Would you welcome someone into your life or ministry if you knew for certain that they were going to betray you? Jesus did.
In John’s gospel, we are told that Jesus knew from the beginning who would betray Him. In John 6:64 we read that “Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.” In verse 66 we find out that “many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him.” How sad!
Also, how unbelievable that Jesus welcomed people into His circle fully knowing that they would abandon Him, or even worse, betray Him. And as we see His interactions with the people who followed Him, we don’t see Him showing favorites or treating the future betrayers differently than everyone else. For example, when Jesus journeyed with His disciples, Judas was right there with everyone else, even though Jesus knew that Judas would eventually sell Him out.
If we are going to follow Jesus’ example in leadership, we may need to think about how we welcome people – or maybe more specifically who we welcome. It is all too easy to make judgements about people and decide not to reach out or include them in our spheres of ministry, but in doing so, we may be wrong. We might misjudge people.
Even if we do judge rightly that someone cannot be trusted to be loyal, we must not forget that God is still sovereignly working out His plans. Sometimes God uses those disloyal people for His purposes.
We see a powerful example of this truth in Scripture. Even though Judas sold Jesus to be crucified, God was working His plan through Judas’ actions. In Peter’s sermon at Pentecost, which is recorded in the book of Acts, he called for the peoples’ attention with these words: “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know – this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men” (Acts 2:22-23).
In Peter’s address, we see the juxtaposition of God’s definite plan and the evil deeds of men. The evil men did not thwart God’s plan for redemption, in fact, they fulfilled it. Some of those men, including Judas, were welcomed into Jesus’ sphere of ministry.
So, the question for us is whether or not we will trust God to use the people He places around us, regardless of whether they act in a way that is supportive or loyal toward us. Leadership can be challenging as we seek to determine who we can trust, but ultimately, even when we can’t trust other people, we can always trust God, no matter who we encounter around us. And God just might want us to follow Jesus’ example and welcome some betrayers in order to accomplish His perfect plans.