Jesus called the twelve. They followed. They dropped their nets. One of them left a prosperous tax-collection business. They left behind their livelihoods and families, and followed Jesus. There was no screening process, other than Jesus’ choice based on the Father’s direction. No special prayer of commitment on their part; nothing to suggest they did something uniquely sacramental to place them in, rather than leave them out. No seminary or credentialing before they could embark on their new adventure. No vetting before a committee of nosy clergy, answering tough questions about their theology, philosophy of ministry, relationships, and attitudes about intimacy. They were a ragtag bunch. They were chosen. They were diamonds in the rough.
Jesus spent three years with them. They were his disciples. Along with them, he lived. He, like his students, struggled with the stuff of daily life. Labor was hard. Food needed to be gathered for daily sustenance. He was tempted in all the ways they experienced. Yet, as the Scripture makes clear, he was without sin. But does that mean he was without need? If he experienced human struggle, does that not imply he needed God’s strength, and the companionship of his friends? Indeed, when he asked the three to come with him and stay awake as he prayed, they could not do even that. And he was dismayed.
And at the end, he was betrayed with the kiss of friendship by one of the twelve whom he had discerned would choose the love of money over commitment to his Savior. Judas was no less one of the twelve than any of the others. Jesus had poured just as much of his life and teaching into the betrayer as he had the others. Profound disappointment. Sobering opportunity for self-assessment. Choices have consequences for good or for bad. The difficult process of discipleship is vindicated by the choice to finish well. In Christ. As only Jesus Christ can judge.