I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:21 NIV
Facebook now lets you label all your friends and place them in categories. I can label them, family, close friends, just friends and even acquaintances, if I don’t think they quite measure up to friend. You have more control and power over your Facebook world than you do the real world. On Facebook you can delete a friend if they let you down. Can’t do that in the real world, or at least not without going to prison. If someone is posting evil things on Facebook I can just delete them. But years before Facebook, how did Jesus label His friends and deal with evil?
In Matthew 26 Judas betrays Jesus with a kiss. If I had been Jesus my reply may have been, “you backstabber!” or “Traitor!” But look at Jesus’ response. “Jesus replied, “Do what you came for, friend.”Matthew 26:50 NIV Friend? Did Jesus call Judas, “friend?” yes He did. Was Jesus just trying to take the “high road?” Was Jesus Himself just trying to set a good example? I don’t think Jesus was just trying to be nice. Jesus was always straight with the people, especially the Pharisees when He called them hypocrites. Jesus called it the way He saw it. So when He called Judas friend, I am sure as far as Jesus was concerned they were friends. Jesus looked beyond Judas and realized, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6:12 NIV Jesus considered Judas a friend, realizing that the real enemy, being more than flesh and blood, was beyond Judas, and was actually Satan.
If Jesus refused to label Judas anything other than “friend,” C.S. Lewis explains why we in our humanity can’t really label people as being sincere or fake friends. ““Humans are very seldom either totally sincere or totally hypocritical. Their moods change, their motives are mixed, and they are often themselves quite mistaken as to what their motives are.”
Judas was not the only disciple that night, who we in our humanity would have trouble labeling on our Facebook. “When Jesus’ followers saw what was going to happen, they said, “Lord, should we strike with our swords?” And one of them struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his right ear.But Jesus answered, “No more of this!” And he touched the man’s ear and healed him.” Luke 22:49-51 NIV John tells us this disciple was peter, who later that night denied he even knew Jesus. Peter wanted to stand up for Jesus which was commendable, but his method was not. Peter thought he could overcome evil with the sword, but by healing the man’s ear, Jesus overcame evil with good. I am so glad that the same Jesus who healed the man who Peter hurt, can also heal the brother that I accidentally hurt in my misguided zeal for defending truth.
Jesus refused to label Judas an enemy. He saw past the mind games Satan wanted to play with Him, and realized Satan was the only real enemy. Satan tries to play mind games with us too. We can overcome evil with good when we see beyond the flesh and blood, and identify the real enemy as Satan. Satan will always use our friends and family unwittingly to hurt us. Many times they don’t even know they are causing us harm. They are not the enemy. Satan is the enemy. They are our friends. They may, by their misguided zeal cause wounds like Peter did, but just like Jesus, we can overcome evil with the healing power of Jesus’ goodness.
You can enjoy studying this week’s SS lesson here.