“We have believed and have come to know that you are the Holy One of God.” Jesus answered them, Did I not choose you, the twelve? And yet one of you is a devil.” He spoke of Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the twelve, was going to betray him. John 6:70-71
Peter spoke on behalf of the group. “We have believed.” “We have come to know…” Yet because Jesus knew the hearts of men, he knew that one of them was not a true believer. I feel certain it was shocking for Peter to hear that one of them was being referred to as a betrayer.
A pastor stands on a Sunday morning, looks out over his congregation and says, “We are the body of Christ.” Yet not everyone who sits in front of him is a true believer. Though he speaks on behalf of the group, there are a few who have come to church for reasons other than worship. Sometimes there are clues as to who they are, sometimes not. There are always wolves among sheep and the nature of a wolf who puts on a sheep’s costume is to deceive. The better he is at it, the more shocking his exposure is at the end and the more destruction he leaves in his path. God’s family of believers will be astounded at the last day when Jesus turns to someone we thought we knew well and says, “Depart from me. I never knew you.” That person might even be someone for whom we spoke as Peter did. “We have believed! We are God’s children.” In the meantime, we live with a Judas or two who seem to behave like all the disciples.
- Judas had a function within the body. He was the treasurer. Sometimes wolves are on staff at churches and other Christian organizations. They are not usually on the fringes, hiding.
- Judas made the other eleven disciples his closest friends. Wolves in sheep’s clothing don’t make other wolves their friends. Their disguise is enhanced by keeping company with the most committed believers.
- Judas seemed fervent in his devotion. He acted like a disciple and gave no hint that his heart wasn’t engaged. A wolf in sheep’s clothing can appear to be the most sacrificial in our midst, working long hours.
Most likely, Peter remembered this moment when he had spoken for the twelve. I wonder at the great disillusionment that came over him when Judas was exposed. Did he feel foolish for having trusted? Did he believe himself to be gullible? Did this erode his confidence to go out to make other disciples? These questions linger as I try to read between the lines. I have no doubt that Peter’s wisdom and spiritual discernment grew from this experience. God would not waste Peter’s first hand exposure to the nature of good and evil nor will he waste the betrayals in my life. Peter embraced who he thought was a brother, only to learn that the heart is deceitful above all else and desperately wicked.
I have trusted and been burned. It eroded my confidence for years as I feared of trusting anyone again. You, Lord, can heal Your children from self doubt as you teach us about the human heart and make us spiritually street smart. I’m counting on it. Amen
Journal Question: Has God shown you the identity of a wolf? Is everyone around you deceived? How are you dealing with the isolation that accompanies your wisdom? Talk to God about how you’re feeling.