Read John 13:18–30.
What went wrong with Judas? With all the people in all of history who found the straight and narrow, you’d think Judas would be among them. He has a front-row seat to Jesus’ miracles and teachings, and he has the kind of behind-the-scenes access to the Savior reserved for special friends. And yet something in his heart bends the wrong way and turns him. Scripture doesn’t tell us what that is. Both Luke and John let us know that at a certain point Satan enters Judas (Luke 22:3; John 13:27), but that is only after he’s taken a dark turn. By that point, he is already stealing from the common purse (John 12:6).
Perhaps Judas has discovered Jesus isn’t the sort of Messiah he really wants. The former carpenter has no battle plans for driving Rome out of Judea. There isn’t even talk of raising the necessary army to conduct such a campaign anyway. As some authors and moviemakers have speculated, maybe Judas’ treachery is intended to force Jesus’ hand, to spur Him into action. We simply don’t know what is going through Judas’ mind, other than the devil’s machinations, when he gets up from that table to become one of history’s most notorious villains.
What we do know is what Jesus does. He doesn’t try to stop Judas. He doesn’t challenge him or try to talk him out of his betrayal. He knows His friend’s blatant and hideous sin will be used in the Father’s plan, and so He doesn’t struggle against it. Instead, He loves Judas, right up until the end.
Jesus dips a piece of bread into the table’s shared bowl and hands it to His betrayer. Normally, the passing of bread—or, at Passover, bitter herbs—would be a way of honoring a guest. Perhaps Jesus is reminding Judas of the honored place he is about to abandon. The man is, at that very moment, dining with the King of kings. He is friend to the Savior of the world, the Promised One of God. And he is about to give all that up for thirty pieces of silver.
Not only that, but Jesus had just washed Judas’ feet. Minutes earlier, He bent low to serve the one through whom so much pain and suffering would be unleashed. He cleaned the feet that will run to the high priest with details about Jesus’ whereabouts, the feet that will then lead a mob to the garden of Gethsemane to arrest Him.
And of course Jesus is willing to lay down His life for Judas. He is going to Calvary to die for the wretchedness of men just like him. He’s paying the price for the types of sin Judas is guilty of committing. Even though, in the end, Judas will refuse to accept the grace of God, Jesus will still bleed to provide that grace.
This is the love of Jesus. It’s an open wide, always-full, ever-flowing reservoir, because its source is never circumstances, some feeling in the air, or the flaky love of other people. It comes straight from the heart of God. Jesus’ connection to the Father enables Him to love without condition and without end. He loves because He is loved. Judas is the ultimate test case.
We were made to walk in this love, to breathe it in, and rest in it every night. When we come to Christ, we are raised from death to life so that we can, once again, receive this love. It washes over us and makes us whole—and as it did with Jesus, this love from the Father becomes an inexhaustible spring of love flowing out to other people, even those who do us harm.
Or at least it should.
The funny thing about love, or any other gift for that matter, is that it must be accepted in order to be enjoyed and shared with others. Do you believe God loves you—in spite of your sins and failures, beyond your shortcomings and your betrayals, with all of your baggage and all of your brokenness? Do you believe this unquenchable, unyielding, unending love is yours? The answer to that question has the power to change everything.
And If the thought of God’s love for you doesn’t bowl you over with joy, there’s more for you to receive, a deeper well waiting for you. It’s time to drink up.