Today’s selected reading continues in the second epistle of the apostle Paul found in the New Testament which was written unto the saints in Corinth. More specifically, today’s passage is found I verses seven through eighteen of the tenth chapter. What we find within this set of verses is a continuation if that which the apostle Paul wrote in verses one through six. The apostle Paul opens this chapter by appealing to both the meekness and gentleness of Christ and almost immediately transitions to speaking about the reality that so long as we are in this world we walk in the flesh and we walk according to the flesh. In the second verse the apostle contrasts his physical presence when he is among the Corinthian saints in the flesh with his apparent spurt and presence when writing his letters. The apostle Paul speaks of his being bold in his letters, and yet a seeming transition that is present when he is actually present among the saints which are in Corinth. When we come to the third verse or this chapter we find the apostle Paul writing that although we walk in and according to the flesh we do not wave war after the flesh. The apostle Paul clearly sets forth the strong contrast between walking in the flesh and our warring after the flesh and how the two are not in any way linked or connected. It is absolutely imperative that we understand this concept of walking in the flesh versus warring in the Spirit, for all too often I am convinced that we have the order of this backwards within our minds and lives. I am convinced there are countless men and women who think and believe they can war and wage war in the flesh and at the same time walk in the Spirit. It’s interesting to say that least that not only did the apostle Paul state that we do not wage war after the flesh, but he also wrote and declared what the weapons of the warfare we do fight are not carnal by any means.
The more I read this particular passage of scripture the more I can’t help but think how many of us within Christianity seek to use carnal and natural weapons in order that we might wage war against flesh and blood. I can’t help but be reminded of the account of Jesus in the garden if Gethsemane and how Judas led a small insurgent and insurrection against Jesus in the midst of it. If you read the account of Jesus and his three disciples in the heart of the garden you will find that Judas not only led an insurrection against Jesus within the garden, but he also betrayed him with a token of affection and friendship. The kiss upon Jesus’ cheek was to be the signal signifying that Jesus was the one whom they were seeking and that it was He whom they needed to seize. What marks this account even more interesting is that when Judas approached Jesus—not only did he approach Him and kiss Him on the cheek, but he also came unto him declaring, “Hail, Raboni,” or “Hail, Master.” In other words—not only did Judas betray the Christ with a kiss, but he also did so with a false sense of relationship and submission. How interesting it is that we can kiss Christ with our lips and yet lead a quiet insurrection against Him in the place of intimacy. How interesting is it that we can draw near to Christ, and with our lips profess submission and respect, and yet we are quietly leading an insurrection against Him. The prophet Isaiah spoke of those who drew near the Lord with their lips, yet whose hearts were far from Him, and I can’t help but consider those words when reading the account of Judas in the garden. It was true that Judas had walked with the Christ for three and a half years, and it is true that when he came unto Jesus in the garden he drew bear him with his lips and even kissed Him, yet that token of intimacy and relationship was accompanied by an insurrection that was led against Jesus there in the garden.
I can’t help but wonder how many times we as men and women enter into the garden—enter into the place of intimacy and fellowship—and we draw near unto the Christ with our lips, and yet inside ourselves we are leading a quiet insurrection against Him. When I read and consider the words of the prophet Isaiah I can’t help but consider how succinctly and aptly they apply to Judas’ presence in the garden on the night Jesus was betrayed by a friend. It’s quite interesting to note that even when Judas entered into the garden, and even when he kissed Jesus on the cheek, and even when he expressed a false submission to His authority by calling Him Master, Jesus still called him friend. What marks this as being even more incredible is that even in the upper room—after Satan had entered into the heart of Judas—Jesus would again call him friend by declaring unto him, “Friend, what you are about to do, so quickly.” Not only leading up to the act of betrayal, but also in the very act of betrayal Jesus spoke unto Judas as though he were a friend. Even though Judas drew near to Jesus with his lips, and even though his heart was indeed far from Him, Jesus still proceeded to call him friend. How amazing is the meekness and gentleness of Christ that even in the very act of betrayal He still called Judas friend and spoke of fellowship and relationship. Despite the fact that Judas led an insurrection against Jesus in the garden Jesus still proceeded to call him friend. How wonderful it is, and how perplexing as well that even until the very end Jesus still spoke of friendship and referred to Judas as a friend. Tell me dear brother, tell me dear sister—could you do such a thing? Could you continue to speak of friendship and fellowship up until the end? Could you continue speaking of friendship and fellowship—even leading up to and I the act of betrayal? Could you be betrayed by one closest to you and yet even in that moment of betrayal speak of them as one would a friend? Do you think you have the strength, the meekness, the gentleness, the compassion, the security in who you are to be able to call another friend—even in the face of their betrayal?
There is one thing that is so incredibly challenging and unique about the account of Judas’ betrayal in the garden of Gethsemane. When speaking of betrayal and the act of being betrayed by others—more often than not the betrayal is done in secret and done behind closed doors when no one else is looking or even aware of what is going on. More often than not betrayal is done in secret and done without the other person knowing what is taking place until the act has already been completed and it is essentially too late. What is so unique about Judas’ betrayal of Jesus is that his betrayal against Jesus—while it could have been considered to have taken place in the shadows since it was done by night and in the garden of Gethsemane—was essentially and in all reality directly in the face of Jesus. There was absolutely no mistaking what was taking place within the heart and mind of Jesus, for it was absolutely unmistakable what Judas was doing. If and unless you are entering into the garden to lead an insurrection and rebellion against Jesus, why would you enter into the garden with a group of Roman soldiers in order to seize Jesus by force? Judas Iscariot knew exactly what he was going when he entered into the garden, as well as when he came near and approached Jesus with a token of friendship and fellowship and intimacy. Judas entered into the garden and presented a false intimacy and false fellowship in the shadows, and even professed a false submission to the authority of Jesus as Master. Please don’t lose sight of or miss what is taking place within this particular passage of Scripture, for it was betrayal at its finest taking place in the shadows. BETRAYAL IN THE SHADOWS! BETRAYAL IN SECRET! When Judas and those who accompanied him entered into the garden the only obese who were present there in the garden were Jesus and His three closest companions—Peter, James and John. This betrayal—while it was done openly in the face of Jesus and His disciples was done secretly and in the shadows in that it took place by night and deep within the garden of Gethsemane. It is at this juncture where we must acknowledge and recognize that there might be those instances and occasions when we see the betrayal coming, and there are those instances when we cannot and do not see it coming by any means. It’s worth noting that Jesus knew His betrayal was coming, and He even knew who it was who would betray Him, for on more than one occasion He declared that He would be betrayed by one from among the disciples. Oh that we would recognize and understand this, and that we would recognize what took place there in the garden.
When I previously wrote about this particular passage of Scripture I referenced the account Matthew gave of Jesus being betrayed by Judas in the garden by night, however, when considering this today right now, I feel it necessary to consider Luke’s account of that night and what took place there within the garden. If you begin reading with and from the forty-seventh chapter of the twenty-second chapter of Luke’s gospel you will find the following account of Judas’ betrayal there in the garden: “And while He yet spake, behold a multitude, and he that was called Judas, one of the twelve, went before them, and drew near unto Jesus to kiss Him. But Jesus said unto him, Judas, betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss? When they which were about Him saw what would follow, they said unto him, Lord, shall we smite with the sword? And one of them s mote the servant of the high priest, and cut off his right ear. And Jesus answered and said, Suffer ye thus far. And he touched his ear, and healed him. Then Jesus said unto the chief priests, and captains of the temple, and the elders, which were come to him, Be ye come out, as against a thief, with swords and staves? When I was daily with you in the temple, ye stretched forth no hands against me: but this is your hour, and the power of darkness” (Luke 22:47-53). Both the account of Matthew and the account of Luke only describe how one with Jesus was the one who drew the sword and cut off the ear of the high priest, yet when we come to John’s account of this event we find the name of the one who drew the sword. Beginning with the first verse of the eighteenth chapter of John’s gospel we find the following account of the event as it was recounted by one who was actually present that night in the garden. RECOUNTING THE BETRAYAL! TELLING THE STORY OF BETRAYAL! Consider if you will the account of Judas’ betrayal of Jesus as it is told by John in the eighteenth chapter of his gospel account:
“When Jesus had spoken these words, He went forth with His disciples over the brook Cedron, where was a garden, into the which he entered, and his disciples. And Judas also, which betrayed him, knew the place: for Jesus oftimes restorted thither with his disciples. Judas then, having received a band of men and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, cometh thither with lanterns and torches and weapons. Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should come upon Him, went forth and said unto them, Whom seek ye? They answered Him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus saith unto them, I am He. And Judas also, which betrayed Him, stood with them. As soon then as He had said unto them, I am He, they went backward, and fell to the ground. Then asked He them again, Whom seek ye? And they said, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus answered, I have told you that I am He: if therefore ye seek me, let these go their way: that the saying might be fulfilled, which He spake, Of them which thou saying gavest me have I lost none. Then Simon Peter having a sword drew it, and smote the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear. The servan’ts name was Malchus. Then said Jesus unto Peter, Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?” (John 18:1-11).
Each of the accounts of Judas’ betrayal of Jesus in the garden carried with them a tremendous amount of weight and significance—despite the fact that each account was different. Of the four accounts of what took place that night, only John’s account was given from the vantage point of actually being present. John was among the three disciples of Jesus—along with Peter and James—who were present that night with Jesus when Judas led an insurrection of men with swords, staves and weapons against Jesus. BRINGING WEAPONS INTO THE GARDEN! BRINGING SWORDS INTO THE GARDEN! I remember reading this passage a couple years ago and considering it in light of the reality that while in the upper room and after Judas had dipped his hand in the cup which held the wine, Satan entered into his heart. If you read the account of Judas and his desire and his being bent on betraying the Son of God into the hands of sinners, you will find that at first Satan merely put it into the heart of this man to betray Jesus. It wasn’t until we come to the account of the upper room with Jesus partaking of the Last Supper with His disciples that we find Satan actually entering into Judas. When Judas left the Upper Room that night in order to get for himself the price to betray Jesus into the hands of men Satan had moved beyond just filling his heart to actually entering into him. Please mark and make note of this, for when Judas entered into the garden, it might very well be said that the serpent once more entered into the garden. You will recount in the third chapter of the Old Testament book of Genesis that there was another garden—one that had been planted by God, and one in which the Lord placed Adam after forming him from the dust of the ground. It was while in the garden that the Lord caused a deep sleep to come upon Adam, and while he was sleeping took a rib from within his body to form Eve. It was there in that same garden where we find the presence of the serpent who sought to deceive, tempt and beguile Eve into partaking of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Now, here we are centuries later in a different garden—not with the first Adam, but with the second Adam—and we again find the serpent finding his way into the garden. There is not a doubt in my mind that when Judas entered into the garden that night accompanied by a multitude carrying weapons of swords and staves, the serpent once more entered into the garden. When the serpent entered into the garden this time, however, it wasn’t to deceive or to beguile Eve, but to betray Jesus the Christ into the hands of men, and ultimately put Him to death.
What marks the account of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane as being so incredibly powerful is when we consider the words which the apostle Paul wrote in the tenth chapter unto the Corinthian saints. When writing unto the saints which were at Corinth, the apostle Paul emphatically wrote that while we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh. The apostle.would go on to write and declare that the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but are mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds. As I consider very carefully the account of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane, I can’t help but think that He could have very easily kicked the serpent out of the garden. In the third chapter of the Old Testament book of Genesis we find Adam and Eve being banished from the garden of Eden, and there is not a doubt in my mind that the serpent was banished and removed from the garden as well. When we come to the account of Jesus and His disciples in the garden, however, we do not find Jesus kicking the serpent out of the garden. When we come to the account of Jesus and His disciples in the garden of Eden we find the serpent entering into the garden within the heart of Judas, and accompanied by a multitude with weapons of swords and staves. It’s absolutely necessary that we understand what took place within this passage of Scripture, for not only did Jesus not lead a resistance against the insurrection that was mounted against him, but neither do we find Jesus directly confronting Satan when he took entered into and was found to be present within the garden. Earlier on we find Peter speaking to Christ and declaring unto Him that He would not die, and immediately Jesus responded by declaring in his hearing, “Get thee behind me Satan.” There is not a doubt in my mind that Jesus could continually see beyond the veil of the natural, and beyond the realm of the physical, and see directly into the spiritual and supernatural realm. When Jesus heard the words of Peter He didn’t call out or confront Peter, and he was in no way calling Peter Satan, but was instead looking beyond the man, and looking beyond the words to the power of darkness that lie behind and beyond the man and the words. This must be understood, for there is not a doubt in my mind that Jesus was aware of what was taking place in the spiritual and supernatural realm on that night. In fact, I can’t help but wonder what that event and what that night looked like in the spiritual and supernatural realm. All we can see regarding that event and that night is what took place in the spiritual and what took place in the natural, yet we see nothing about what took place in the spiritual and supernatural. What I wouldn’t give to be able to see what that night looked like in the supernatural and spiritual realm.
With all of this being said, one might be wondering what this possibly has to do with the words the apostle Paul wrote unto the saints which were at Corinth. The truth of the matter is that what we read and what we find in this passage of Scripture is a powerful example of the reality that though we walk in the flesh we do not war after the flesh. The apostle Peter attempted to wage war in and wage war after the flesh by drawing his sword and cutting off the right ear of the servant of the high priest, yet Jesus immediately instructed and commanded Peter to put the sword away. What’s more, is that Jesus went on to emphatically declare that those who lived by the sword would die by the sword. It was true that Judas led an insurrection against Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane with a multitude carrying weapons of swords and staves , yet Jesus would not allow His disciples to retaliate against those who came against Him in the garden. It would have been very easy for Jesus to call His disciples to arms there in the garden and to take out as many of those present as possible, yet that wasn’t what took place at all. Even when Peter took it upon himself to strike off the ear of the high priest—not only did Jesus instruct Peter to return the sword to its place, but Jesus also proceeded to heal the right ear of the servant of the high priest. RETURNING SWORDS AND HEALING EARS! When we consider the reality and concept of our walking in the flesh but not warring after the flesh we must understand and recognize it in terms of returning the sword and healing the ear. There within the garden Jesus powerfully demonstrated that He did not come to lead men into an armed rebellion, resistance or insurrection against men and against flesh and blood. When Jesus came to the earth He did not come to overthrow the tyranny of Rome and to restore the kingdom unto Israel. IN fact, this is one of the greatest reasons why a number of men and women chose not to walk with, follow, or even believe in Jesus, because He mentioned absolutely nothing about overthrowing Rome, or restoring the kingdom of Israel. In fact, when speaking concerning paying taxes unto Rome, Jesus declared unto those present, “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and unto God what is God’s.” Make no mistake about it—when Jesus came to the earth, He did not come to lead an insurrection against Rome, for Rome was but an external manifestation of an even deeper reality that was present within the earth.
The apostle Paul wrote that although we walk in the flesh, we do not wage war according to and after the flesh, and these words must be carefully considered and understood by all who would seek to be followers of Christ and worshippers of God. It is true that we walk in the flesh, yet despite the fact that we walk in the flesh we do not wage war after the flesh. Did you ever notice that we have never been given weapons by our Lord to wage war against flesh and blood? The apostle Paul wrote unto the Ephesian congregation and declared unto them that we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against rulers of darkness, and against spiritual wickedness in high places. We make a terrible mistake when we treat man as the enemy and proceed to use the weapons of this world in order to wage war against flesh and blood. What’s more, is that I am convinced that one of the greatest places we see the direct manifestation of waging war against flesh and blood in the house of the Lord among the fellowship of the brethren. Of course we see this all the time on the streets when men and women rise up against each other with knives, with bombs, with guns, and the like. Time and time again we need only to turn on the news and we are confronted with the reality that men and women are constantly fighting with and fighting against each other. Time and time again we see men and women waging war against flesh and blood and treating those around them who are sons and daughters of Adam as though they are the enemies. I am reminded of the words which our Lord spoke in His famous Sermon on the Mount. Matthew records the entire Sermon on the Mount in chapters five through seven of his gospel account, and beginning to read with the forty-third verse of the fifth chapter we find the following words—“Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? Do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? Do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:43-48).
With these words Jesus completely shattered any notion, any concept, any idea that we might have concerning our being able to wage war against flesh and blood. The apostle Paul wrote and declared unto the Ephesian congregation that we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against rulers of darkness, and against spiritual wickedness in high places. The truth of the matter is whether or not we know and understand who our enemy and adversary truly us. I am convinced that more often than not we treat flesh and blood as the enemy and adversary while being unwilling to confront the true enemy and adversary that is present behind the scenes. I am convinced that one of the enemy’s greatest tactics and tricks is to have us fighting the wrong enemy by thinking and believing that we are enemies of each other. I don’t care how cruel, how oppressive, how evil, how wicked ISIS is, and how much devastation and destruction they cause within the earth. If we are being truly honest with ourselves and with the Lord, ISIS is not the real enemy. If we are being truly honest with ourselves, Hamas is not the true and ultimate enemy. If we are willing to be honest, Hezbollah is not the enemy. As much as all of this is true, not even radical Islam is the enemy. We tend to get so caught up in that which takes places in the natural, and that which takes place in the physical realm that we are unable to see the true evil that lies beyond and behind flesh and blood. There is not a doubt in my mind that one of the greatest tactics of the enemy—aside from dividing and conquering—is to have men and women fighting and waging war against each other not recognizing or even being aware of the true enemy that exists in the shadows and behind the scenes. The question we must ask ourselves is whether or not we are aware of the enemy that exists in the shadows and behind the scenes, or whether or not we are going to continue to treat flesh and flood as though they are the enemy. One of the greatest tragedies we face is centered upon being betrayed, or being offended, or being wounded, or being hurt by another individual, for more often than not we immediately perceive that individual to be the enemy and adversary when in all reality they are not.
I can’t help but be reminded of the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto the saints which were at Rome in the twelfth chapter of his epistle. Beginning with the eighteenth verse of the twelfth chapter we find and read the following words—“If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:18-21). These words which the apostle Paul wrote weren’t new, nor was the reality and concept he was presenting new, for if you journey back into the Old Testament book of Proverbs you will find the following words—“If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirst, give him water to drink: for thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head, and the Lord shall reward thee” (Proverbs 25:21-22). There is not a doubt in my mind that love is the single greatest weapon we have as the saints of God—particularly and especially with those we might very well perceive as being our enemies and adversaries. If we are are truly being honest with ourselves and with the Lord, we have never, and will never have any enemies. I fully recognize and understand Scripture speaks of loving our enemies, praying those which despitefully use us, bless those which curse us, and do good to them that hate us, but the truth of the matter is that we should never even have enemies. What I mean by this is that flesh and blood should never be perceived as being enemies or adversaries of us within our lives. I am convinced we spend more time making men and women—transforming flesh and blood—into enemies and adversaries, when in all reality we are paying absolutely no attention to the real enemy and adversary who continues to move unnoticed in the shadows and in secret. There is a great need within our hearts and souls to never allow flesh and blood to be our enemy or adversary.
Imagine what would and what could happen if we reached the place within our life when flesh and blood could never be our enemy or adversary. Imagine what could happen within our heart and soul if flesh and blood could never even commit anything against us that would even warrant us considering flesh and blood our enemy. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that one of the greatest struggles I have is allowing myself to be impacted and affected by the words and actions of those around me. I have been guilty time and time again of allowing that which flesh and blood says, and that which flesh and blood does dictate my emotions, my thoughts, my attitudes, and even my words and actions. There have been times within my own life when I have perceived flesh and blood to be an enemy and adversary within my life, and as such have I treated them. We do ourselves a great disservice when we treat flesh and blood as the enemy and adversary, for so long as we treat flesh and blood as the enemy, we can never and will never confront and deal with the true enemy. What’s more, is that so long as we persist and continue in waging war against flesh and blood we cannot and will not wage war against that which lurks within the shadows and in secret. Oh for the grace to be able to look beyond the man or the woman, to see beyond the offense and the wound, to hear beyond the words which are spoken, to move beyond the hurt and the pain and see what is truly taking place. Oh for wisdom and discernment to be able to recognize and understand the presence of the real enemy and adversary within our lives in order that we might be able to confront that enemy and adversary which needs to be confronted. We do walk in the flesh, and we will walk in the flesh so long as we are in this natural tent, yet we can never and must never wage war against flesh and blood. Yes—this even includes using the word of God as a weapon and sword with which we attack and assault those around us. We must not use that which has been given unto as a sword in the spiritual realm to assault and attack others in the natural realm because we are wounded, or offended, or hurt. We have absolutely no right to engage in any type of conflict with those around us whom we perceive as wounding and offending us, for in all reality, we should reach the point within our hearts and lives when we can never be offended. Oh that we would take these words and use them to take a good hard look at our hearts and lives, and see what desperately and urgently needs to change and be transformed.