For the past several weeks, maybe even months, I have been reading thru the book of John. I honestly have never read a book of the Bible so slow in my life, but it's been good for me! Instead of just rushing through stories and skimming over parts that seem a little to common for me to pay total attention to, I've been reading slowly, section by section, and really thinking about what each story, each verse is saying and what God is speaking to me through what it says. To be honest, some days this feels pretty tedious. I read and reflect and seem to walk away with understandings that I've had for some time now. Other times though, I come up with questions I have never had before or a realization that I've always missed in the past.
This morning was more like the latter. I was reading in John 13 where Jesus and His disciples are at the last supper and Peter convinces John to lean back upon Jesus and get the details about who it is that is about to betray Him. Surprisingly Jesus is pretty forthright with this information. He tells John, "look, watch. The person who is going to betray me is the one I hand this piece of dipped bread to" and then He hands the bread to Judas! In my mind I'm thinking, how can John just sit there after this?!?! Jesus has just blatantly told Him exactly who is going to betray Him, and yet the Bible says, "none of the disciples knew what this meant", so John seemly is part of that group and does nothing.
Yet that's not the thing that actually stood out to me the most though. The following verses talk about how it's when Jesus hands the bread to Judas and he eats it, that Satan enters him. I don't know why, but I've always kind of viewed Judas as the black sheep of the disciples...the one who somehow got in but kind of does his own thing and nobody really gets him. I've pretty much always assumed that since he stole money from the disciples change purse, that he had also pretty much decided to betray Jesus long before this dinner meal. But the reality is though, if this had been his plan all along then he would have agreed to the Pharisees plan right from the beginning. He didn't do that though. In fact it wasn't until this night...when Satan entered Him... that He went out and agreed to the Pharisees scheme.
As I was reading this I realized that I have always made Judas out to be a much more horrible person than he was! That's not to say that what he became wasn't horrible but he didn't start off that way. In fact, his biggest sin (cause let's face it, as much as we all try to act like we don't stack rate sin, we do!) was betraying Jesus, but there had to have been some good in him otherwise all the other disciples would have questioned Jesus over and over again as to why He allowed Him into their selective group.
As I thought about that, I couldn't help but think about all the people in my own life that I have a tendency to look down upon. I hate to admit it, but I can be such a critical person and I tend to view the specks in peoples eyes much quicker than the potential and the God given abilities they have! Instead of seeing people as innocent until proven guilty, I tend to view people as guilty and assume the worst from them until they prove me wrong. I would never say this to people, of course, cause that would make me look bad, but I show it by my constant need to protect myself from others!
Anyway, as I thought about the people in my own life that I have labeled like Judas, I realized that just one story above this one, Jesus washes His disciples feet... all his disciple's feet...including Judas's! Jesus knew that Judas was going to betray Him, He knew that He was going to be hurt by this guy, and yet he washes His feet anyway! He humbles Himself before Judas and becomes his servant! Then He tells them (and us!) to do likewise! What a lesson! Jesus was saying, "look, it really doesn't matter what other people do. I am calling you to humble yourself and love and serve others no matter what! Your job isn't to judge, your job is to love"! That last part has been the one constant lesson the God has been trying to teach me all year.... I am called to love, not to judge!
This is hard to admit... that I have taken on the role of judge and hurt people in the process... but it's true. And so in this moment I ask for forgiveness. Forgive me for how judgmental I have been, for seeing your specks and not the plank in my own eye! Forgive me for thinking that I am a good judge and that you should have to prove anything to me. And forgive me for loving you with a false love that has been dependent upon how I think you're acting and not just because of who you are (God's creation/child!). Forgive me...and Lord Jesus, help me to change! Amen!