At the Last Supper, Jesus demonstrated how the Kingdom faces her enemies. He could easily have exposed Judas. Even as soon as Judas began embezzling from the treasury shared by the group, Jesus could have acted, because He knew. He did not act.
This is more than a simple matter of particular plans for Judas. There is a general principle at work. Jesus washed the feet of Judas, too. He also honored Judas with the ritual first sop. He never exposed Judas' intent, never confronted him. He did not want the other disciples to attack him, as they surely would have if they had known. Two of them had illegal weapons already, and we can be sure they were prepared to fight in some fashion.
In the churches today, we concern ourselves too much with the organization itself. Jesus chose Judas. This is not simply allowing the spiritually dead to hang around, as He always did in His ministry. Judas was chosen as a close associate, a leader.
From what we know, Judas was politically active and experienced in human leadership. He joined Jesus' ministry because he saw a distinct opportunity to overthrow the powers that be, who were too obviously corrupt. Had Jesus done things just a little differently, He could very well led a successful reform movement, or even a successful revolt to replace the Jewish leadership. Huge crowds were ready to make Him king. Judas wanted a piece of that, probably in a sincere desire for a better world.
That's how the world operates, not the Kingdom. We are not here to correct all worldly ills. We are here to participate in God's revelation. We do that by bringing glory to His name. Jesus said the Law of the Kingdom was the divine love which drove Him to the Cross. It was the love which drove Him to wash their feet. He distinguished between the need for regeneration (“he who has bathed”) and the need for daily cleansing from the world's filth splattering our lives (“needs only to have his feet washed”). We are to give ourselves to helping people clean themselves from worldly afflictions, such as the argument the the Twelve had on the way to the supper, and the hard feelings which must have made that meal dreary. The world jockeys for position that way, but the Kingdom leads by humiliation of the self. Jesus said serving is greatness.
Sinners will sin. We cannot and should not stop them. We should call sin what it is, and leave it at that. We overcome sin not by legislation and the power of the State, but by the power of love and grace. We absorb the effects of the world's sin, knowing it will eventually kill us. But our own demise is not our problem; it lies in the hand of God. Ours is to love sacrificially on the way down. That's how we rise above.
Ed Hurst is Associate Editor of Open for Business.