If you were raised in a church culture or background, the teaching from Matthew 5 is second nature (at least in theory). Love your enemies and those who wish you harm. It is the counter-cultural motif that runs strong throughout history since it was first penned. It goes against every bit of “humanness” in our DNA. But it is the Christian’s calling.
The way we are instructed to do this is to have the “mind of Christ.” This mind of Christ, this supernatural transformation that begins with salvation is the only way we can live a counter-cultural life. If we want to know what that looks like, practically, we need to look at John 13 and read between the lines because what is truly remarkable is not explicitly stated.
The Amplified Bible puts it this way:
1[NOW] BEFORE the Passover Feast began, Jesus knew (was fully aware) that the time had come for Him to leave this world and return to the Father. And as He had loved those who were His own in the world, He loved them to the last and [a]to the highest degree. 2So [it was] during supper, Satan having already put the thought of betraying Jesus in the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, 3[That] Jesus, knowing (fully aware) that the Father had put everything into His hands, and that He had come from God and was [now] returning to God, 4Got up from supper, took off His garments, and taking a [servant’s] towel, He fastened it around His waist. 5Then He poured water into the washbasin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the [servant’s] towel with which He was girded.
Jesus was fully aware that the time had come. He was under no illusions of what was about to happen. He was under no illusions about who was going to facilitate his arrest and yet, he loved him to the last and highest degree. Then he did the unthinkable. The “un-human” thing.
He washed the feet of Judas Iscariot.
I can somehow find it easier to comprehend that Christ could love and even die for all the sinners in the world. All those who ever spat in His face, every atheist, child molester, unsaved church member and politician. All of that is very cerebral and detached and hypothetical in a way; esoteric talk for theologians.
Judas was part of a twelve-man group. A close-knit apprenticeship of how to be like Christ. Christ had poured prayers and tears and hours of teaching into the man all the while knowing that he would betray Him. Even knowing that Satan had already put this thought into Judas’ heart, He allowed Judas to be a part of one of his final lessons. I know Peter betrayed Him as well and this should be equally remarkable, but somehow Judas is worse in my mind. Because in His all-knowing, he knew redemption would not be part of Judas’ story. His written account gives no space for Judas to practice restitution and become the rock of the Church. He ends his life in ignominy and disgrace.
He washed the feet of a traitor, an eleventh-hour turncoat, a disgrace. He loved him to the last and to the highest degree. To quote Max Lucado; “no wonder they call Him Savior.”
Each week we enter situations of conflict and pain; of traitors and thieves. We are called to this life of washing feet and love in the face of hate. A life of giving with no return. This week I choose to show love to that person who “deserves” it the least…for such is the kingdom.