Our journey though the Gospel of Luke, in a quest for the spirit of community continues. In my previous post, we looked at the threat posed by the religious leaders of Jesus’ time; those who were elevating the letter of the law above the spirit of the scriptures.
This week we pick up at Chapter 6 verse 12-16.
“Now during those days he went out to the mountain to pray; and he spent the night in prayer to God. And when day came, he called his disciples and chose twelve of them, whom he also named apostles: Simon, whom he named Peter, and his brother Andrew, and James, and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James son of Alphaeus, and Simon, who was called the Zealot, and Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.”
Throughout the gospel narrative, the author of Luke reminds us that Jesus spent time alone in prayer and in an earlier post titled, “Community Building Begins in the Wilderness” I look at this interesting paradox.
I think it is safe to assume that at this time, Jesus was seeking guidance in the selection of his disciples; twelve men, a few of which we have already met in earlier accounts. As we discovered when we examined these “call” stories, the only requirement seemed to be a willingness to follow. (Link to earlier posts.)
We are told almost nothing about Jesus’ additional draft picks with the exception of Judas Iscariot whom we are told “became a traitor.” It is important to note that on the day Jesus tapped Judas on the shoulder he did what all the others did, he said yes, and his whole heart was with Jesus. He did not start out a traitor, he “became” one.
What I find interesting about this account is that Jesus hand-picked 12 leaders after spending all night in prayer. They were to be the ones who would carry his movement forward and yet, one out of those twelve betrayed him. I do not think Jesus purposely picked Judas because he wanted to be betrayed. I think Jesus experienced the very real human pain of watching someone you thought was an ally become an enemy over time.
These twelve are his core team. This is the group he invests the most time and energy into. This becomes his spiritual family and like most spiritual families it had flaws. Somehow this gives me comfort.
Through the years, I have asked people to serve as key leaders in our ministry and have been betrayed over and over. Some of those I trusted used their relationship with me to fraudulently gain access to material wealth, some slandered my reputation to try to gain power and control, but the most painful betrayals have been from Christian who misuse the scriptures to try to undermine my leadership.
Throughout our journey through the book of Luke we have seen time and again that Jesus does not try to avoid the risk of human betrayal by having his would-be-disciples jump through a bunch of hoops proving their worthiness. He never requires that they sign a statement of faith, or have a degree in theology, or asks them to prove their loyalty, he seems to simply trust the spirit that led him to choose these twelve.
We have all been, or will be betrayed. It is a given.
The question becomes, how will we respond to this inevitable reality?
Will we close ourselves off from others and avoid the risk?
Or, will we faithfully follow in Jesus’ footsteps knowing that this kind of pain is a part of the journey?