Bible Reading: John 12:1-19
Don’t allow the failures of others to negatively affect your own faith.
Thoughts about God for My Grandkids:
I have a friend, named John, who owns a large construction company. One division of his company builds commercial buildings like stores and the other division builds churches. Our church in Florida was working with him to build a Family Life Center. John came to our church and met with our leadership for a couple of days and then flew to Atlanta where he was working with another church. He had made numerous trips to Atlanta and there was a restaurant there that served fish and it was his absolute favorite. That evening, he ate fish at the restaurant, and then went to his hotel room. Not long after arriving he began to feel sick, very sick. He called his wife and told her that he was going to catch the first flight home in the morning and he wanted her to pick him up at the airport. The next morning, John arrived at the airport and they headed home. However, by now he was so sick that his wife rushed him to the hospital. Not long after he arrived he passed out and went into a coma. He was in the coma for 3 months. 3 months! During those 3 months, on 3 different occasions, the doctors told his wife that he was about to die and that she needed to come see him and tell him goodbye. What happened? When John was at our church he didn’t know that he had a bleeding ulcer. Then, when he got to Atlanta he ate some fish that was spoiled and contained bacteria that produces dangerous toxins (poison). The bacteria from the spoiled fish got into the ulcer and caused a sickness called sepsis. Sepsis is a disease that is carried into the entire body by the flow of the blood. When you get sepsis, the body tries to protect its most vital organs by shutting down the flow of blood to the parts that are not as important…beginning with the tips of your fingers and toes, your nose, ears…and then hands and feet. The good news is that John lived. People all over the country were praying for him and after 3 months he came out of the coma and lived. But he still had some serious problems. When the body shuts off blood to parts of the body for an extended time they die. By the time John came out of the coma his fingers, and hand, and toes, and feet, and legs, and ears, and nose…all looked like a dried fig. They had turned dark black and had deep wrinkles on them. At first, the doctors told him that they were going to have to amputate one leg up to the knee, the other leg just above the ankle, most of one hand, and the fingers off of the other hand. But amazingly, life began to come back into those limbs. Finally, the doctors decided to only amputate half of one foot and some fingers on one hand. John continued to heal up and is back at work, today.
Now, get this. After John got sick from eating fish…all of his family and friends quit eating fish. Grandma and I quit eating fish. None of us will ever eat fish, again. Through. Done. Yuck! In fact, we’re never even going to go fishing again. Really? No, not really. You know that’s not true. I still love to eat fish…mmm, fried Grouper…and I fully intend to keep fishing. However, I will be more careful than ever to make sure that the fish that I eat is not spoiled. Why would I tell you another fishing story? Let me explain.
Wherever Jesus went there was generally a large group of people who followed Him. They were called disciples. But among those disciples, there was a smaller group of 12 men that Jesus had specifically identified to stay with Him all of the time and to learn from Him. They were called Apostles and they were Jesus’ leadership team. They were very important. Everyone knew who they were.
- They knew that the Apostles were His very closest followers.
- They knew that the Apostles were the ones that Jesus taught the most.
- They knew that the Apostles saw and experienced things with Jesus that the rest of the disciples never did.
- They knew that the Apostles believed in Jesus more than anyone else did.
- They knew that Jesus trusted the Apostles more than other people.
- They knew that the Apostles were supposed to be examples to other people of what it meant to be a follower of Jesus.
They were very important. Everyone knew who they were.
Then, one day, one of those Apostles, one of Jesus’ most trusted followers…betrayed Him. His name was Judas Iscariot. Judas sold Jesus out. He turned Jesus over to the Jewish leaders for 30 pieces of silver. Judas, one of His closest disciples, one of His leadership team…deceived Him and double-crossed Him. Judas was a traitor.
People were stunned. They couldn’t believe it. Why? Why would one of Jesus’ own Apostles stab Him in the back? I can just hear the Jewish leaders telling them…
“See, didn’t we tell you all along? Even Jesus’ own followers know that He isn’t really the Messiah. When Judas realized that the truth about Jesus was about to go public…he made a grab for the money and ran.”
Imagine the doubt and disbelief that must have caused among the other disciples about Jesus. Some of them may have thought…
“I mean, if Judas, one of the 12 Apostles didn’t really believe in Jesus…maybe he knew something that we don’t know.”
Now, listen close. There are always going to be people who fail, people who don’t follow through to the end, people who do things that they shouldn’t do, people who are bad examples of what it means to be a follower of Jesus. But do not allow them to determine your belief in Jesus. Some of the people who do those very things will still say that they are followers of Jesus. But regardless of whether, or not, they really are…do not allow them to determine your faith in Jesus. Your faith in Jesus is not based on anyone else, or anything else, other than Jesus, Himself. People who follow Jesus should be a good example and model for other people. But not everyone is. Sometimes they really are followers of Jesus…and they make a bad decision, they fail, they sin. At that point, if they are truly a follower of Jesus they will confess that what they did was wrong, ask God for forgiveness, and not do it, anymore. But sometimes, they are not truly a follower of Jesus. The Bible speaks of these people as being fake followers. It says that they are like a wolf wearing a costume to look like a sheep (Matthew 7:15; 10:16). Or, they are like weeds growing in the middle of the garden that look just like the crop the farmer planted (Matthew 13:24-30). They look like real followers on the outside…but they are not on the inside.
It is so sad to say that there are still Judas’s in the church. But there are. Even today, there are people who will try to use Jesus, and Christianity, and the church…for their own good, for their own profit, for their own purpose. Wolves in sheep’s clothing. And, there are also believers, true believers, who fall into sin. Whichever one it might be…for some people, it can be very discouraging. Discouraging to see someone that you admired, or trusted, or looked to as a model of what it means to be a Christian…and then, to either come to the realization that they are a fake follower, or that they are a true follower who has failed and sinned. But let me say it again…do not allow them to determine your faith, your trust in Jesus. Ultimately, at the end of the day, the only one who should determine your faith in Jesus…is Jesus. Keep your eyes on Him. He, and He alone, is perfect. He, and He alone, is the only one that we should place our faith in. Certainly not in other people. We are all human…and to some degree, or another, we fall far short of being the kind of follower of Jesus that we should be. So, while we often find good examples of what it means to be a follower of Jesus by watching how other followers live…don’t ever let their life…good, or bad…be the deciding factor. Only Jesus deserves that kind of faith. He will never, ever let you down.
Just like I didn’t quit eating fish just because someone else got sick from it…I’m not going to stop believing in Jesus just because someone else sins. I may be disappointed in them…but I will never be disappointed in Jesus. Trust Him.
Love you more than bunches and bunches,