Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases. And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick. And he said unto them, Take nothing for your journey, neither staves, nor scrip, neither bread, neither money; neither have two coats apiece. And whatsoever house ye enter into, there abide, and thence depart. And whosoever will not receive you, when ye go out of that city, shake off the very dust from your feet for a testimony against them. And they departed, and went through the towns, preaching the gospel, and healing every where.
Now Herod the tetrarch heard of all that was done by him: and he was perplexed, because that it was said of some, that John was risen from the dead; and of some, that Elias had appeared; and of others, that one of the old prophets was risen again. And Herod said, John have I beheaded: but who is this, of whom I hear such things? And he desired to see him.
And the apostles, when they were returned, told him all that they had done. And he took them, and went aside privately into a desert place belonging to the city called Bethsaida. And the people, when they knew it, followed him: and he received them, and spake unto them of the kingdom of God, and healed them that had need of healing. And when the day began to wear away, then came the twelve, and said unto him, Send the multitude away, that they may go into the towns and country round about, and lodge, and get victuals: for we are here in a desert place. But he said unto them, Give ye them to eat. And they said, We have no more but five loaves and two fishes; except we should go and buy meat for all this people. For they were about five thousand men. And he said to his disciples, Make them sit down by fifties in a company. And they did so, and made them all sit down. Then he took the five loaves and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed them, and brake, and gave to the disciples to set before the multitude. And they did eat, and were all filled: and there was taken up of fragments that remained to them twelve baskets.
And it came to pass, as he was alone praying, his disciples were with him: and he asked them, saying, Whom say the people that I am? They answering said, John the Baptist; but some say, Elias; and others say, that one of the old prophets is risen again. He said unto them, But whom say ye that I am? Peter answering said, The Christ of God. And he straitly charged them, and commanded them to tell no man that thing; saying, The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be slain, and be raised the third day.
A look backward and a chilling warning to all of us: Luke 9:1-2 says, “And he called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal.”
Judas Iscariot was one of the twelve. Judas, who was a thief. (John 12:4-6) Who betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. Who “changed his mind” (Matt 27:3) when it was too late.
This is scary stuff. Could we betray the Lord? Could we be “fake Christians”, or be genuine Christians and fall as far as Judas did? Was Judas a genuine believer in Jesus? There is no indication, zero, none at all, that Judas was any different from the rest of the disciples on this journey. In my opinion, this constitutes a strong presumption that he also performed miracles of healing and cast out demons in Jesus’ name.
Judas honestly had good intentions:
“Then when Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he changed his mind and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, saying, ‘I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.’ They said, ‘What is that to us? See to it yourself.’ And throwing down the pieces of silver into the temple, he departed, and he went and hanged himself.” He did not intend to get Jesus killed.
It seems to me that Judas thought that in one way or another, Jesus would be triumphant through the trial. And He was, but it was not the triumph that Judas had in mind. Judas could probably have rationalized everything he did, including taking money from the common budget for himself, right up until the moment that he saw that Jesus was condemned.
And yet, “Jesus answered them, ‘Did I not choose you, the twelve, and one of you is a devil?’ He spoke of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, for it was he who would betray Him, being one of the twelve.” (John 6:70-71)
Brothers and sisters, we need to be careful that we do not confuse what we want with what God wants. Or even that we try to do God’s work in our own way. This is a tragedy that many believers today are falling into. They want to “resurrect” America, or “take back our nation for Christ”, or similar dreams. But are those the intentions of God at this time? The consequences of being wrong can be catastrophic.
But it doesn’t have to be that way!
“The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, for, ‘Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct Him?’ But we have the mind of Christ.” (1st Corinthians 2:15-16)
We have to seek God’s will. Sometimes it’s obvious, and sometimes we will have to seek it earnestly over time. Sometimes we may not know, but we always have to take matters to God in prayer first, if there is the least grain of doubt about His will in a situation. Even if we think we are sure. We are not immune from extreme sins or colossally stupid mistakes even if we are genuine Christians.
In 2nd Peter chapter 1, Peter warns us to “be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.” (Verse 10) He lists in the previous verses qualities we should look for in ourselves.
I’m not trying to scare anyone or guilt-induce anyone. I just think that this is something we all (including myself) need to think over carefully and keep in mind.