How we make disciples in the way of Christ

Posted on June 11, 2014 by VMMissions Staff

In his devotional reflections for the recent VMM Board meeting, Harold Miller, Trissels Mennonite Church pastor, reflected on the way that the Kingdom comes.

Reading the story of Judas, Harold pointed out that most often, we interpret this story as a betrayal; we assume that Judas was trying to sabotage the coming Kingdom. However, when we examine Judas’ reaction another possibility emerges. Drawing from Myron Augsburger’s commentary on Matthew, he surmises that Judas never intended to betray Jesus to death but instead betray him into the hands of his enemies to press him to fight. Perhaps Judas believed Jesus would fight, eliminating the injustice and installing utopia by force.

But, Jesus responds in a surprising way.

Jesus fulfilled his mission with outstretched arms—a stance of risk and vulnerability. He didn’t force those doing wrong to stop through threats or acts of violence, but he loved them until the end; helping them want to stop through disarming acts of love, changing them from the inside out. Jesus didn’t call legions of angels because he wanted more than a momentary victory.

Jesus stretched out his arms on the cross, choosing to show love and grace, rather than force and violence because the way of bringing the Kingdom is always cruciform. It is always suffering love. Force may bring external compliance, but God wants the change of the human heart; only suffering love can do that.

As we are sent, that is the way we are to go. Jesus’ choice to love-even-if-it-meant-death is not only for our atonement but also the way we are to relate. Jesus is not only our Savior but also our model. Whenever the New Testament specifies how we are to imitate Jesus, suffering love is what is talked about (1 Peter 2:21, Ephesians 5:2 & 25, Philippians 2).

Judas meant for Jesus to come forth as conqueror. Instead he prepared his way to the cross. And there Jesus did conquer. His way of grace and mercy began working to change the whole world, for all time; slowly, but it’s working.

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