Saturday, March 2, 2013

Do We Really Know Him?

Judas walked with Jesus for three and a half years.  He witnessed first hand the amazing miracles Jesus performed.  He watched Jesus raise the dead, heal the sick, walk on water, and calm the seas.  He saw the way Jesus extend grace and forgiveness to those considered less than desirable by the religious leaders of the day, such as the Samaritan woman and Zacchaeus.

In the end, what difference did it make in the life and heart of Judas?  For thirty pieces of silver, Judas led a group to Jesus' prayer spot and with a kiss handed Him into the hands of His executioners.  Judas then watched Jesus tortured and eventually crucified.  When Judas came face-to-face with his betrayal of an innocent man,  he hung himself.  He didn't understand the One he served beside all those years, and so he didn't seek forgiveness.  The Father freely offers it to all who seek it in true repentance.

How often are we like Judas?  Do  we linger at the fringe of our relationships and at the first sign of trouble bail from the situation? Are we guarding our heart to prevent from being hurt, and as a result we truly love no one?

In Jesus we see another way of doing friendship.  Jesus selected Judas as one of his friends.  He gave Judas the opportunity to see firsthand what it meant to be loved and accepted.  Jesus knew what Judas was capable of doing, but He still spent three and half years investing His love into Judas' life.

Jesus lived out what it meant to be a loyal and faithful friend.  When push came to shove, Judas chose money over the One who had been his friend.  Even as the betrayal drew near,  Jesus washed Judas' feet along with the other disciples and served him the last supper.  His kindness made no difference to Judas' plot, but Jesus displayed unconditional love anyway.

Peter blew it, too.  He let Jesus down when he needed a friend beside Him most of all.  Even after seeing Jesus risen from the dead, Peter decided to return to his previous vocation, fishing.  He must have felt worthless for being brought to such fear by a young girl to have denied his Lord.   Jesus understood the hurt friends cause us, but he went to find Peter anyway. There beside the lake, Jesus reaffirmed Peter's value for kingdom work.

What kind of friend are we?  Do we really want to love like Jesus or do we prefer playing it safe in our relationships?  How much of an effort are we willing to risk to know the heart of others?

Will we risk loving others no matter where they are at in life or do we build walls too thick and high to allow ourselves to really get to know others?  When trouble comes and people behave in undesirable ways, how do we respond?   Jesus remained available even for those wounding others, are we?

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