We all have a Judas experience in which someone we care about, or deeply love, has betrayed us in some way. Perhaps it was a breach of confidence or trust, or maybe you were grievously betrayed and your heart was broken. Betrayal can be devastating. Jesus taught us a great lesson about this in His final hours with His disciples.
Remembering His Words
For those who walked with Jesus, the week prior to Easter was filled with revelation of what was to come. Jesus was preparing His followers for His departure. He also spent a great deal of time teaching them and providing comfort and assurance of His love and provision for them. Additionally, Jesus was giving them hope. The hope they would need when His death would bring despair.
iHoly Week is the time in which we remember Jesus’ final days on earth and His death, burial and resurrection. His journey to the cross began in Bethlehem, came into view on the day we call Palm Sunday and was finished when Jesus spoke His final words.
The week began with what we now call Palm Sunday. On that day, Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, and the people hailed Him as King. Yet this King did not wear regal attire, nor was He accompanied by soldiers and servants to protect and care for Him. This King did not ride on a horse. Instead, He came into the bustling city of Jerusalem, just as He entered into the small, sleeping town of Bethlehem, more than thirty years earlier — under the humblest of circumstances. (For a comparison of the King of kings with earthly rulers, read: Are you glad to see Jesus?)
The days before the crucifixion are recorded in all four Gospels. In these accounts, we are given great insight into Jesus’ thoughts, words, and actions during His final days. We read of His teachings and His sacrificial service to others. The most significant event, prior to the final hours of His journey to the cross, was Jesus’ last supper with His disciples.
The Bible tells us that this supper took place on the evening of Nisan 14, the day of preparation for the Passover feast day. Jesus gathered with His 12 disciples and shared a meal with them in the upper room in the home of a friend.
At this meal, Jesus proclaimed that one who was present with them would betray Him (John 13:21). This betrayer would soon hand Him over to the authorities to be killed.
Prior to making this statement, Jesus had humbled Himself and taken on the role of a servant washing the feet of those present. In doing this, He washed the feet of all 12 disciples, including Judas the one who would betray Him.
What must Jesus have thought when He stooped to wash Judas’ feet? What burned in His heart as He looked up into the eyes of Judas, knowing the evil intent that filled the heart of this disciple?
We know the amazing love of God and we know God’s mercy and grace in loving unworthy sinners. Jesus loved Judas, even though it would be just a short time later that Judas would betray Him with a kiss.
Would you, could you, have that kind of sacrificial love for someone, if you knew the person was about to betray you?
What’s Your Judas Experience?
Everyone has been betrayed by someone, in some way, and at some time. Some betrayals are more devastating than others, and some have greater consequences than others, but all betrayals strike a blow to our hearts and pierce our souls. And, in some way and to some extent, betrayal will affect our love for the betrayer. We aren’t Jesus. We don’t posses the unconditional love that He has for us, the unlovable. We don’t give others the mercy and forgiveness that He gives to us, the unworthy. And the grace that He so generously gives us, the underserving, we often withhold from those we deem to be undeserving. But don’t we all want to be more like Jesus? And don’t we all want to be conformed to His image? (Romans 8:29)
Remember You Have Been Forgiven
Therefore, when we are betrayed, or when we reflect on a time in which we were betrayed, we should be quick to pause and remember that we were also betrayers at one time. Before we found salvation in Christ, we were betrayers of the only One who is worthy of all our love, all our devotion, our complete surrender and total obedience. Yet, Jesus still loved us and He forgave us.
We should remember that we are to love our neighbors, even those who betray us, in the same way that Jesus loved Judas — with a sacrificial love. While we might not be able to love completely unconditionally, we are very capable of loving sacrificially, without conditions. Because, in Christ, we have already been given all that we need, we are therefore free to give all that we have. That includes loving those who have wronged us. Loving those who are undeserving. Loving others as we have been loved.
Count Your Blessings, Not Your Misfortunes
Set your mind and thoughts on Jesus. Look unto the Author and Finisher of your faith. May we all devote our hearts to Him and remember how much He loved us, even when we were sinful betrayers of His love.
Romans 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
Romans 5:12 Wherefore, as by one man [Adam] sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:
Romans 5:8 But God commended his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Be a Fast Forgiver
Are we quick to forgive those who betray us? Or do we withhold forgiveness with selfish conditions?
Only when we consider how much we have been forgiven will we be able to quickly and willingly forgive others. Forgiving love is sacrificial and must be without “strings.”
Conditions such as, “If you meet my expectations, then I will accept you,” or, “If you make restitution for how you wronged me, then I will forgive you” is not grace…it is self-vindication and self-justification. “If you do this or do that…then I will love you” is not love…it is control.
Cut the “strings” of conditions. Love others sacrificially because you are loved with the sacrificial and unconditional love of Jesus.
- In His perfect love, Jesus offered Himself for our sins.
- In His perfect love, Jesus opened the way for our sins to be forgiven.
- In His perfect love, Jesus gives salvation to us when we repent and trust in His finished work.
- In His perfect love, Jesus bestowed upon us His Holy Spirit to indwell us and to teach and guide us.
- In His perfect love, Jesus continues to forgive us each time we sin, for “…he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins” (1 John 1:9).
- In His perfect love, Jesus promises that one day all things will be restored to the way God created the world and intended it to be in that first Garden: Perfect shalom (peace) on earth.
Next time you’re betrayed by someone you love, don’t dwell on the pain and suffering the betrayer has caused. Instead…
- Remember that Jesus loved the one who betrayed Him.
- Remember that the one who betrayed Jesus was not only Judas…it was also you and me.
- Remember that Jesus has forgiven us and we can forgive others.
- Remember that Jesus has given us the greatest gift ever—peace with God.
Next time you’re betrayed by someone be quick to remember the apostle Paul’s words:
Ephesians 4:32 And be kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.
- During Holy Week hail the King of kings, who came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10) For we were all once lost, but because of His great love we are found.
- During Holy Week commit to seeking Jesus by spending more time in daily Bible reading and prayer (Matthew 7:7).
- During Holy Week remember the One who gave His all to free you from your sins (John 3:16).
Establish your heart, anchor your soul, and transform your mind by remembering who Jesus is, what He has done for you, and who you are in Him.
About the painting:
Painted by Caravaggio around 1603, this painting was commissioned by Ciriaco Mattei, the brother of Cardinal Mattei one of Caravaggio’s patrons.
Around 1800 the Mattei family sold it, erroneously attributing it to the Dutch master Gerard van Honthorst. The painting was rediscovered and authenticated as a Caravaggio in 1990, while hanging in a Jesuit home in Dublin, Ireland. It is now on display at the National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin.
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