The Opportunity to Turn

They were delighted to hear this and promised to give him money. So he watched for an opportunity to hand him over. On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, when it was customary to sacrifice the Passover lamb, Jesus’ disciples asked him, “Where do you want us to go and make preparations for you to eat the Passover?” –Mark 14:11–12

Judas looked for an opportunity to turn against Jesus. The other disciples looked to Jesus for direction. What group do you belong to?

Let’s start with the opportunity Judas looked for. It’s clear that the religious leadership hadn’t been able to figure out how to seize Jesus. They were delighted when Judas provided the opportunity. It would give them a chance to seize Jesus privately since they feared the crowd if they attempted to arrest Him publicly (11:18). Their antipathy against Jesus began near the beginning of His ministry when He forgave the sins of the paralytic man who was dropped through the roof for Jesus to heal (2:6–7). Now, their long three- year wait to seize Him was nearly over.

Judas’ motive is also revealed. The perfume poured on Jesus’ head upset him. He complained that the money could have been used for the poor; actually, he wanted it for himself. As the treasurer for the company of Jesus, Judas consistently stole from the funds entrusted to him (John 12:4–6). His motive in betraying Jesus wasn’t noble; he simply wanted money for himself.

Judas’ intention to betray Jesus wasn’t a momentary whim. He actively looked for an opportunity to betray Jesus. In legal terms we define this as lying in wait—not a crime of passion, but of intention.

The rest of the disciples didn’t look for opportunities to betray or desert. Instead, they wanted to eat the Passover meal with Jesus. At the time, they were staying in Bethany, a small village near the top of the eastern slope of the Mount of Olives (Mark 11:11; Matthew 21:17; John 12:1). Pilgrims to Jerusalem desired to eat the Passover meal within the city. Thus, the disciples’ question to Jesus indicates they were uncertain as to whether He wanted to remain in Bethany or observe Passover elsewhere.

The disciples’ question brings a practical observation. When you don’t know what the Lord wants you to do, ask Him.

I realize that in all probability He won’t answer you audibly as He did the disciples. But if you ask Him for direction, He will give it. Sometimes that direction will come to you as you pray, other times as you open God’s Word and let the Scripture speak to you. On other occasions, His counsel may come to you as you worship, or through the advice and counsel of people whose spiritual judgment you respect. I have found that He can even speak through our circumstances. Actually, there are no circumstances for the child of God—just God-instances.

There may also be times when you seek God’s will and He is silent; you don’t have a clear sense of direction. In those seasons, He may be saying to you, “I gave you a free will. I trust you. What do you want to do?”

Before making a decision, consider whether you have consulted the Lord. We do a lot of damage to our lives by rushing into situations without first seeking His will. Trust Him. Wait for His answer. He will not lead you astray.

A Prayer: Lord Jesus, may I never look for opportunities to turn away from You. Help me to always turn toward You.

Excerpted from Dr. Wood’s forthcoming book, Fearless: How Jesus Changes Everything, available in September from Vital Resources. 

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