Paul says we Christians are running a race. Here's what I'm looking at on my run toward Christ.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Unrequited Love

Take some time and read John 13:1-30.

This is the story of Jesus at the Last Supper and the washing of the disciples feet.  It is also a story of unrequited love from Jesus to Judas Iscariot.

Let me show you a couple of ways that Jesus showed love to Judas:

Verse 1 "... He now showed them (all the disciples) the full extent of His love."  Jesus was going to wash their feet as a visual parable of what he'll do at the cross. Jesus did this for even Judas whom the devil, verse 2, "had already prompted... to betray Jesus."

When Jesus took off his outer garment to wash the disciples' feet He was left with just His tunic on.  This was how slaves dressed when they served the meal.  Then Jesus washed their feet, which is something Jewish slaves wouldn't even do; only Gentile slaves were required to wash feet.  Jesus was placing Himself in the place of servanthood to those that He loved, including Judas.  However, slaves weren't the only ones that washed feet.  Wives washed the feet of their husbands, children washed the feet of their parents and disciples washed the feet of their teachers.  Jesus was demonstrating an intimate love for these men, including Judas.

Jesus humbly served these men, including Judas because of His deep love for them.  He was showing them "the full extent of His love."  Can you imagine that?  Jesus physically kneeling in front of you showing the full extent of His love.

That's why this story of unrequited love is so surprising and sad.

"Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, 'I tell you the truth, one of you is going to betray me."  Jesus was torn up inside thinking that one of His best friends would betray Him.

The unrequited love becomes even more shocking because Jesus shows the full extent of His love not just to the disciples as a group but He goes above and beyond for Judas Iscariot specifically.

When you think about the Last Supper you most likely invision the Di Vinci painting.  Well, throw that image out of your mind.  For this supper the 13 men were reclining on a couch.  Their left arms propped them up as they lay sideways and used their right arms to eat.  There were a few places of honor at the table.  Three men sat at the head of the horseshoe-shaped table (this is according to scholars) while the other five sat on each side of the horseshoe.  The three men at the top of the horseshoe were in the place of honor.  The man at the very top had the most honorable spot followed by the man who sat to the left of the guest of honor.  Because of how the dipping sequence goes, scholars assume that Judas was at the second most honorable spot.  Jesus gave him this spot as an expression of love.

After Jesus showered all of this love and honor on Judas one would think that Judas would change his mind.  The devil had prompted Judas to betray Jesus but to this point he had done nothing about it.  I would guess, theoretically, Judas could have said "no" to Satan's prompting.  Judas, however, did not say "no".

Jesus said when asked who would betray Him, "It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish."  Then Jesus dipped the bread and Judas accepted it.  Jesus knew Judas would betray Him yet He showered His love on him.  Judas could have backed out but he didn't.

Can you imagine this?  One of my biggest fears and a big fear for many is unrequited love.  Love isn't much fun unless it's mutual.  Unrequited love is the theme of many great works in the genre of tragedy.

Jesus loved Judas even though Judas decided not to love Him back.  Many wonder, "how could Judas do that?"  Here's the truth: Judas is one of millions.  Jesus has shown us all "the full extent of His love" at the cross.  We have a more perfect vision of this love than Judas did.  Here's the million dollar question: "How could we not love Jesus?"  Yet millions will reject Him.  Jesus knew that when He sacrificed Himself on the cross.  If that isn't love, I don't what is.

Love the one who loved you first today.

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