I love the account of the Last Supper in John’s gospel (John 13-17). I listened to it on CD on my way to work this morning. On his last night with the disciples, Jesus had so much to impart to them. But He started with actions that teach me something about love. He took on the servant’s role and washed his disciple’s feet, but it was more than that. Look at how John recorded it:
Before the Passover Festival, Jesus knew that His hour had come to depart from this world to the Father. Having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end. Now by the time of supper, the Devil had already put it into the heart of Judas, Simon Iscariot’s son, to betray Him. Jesus knew that the Father had given everything into His hands, that He had come from God, and that He was going back to God. So He got up from supper, laid aside His robe, took a towel, and tied it around Himself. Next, He poured water into a basin and began to wash His disciples’ feet and to dry them with the towel tied around Him. John 13:1-5 HCSB
Jesus knew what Judas was about to do, that he would betray Him to be killed. And yet, he still washed Judas’ feet! (Judas doesn’t depart until v29.) Jesus vividly demonstrated His command to love your enemies (Luke 6:35) by loving the disciple who would betray Him with a kiss(!) just a few hours later. That is some kind of serving love!
I don’t show love like that, even with people I just dislike a little. But I think the key to learning to love like that is right there in the text: “Jesus knew…” He was fully aware of His purpose and destiny and destination (“back to God”). If I was as convinced of my purpose and destination as He was, maybe I would love more like Jesus. Trusting God with the outcome frees me to love despite any obstacles.
There is another interesting point about love here, too. Jesus’ love for Judas did not condone or even pass over Judas’ evil intent. Jesus said not all of the disciples were clean (v9, 10). Mark recorded that Jesus said it would have been better if the betrayer had not been born (Mark 14:21). Clearly, Judas chose evil and suffered the consequences. So, love does not excuse or ignore evil. In the same way, I cannot overlook evil in the name of “love.” I would really be choosing comfort, not love. There is a danger here, though, of forgetting love when calling out evil. What an interesting life that faith inspires…
As your consider the last night of Jesus’ life before the crucifixion, what stands out for you?