When a story from the past is so well known, we can easily insert ourselves into it with a certain bias. When we do this, we read things into the story because of the facts we know now.

For instance, we know Judas betrays Jesus. So when we see his name in any story in the Bible, we immediately associate the word traitor with him, and we can only view him through that lens. Therefore, it’s easy for us to put ourselves in the place of one of the other eleven disciples of Jesus, and assume that they too knew Judas was a traitor.

Except they didn’t.

Look at this verse after Jesus says, “One of you will betray Me”—

His disciples stared at one another, at a loss to know which of them He meant. (John 13:22)

The Eleven were not suspicious of Judas. They didn’t say, “Well, I just knew it was him,” or “I kinda expected that from Judas.”

One of the things Jesus taught His followers was for them to be gentle as doves. I like how the King James Version says it: harmless as doves (Matthew 10:16).

Pastor, I know you especially have been hurt by people in your church. They have betrayed you, gossiped about you, turned on you. If people did that to Jesus, why would you expect anything less? And yet we are still to remain harmless as doves.

The Eleven never suspected a traitor. They were innocent. I think they were so focused on Jesus, they didn’t have time to be cynical about others. We view Judas cynically; they didn’t.

What a testimony to others when we are harmless:

That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and depraved nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world. (Philippians 2:15)

You may have been hurt many (many, many, many…) times in the past. But being harmless means that, like the disciples, we are “at a loss” as to whom it could be when someone tells us there is a traitor in our midst.

  • Stay focused on Jesus, so you may love others as He loves them.
  • Allow God to heal the wounds others have inflicted on you.
  • Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal any cynicism in your heart.
  • Repent of your suspicion of people.
  • Be harmless toward everyone.
  • Grieve over the traitor.
  • Then stay focused on Jesus, not the traitor and not your wound.

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