What can one vote do? Jesus answer to Judas (not Iscariot)

“But Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?”

John 14:22, NIV

That’s the question Judas (not Iscariot) asked Jesus at the last supper.

On the face of it, the question seems innocent enough. But in fact, what Judas (not Iscariot, also called Thaddeus or Jude) was asking was really a loaded question. He (we shall call him Jude) was really asking Jesus;

 “Why don’t you manifest your power to the world and overthrow this oppressive Roman empire and drive them out of this land?”[1].

Jude like most 1st Century Jews, was looking forward to a Messiah who would drive out the Romans and restore Israel’s freedom.

Many of us today ask a similar question: “Dear God, don’t you see the pain and suffering that we are experiencing? The injustices, unfair political situations, economic turmoil, climate change, ecological disasters? Why don’t you just manifest your power and bring all this evil to an end? Why don’t you return quickly, why don’t you just drive out the enemy and bring about order and justice and true peace!”

Perhaps Jesus reply to Jude in John 14:23 is the answer to our questions too. This is what He says:

“If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own, they belong to the Father who sent me.”

I postulate that He is saying that He will manifest Himself in the world through us, by our obedience to His teaching.

What then is His teaching? What does the Lord require of us? In a nutshell it is to “act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8). We can obey Jesus in our sphere of influence, in our homes, in our families, at work, in our community and our country. We can always choose to do the right thing in the right way.  

What then does the Lord require of us in the face of the looming election? We do have the right to vote as citizens of this country. How we exercise this right is, perhaps one of the ways we demonstrate our love for this country, for our peoples and for God.

After the post GE14 events – the Sheraton move, the mushrooming of purported new parties and new coalitions, corruption – many of us are disillusioned and are suffering from political fatigue. “What can one vote do?” we may ask. “Will the politicians remain loyal to that mandate?” “Can we rid our country of corruption?”

Those questions and many more play in our minds. We may feel powerless. Maybe that’s how Jude felt too. He’d been a faithful follower of Jesus for the last 3 years and now Jesus says He’s leaving to a place Jude cannot follow?! Possibly, Jude felt lost and in despair.

I take comfort in the words of Jesus in response to Jude:

“But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid”[2].

These words of promise still ring true today, God has sent us the Holy Spirit to enable and empower us. Everyone has a part to play. Then, slowly but surely, together we can stem the tide of injustice, oppression, corruption and degradation. We should not lose hope. We do not need to be afraid.

Aside from these, perhaps Jude also secretly nursed some self-interest in seeing a Messiah to trump the Romans. Possibly he envisaged that since he is seen as a follower of this Messiah, once the Messiah comes into power, Jude too will be heralded as a fellow freedom fighter and bestowed with great honours too[3]. Possibly, he wanted some form of recognition by association.

In this respect Jesus response to Judas is interesting. He did not promise Judas any earthly honours or earthly reward. He merely gave Judas the mandate to “obey His teaching and to love Him.” Jesus did not come as freedom fighter bringing a legion of angels to destroy Rome. He did not come to this world to lord it over us. Jesus came to save and to serve. He came to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke.[4]

Perhaps Jesus question to us now is “Since I have revealed Myself to you, how do you show Me to the world?”

[1]“Love obeys John 14: 22- 31 bereansbible church.org; GotQuestions – who was Thaddeus. Judas (not Iscariot) is also known as Jude or Thaddeus. Jude seems to have come from the Zealots – Britannica.

[2] John 14: 25

[3] Mark 10:35-41

[4] Isaiah 58: 6

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