John 12:4 But Judas Iscariot, one of His disciples, who was intending to betray Him, *said, 5 “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and given to poor people?” 6 Now he said this, not because he was concerned about the poor, but because he was a thief, and as he had the money box, he used to pilfer what was put into it.
13:1 Now before the Feast of the Passover, Jesus knowing that His hour had come that He would depart out of this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end. 2 During supper, the devil having already put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, to betray Him,3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come forth from God and was going back to God, 4 got up from supper, and laid aside His garments; and taking a towel, He girded Himself."
Judas was loved. In spite of his stealing, and self-obsession, and ultimate betrayal of Jesus, he was loved. Jesus never stopped loving him. Now love is a word that gets thrown around a lot, and mostly misused and abused. In the relationship between Jesus and Judas what does love look like? First of all it's critically important to understand that love is not our initial motive for pursuing Jesus. How could it be? We don't know love until we know Him. Track the disciples and you will find that initially they were trying to ride the coat-tails of Jesus to positions of greatness. They argued often about who would hold the greatest seats in His new kingdom. The mother of James and John even tried to get Jesus to give her two boys the top spots. One day they all blurted out "We have left everything for you. What are we going to get?" Hardly pure motives. Jesus knew. He understood them and He understands us.
If Jesus was like us He would have been worried about self-preservation. He would have worried about surrounding Himself with people He could use to His advantage. Love never uses anyone. Love by it's very nature is other centered. Jesus didn't have disciples for His benefit. He called them for their benefit and for the benefit of those they would influence later when they "got it" and love was their motivator.
It worked with eleven of them. Love conquered. Their strong traits became governed by love rather than self-preservation. So what happened to Judas? The gospels tell us he experienced everything the rest did including the ability to heal the sick and cast out demons. Why didn't his heart melt? Jesus knew his struggles, his greed, his issues, yet he never took the money bag away. He didn't demote him or dismiss him for fraud or theft.
When it came to the last supper Jesus took the opportunity to reinforce His love message. Washing feet was a servant's job. If no servant was in the home the task fell to the least in the house. The disciples had made the preparations. They got the water ready and the towel was beside it. What they forgot was to decide who would wash everyone's feet as they entered. When the time came for the meal everyone came in but the water and towel remained uncomfortably untouched. They screamed silently from the corner. Their feet remained hot, dirty, and sweaty. Jesus let the tension remain. The meal proceeded. When it was over Jesus made His move. He took the towel and the water and went from man to man washing their feet. Peter tried to object because he knew it wasn't Jesus' job. The "sermon" Jesus was "preaching" was loud and clear. To love is to serve.
What we often forget is that Judas was there too. Jesus took the feet that had carried Judas to the chief priests to cut a deal. He washed the feet that carried Judas to His own betrayal.
The Bible says God's sun shines on the just and the unjust and His rain falls on both too. What are we to take from all this? His love is impartial and relentless. His concern has never been for Himself but for us. If anyone rejects Him it won't be because He withdrew His love. It will be because He fully exposed it and it was rejected. Judas wanted what He wanted. One of my favourites authors describes that moment when Jesus washed his feet this way:
"The disciples knew nothing of the purpose of Judas. Jesus alone could read his secret. Yet He did not expose him. Jesus hungered for his soul. He felt for him such a burden as for Jerusalem when He wept over the doomed city. His heart was crying, How can I give thee up?
The constraining power of that love was felt by Judas. When the Saviour's hands were bathing those soiled feet, and wiping them with the towel, the heart of Judas thrilled through and through with the impulse then and there to confess his sin. But he would not humble himself. He hardened his heart against repentance; and the old impulses, for the moment put aside, again controlled him. Judas was now offended at Christ's act in washing the feet of His disciples. If Jesus could so humble Himself, he thought, He could not be Israel's king. All hope of worldly honor in a temporal kingdom was destroyed. Judas was satisfied that there was nothing to be gained by following Christ. After seeing Him degrade Himself, as he thought, he was confirmed in his purpose to disown Him..."
Love was awakened but he rejected it.