I like to think that I can love people pretty damn good. I mean, I typically get along with people, I like to think the best of others, and there isn’t too much that bugs me. For the most part, I don’t have much difficulty loving difficult people.
I can hold grudges. I can get pretty pissed off at people. I can get pretty snarky with people that have treated me poorly in the past.
This weekend I was listening and thinking about the Last Supper, and a particular verse struck me:
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35)
Yeah, of course, you might be thinking, Isn’t that kind of a Jesus thing to say? Yeah, it is, and Jesus said that after being in the same room as his betrayer, Judas. To make matters even more interesting, Jesus knew that Judas was going to betray him. Think about it, Jesus had just washed all his disciples' feet and shared a meal with them. That includes Judas.
I’ll be honest with you; sometimes family events are hard enough when you’re having an issue with one of your siblings. Picture it, you’re pissed off at one of your siblings, and you have to go to your Easter dinner with said sibling. What happens? You probably feel a little awkward; you might avoid them a bit, likely you won’t sit beside them. You might even make snarky remarks, side glances, or ignore their ask to pass the salt.
Then we have Jesus. Everyone reclines to eat their food and Jesus takes off his cloak, wraps a towel around him, fills up a water basin and begins washing everyone’s feet. I wonder what was going through his mind when he got to Judas. I know if it were me, I’d be thinking, You son of a $%^@$, I should wash your feet with acid (Yes I can be spiteful….).
Jesus doesn’t do any of that. He loves on Judas. Washes his feet. Feeds him food. Tells him that he’s excused from the table to do what he has to do. Jesus does this fully knowing that Judas is going to betray his master to a terrible death. After Judas leaves, Jesus tells his disciples, You must love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.
I wonder if the disciples thought back to Jesus saying that and the night’s events as Jesus laid in the tomb. Really Jesus? Everyone? What about Judas? What about the one that betrayed you? Love even him?
At first thought, I’d be pissed off at Judas. How could Jesus love the one that betrayed him? But on second thought, I’m thrilled that Jesus loved even Judas.
Because I am Judas.
I’m a betrayer.
I find myself at odds with God from time to time (Okay…more than that…). I have trouble listening when God puts things on my heart. I have trouble giving people the benefit of the doubt when they’ve done something to harm me. I cross the street when I see someone in need of help. I curse at God when I think of my little boy’s body lying in the ground. I find myself short-tempered with specific individuals. I find myself not speaking up when I witness oppression. I try and take control of my life instead of trusting and surrendering it over to Christ.
Christ still loves you and me. We’re not perfect, and never will be on our own accord. Regardless of what keeps us from Christ, and despite all of those things, Christ still loves us. Christ still pours out his unending grace and love on us even though it’s not deserved. Even though we have betrayed him.
So the next time that I get a little snarky around the family dinner table, or shoot “that look” at someone, or think unpleasant thoughts about a person that has wronged me, I hope I’m reminded of Judas, and Jesus’ love for him.