Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. 2 During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him, 3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, 4 rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. 5 Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. 6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” 7 Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.”8 Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” 9 Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” 10 Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “Not all of you are clean.”
12 When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? 13 You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. 16 Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. 18 I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But the Scripture will be fulfilled, He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’ 19 I am telling you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am he.20 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.”
Washing the feet of the twelve was a demonstration of love, humility, and service for us. An example that we should be willing to do what Jesus did. Here was God Almighty and He removed His garments and bent down and one by one washed the feet of the disciples. Those feet were caked with mud made up of dirt, dust, and excrement of various animals and people. The Son of God removed His garments and did the job saved for the lowest of house slaves. His heart must have swelled with love for each one as He carefully cleaned the filth from each one of His beloved friends’ feet. He knew that this was His last night of freedom and then He was going to be arrested and killed. His heart must have been broken with the sorrow of leaving these men who had been His close friends for three and half years.
The part that gets me is that Jesus washed Judas’ feet with just as much love and care as He did for other friends. Jesus’ deep love is so evident in this passage. He knew that Judas was going to betray Him. Yet, He washed his dirty dung covered feet. He loved Judas very much. He loved all the disciples. He washed all their feet knowing that each one of them was going to deny Him, betray Him, or abandon Him that night. He still loved them. If Judas had done what the other disciples did and come to God for forgiveness with repentance, he would have been forgiven just like the rest of the twelve. God did not reject Judas; Judas rejected God.
There is a myth based on Dante Alighieri’s Inferno that Judas resides in the deepest circle of Hell, a place reserved for the most evil sinners. According to the story, Judas is considered to be the vilest, most malevolent of any human. But Jesus loved Him dearly. Jesus loved him enough to die the most agonizing death known to mankind for him.
Think of the most evil person you can imagine. Is it a pedophile, a mass murderer, the corrupt dictator of some country, is it someone who hurt you in some horrific way? Now, realize this; God loves them profoundly. He loves them so much that He took off His Divine Robe and stepped into humanity and lived, died, and resurrected for that person to cleanse them of the filth of sin.
God is merciful, compassionate, and loving. One day His love will culminate in Justice as He avenges those of us who became His Bride. But He is mercifully and patiently waiting, giving them the chance to repent because of His deep love. If Holy Awesome God loves the wicked, what right do you and I have not to love them? Romans 5:5-8 reads,
and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. 6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Imagine if you could go through life and see people the way God sees them. Maybe you would see the man who is rude to you as a beloved masterpiece of the Creator who has no idea that Jesus is real and has never been shown mercy. You might see the self-righteous woman who spits hateful words at you as the broken and lost child who doesn’t know that the Father longs to be her All in All. Perhaps you would see that controlling and cruel boss as the man who was never disciplined with love and doesn’t know that Jesus loves Him and lived and died and lives again for Him. God loves them just as much as He loves you. He has given you the authority and power to love them as He loves them, to reveal Jesus Christ to them, and to give them the opportunity to accept Salvation. In Matthew 5:38-48 Jesus said,
“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41 And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.42 Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
It’s not easy to love people who hate you. When an enemy makes you scrub the toilet, it is not easy nor pleasant to scrub the whole bathroom. When a person hurts you, it’s hard to hold back retaliation to the point that you even leave yourself open to him. Yet all these things are what Jesus wants from us, because He did it and does it. Jesus stood before Herod and Pilate and didn’t answer back or call the angel armies down on them; He let them call Him names, accuse Him of blasphemy, rip out His beard, and beat Him. Jesus loved Pilate and Herod just as much as He loves you, Billy Graham, or Mother Teresa. Who are we to think we are better than the LORD and hate someone He created? 1 John 4:7-12 says it like this,
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
God loves you. He adores you. He cherishes you. Nothing can separate you from His love (Romans 8:37-39). Once you were lost. Once you didn’t know Jesus wanted to be your Savior. He loved you then and He loves you now. Ephesians 2:1-10 reads,
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
If Jesus could love Judas so much, can’t you and I love the person who just wished a curse on us with vile language? If Jesus loves us, even though our sin required a death sentence, what right to we have not to love others?