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Love Beyond Offense

After saying these things, Jesus was troubled in his spirit, and testified, “Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.”

John 13:21 ESV

When I was 17, I started my first job at the local fast food establishment in town. I absolutely hated it. I was required to work in a greasy, humid, hot environment and in this line of work, customers often became agitated about their food. One day, a man came up to the front counter while I was working and was absolutely irate about his order being wrong. He slammed the paper bag of food on the counter and insisted on a refund. Brenda, the manager on duty was not far and turned to help. I’m not even sure what was said, all I remember is the man yelling at Brenda for a good 20 minutes as she tried to appease him. Brenda stood like a rock, calmly spoke to him and took all of his insults. I admired her strength and commitment to be kind.

I hate to admit it, but more times than not I choose to be offended. A snarky comment, someone’s disregard, accusations among other things easily trigger my defenses. Sometimes this is appropriate but most times these moments are an opportunity to show patience and love. In John 13, we see Jesus and His disciples gathered together for Passover; it is here that He identifies Judas as His betrayer and sets the standard for unconditional love.

Instead of “outing” Judas to the group, Jesus simply makes a general announcement to the disciples saying, “…one of you will betray me”. He chooses to protect Judas from embarrassment and possible persecution from the others. John (whom Jesus loved) is the only disciple Jesus trusted this information with when he asks leaning in privately. What a perfect example of Proverbs 17:9 which says, “Whoever covers an offense seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates close friends.”

The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he spoke. One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was reclining at the 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.

John 13:22-26 ESV

The morsel held greater significance than just simply passing bread. According to Expositor’s Bible Commentary, for the host to select a tidbit from the main dish and give it to a guest would be a mark of courtesy and esteem. Seeing this, the disciples would conclude that Jesus regarded Judas as a close friend.

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.

John 13:27-30 ESV

As described in Luke 22, during this Passover Jesus made a new covenant with the disciples. Their participation was a pledge of belonging to His spiritual body and would later become known as communion. This brings a deeper understanding of the significance of Judas’ betrayal. According to Paul in 1 Corinthians 27, whoever eats the bread or drinks of the cup in an unworthy manner, will be guilty concerning the body and blood of Christ.

Despite Judas’ unfaithful heart, Jesus took the opportunity to show love to Judas before he left. He did not turn away from Judas but in His actions reminded him, You are my friend, I love you. This kind of love is transformative. Romans 2:4 tells us that God’s kindness is meant to lead us to repentance. Perhaps that is why Satan entered him at that moment, to help resist this true, unconditional, transformative love. This is the same love that Christ has for us, He sees us for who we truly are and continually fights for us. He does not give up, even when the odds seem hopeless because His heart breaks to be close to us.

While he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a great crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people. Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man; seize him.” And he came up to Jesus at once and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” And he kissed him. Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you came to do.”

Mathew 26:47-50 ESV

Regardless of Jesus’ unwavering commitment, Judas still chooses to lead soldiers to His arrest. The last sting of betrayal comes when Judas identifies Jesus with a kiss, a common greeting, a sign of deep respect, honor, and brotherly love. What a heartbreaking stab this must have been. Still, Jesus calls him a friend.

As image bearers in Christ, let us resolve to love till the very end. Despite how impossible it may seem for someone to turn from their ways, let’s hope, knowing that the love of Christ is powerful. May our hearts reflect Christ, that we do not want any to perish and we begin to view the person separate from their sin. Through the Holy Spirit, we can be empowered to love beyond offense.

Remember to prioritize firsthand Bible reading every day, only the Word has the power to transform. "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work." 2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV

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