27 February, 1999
We as Christians must understand that we have an enemy who is out there seeking opportunity to destroy us and our work in the Lord. We are warned in the scriptures not to be ignorant of the devices of the Devil. On our road to glory the enemy will lay traps and snares to cause us to stumble. Following are three examples of who the enemy will use to accomplish his purpose. Nothing is worse then the sting that comes from those who walk among us. It is Betrayal ...
By the hand of ... A Disciple
Matthew 26: 14 Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests 15 and said, "What are you willing to give me if I deliver Him to you?" And they counted out to him thirty pieces of silver. 16 So from that time he sought opportunity to betray Him.Luke 22: 21 "But behold, the hand of My betrayer is with Me on the table.
Everyone in time will be in a position of a leader. Someone will come under your influence eventually and they will look to you as an example: parents to their children, teacher to their students, pastor to their flock, etc... Warning! When they have a sense of being betrayed by you and/or perhaps they see an opportunity to gain at your expense, the enemy will entice them to act against you. Those who are more in the flesh will carry out that intent. Those who are more in the Spirit will not do so.
Judas... walked with Jesus for about three years. He followed Him wherever He went. Sat at His feet to hear about the establishing of God's kingdom here on the earth. He received power to speak on behalf of Jesus and witnessed the mighty power of God working through his use of the name of Jesus to heal the sick, cast out demons and raise the dead. Judas could hardly wait to sit in a seat of power and authority so that he could overthrow the Roman Government, be a ruler in the house of Israel, raise the poor to riches, etc...
Judas heard from the lips of Jesus that His kingdom is not of this world, that He was going to Jerusalem to be killed by those who are in authority, (and the straw that broke the camels back) you will have the poor with you always. Judas felt that his dreams and vision would not be coming. He felt betrayed by Him whom he followed and decided to betray Jesus to those in authority and perhaps gain some influence and money for all the time he had invested in following Jesus.
By the hand of ... A Friend
Luke 22: 61 And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had said to him, "Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times."
As you travel down the road of life you come into contact with many individuals. Some of these people will be of a kindred spirit. A friendship will grow between the both of you as you walk side by side with them. Their dealings with you will be filled with good intentions. You start to depend upon them to be there when you have a need: to help you move, a shoulder to cry on, to stand with you in times of adversity, etc... There is a price all pay for friendship, the laying aside of your own needs to meet the needs of the other. Warning! When time and circumstance exact too high a price in their eyes, they will fall away.
Peter believed that he had a special relationship with Jesus. After all, wasn't he the one who was called out of the boat to walk on the water with Jesus. Did not Jesus call him the rock. When Jesus went to the mount of transfiguration, wasn't he there with only two others. Did not Jesus treat him special. Was this in the mind of Peter, "Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, and He is my friend, who can stop us"?
They were in the garden that night when Judas came with a large crowd. Peter took a small sword that he was conceiling and with a swing took off the ear of the high priest's servant. Jesus said to put away the sword and healed that servant. Jesus then allowed the soldiers to arrest him.
All of His disciples fled Him... even Peter. Sure he followed after Him from a safe distance. He even went into the court yard. How can he fully abandon Jesus? Yet even when he was pressed three times whether he knew Jesus, he denied ever being with Him. In fact he said he didn't know Him at all. The rooster crowed. The hand that held the sword earlier was now empty. Confronted with judgement and death, Peter ran away and cried.
By the hand of ... A Leader
Luke 22: 63 Now the men who held Jesus mocked
Him and beat Him. 64 And having blindfolded Him, they struck Him
on the face and asked Him, saying, "Prophesy! Who is the one who
struck You?" 65 And many other things they blasphemously spoke
Luke 22: 70 Then they all said, "Are You then the Son of God?" So He said to them, "You rightly say that I am." 71 And they said, "What further testimony do we need? For we have heard it ourselves from His own mouth."
Matthew 27: 17 Therefore, when they had gathered together, Pilate said to them, "Whom do you want me to release to you? Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?" 18 For he knew that they had handed Him over because of envy. (18 Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death, 19 and deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock and to scourge and to crucify. And the third day He will rise again.)
Everyone in time will be in the position of a follower. You will come under their influence in some aspect of your life . Examples: as a child to their parents, as an employee to their boss, as a church member to their pastor, as a citizen to their government, etc... These leaders are God and/or man ordained. Their task is to lead people in a certain direction to acheive desired goals. They prepare action plans, empower others, and discipline those who act contrary to their perceived goals. Warning! When they perceive someone acting not in the best interest of their authority they will bring pressure to bear to make them conform and failing this, removal of the offender from their society.
There were priests, pharisees and saducees in the land of Israel during the time of Jesus on the earth. Religeous leaders each with their own factions, understandings, theories and theologies. This made for a mixed bag of beliefs yet each were tolerated by the others to some degree. They each had their own "turf" and they protected their own jealously.
Into this mix entered a new element, the gospel according to Jesus. Being a new phenomena each group sent out representatives to hear this new rabbi from the hills of Galilee. They saw the mighty works that proceeded from His hands. They saw the love and compassion that He had with the masses. They heard the words that He spoke. This rabbi's popularity increased and those in power saw that He was making many disciples and His following grew wherever He went.
The seed of envy was found in their hearts. Power they did not possess in the same degree as Him or of His followers. A love and compassion for people as individuals that drew the hearts of the people away from themselves. Then came the words that they could not understand yet knew there was power in them. They could not sit back and watch their power over the populace diminish. They tried to trap Him in His words. They brought pressure to bear on Him and those who listenned to Him. Their hold was being broken and Jesus would not change His confession. They made a plot to capture Him. They tried to force Him to recant and come into agreement with them. When He would not, they condemned Him to death and handed Him over to the Romans to be put to death.
These three things Jesus knew while sitting in the garden praying. He knew His disciple was at that moment betraying Him to the chief priests. He knew that Peter will stand with Him but only so far. He knew that because of envy the powers that be were going to condemn Him unjustly. What did He do faced with these three acts of betrayel before Him? He prayed...
What would you do in similar circumstances? Wouldn't you try to stop your disciple from betraying you by whatever means are at your disposal. Threaten, harm, fight, argue, plead, beg. Yet Jesus knew there was a judge in heaven. He knew that this was fulfilling what God had planned. Could you do the same as Jesus and let your disciple betray you?
When your friend runs away and hides from you because he/she considers the cost too high to stay with you, what will you do? Will you break fellowship with them or do what Jesus did? When the time of danger was past Jesus sought him out and restored Peter to His side as a friend. Could you do the same?
How unjust the leaders were. In your dealings with those in authority would you argue with them and not give an inch? Would you try to strike back? Would you abandon them and walk away? Or would you do as Jesus did? To stand before them not saying a word to justify your actions when you know that they are the ones in the wrong? When you are on your cross, call out to God to forgive them? When they have visited their terror against you, reach out to them again in love?
Do not be deceived! These things in like manner will come to you also. Your disciple, friend, and leaders will betray you at different points in your life. Whether you are a Christian or not, this is part of human nature and it will occur. The question is... knowing this... will you follow Jesus and do to others as He has done in His circumstances. This was a part of "the road to glory" for Jesus. This will be a part of your road as well.
In Conclusion then... don't be caught by surprize... in thoughts be as wise as a serpent... in deeds be as harmless as a dove.(ref: Matthew 10:16)
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