Imagine having a church treasurer who stole money from the church bank account and worse, you know all about it and still retain the guy in the position.
He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it. [John 12.6]
I’m quite sure Jesus knew about Judas’ crooked escapade but he never once talked about it or confronted him about it. He should’ve at least assigned someone else for the position. But no, up to the day Judas hanged himself he remained treasurer or keeper of the money bag.
What can we learn about this? Never mind a thieving church treasurer because anyway he’d hang himself in the end? It may sound funny, but in a sense, folks who were dishonest or fooled around with God’s money or holy things ended up in disaster in Scriptures.
Look at Ananias and Sapphira. They misdeclared their giving, saying they had given 100 percent of the sale of their property when actually they had given only a portion of it. They died. And look at Achan. He was dishonest about the devoted things which were holy to the Lord. He and his clan were later killed.
But I’m particularly impressed by Jesus’ attitude toward Judas’ thievery. He didn’t say a word or lifted a finger. Was this Jesus’ style of church administration? Would pastors do this today if they discovered someone stealing money from the church treasury? I’ve seen a church do an investigation on anomalies about their lost church incomes and did it like how the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee would do it.
One thing I see in the way Jesus handled Judas and which I find stunning is that Jesus did ministry closely with the Father and the Spirit. He often relied solely on them for order and discipline in his “church.” Pastors today would work with their church board. Jesus worked with the Father and the Spirit. If anyone didn’t behave properly, he often left the matter to the Father and Spirit.
For instance, 5,000 people needed to be fed. His disciples told him to send the people home because they couldn’t feed that many with their meager resources. If you’re a pastor with a problem like this, you’d consult the church board or elders, right? And they’d probably tell you the same thing the disciples told Jesus—send them home.
But Jesus decided to work with the Father. He had everyone seated in groups. Then he talked with the Father. Then lo and behold, the bread and fish were multiplied by the power of the Spirit, just like that. No sweat. No long prayers or non-stop worship.
If he had listened to his disciples, a different thing would have been written in our bibles—something as boring as what we have in church today—church programs.
You see now why Jesus retained Judas in his position even if he was a thief? He deeply had faith in the Father’s justice system. Jesus relied heavily, if not solely, on what the Father can and will do. He was sure that the Father will do something to correct the situation.
This is something church ministries today severely lack. We still rely more on what we can do even with all our pretensions about how we have faith in God. Church has lost the ability to wait on the Lord. We memorize Isaiah 40.31 extolling those who wait on the Lord and how their strength will be renewed so they can soar with wings like eagles.
But very few in church really wait on the Lord. Most church people have zero patience and do things themselves instead of waiting, doing a repeat performance of what Saul did when, losing patience, he himself offered sacrifices when he thought Samuel would never come. To many folks in church (especially pastors and leaders) waiting is just a waste of time. They feel they should make things happen themselves.
And it’s probably why Judas stole from the money bag. Perhaps he had been praying and asking God to prosper him, but it was taking a long time. So he helped himself to the money bag, instead. Waiting on God took long. Stealing instantly gratified.
And Jesus retained him as treasurer so we can learn from his mistake—that God’s mercy and tolerance do not mean weakness or delay but grace to give us a chance to withdraw our efforts and instead wait on HIM.