When You Look in the Mirror, Which Apostle(s) do You See?
The Lord (Week 16 of 23)
Judas must have come to Jesus with the genuine desire to believe and follow him, otherwise, Jesus would not have accepted him. At least, we find nothing of distrust or resistance on the Lord’s part — and still less of any thought of the ‘necessity’ of receiving his traitor along with his other intimates. Therefore we must suppose that Judas really was well disposed.
Like every other apostle, he brought his weaknesses with him. Peter also had his; he was impulsive; his heart and tongue were forever running away with him — to his great good as well as to his great detriment. He was inconstant. It took a real miracle of divine power to make of Peter “this rock” (Matt. 16:18). By nature he was far from rocklike…Also John had his failings. Art and legend have misrepresented him. He was anything but the delicate, affectionate disciple of love. His mind soared higher than those of the other apostles, but he was a zealot too and capable of all kinds of impatience and harshness. We feel this when he calls down the fate of Sodom upon Samaria, and there are other passages in his writing that are terribly hard. That he so often spoke of charity and understood it so deeply is possibly due to the fact that he did not possess it — at least not the charity of kindness, though there are also other varieties…Also Thomas was not perfect. Jesus’ word to him about the blessedness of those who believe without seeing, suggests that at times he must have been close to unblessedness…In the same way, Judas too had his weaknesses, and the Evangelist — John it is — describes one of them, probably the most conspicuous, with great sharpness: he loved money. Thus his faith had to struggle with avarice, his readiness to reform with inner bonds. Cupidity does have something degrading about it. A generous heart beat in Peter, for all his thoughtless impulsiveness, and in John’s fanaticism burned the ardor of genuine surrender. Even skeptical Thomas was honest enough to give truth its due, once it had been revealed. But in Judas there must have been a steak of meanness. How, otherwise, could John call him a hypocrite and thief? And how could Judas have conceived of such baseness as to seal his treachery with the kiss of peace? But the possibility of salvation was also in him; Judas had received the vocation of an apostle and could have been one. But his readiness to reform went lame. — The Lord (Part 5: Chapter VII, Paragraph 11)
Was there a Divine plan for Christ to call apostles that struggled with weaknesses we all share in common? Do we all carry pieces and parts of those chosen men in our hearts? Does each one of us harbor both their strengths and shortcomings deep within our souls?
I must say I was taken aback by this passage. I have long believed I was akin to Peter. Running off at the mouth, full of passion and in high gear, all the while tripping over words that had not been flushed-out. But as I read through the passage, I was profoundly surprised to see myself in the descriptions of each of these apostles. Am I the only one? Or did you do the same?
I actually had an “aha” moment, when reading about John. That perhaps John spoke so beautifully about charity because he struggled with it so, was a revelation for me. A peek into the depths of my own soul. For years I have felt called to discuss the subject of sacrifice. And yet, I could never determine why God would call me to discuss the very thing with which I struggle most fiercly. I find the idea of sacrifice beautiful beyond words, glorious even; and yet, I struggle to offer even the smallest of gifts to Our Lord.
And Thomas? I think we can all identify with his need for “proof.” Doesn’t each of us hold that need for certainty close to our hearts? And then, well, Judas. Money has always been a bit of a problem for me. Materialism sucks me dry at times, emotionally, spiritually and literally – so many bills, so many desires, so much concern about the practical expenses of family life.
And yet, for all their glaring faults, each of these men had redeeming qualities. Do I?
Of course I do. God is good. And God made ME to be good.
But there’s always that risk. My readiness to reform can go “lame.” How best to avoid this? To the extent that He will help me to quell the temptations I face from moment to moment; to the extent that I turn to Him whenever I am in need; to the extent that I unite myself to Him; to the extent that I allow the Holy Spirit to move my soul, good can shine through. Even from me.
I must never despair. I must cling to the One that brought me. I must know that I am completely dependent upon His great Mercy, and I must reach out and touch the edge of His garment. I must rest at His feet. I must offer whatever love I can in even the smallest of ways. And if I cannot find it in myself to love, I must beg for the desire, the opportunity, the courage, to do what I cannot do alone. If in all humility, I cling to My God and My Savior, I will not go lame. For He has a track record of doing big things with small people. My only hope? Jesus, I trust in You.
When you look in the mirror, which apostle(s) do you see?
Part 5: Ch. X-XII
1. What about you? Share with us where you see yourself among the apostles. You must, too, find it amazing to think that they shared such common struggles. Was anything in this passage surprising to you? Where do you identify? And how do you deal with your own struggles?
2. Feel free to comment on anything from our assignment this past week!
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