Jesus replied, “I chose the twelve of you, didn’t I? Yet one of you is a devil!” John 6:70
Maybe this is a strange verse to choose. I mean, why this one over all the others in this chapter? I could have chosen about You walking on water, or the disciples thinking You were a spirit. I could have chosen the following day’s discussion with the people where You are trying to get them to understand that You are the Bread of Heaven that brings eternal satisfaction and life or how they didn’t believe You. I could talk about how everybody grumbled because of who You were saying You were and how You reiterated that You are the Bread of Life come from heaven. Or there was that statement that made many followers turn away, the one where You said, “I am telling you the truth: if you do not eat the flesh of the son of Man and drink His blood, you will not have life in yourselves.” But I just can’t imagine the response of the disciples, the twelve, when they heard You say, “I chose all twelve of you, right? And one of You that I chose on purpose is a devil!”
Did that stop them in their tracks? Were they looking at everyone else trying to figure out who it was? Or were they so confused by all this truth that might just have been over their heads for now that they just brushed it off as something else too hard to understand? Or maybe they just decided some things were just peculiarities You had and they’d overlook that? Or were they really hurt or were some just baffled? Since I know the whole story, I wonder if it made Judas Iscariot angry with You? I wonder if he shot a look at You, like, “You know?” I wonder if he even knew his own heart already?
I think I need to go back to a recap of what’s happening. After miraculously feeding the five thousand and more people and then having some alone time on another mountain (because they would have grabbed You to force You to be king), You walk across the water to meet up with the disciples in their boat. You get to Capernaum and the people come across after You. And You let them know that they are not looking at things the right way, they are not really understanding the truth behind the miracles. And then You tie in how the food they just ate won’t satisfy them forever, just like the manna in the desert couldn’t satisfy people forever. It’s the point behind those miracles that can satisfy forever, and the Point is You. You are and always were the Bread from Heaven that can satisfy with eternal life. At least six times You tell them You are the Bread of Heaven or the Bread of Life. And You tell them that the only way to God is by believing in You and ingesting You. This is tough stuff. I mean, even today. How easy is it for me to trust You with every outcome, every attitude, every part of me?
“What can we do in order to do what God wants us to do?” they ask. Ingest the bread. Believe. What would have happened if the Israelites in the desert picked up the manna but never ate it, never ingested it? They would have died in the desert. You have to ingest the bread to live. It’s the way bread works. Jesus, You are far more than manna. You are the Bread of Life. “Those who come to [You] will never be hungry; those who believe in [You] will never be thirsty.” I have to ingest You, ingest the Bread of Life and ingest the Living Water. I have to believe in such a way that my life now and my eternal life depend upon it. God, You Yourself are the One who shows me this and teaches me this and brings me to this realization because in order to realize this, I have to let go of all my other preconceived notions about Jesus. And as though it’s not enough that the followers start arguing over this angrily, You continue. They already don’t like what You are saying and what it is calling them to and they probably don’t fully understand. But then You continue to push the point by saying, “For my flesh is the real food; my blood is the real drink. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood live in me, and I live in them.” And I’m sure they thought, “That’s just gross!.” Or maybe they understood the ramifications better than we think. And many walked away from You that day.
But somehow, (was it by the enlightening of God?), the twelve remained and Peter answered, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life. And now we believe and know that You are the Holy One who has come from God.” But then, wham! “One of you is a devil!” But I think that has absolute bearing on everything here. Is it tough to follow You, Jesus? Yes. In all honesty it is hard to follow You. It’s not easy to die to self. It’s not easy to forsake your own life and take on Someone Else’s. You always ask us to make the hard choice. There’s that choice again.
You chose the twelve because You had a plan. You were always going to be the Bread of Life and the Living Water. But to fulfill that plan You had to make certain choices, and they were hard choices. You chose eleven men who would become one with You. But You chose one man who would rise against You. You chose one man who You knew would betray You. It wasn’t an accident. You knew all along that He would deny Who You Are and usurp things for his own gain. You knew that He would try to defame You. It’s what Satan does.
But You needed him to do that. Because it’s not until someone really tries to defame us when all eyes really start looking at us. When it’s no longer in our own hands to justify ourselves but when someone else brings the truth out, that’s when those eyes really see. So You chose the one who would put You on the cross, who would lead You to Your death, to Your supposed “defamation.” But You knew. The defamation intended would be Your exaltation. You chose the devil to do his thing so You could be glorified above everything and do Your glorious thing by showing Your fame and raising from the grave.
Well, Lord, first and foremost I need You to continually open my eyes to understand and know Your truth. I can’t get it on my own. Even the disciples didn’t fully understand until after Your resurrection and until You filled them with Your Holy Spirit. And I need to ingest You fully just as much as they needed to. I am desperate for You. You are my Bread of Life and my Living Water and without You there is no life. You’ve chosen me, Lord, because You’ve allowed me to see You and know You. And You’ve chosen me to go through hard things. But those hard things are for my own good and for Your glory. Remind me that I can always expect to be treated as my Master was treated. I can expect slander and defamation. But, since I’m Yours, as I patiently remain in You, I can also expect that at the right time, God will exalt me. But it won’t be for my own glory, maybe for my rescue, but it will be all for Your glory.
Lord, thank You for choosing to do such a hard thing for me. I know it was out of love. Let me always keep that in proper perspective. Remind me that You are always in control. And let me not balk at the tough things in my life but let me learn to rely on You more desperately with every situation. And Lord, we are all chosen for Your glory, but let me always be an instrument of righteousness. Guard my heart and keep me ever sensitive to You and alive in You.