Returning to his eyewitness account recorded in John 18:1-4, we catch a glimpse of the ultimate moment of betrayal and rejection. I’ve been betrayed and I’ve been rejected by “friends” I’ve truly loved. But nothing like what Jesus experienced. Not even close.
Jesus had prayed and then left that sacred space of intimacy with His Father. Along with His disciples He crossed the Kidron Valley and entered an olive grove.
Jesus often spent time with His disciples in this very spot so Judas knew the place well. Judas proceeded to lead a band of soldiers and Pharisees toward the grove where Jesus went out to meet them. Jesus did not wait for them to find Him. No, Jesus went forward to meet them. He was never a victim. He is sovereign.
Judas had walked with Jesus for three years. He had heard His teachings and witnessed miracles. But evidently he had never known Jesus as His Lord and Savior. Such a scary thought…people can walk with Jesus, hear amazing preaching of the gospel and experience miracles yet never truly accept His lordship and free gift of salvation. They are sitting beside us at church. They could, quite possibly, be in leadership positions within the church. I had a friend once tell me that she taught Sunday School before choosing atheism. People can quote Scripture with their mouths but not believe it in their hearts. Sad. So very, very sad.
How can we know the difference between a committed believer and one who will betray Jesus with a kiss? Fruit produced in their lives can be evidence. The desire to walk in holiness can also reveal a heart that loves Jesus but bottom line…we can’t know for sure. So we need not pursue that judgement. It’s a condition of the heart. And Jesus is continually working on redeeming hearts. Not our job to judge. It’s His!
Hours before the confrontation in the olive grove, Jesus had knelt before Judas and washed his feet. He had continually offered Judas fellowship until the moment Judas turned his back and walked out of the Upper Room. Judas had a choice til the very end. He chose his secret, sinful life over life with the One who loves unconditionally, the One willing to offer forever forgiveness.
It brings me to tears when I think of loved ones rejecting Jesus’ love, grace and mercy. But He brings comfort with His promise to passionately pursue them with patience and keep His door of invitation open. Until the end.
Thoughts to ponder:
Do I make assumptions about other’s faith? Why?
Do I follow Jesus’ example of patience and love even in the face of rejection?