Rethinking Jesus: Jesus never gave up

by Kyle
published March 28, 2015


Read More Looking Up

Read More Upward Glances

I have found when I have a conflict with someone, the easiest thing to do is to just write him off. Just don’t talk to him anymore. Boot him right out of your life. Give up all hope the relationship can be repaired.

Being the easiest and most expedient way to handle relationships gone awry, it’s interesting to note Jesus never employed such a modern approach.

In fact, he expressly forbade we think about people that way. In the Sermon on the Mount, in Matthew 5:21-22, Jesus equates writing people off as a “good-for-nothing” with murder. He goes on to command his followers to take any grievance someone might have against them seriously and to resolve lingering conflicts as quickly as possible.

That’s the standard, but let’s look at how Jesus lived up to his own words. Let’s look at the one person Jesus exemplified this principle with, Judas.

It’s never clear exactly how much Jesus ever knew, but there is plenty evidence he at least knew who believed in him and who didn’t. That’s how he saw Zacchaeus in the tree. It’s how he found the woman who touched his cloak in the crowd. It’s why he wasn’t harsh with Nicodemus like he typically was with Nicodemus’ colleagues. If nothing else, Jesus seems to have been keenly aware of who had believed in him and who hadn’t.

And yet he called Judas anyway.

Jesus invited Judas into one of the most enviable positions in all of history. Judas got to walk with Jesus. He heard the teaching with his own ears. He saw the miracles with his own eyes. He made eye contact with Jesus. Jesus washed his feet. The great tragedy of Judas is he saw more than it would take for most people to believe, and yet he didn’t. How can that be?

But notice how Jesus treated him, especially at the last supper.

At the very least, we know that by the last supper, Jesus knew for sure Judas would betray him. John 13:2-3 makes it fairly clear the lines were drawn, and Jesus knew where everyone stood. Jesus’ response? He “got up from supper, and laid aside his garments; and taking a towel, He girded Himself (John 13:4).”

He proceeded to wash all the disciples’ feet. Can you imagine washing the feet of the man you knew beyond a shadow of a doubt was about to turn you in to the authorities to have you killed? Yet, Jesus did. Maybe he hoped beyond hope he still might sway Judas. Maybe he so loved Judas that he served him with no ulterior motive than to love him. Who knows? The depth of Jesus’ love for Judas should boggle the mind.

After Jesus was done, he ensured Judas received the most honorable place at the meal: the first to receive the sop bread. The sop bread was a piece of bread dipped into a liquid and eaten. In Jesus and Judas’ culture, the host (Jesus) would typically dip a piece of bread and give it to their most honored guest. In this case, it was Judas. I think Jesus counted his betrayer as the most honored at the table because he knew Judas needed his love the most, even knowing Judas would reject it.

Then look carefully at Jesus’ words to Judas. He said, “What you do, do quickly (John 13:27).” What a strange and vague way to say that. Jesus didn’t tell him to go. He didn’t tell Judas to stay. It seems like Jesus was telling Judas to make his decision right then.

And even in the garden, as Judas pointed Jesus out to the guards who would arrest him with a kiss, Jesus called him “friend,” and, heartbroken, asked him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss (Luke 22:48)?” Down to the last moment, Jesus refused to write Judas off as a loss or a hopeless cause, even though he was!

If Jesus ever had an enemy, it was Judas, and Jesus’ response was clear. He loved his enemies and prayed for those who persecuted him. Even Judas.

Lately, I’ve found, despite my own stubbornness and sinfulness, God has worked in relationships I had already written off as hopeless. He has taken them and fixed them whether I wanted him to or not. Imagine how much quicker it would have been if I participated willingly.

But even those few relationships that remain where things are rocky, I’ve chosen to have hope for them. The ones I have very little hope of fixing I know God can fix. And even if he doesn’t fix them, I am still charged with copying my example. Do you want to be more like Jesus? Refuse to write off even the most hopeless cases.

What do you think?

Leave a Reply

(Your email will not be publicly displayed.)

Captcha Code

Click the image to see another captcha.