60 When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” 61 But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, “Do you take offense at this? 62 Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? 63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 64 But there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) 65 And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”
66 After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. 67 So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” 68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, 69 and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” 70 Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the Twelve? And yet one of you is a devil.” 71 He spoke of Judas the son of Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the Twelve, was going to betray him.
People really don’t like honesty.
Oh, we can say that we value it, we respect it, but the truth is we don’t really like it.
A professor at my seminary once emphasized that, after one of the students protested that something might be offensive to people, said “Jesus was offensive to everybody.”
Think about that one for a while. He couldn’t have been a politician; he didn’t play with any party very well. He wouldn’t have made it in the local church; he constantly defied the hierarchy and establishment, and taught controversial things like they should eat his flesh and drink his blood to attain eternal life. He wouldn’t have made it in the business world, for obvious reasons.
Let’s face it: Jesus was pretty offensive. And because of the harsh words he had for people, they left him in droves.
Before this, he was Mr. Popular. People crossed lakes to hang out with him, climbed mountains to hear him speak. And after telling them that he was the only way to the father, they abandoned him.
I’ve put my foot in my mouth pretty completely before, so I can get it. One of the things I wound up inheriting from my dad is the ability to wind up speaking what’s exactly on my mind, which tends to put people off. So I’ve had some experience with being abandoned.
It’s not fun.
I may be an introvert, and enjoy my space and privacy, even a little alone time every once in a while, but nobody likes being abandoned, being left by people that you never intended to turn away. It’s not a good feeling. At some level, we need one another, and nothing hurts worse than loneliness when you want to be with other people.
Now, he wasn’t completely abandoned; the twelve core disciples were still with him, which wouldn’t be so bad if not for the fact that he knew that one of them would betray him.
I don’t know about you, but if I knew one of my friends would sell me out and betray me to the police, I probably wouldn’t hang out with him for very long, let alone put him in charge of the money. But hey, I’m not Jesus, and that’s a good thing.
Jesus has this talent for making things work out of the best, even bad things. Maybe he thought Judas could use a good influence on his life and kept him around regardless of whatever future action might happen. Or, maybe he knew humanity well enough to know that it was necessary for things to happen the way they did, betrayal included. Maybe he knew that humanity as a whole was a self-destructive and selfish lot, and that sin had corrupted it so thoroughly that it would take an act of incredible love and grace for it to ever be reconciled. Maybe, just maybe, Jesus knew that we needed the cross.
And that’s a big deal.
For Jesus to do this for us… I can’t even imagine the kind of love it takes for someone to lay their life down for everyone on earth. That’s a God-sized love, one that I can’t fathom. That Christ would lay down his life not just for me, but for everyone at all times in all places… my mind just boggles. All I’m left with is gratitude, and awe. After being abandoned, after being betrayed, Jesus still loved us enough to die for us. In my opinion, that’s worth being thankful for, worth praising, and worth putting my own life down for.