Love Your Enemies
Read John 13:21-30 (ESV)
After saying these things, Jesus was troubled in his spirit and testified, “Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he spoke. One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was reclining at table at Jesus’ side, so Simon Peter motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. So that disciple, leaning back against Jesus, said to him, “Lord, who is it?” Jesus answered, “It is he to whom I will give this morsel of bread when I have dipped it.” So when he had dipped the morsel, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. Then after he had taken the morsel, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.” Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him. Some thought that, because Judas had the moneybag, Jesus was telling him, “Buy what we need for the feast,” or that he should give something to the poor. So, after receiving the morsel of bread, he immediately went out. And it was night.
Have you ever been betrayed by someone close to you? If you had known that person would turn traitor on you in advance, what do you think you would have done? How would you treat that individual?
Nothing stings quite like betrayal. If you’ve had it happen to you, then you know what I mean. To love and trust someone only to have them turn on you cuts like a knife. If I knew that someone was planning to stab me in the back, you better believe I’d be watching my back. I’d stop trusting them. At the very least, I’d distance myself from them and stop running in the same circles. There’s even the possibility that, acting in my flesh, I’d try to get to them before they got to me.
As we discussed yesterday, Jesus knew He was going to be betrayed, He knew who was going to do it, and He knew how and when He was going to die. Jesus could see it coming but He didn’t do anything to avoid it. Prophecy was going to be fulfilled. But the waiting had to be unnerving. John wrote that Jesus was “troubled in spirit” when He announced to all of His disciples that one of them was going to betray Him.
Of course, at this point, all of the disciples start to look at each other and wonder, “Is it going to be you? Is it going to be me?” These guys had been walking with Jesus and sharing everything with each other for 3 whole years! They probably couldn’t believe that one of their closest friends was going to betray their Lord.
Peter asked John, the beloved disciple and author of this Gospel account, if he knew who was going to betray Jesus. But John didn’t know either. So he asked Jesus directly who responded that it is the person he gave a piece of bread to. He gave the bread to Judas and at that moment, Satan possessed him. Judas had so many opportunities to trust in the Lord but he never did. So, he was given over.
Now, all of the other disciples must have been too busy still discussing among themselves who the traitor was going to be because it doesn’t appear that anyone but John saw or heard Jesus signal that the traitor was Judas. When Jesus told Judas to go and do what he needed to do, apparently, they didn’t think anything of it. Remember that Judas was in charge of the treasury. Apparently, they thought that Judas was going out to take care of official business that Jesus gave him to do.
But think about how Jesus treated Judas until the very end. Even on the night that He was betrayed, Jesus washed His betrayer’s feet! He lovingly and humbly served Him. And He felt compassion and sorrow for Judas. Yet despite all of the love that he had been shown by Christ, Judas still rejected Him and Jesus knew full well the fate of those who reject Him. In Matthew 26:24, Jesus said that it would have been better for His betrayer if He had never been born. But Jesus didn’t try to get the jump on Judas. He didn’t plot revenge or act in hate or spite. All Judas’ ever knew from Jesus was love and compassion even though Jesus knew everything in Judas’ heart.
Friends, there may be people who have hurt us, betrayed us and made us angry. But if those people are apart from Christ, they are going to spend eternity in hell. Eternally separated from the grace, mercy, and love of the Lord. That should break our hearts and move us to compassion for them. “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…” (Matthew 5:43-44).
Lord, I confess that it isn’t easy for me to love those who have hurt or betrayed me. Transform my heart, Lord. Make me more like You. Give me Your heart of compassion toward those who are far from You. Amen.
Reveal: How can extending mercy, grace, and compassion to our enemies reveal Christ to those who don’t know Him?
~ Pastor Nat Crawford