Hello everyone! Today’s photo is a popular FB meme. Jesus knew Judas's heart and still washed his feet. What exactly is this telling us? I want to take today to shed some light on this. The story of Judas and Jesus has been a mystery to me until now. I invite you to continue reading.
First, I want you to notice that Jesus’ circle went from a circle of 12 who followed him and that he loved dearly to a circle of 3 close friends, Peter, James, and John. Jesus modeled the example of a wider circle of friends and close friends for us. He modeled community for us, and he modeled intimacy (not related to sex) for us. We should look no further than this for an example of how to best divide our time and resources in relationships.
Second, I want you to notice his best friend was John, the son of Zebedee. He loved his 3 closest friends dearly and all his 12 disciples as well, but he had 1 best friend, not 12. In this, Jesus models best friendships for all and again is the greatest example of how to divide our time and resources among friends we love dearly. No even the Son of God could be everyone’s direct friend or best friend, nor did he want to be. He knew this was not only not healthy for him but not healthy for us either.
Third, I want you notice as you read the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John that Judas was one of the twelve disciples, called by Jesus. He made a choice to follow Jesus on his own. No one forced him too. He loved Jesus despite his own heart issues. Jesus did indeed love Judas, but he was not close to him like he was Peter, James and John. Do you know why? The answer lies in the condition of Judas’ heart. Judas was a greedy man and a thief. He stole from the twelve’s treasury. He had a high regard for money, higher than was healthy. He did all of this in secret. We don’t really know if he knew that Jesus knew or if he honestly thought none of them knew. Did you also notice that Jesus chose to share a table with him? What is Jesus showing to us by loving Judas, despite his deceitful heart, and sharing in community with him? He is showing us that we can love people; however, we can't always be close to them b/c of the condition of their heart. Jesus gives us a perfect example of this in his relationship with Judas. Jesus held him at a distance, not because he did love Judas but because Judas’ heart was not right. Judas was not one of the safest people Jesus knew and I can assure you he knew exactly what Judas was doing. Judas held himself at a distance as well, mostly because of shame and an unwillingness to change. I can only imagine what their friendship and community would have been like if Judas had decided to repent and turn from his deceitful ways.
I can tell you I’ve read their story many times and it wasn’t until last week that this theme jumped off the page at me. Jesus is saying to us, “yes you can love people, but you can’t always be close to them and it is not safe to be close to them.” What did Judas do to Jesus in the end? He betrayed him so God’s purposes could be carried out. There is also a lesson in that end. If we let unsafe people in, they can do us harm as Judas did Jesus harm, even though again, it accomplished the purposes of God. I have no doubt Jesus did not regret loving Judas. And I do not believe in Judas’ last moments, he regretted loving Jesus. Judas simply believed his sin was too great to forgive and he could not change, thus ending his life. Oh, for Judas to have known the truth and not believed a lie! I have no doubt there was a glorious reunion of the embattled friend and his Savior Jesus in Heaven.
I ask you today to examine your relationships. Be careful who you let in and who you choose to be close to. This can mean the difference between life and death for you. Not all people are safe. And just like Judas loved Jesus in his own way, they may love you in their own way, but they are not safe, and their deceitfulness will harm you in time. I have no doubt Jesus had a reason for allowing Judas to sit at his table of community, if for nothing more than to give him a chance to repent. You will notice at his betrayal communion supper, he asked Judas to leave and go do what Satan had put in his heart. In other words, “you are excused from this community, you have made your decision and it breaks my heart.” Do not doubt that Judas’ choice broke Jesus’ heart! Judas’ choice breaks my heart! In this, we see the compassionate and loving Son of God allowing a person to make their choices and we must let them too – even if it is not the choice, we would want them to make.
I encourage you to read the story of Judas and Jesus for yourself and see what Jesus says to you about it. May we follow Jesus’ example in all our relationships with others. May we keep the safe people close and the unsafe people at a distance, praying for them to come to know our Savior so they too will know him as we do. May we also invite unsafe people to exit our lives as needed so we come to no harm – just as Jesus, the Lion of Judah, was no pushover, Christ followers aren’t pushovers either. May all our relationships reflect Christ and be safe!
I will write again about a similar topic next week when we explore Jesus’ interaction with the rich young ruler.