Sunday Service has been held on 28 February 2021 in the UK, with Pastor Andrew delivering a message from John 13:18-30 titled “He Went Out And It Was Night”.
The message looked at the heartbreaking scene of the Last Supper, and in particular the betrayal of Judas.
At the start of John 13 we can see that Judas already has it in his mind to betray Jesus, yet Jesus’ response to Judas, knowing that the time for Him to leave this world and return to the Father was near, was to wash His disciples feet. Facing His betrayer, Jesus showed even more love, and even took the image of a servant to wash their feet – including Judas.
Judas had been following Jesus for a long time now, and had seen so many miracles, and received so many teachings from the Lord, yet He still was not able to see the love of Christ. Even until the last moments before the cross, he could not recognize Jesus’ love – Judas was blind to the truth.
We can contrast the image of this stubborn Judas to the woman with the alabaster jar – a story that is recorded just before the Last Supper. Mary had been so touched by the love of the Lord, that her life had changed fundamentally. Whereas before, she would have considered the expensive alabaster jar to be her most precious thing, now she considered it incomparable to the love of Jesus.
Love must be a two-way relationship; so when someone experiences love truly, then they will respond to that love, and they will move to return that love. So Mary breaks the alabaster jar to honor Jesus, and to return love back. She had been touched by the world of true love, revealed by Christ, and she was now moved to participate in this world of love. Jesus complimented her actions, and said wherever the Gospel will be preached then the story of what she had done should be told as well.
However, Judas was blind to this revelation of love, and could not see the truth of what was happening before his eyes. So he rebuked her, and he judged her actions. With his own worldly thoughts, calculating and analytical, he judged Mary, and he also judged Jesus with the same mind.
As we see Judas, we must meditate on ourselves. Do we have this same heart of Judas? Are we so stubborn and stuck in our old ways of thinking? Are we blind to the love of the Lord even though He reveals it to us again and again?
Haven’t we also experienced so many miracles in our lives? And hasn’t God blessed us and shown us love beyond comprehension in our lives too?
In Luke 15, Jesus tells a number of beautiful parables that reveal the love of God. The world of love is even where 1 is greater than 99 – like the good shepherd who would leave the 99 sheep to go searching for the 1 lost lamb. God’s love cannot be analysed or calculated with our limited thoughts and ways. Love is a level beyond the knowledge of this world.
We are able to see that Judas was not truly reborn in the world’s love. He had been blind to the love, and had not experienced it deep in his heart, and so he had not been changed fundamentally by it. He could not recognize the love of Jesus, and did not truly know the love of God.
All the disciples deserted Jesus before the cross, and even Peter who spoke so boldly that he would follow Jesus even to death betrayed Christ and denied Him 3 times. However, Peter and the other disciples all returned to the Lord later – but not Judas. Even though the 11 disciples stumbled so badly, and must have experienced so much shame and regret, they returned to the Lord after He resurrected. But Judas did not, instead he regretted, felt shame and then caused even more pain to the Father by committing suicide. Did God not love Judas? Did Jesus not love Judas so much when He called him to be a disciple? Imagine the heartbreak of the betrayal and even the suicide as well. It is such a devastating story.
How could Peter and the other disciples all return unlike Judas? It is that they had been reborn in the Lord’s love. They had seen and experienced and felt the Lord’s love deeply, and it had changed them forever. Evidence of being reborn is not that we are perfect. It is not that we will not sin, or will not stumble. Look how badly the disciples stumbled here. No, the evidence of rebirth is that you change fundamentally to the depths of your heart. The love has electrified you to your core and you are forever changed.
So no matter how badly you stumble, or feel shame and want to hide away, you know the love of God – how amazing His grace is, how wide and immense His love is. His love is faithful beyond comprehension, and His love never fails. Our sin can never be bigger than the Lord’s love. The person who has come to know this love, no matter how shameful, no matter how badly they have stumbled, they will repent and come running back to the Father until the end, because they know the Lord’s love is greater, and He will embrace and love them still.
So only the one who has truly experienced and seen this amazing love of God can return, because you have faith and trust in His love.
Jesus tried to show this love to Judas until the end. He washed his feet, taking the position of a servant before Judas. He sat Judas next to Him at the Last Supper. If we know someone who has betrayed us badly, we often will push them as far away as possible. But the Lord held Him even closer. However, this amazing love of Jesus was unknown to Judas until the end. So he turned his back on the Lord – the light of the world – and went out into the darkness. The path of the cross had begun, and the Lord’s heart must have been so overwhelmed with sorry and pain.
Let us continue to meditate on this path of the cross more deeply through this time of Lent, so that we can see and experience His great love. Pastor Andrew prayed that all members would be absolutely changed fundamentally through the love of God, so that they could experience a true rebirth and permanent change in life.