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.” (John 13: 26-27 ESV)
I’ve often wondered how far in advance Jesus knew that Judas would betray him and Peter would deny him. Did he know even before he called them to be his disciples? My human nature is to think that he’d have loved them less or treated them differently if he’d known at the outset how fickle and self-serving his disciples would be. But my knowledge of God’s unconditional love leads me to believe that Jesus knew it all and loved them anyway.
Jesus preached that we’re to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us (Matt. 5:44) and then he lived it. He prayed for leaders who plotted against him and soldiers who carried out their bidding. He prayed for people hurling curses at him. “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they’re doing” (Luke 23:34 NIV). He prayed for strength for his weak, human disciples. He looked lovingly upon them even as he knew what was to come.
We read these things in the Bible. We know his love to be powerful and unalterable, and yet we also believe the lies that we have to earn his love, that it’s possible to lose his love. We mess up and immediately start chastising ourselves, calling ourselves stupid, weak, and worthless. This isn’t what Jesus wants. It’s not how he speaks to those he loves. He speaks only words of kindness, comfort, and invitation. He invites us to find rest in him. He encourages us to turn away from things that do not help us.
Jesus loved well those who disagreed with him, actively sought his death, and turned away from him. His love excluded no one. He loved even as he corrected. The Samaritan woman wasn’t living abundantly. Jesus didn’t condemn her, but acknowledged her current life and invited her into a new one. It was his love that drew her to him, that resulted in her desire to change. But even if she hadn’t accepted Jesus’ offer, he’d have continued to love her because his love isn’t conditional.
Read the rest over at The Glorious Table!