Journey to the Cross–March 23

Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him. Jesus replied, “Friend, do what you came for.” (Mt. 26:49-50, NIV)

Put yourself in Jesus’ sandals for a minute. Judas, someone you’ve invested your life in for the last three years, someone whom you’ve taught, confided in, loved, forgiven, and shared everything with turns you over to an enemy who will certainly put you to a torturous death. Sit in that scenario a minute. What emotions arise in you? Sadness? Betrayal? Bitterness? Rage? Revenge?

But it gets worse! Handing you over to death apparently isn’t enough; Judas has to mock you by pretending to be your bosom buddy! As was the custom among intimate friends in his day, Judas kisses you—a kiss you know to be the kiss of death. What urges rise in you now? Do you want to slug Judas? Condemn him to hell? Either reaction would be completely understandable. But Jesus did neither. Instead, He did the utterly incredible. He responded by calling Judas “friend.”

Why? Why would He ever do such an amazing, incredible thing? Possibly it was because Jesus really did feel love for Judas. Or pity. Or both. Or perhaps He knew that a hateful, violent reaction would never win Judas back, but maybe, just maybe, kindness would.

Whatever His reason, Jesus modeled for us the highest form of love—to love an enemy and bless him. And He calls us to do the same: “Love your enemies . . . bless those who curse you” (Lk. 6:27- 28, NIV).

Some of us have a hard time loving and praying for our family and friends, let alone our enemies! But this is the way of Jesus. Talk to Him now about just one difficult person in your life. Maybe you have genuine enemies, or maybe there are just people who push your buttons, take advantage of you, or otherwise irritate you. Admit to Him your lack of love and your inability to bless one of these people. Then ask Him to fill you with His love so that you can respond to irritation and offense with real love that comes from your heart. This kind of love comes from real heart transformation and takes time. So, repeat this request as often as you need to—and don’t give up!

 

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