Aloha Friday Message – July 13, 2018 – The Road that was Taken

1828AFC071318 – The Road that was Taken

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Mark 6:12-1312 So they went out and proclaimed that all should repent. 13 They cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! Today I’m going to start out with 2 facts about Judas Iscariot. He was Jesus’ friend (see John 15:15), and he was instrumental in performing miracles (See Mark 6:7-13). Of course that was early in Jesus’ ministry, and many months before Judas surrendered to the promptings of the Devil. We know eventually he betrayed Jesus; that was the road he took. But, early on, he wasn’t like that.

As with the other Eleven, Judas was a participant in Jesus’ travels, his ministry, and even these “missionary Excursions” on which Jesus sent his followers. First, he sent out the 12 – the men we know as Apostles – ἀποστόλων (apostolōn) from ἀπόστολος (apostolos) {ap-os’-tol-os}. Judas may have been a follower of John the Baptist initially – along with Phillip, Andrew, and Simon – and perhaps went with them to follow Jesus. Judas was part of The Twelve as we read in Matthew 10:2-4 These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon, also known as Peter, and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus;  Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed him. At an early point in Jesus ministry, we know that Jesus already knew those who did not believe in him and even knew Judas would betray him as we read in John 6:64-71 (← Use this link to see the following in context) 70 Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the twelve? Yet one of you is a devil*.” 71 He was speaking of Judas son of Simon Iscariot, for he, though one of the twelve, was going to betray him.
* διάβολός (diabolos) {dee-ab’-ol-os} – slanderer, false accuser, liar, maligner, one who condemns another with the malicious purpose of severing a relationship, back-biter, calumniator, a gossiping betrayer.

Jesus knew Judas’ nature. Jesus knew Judas would stay true to that nature. Jesus still kept him in his ministry and allowed him to share in it up to the point where Judas gave way to the promptings of the Devil. (See Acts 1:17 for he was numbered among us and was allotted his share in this ministry.) What we don’t think about often is whether or not Judas understood, or even knew, the true nature of Jesus. I believe there were two incidents in Judas’ life during which Satan himself filled and controlled Judas’ heart. The first was when Judas went to the Chief  Priests (See Matthew 26:14-16 and Mark 14:10-11). We see that Judas continued to look for opportunities to betray him – in other words, he had time to reflect on his decision, but chose not to change his mind. The second is when Judas entered the Garden of Gethsemane with the armed guards. (See Matthew 26:47, Mark 14:43, and John 18:3) Later on, we know of course that Judas didn’t survive his treachery (I won’t get into the discussion of whether or not he hung himself or split open – See Matthew 27:5 and  Acts 1:16-18) BEFORE Judas chose to be the enlisted servant of Satan, he was an Apostle of Jesus. He went out with the Twelve to actively apply the authority, given by Jesus to all the Apostles, to cast out demons and to heal the sick. He may also have been among the 70 (or 72) that went out to cities and towns surrounding Capernaum – all the places Jesus planned on visiting before making his final trek to Jerusalem to die. The primary purpose of that commission was evangelization – spreading the Gospel – but they too had authority to cast out demons and heal the sick.

Someone in the employ of Satan, someone possessed by the Devil, could not do these miraculous deeds because they could not have exercised the Authority given to them by Jesus.

At some point the road that Judas took led him away from Jesus and the other Apostles. Instead of The Road not Taken, Judas took the same road Adam and Eve and Ahab and Jezebel and Herod all took (and many of us as well) – the road most traveled by – the Road to Sin and Eternal Separation from God – Perdition. That wide, meandering, attractive highway has such a strong appeal to all of us because all of us have the fatal flaw of Original Sin that makes us susceptible to the “Wiles of the Devil.” Satan, that oldest of Liars, is so very successful at making the pleasures of sin sound more attractive than the wages of sin; but before Judas detoured to Satan’s road, he walked with Jesus and shared in that ministry of healing the sick and casting out demons – many demons. There’s a term that needs a little more light shed on it these days. Too many people believe the age of demons has ended. Nope. Not even close!

So what is a demon? (You guessed it! We’re going Greek again!) A demon – δαιμόνιον (daimonion) {dahee-mon’-ee-on} is an evil-spirit or a heathen deity. Also daímōn (daimón) {dah’-ee-mown} is a diminutive form of the word used to demonstrate how powerless the demons are (as fallen angels) against the plan and action of Christ and his followers (some given to be Apostles, most given to be Disciples). Every demon is a spirit, a being inferior to God, however superior to men (a little less than the angels ← See Hebrews 2:7-9 and Psalm 8:3-5). They are said to have the power to enter into the body of earthlings to aggravate and torment us with diseases, irrational desires (sinful thoughts), and fears. But that’s old hat, isn’t it? Are there modern demons and do they come after us in the same way as ancient demons?

  The answers are Yes and Yes. Modern demons mimic the power of absolution. They themselves vigorously oppose us when we are inclined to do the right thing; they are able to influence our exercise of our free will. They make us harm ourselves and others, but “it’s not our fault.” Like Geraldine Jones, the famous comic character created by Flip Wilson, we proclaim “THE DEVIL MADE ME DO IT!” We feel absolved, vindicated, and exonerated from all guilt because whatever it was that happened, we didn’t mean to do it. “I just snapped.” “I was drunk / high / enraged.” “I couldn’t resist the temptation.” “It’s a disease. I can’t do anything about it.” “Yeah, I’m demon possessed. So what?!”  “Can’t you tell I’m insane?” “Frankly, I don’t give a damn. It happened. Deal with it.” “I’m not the liar! S/he – they are lying!”

Another way this “absolution” works is by making us believe that not only are our actions attributable to someone or something outside our control, but also everything is relative and noting is absolute. There is no “Truth.” Without Truth, there is no accountability. I cannot be condemned by any other earthling for something over which I had no control and for which there is no suitable agreed-upon standard by which to judge me – or anyone else for that matter. We’ve dealt with this many times in these lessons. God gave us everything we need to be like him, to be empowered to defy the Devil and make him flee. James 4:7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Belovéd, the Devil is NOT able to “make” us do anything; but, he can sure make disobedience look alluring! Moreover, the Devil’s subordinates, those real-and-present minions we call demons, have even less power over us than their master. That is unless, of course, we give them that power over us by claiming we don’t know right from wrong.

  Here’s the thing I keep trying to remind myself and my Belovéd: God loves us and provides with everything we need to properly love him in return. Because I know there are Angels Watching Over Me (↔ Music Link), I know also that there are demons plotting over me. That’s a biblical truth which we can take to the bank where our treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue. Why is it that “The hard part is doing it?” Let’s go back to our key verse:

Mark 6:12-1312 So they went out and proclaimed that all should repent. If Judas could cast out demons (and we know they can’t be cast out in the name of Beelzebub), why didn’t Judas resist the Devil and his demons? I believe it was because he could not bring himself to repent. Repentance was what John preached. At the beginning of his ministry, Jesus preached repentance. At the beginning of the Church, Peter preached repentance (See Acts 2:38; check the CJB version of that one). As Screwtape said to Wormwood when describing the uneasiness we feel when we’re not living righteously, “If such a feeling is allowed to live, but not allowed to become irresistible and flower into real repentance, it has one invaluable tendency. It increases the patient’s reluctance to think about the Enemy.” For the Devil and his demons, “The Enemy” is God. Why was Judas unable to repent? He chose to be unable to believe the Gospel. He utterly rejected the Truth that was right in front of him. Don’t be like Judas. Don’t take that road. Repent, believe, make the demons flee, and be whole.

1 The Complete C.S. Lewis Signature Classics The Screwtape Letters Zondervan/Harper-Collins Publishers, 2002; Page 149

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture passages are from the New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE) New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

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