“It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end”
John 13:1 (NIV).
We celebrated communion at church yesterday and today I was thinking about the difference of communion at our church versus another church we had attended recently. My thoughts turned to the two requirements necessary in order to participate. First, I must have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ (having asked Him into my heart) and second, if I harbor any anger toward others, I have to ask forgiveness for that anger and I must choose to forgive those I’m upset with. Yesterday, before I could take communion with a clean heart, I had to spend some time in prayer, not only asking God for forgiveness of unkind thoughts but also to see others’ who had “wronged” those I loved through His eyes. I wanted to see them as Christ sees them – people who need His healing as much as I do instead of as “the bad guys.”
We’re taught Jesus came to Earth to be an example for how we are to act and react in situations He Himself experienced. I started to wonder about Jesus and the Last Supper. He sat at the same table with Judas Iscariot, the very man who was to betray Him mere hours later. I decided to read each account of the Last Supper in all four gospels to see what I could learn about His action/reaction.
First, I loved how each account was very similar, yet told from a slightly different perspective. I think my favorite account was through John’s eyes, when he included Jesus washing His disciples’ feet before the meal began. Jesus Himself described the disciples in that passage as “Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.” Wow – what a word picture. These selected twelve lived, traveled, ate, and worked side-by-side with Jesus for three years. He knew their strengths, weaknesses, and faults as any family member or close group of friends would. And, it says He loved them to the end. That would include Judas Iscariot. He washed the feet of the person who would sell him out for money. Talk about betrayal.
The next thing I learned from reading these passages was how Jesus wasn’t ashamed to call Judas out in front of the other disciples. He didn’t try to stop him, but He didn’t gloss over his sin either. If only I could be that brave. Scripture says in John 13:21, “Jesus was trouble in spirit and testified, ‘I tell you the truth, one of you is going to betray me.’” and then continues in verse 26, “Jesus answered, ‘It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish,’” and finishes in verse 27, “‘What you are about to do, do quickly.’”
This makes me rethink the pettiness of my anger toward others. If Jesus showed that kind of perfect love toward the one who put into action the events leading to His death, I can love those who have hurt me or hurt those I love. I, too, don’t have to gloss over the sin that was committed, but I can learn to let it go and love others with love that only comes from God. When I remember to seek Jesus’ example for all situations I face, the outcome is much more successful (and peaceful).
© 2013 Cheri Swalwell