You’ve probably seen some variation of this in the movies. The cops pull over a lady for a minor traffic violation and, to her surprise, they take her down to the station. They put her in an interrogation room where she finally learns the truth. Her husband is a master spy for her country’s enemy. They need her to go back to him and live life normally while she gets as much information as she can for the government. The rest of the movie builds on the tension as she begins the process of investigating the man she thought she knew. Her attitude changes internally, and begins giving signs to the husband that something’s wrong. Finally, in the climax of the movie, he realizes that she knows the truth and tries to kill her. The people who sought to use her to gain information aren’t there immediately to protect her and she has to use her wits to stay alive in this life and death battle.
Movies like that are built upon the aversion we have to betrayal. The wife is put in the position of having to betray her husband because he is betraying her country, and her. As much as we hate the position she is in, we root for her, because her betrayal is not as bad as his. She has to live with the enemy during that time, knowing the truth. Jesus dealt with those feelings during His last days on earth. He knew that Judas would betray Him, and yet, until that moment of betrayal, He sought to show love to him. On the night He was to be betrayed, Jesus even washed his feet. That was the job of the lowliest servant, and Peter objected when Jesus sought to wash his feet. Jesus explained to Peter why this had to happen, and noted that cleanness came from Himself. Yet in the back of His mind, He couldn’t help but think about Judas’ coming betrayal. “For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.” (John 13:11)
The tension in the room that night must have been overwhelming. They all got to the upper room, and no one was there to wash their feet. That was the slave’s job. That was the lowest slave’s job. Perhaps they looked around at each other wondering who was going to do that. They had recently argued about who was the greatest among them. Now, they were marshaling their arguments as to who was the least among them and should take over the job. My guess is that the mantle would have fallen on Thaddeus. “Who’s he?” you may ask. And that’s why I think it would have been him. Jesus reminded us that He came to serve and He expects us to serve others. And He washed Judas’ feet even knowing what Judas would do later in the night. If the disciples felt a tension they couldn’t place, this was it. I don’t think the tension came from Jesus, though; I think the tension came from the guilt that Judas had, knowing what he was about to do. Jesus continued to love Judas and sought to influence him to do right.
When it comes to showing the love of Jesus to others, our job never really ends as long as those others are alive. There are times when we are going to be mistreated for showing the love of Jesus, sometimes we’ll be persecuted. There may be times when we’ll be physically abused, even to the point of death. Through all of that type of abuse, we’re called to keep showing others the love and grace of God. We do that not because it’s easy, but because the gospel was designed for people like that. Jesus died not only for the Peters and the Jameses and Johns of this world, He died for the Judases. He died to give hope to the hopeless. To be honest, I don’t think it’s wrong to say that most of us are like Judas to some degree. We know God’s will, but we still want to do things our way. In the midst of our stubbornness and rebellion, God showed us His love and grace while introducing us to the Kingdom of Heaven.
Oh Lord, I once was Your enemy, but now am a friend. Help me to show that same grace to others.