Holy Week Devotional: Wednesday
Loving His Betrayer
“You are my help and my deliverer; Lord, do not delay” (Psalm 70:5).
READING: John 13:21–30
It must have broken Jesus’s heart to know that one of His closest followers would betray Him. One of the guys He had hand-picked to be His followers after praying all night on the mountain (Luke 6:12). Maybe He knew from the very beginning that Judas would betray Him, maybe He didn’t. He at least knew by John 6, about a year before His death, that Judas was evil (John 6:70). Yet, He did not send him away or try to stop him, or even take the money purse away from him! Jesus knew Judas would betray Him and still He loved him “to the very end” (John 13:1 NLT).
He even washed Judas’s feet the night before His crucifixion. Jesus sent Judas off to do the deed in the middle of the meal; He could have sent him off at the beginning instead, before He washed the disciples’ feet. But He didn’t. He knew Judas would betray Him, that even at that moment, the devil was working in his heart (John 13:2). Yet Jesus stooped down and washed his feet. Though He was their master, He made Himself the servant of them all, Judas included. What kind of love is this, that washes the feet of His betrayer?
This is the kind of love that comes only from God. The agape love that “love[s] your enemies and pray[s] for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). The same way God never stopped loving His people in the Old Testament, even when they turned their backs on Him (Hosea 3:1).
When Judas left, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man is glorified and God is glorified in him” (John 13:31). God was glorified in Jesus when He showed love to His enemy because, as He preached in the Sermon on the Mount, loving your enemies makes you like God, in His holy and perfect love (Mathew 5:44–48).
When we show love to our enemies, we also reflect the glory of God. When the congregation members of the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC stood up in court and showed forgiveness and compassion to the man who shot and killed nine of their loved ones and even prayed for his soul, CBS News called it “one of the most extraordinary scenes ever in an American courtroom.” When we show love to those who don’t deserve it, the world sees it as extraordinary because it is not ordinary. It is not the way of the world. It is the way of God.
Q: Are you harboring any anger, unforgiveness, or bitterness in your heart? How is God calling you to reach out and forgive those who have hurt you?
Q: How is God leading you to love and serve your enemies—people who frustrate you, work against you, or are difficult for you to love?
PRAYER: Lord God, whose blessed Son gave his body to be whipped and his face to be spit upon: Give us grace to accept joyfully the sufferings of the present time, confident of the glory that shall be revealed; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
DISCIPLINE PRACTICE: Forgiveness
Theologian and seminary professor Robert Mulholland called forgiveness the most difficult spiritual discipline.2 A lot of us don’t think of forgiveness as a spiritual discipline, but true forgiveness takes great discipline, and it can be doneonly by the power and love of the Holy Spirit. It can take weeks, months, even years to forgive deep hurts that have been done to us. The deeper the relational investment, the deeper the wound.
To practice forgiveness today, first prepare your heart by reflecting on how much God has forgiven you. You may even want to meditate on Matthew 6:15 and Ephesians 4:32. Pray for your heart to soften toward the person who has hurt you. You may want to journal your thoughts or feelings to let go of anger and bitterness. Begin praying for that person, if you haven’t already. When you are praying for someone, it is much harder to hold onto feelings of anger for them. You may have to practice this over a period of several weeks, months, even years before you are ready to reach out to them, but when you are, write them a letter, give them a call or meet with them to talk, depending on which option is safest for you.
ADDITIONAL READING: Psalm 70; Matthew 5:43–48; Romans 12:14–21; Hebrews 12:1–3
 Kris Kirst, “Family Members to Alleged Charleston Gunman: ‘I Forgive You’” CBS News, Jun 19, 2015 –
2 Peter Scazzero, “Forgiveness – the Most Difficult Spiritual Discipline,” Emotionally Healthy Discipleship, Nov 13, 2013 – https://www.emotionallyhealthy.org/forgiveness-the-most-difficult-spiritual-discipline/?v=7516fd43adaa