I'm still working my way through reading the Gospels. Slowly. Slowly. But as I was finishing up the book of Matthew, I was struck by something profound. Alright, maybe "profound" is too strong of a word, but it hit me right where I needed it. In the heart.
Looking at the narrative of Jesus' life, it's impossible to miss the love He showed to the people around Him. Even before His greatest act of love on the cross, He displayed overwhelming compassion toward the sick and the dying, the despised and the sinner. And then from the cross, He asked forgiveness for those who had so cruelly and unjustly put Him there (Luke 23:34). More than that, He loved me enough to take the punishment for my ugly, selfish, disgusting sins. There is no greater love.
Then, as I read the story that we know as the "Last Supper" (Matthew 26:20-29), I realized that Jesus must have loved in an unimaginable way that could be easily overlooked. He must have shown unimaginable love....towards His betrayer.
THE LOVE OF JESUS
Even before Jesus chose Judas to be one of His twelve closest disciples, He knew that Judas would eventually sell Him out to those who wanted to put Him to death. He knew. Peeking into the scene in the upper room, He seemed to be the only one who knew.
Do you notice that when Jesus tells His friends that one of them will betray Him, no one whispers, "Well, we all know who that is going to be"? There are no knowing looks. No pointing fingers at an obvious suspect. As a matter of fact, each one asked if it was going to be himself.
Consider the love Jesus must have offered Judas on a daily basis. Think about how many times over the three years of Jesus' ministry that our Savior must have shared some of His food with Judas, given him a word of encouragement, laughed with him over a funny experience, or cried with him over the stories of pain and illness. I wonder how often Jesus prayed for Judas during those early morning quiet times with God the Father. I wonder how His heart broke over the truth that only He knew.
THE UNIMAGINABLE LOVE OF JESUS
The difference between the love that Jesus gives and the love that I give is as vast as an ocean. As vast as all the oceans. When someone hurts me, or simply disappoints me, the first thing I tend to do is close my heart to them. I quickly think of the reasons they are unworthy of my compassion. I offer a cold shoulder or an unhealthy dose of guilt. That's my natural inclination.
But Jesus naturally loved those who hated Him. He showed compassion because the people (including Judas) were unworthy. He gave a healthy dose of forgiveness. And He loved Judas so perfectly that the very men who spent every waking hour with Him didn't have a clue that something could be wrong. He loved Judas the way He loves me.
HIS UNIMAGINABLE LOVE FOR ME
Jesus knew before the foundations of the world that I would be a sinner. He knew that I would betray Him in my conversations with my friends. He knew that I would deny Him to save myself the embarrassment. He knew that I would turn away from doing right because I would rather give in to my own pride and selfishness. He knew all the dark secrets and hidden sins of my heart. But He still loved me. Perfectly. He died for me and then called me to Himself to become one of His children. Unimaginable.
That is the kind of love He wants me to give to others. His kind of love. God wants me to love the unlovely. He wants me to love those who disobey or are unkind. He wants me to love when the ugliness of sin seems too much to overcome. He wants me to love when I'm having a bad day. He wants me to love when someone ruins my good day. He wants me to love the way He loved Judas.
He wants me to love the way He loved me.
What has Jesus taught you about His kind of love? Share your thoughts!