I am amazed by the love of Jesus, over and over. There is no resentment, no expectation of us being better than we are. He takes us in, forgives us, and says, "Now sin no more."
We get to choose whether or not to obey. Whether to follow his example. Whether to choose our own paths - our own gain - our own plans - and destroy our futures. He lets us decide.
But before we go, there's often one last warning, a last act of service, a final whisper: "Are you sure?" before we choose light or darkness.
Do we, like Jesus, welcome and include the person who will betray us? We ourselves will fail, whether we're like Judas, who chooses death over life, too proud to say sorry, or like Peter, who denies knowing Jesus but returns in penitence and humility. The one hangs himself. The other becomes a leader among Jesus' followers. Peter continues to proclaim grace and life ... because he has been restored after disgracing himself and disappointing his best friend. In the end, he dies for his Friend, whereasJudas died for himself = different eternal consequences.
Each of us will occasionally tell untruths, break down under pressure, and do the wrong thing. Then we must turn back to scripture for the reminder that Jesus has experienced it all: betrayal, abandonment, and - and always - offered forgiveness.
|by Jacopo Bassano (1510-92)|
Jesus included Judas and Peter at the Last Supper and the foot-washing (John 13). However, Jesus did not pray the priestly prayer over Judas (John 17), because he had gone out and refused Jesus' invitation to rethink his selfish plans. When I make mistakes, I want to be like Peter.
Going a step further, can you (and I) extend the same forgiveness to those who betray us? I'm thinking that's a pretty hard thing to do - and one of the most awesome qualities of God-among-us.
*He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. Isaiah 53:3-6 NEV
*Jesus Christ, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness, and being found in human form. Philippians 2:6-7 NLTMoravian Prayer: Dearest Lord Jesus, we offer, in stunned humility, our gratitude and praise for your complete act of sacrifice. You gave yourself even for sinners like us. Truly, you are the Son of God. Amen.