How do we respond to the endless love of Jesus? Do we love unconditionally? How do we treat those who betray us?
Now before the Feast of the Passover, Jesus knowing that His hour had come that He would depart out of this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end. 2 During supper, the devil having already put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, to betray Him, 3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come forth from God and was going back to God, 4 *got up from supper, and *laid aside His garments; and taking a towel, He girded Himself. 5 Then He *poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded.
Before we get into the meaning of this story, we should first understand what the Feast of the Passover is for. If you ever watched “The Ten Commandments,” (which is where I have my most vivid imagery of Passover), we remember that Passover relates to the Jewish period of slavery in Egypt. Moses called for plagues upon the Egyptians through God’s power to show His might. The final plague was that every firstborn in Egypt would die. We see Aaron running around spreading the blood of an unblemished lamb on the doorposts of houses of his family. This blood saves them from death (a foretelling of Jesus blood saving us). The feast is to commemorate this event in remembrance. It is of no coincidence that Jesus was crucified during this holy observance.
The foundation of not only this story, but the rest of the story of Jesus is found in verse 1. Jesus’ unconditional love has been the point of John’s gospel. It is the point of Jesus’ ministry: love. I think it is too easy for us to miss what is happening here on a deeper level. Sure, we know Judas is going to betray Jesus. We know (as we will read in subsequent verses) that Jesus washes the disciples’ feet as an example as service. But here, we see that Jesus does it despite the heart of Judas. How often do we treat others with this unconditional, servant love? Maybe we would serve someone that we later find out had a deceitful heart against us or turned out being a “bad person.” But what if you knew all about them before you had the opportunity to serve them, would you still do it? As Christians, the answer should be yes, but is probably no. Note that I’m not pointing a finger at you the reader, but rather myself as the writer.
How is it even possible to love someone in this way? I think it is easy for us to look at this story from the viewpoint that “it was Jesus, and He was perfected love, so certainly I can’t be expected to be that perfected in love.” Yet we forget He tells us in verse 15 that this is an example for us to follow. So how then is this possible in our feeble humanness? In 1 John 2:5-6 we read, “5 but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: 6 the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.” What exactly does it mean to “keep His word?” Well, we know that the “greatest of commandments” is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, and soul.” In loving God, we learn to trust Him wholeheartedly. Jesus, loving God the Father in this way, trusted Him absolutely. Despite the world being set against Him, Jesus trusted the Father’s provision and will.
How much do you trust God? Do you only trust Him to the point of where you have control? Does your love for God extend only to where you feel safe? Would you serve someone out of reverence for God instead of in reaction to his or her own heart?
Jesus has endless love for us. How will you respond to it today?