for the evil one.
Call to Action
A disciple is a follower or student of a teacher, leader or philosopher. Who do you want to follow? It is time to make our decisions. Praying for you, my friend. It is time to take our stand for the one who came to save us.
Have you taken a stand to be a true disciple of Jesus? Is there anything in your life that needs to change?
1Ellen G. White, The Sanctified Life (Review and Herald Publishing, 1937 or 2008), Chapter 7.