1 After saying these things, Jesus crossed the Kidron Valley with his disciples and entered a grove of olive trees.2 Judas, the betrayer, knew this place, because Jesus had often gone there with his disciples. 3 The leading priests and Pharisees had given Judas a contingent of Roman soldiers and Temple guards to accompany him. Now with blazing torches, lanterns, and weapons, they arrived at the olive grove. 4 Jesus fully realized all that was going to happen to him, so he stepped forward to meet them. “Who are you looking for?” he asked.—John 18:1-4 (NLT)
Jesus was fully aware of what would happen this night and every night until He ascended into heaven. But, because He loved us so much, He was willing to face the persecution, the ridicule, the mockery, the beatings and the agony, that was the cross. Jesus had known this from time immermorial, yet He came to earth and dwelled among us in the flesh. Our finite minds cannot grasp or understand this infinite, unconditional love. But there is a void in us that can only be filled with this love. The world is looking for this love without knowing or understanding why. There was a time in each of our lives when we were in the same place as the lost people around us. We were looking for something or someone. If we had been asked, “Who are you looking for?”, we probably would not have understood that we were looking for Jesus and our answer would not have been so quick and sure. But then, someone took the time to share with us about the love of Jesus and we realized that He was who we were looking for.
Are we willing to take the time today to ask someone “Who are you looking for?”
And then share the love of Jesus with them.
31 When Judas was gone, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man receives his glory, and God receives glory through him. 32 If God receives glory through him, then God will give glory to the Son through himself. And God will give him glory quickly.” 33 Jesus said, “My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and what I told the Jews, I tell you now: Where I am going you cannot come. 34 “I give you a new command: Love each other. You must love each other as I have loved you. 35 All people will know that you are my followers if you love each other.” —John 13:31-35 (NCV)
Knowing the coming events, Jesus was starting to prepare His disciples for HIs departure from them. Jesus tells them that He won’t be with them much longer and they cannot follow Him where He is going. Jesus stresses to them the importance of showing love for each other. We are told by the experts that boys join gangs because they feel like a part of the “family”. We have something much better to offer them. So, why are they attracted to the gangs and not to the Church? The important questions for us to consider are these::
Do we show enough love for each other to attract the attention of the lost? When they look at us do they see anything that would make them want to be a part of our group? If not, why not? What about ourselves or the church as a group do we need to change to attract them to Jesus?
23 One of the followers sitting next to Jesus was the follower Jesus loved. 24 Simon Peter motioned to him to ask Jesus whom he was talking about. 25 That follower leaned closer to Jesus and asked, “Lord, who is it?” 26 Jesus answered, “I will dip this bread into the dish. The man I give it to is the man who will turn against me.” So Jesus took a piece of bread, dipped it, and gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. 27 As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered him. Jesus said to him, “The thing that you will do — do it quickly.” 28 No one at the table understood why Jesus said this to Judas. 29 Since he was the one who kept the money box, some of the followers thought Jesus was telling him to buy what was needed for the feast or to give something to the poor. 30 Judas took the bread Jesus gave him and immediately went out. It was night.—John 13:23-30 (NCV)
Jesus had just told them that one of the 12 would betray Him. It is only natural that they would wonder which one it would be. Jesus told them it would be the one to whom He gave the bread. Even when Jesus dipped the bread and handed it to Judas and said to Judas, “Do it quickly”, they still did not understand. When Judas took the bread, he immediately left. He walked out into the darkness of the night. Judas had spent years with the Light of the world, yet it seemingly had not penetrated the utter darkness of his lost soul. Judas was still more concerned about his own well being than he was about the Good News of Jesus Christ. It is possible to sit in the light without seeing the light when you are blind. Judas was spiritually blind and unwilling to see the Light. Jesus knocks at the door, but it is up to each of us to open the door and let the Light into our hearts and lives. We can hear the Word daily, just as Judas did, and still not be redeemed. We must not only repent from our sins and empty ourselves of all impurities, but we must fill that void with the Light of the Word. 43 “When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. 44 Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. 45 Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first. —Matt. 12:43-45a (NIV)
1 It was almost time for the Jewish Passover Feast. Jesus knew that it was time for him to leave this world and go back to the Father. He had always loved those who were his own in the world, and he loved them all the way to the end. 2 Jesus and his followers were at the evening meal. The devil had already persuaded Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, to turn against Jesus. 3 Jesus knew that the Father had given him power over everything and that he had come from God and was going back to God.—–John 13:1-3 (NCV)
Jesus never had any question about what His purpose was here on earth. This was decided before the beginning, He had laid aside all of His royalty in heaven and come to earth as Love incarnate. He lived a simple life doing what He saw the Father do and saying what the Father said. Now, the time for Him to return to His glory in Heaven was quickly approaching. He loved people with a love that our human minds cannot fully embrace. Even knowing that Judas would betray Him, He allowed Judas to be one of His disciples. The Father had given Him all authority over all things and He could have used it at any time. Yet, He stayed the course and died a cruel death for our redemption. He was love clothed in human flesh for our benefit. Through the blood of Jesus, we have access to that same love. Jesus was perfect and could love perfectly, we are imperfect and so we love imperfectly. But one day, we will love as He loves. Then we will know fully just as God knows us now. We need to practice showing love to others every day so they will be attracted to Jesus. Love will never fail. 12 It is the same with us. Now we see a dim reflection, as if we were looking into a mirror, but then we shall see clearly. Now I know only a part, but then I will know fully, as God has known me. 13 So these three things continue forever: faith, hope, and love. And the greatest of these is love.–1 Cor. 13:12,13 (NCV)
14 Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord.15 See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled.-Hebrews 12:14,15 (NASB)
The test is this: How do we react when we are betrayed by someone that is close to us, whether it be a family member, friend, close associate or a stranger? Is your first thought, “I should pursue peace with all men”? Or does anger immediately fill you and your mind starts to think about ways to “get even”? What does “get even” mean and how do we know when we are “even”? Ignore the anger? No, it you hold your anger, it will eventually become a “root of bitterness”. That root, as it grows, will push every good thing out of the way to manifest itself in your personality. What then? 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. 19 Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. –Romans 12:19-21 (NASB)
Let God handle it for you. Jesus was betrayed by Judas, a “friend” who had been the treasurer of the disciples and a companion for the better part of 3 years. What was his reaction to that betrayal? He allowed Judas to carry out his work even though Jesus knew it would mean His death. Remember, because of our sins, we have all betrayed Jesus and yet, He died for us. Easier said than done, right? So, how do we allow God to do it? 6 Then he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel saying, ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts.–Zechariah 4:6 (NASB)
We listen to the Spirit of the Living God and His Spirit directs us as to what we should say and/or do. Most likely, the only action for us will be to pray for the person who has offended us and prepare our hearts to forgive when we are asked and render assistance and encouragement when the offender needs it.