I’ve been meaning to read part of the Easter narrative all week and finally got around to it today. I was intending to read the entire thing but got stopped short before Jesus’ arrest. Two things struck me as I read and both have to do with Jesus’ kindness. The first is how gracious Jesus was towards His disciples and how much He trusted the Father for their growth even when they let Him down. In Matthew 6:31-35, Jesus predicts Peter’s denial of Him and His desertion by the rest of His followers. Mildly offended (maybe more) Peter pronounces that he would die with Jesus before he would deny Him and the others heartily add their, “me too!” But a short time later, we find these same gung-ho disciples asleep in the garden of Gethsemane when they should be praying as Jesus had asked them to. It is so humbling to think that not only would Jesus die willingly for these sleepy followers of His, but He would actually turn over leadership of His kingdom on earth to them. If He is that kind and patient with His disciples, then there is great hope that He can use even the likes of me (and you) in building His kingdom.
The second thing that struck me was not entirely new (see previous post) but hit me afresh today. When Judas arrives to betray Him, Jesus says, “Friend, do what you have come to do.” In an amazing act of kindness, Jesus calls Judas His friend. When I read this previously, I was reminded that only a friend or ally can betray someone. Today, I realized that, even knowing how Judas would treat Him, Jesus offered him genuine friendship. If Jesus can do that for the one who would ultimately betray Him, then surely He is serious when He tells His followers (and presumably us), “No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.” (John 15:15) I often find it hard to receive Jesus love for me because I am usually fairly aware of my own sin and short-comings. But in calling Judas His friend, Jesus reminds me that (because of His work at the cross) He still considers me His friend despite my laziness or unfaithfulness to Him. And as usual, His kindness leads to repentance. I really want to be less like the sleepy disciples and more like Jesus. His words to Judas give me hope that, even if my transformation takes a long time, Jesus is patient with me and still calls me friend. 🙂