The Feet of Your Enemy

Jesus washed Judas’s feet.

He knew how the evening would unfold. He knew His disciple of three and a half years was about to betray Him into the hands of sinners—wicked men who would ensure He died one of the cruelest deaths any human could inflict on another.

What’s more, He had known all this since day one. “For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him. … ‘Did I not choose you, the twelve, and one of you is a devil?’” (John 6:64, 70).

Jesus picked Judas, knowing their relationship would culminate in His crucifixion. Knowing he would become a willing tool in the hands of Satan. Knowing that this man was going to prove himself to be a liar, a deceiver, and a thief.

Jesus washed his feet anyway.

There wasn’t any hope of redemption in the act. It didn’t change what was about to happen. Watching the Creator of the universe perform the duties of a servant didn’t make him rethink what he was doing.

Jesus washed his feet anyway.

There, wrapped up in that single act, is so much of what it means to follow in the footsteps of Jesus Christ.

So much of where I fall short.

Jesus had already told His disciples the rules for this kind of situation. Now He was showing them what it looked like to live it.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father 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. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:43–48).

In spite of it all, Jesus loved Judas.

He didn’t love what he was doing.

He wasn’t deciding not to hold him accountable for his sins.

But He did wash his feet.

Jesus loved him the way God loves all of us. “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

It didn’t matter that Judas ultimately rejected that love. It didn’t matter that Jesus knew that Judas would reject it. Jesus still gave him the same opportunity—the same love—that He gave the other disciples.

Love—service—laying down our lives—that’s a fairly easy thing to do when the feeling is mutual.

I wonder if I could have done it.

I wonder if I could have got down on my knees and washed the feet off the man I knew was about to facilitate my death.

I don’t think I could have. I think I would have told Judas to wait outside until I was finished with the others. I think I would have stared daggers at him the entire evening.

Which is why Jesus is God and I’m not. I’m still working on developing the kind of love that can do that—the kind of love that can kneel down and show underserved kindness to my enemies—the ones who hate me, curse me, and spitefully use me.

One day, God willing, I’ll have it. But until then, I’m grateful God already does.

Until next time,

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