John 13:30 So he (Judas) took the morsel and left at once. And it was night.
Judas, one of the original twelve, Jesus right hand man and treasurer. So many of us know him as the one who betrayed Christ. Yes, Judas was the betrayer. Yet through his story, we are challenged to look at our own “judases” in perhaps a new, softer light.
Who among us has not felt betrayed? Have we not all seen betrayal doled out to others in our lifetime. In my own family, we had a betrayer. A supposed man of God, baptized and baptizer, treasurer of his church, well respected in every circle he ingratiated himself into. Yet this man was a man of horrible choices and severe personality disorder who raped and pillaged the women in his midst. Who even in his dying breath was violent in that he killed his wife in cold blood because she suffered Alzheimer’s and then shot himself, rather than asking for the respite he most definitely needed. Like Judas, a man, who through the many choices in his life up to his last breath chose the darkness over the Light.
In my Bible study today, I was reminded of this man from my past as we talked about Jesus, washing feet, eating one last meal with loved ones, and of course Judas and betrayal. It is Passover, and Jesus knew that His hour had finally arrived. (John 13:1) He had humbled Himself to become man to teach us a new way to be. He had performed signs and taught of love and forgiveness. We find him in the upper room, ready to share what He must surely know is His Last Supper with these twelve imperfect humans whom He has tried over the previous three years to teach and strengthen and love. Judas is there among The Twelve, with his life of poor choices, self interests, and frustration at not being able to make The Son of God adhere to his whims. Had Judas not recently complained when Mary, the sister of Lazarus, had anointed Jesus feet out of her love for Him and her foreboding of the changing attitudes that would only mean death for her Teacher? Judas, who is about to make a very horrific choice, is to become the betrayer of Emmanuel, God Among Us (His creation).
So it is time for a Passover meal and The Twelve are at the table, reclining, dirty feet and all on the cushions set at table, waiting to be served. Jesus, who in coming to us as a simple man and having disrobed His Glory when arriving here as a mere Babe to a poor carpenter’s family, arises to humbly serve His Twelve, in love and respect He takes on the humble service normally provided by the lowest of servants. He disrobes and pours the water in a basin, much like He will soon pour out His Blood for the forgiveness of our transgressions. Ever so tenderly, He takes each precious foot and begins to wash it and then dry it with the towel around His waist. No one is left out of this washing. Not Peter with his protesting nor Judas with his betraying nor those who most likely sat there in awe wondering if they were His favorite.
Has anyone ever washed your feet? I’m not talking the pedicure you just received from the local salon so your sandals look pretty in summer. I am speaking of whether someone you respect as a good man has taken your feet into their hands and washed and dried them with a cloth around their waist. I have had this happen twice while participating in our church’s Christ Renews His Parish retreat. The last service at this retreat is when our priest washes each participants feet. When Father Paul washed my feet, I cried. I cried because, who was I to have my priest lower himself and touch my stinking, dirty feet. I cried because I knew that it was my job to go out and wash the feet of others. An overwhelming task of which I alone am not worthy of undertaking. Yet, I hold fast when trying to humbly serve The One Who Sent Me to His Promise “I am confident of this, that He who began a good work in (me) will carry it through to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6) Yet in our lesson today, Christ, The Son of God, The Messiah, The Savior of the World, Emmanuel, is washing feet of everyone, those who love Him and the one who will betray Him.
When Jesus is done with the foot washing, he arises and puts his outer garments on, much as He will put on His glory at the Resurrection. He, The Teacher, who has given so much of Himself to the ones He loves, continues in these final hours to reach out to The Twelve to teach them a better way to live; a life of humble, simple acts of love to all, to the least, even to the betrayers.
Jesus then gives them a warning, a prediction, of sorts while feeling troubled that one of them will betray Him. Of course, none of The Twelve know of Judas stealing from their coffers nor of his hardened heart nor of his being tempted by satan and allowing satan to enter him. They are confused and questioning. Jesus does not condemn. He does not bring to light in front of the others Judas’ sins in the past nor the sin he is about to partake in. Jesus simply places a morsel of dipped bread into Judas’ hand. Judas has been caught so to speak. He must surely know that Jesus is on to him. It is his last chance. Confess! Confess! is what I want to yell at him. It is about choice. Judas, you have the chance right now to make a different choice, change your heart and your ways. Jesus is offering you with love and respect a different way to be, just as Jesus offers this to each of us no matter our sin. Alas, Judas is a stubborn one with a plan of his own, and no willpower against the temptation of satan. He leaves quickly and heads into the night, into the darkness, leaving the Light of the One who came to Save him behind in the upper room. Jesus, the Light of the World, must surely know that all of The Twelve in the end will betray Him in their own way. Yet, He continues on through these Last Hours showing love and forgiveness even unto His Final Hour.
So we are left with the knowledge that our choices will draw us closer to the Light of Christ or leave us wondering in the darkness. Just like Judas, our life is made up of a multitude of choices every moment of every day. These choices will culminate into the whole of our life. A life, if we choose, of living in the Light of God or wandering in the night of separation from His Light. “As long as it is day, (we) must do the works of Him who sent (us).” ( John 9:4 ) Those works include how we deal with our judases. Are we filled with anger, condemnation, darkness? Do we plot our revenge so that everyone might know of the hurt we have been dealt? Do we hold that grudge for eternity? I’d like to think that though we are human and prone to grudge holding anger, we might look to Jesus and walk in His Light of humble love and respect. It is not our place to condemn nor judge. It is God’s place to judge with a Holy Judgment at the time He sees fit. For God does not leave us to deal with our judases alone. He strengthens us and endures our pain with us, no matter the situation. He also provides us with an unending peace that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7) when we give Him the darkness and stay to the Light.
Though many were angry when the man in my family passed, I was not angry, nor filled with condemnation for him. Rather, I was then and most days still am filled with an incredible sadness that he chose as an example for his life the same darkness that Judas chose. So many choices he made could have been different and would have brought him despite his sin to Christ. Jesus, who watched over this man’s life as He watched over Judas’ life would have welcomed both of them Home to Him had they only realized their sin and asked forgiveness from the Great Forgiver. If Jesus had been willing to forgive them, then who am I to hold on to my unforgiveness?
Praying that each of you find your path to forgiveness with the judases in your life.
May you find Gratitude and Peace in every moment,