This week, we finished off a 3 week series entitled "Me & My Peeps." This series was all about friendships; since friends are important to all of us, whether we are little kids, teenagers, or grown ups, it is important to look at what the Bible teaches us about choosing friends and being a good friend. The third and final week of the series was about what to do in the cases we find ourselves with a bad friend. What do we do when there are people who wouldn't make good friends; should we keep our distance or still get to know them? The best way for us to answer these questions is to dig into how Jesus responds when he is treated poorly and think about what that means for us and our relationships.
The twelve disciples were probably twelve of the closest people in Jesus' life. The disciples followed Jesus everywhere he went; they listened to his teachings, they witnessed his miracles, and walked alongside of him as he journeyed from city to city. The disciples had given their lives to learning from Jesus so that they could be like Jesus. And as we enter into the last week of Jesus' life, one of the disciples who had spent years with Jesus decides to turn his back on Jesus.
Then Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, went to the chief priests to betray Jesus to them.They were delighted to hear this and promised to give him money. So he watched for an opportunity to hand him over. - Mark 14:10-11
Have you ever been betrayed by a close friend? Have you ever had a friend share one of your secrets with somebody else? One of Jesus' closest followers betrayed Jesus by handing him over to be murdered. And Jesus knew it was going to happen.
Jesus knew. Jesus ate.
Since the goal of a disciple is trying to live like Jesus, and as Christians we call ourselves disciples of Jesus, one of the best ways to learn how to respond when we have friends who have betrayed us, is look to how Jesus responds in this situation.
When evening came, Jesus arrived with the Twelve. While they were reclining at the table eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me—one who is eating with me.” They were saddened, and one by one they said to him, “Surely you don’t mean me?” “It is one of the Twelve,” he replied, “one who dips bread into the bowl with me. The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.” - Mark 14:17-21
Jesus knew that Judas was going to betray him, and he still spent time eating with him. Have you ever been in an argument with somebody and then had to spend time with them? Nobody wants to be around somebody who has hurt them, yet Jesus knowing what Judas was about to do, chose to be with him. In fact, this is not the first time Jesus does something like this, all throughout the Gospels Jesus is accurately accused of eating with sinners. The people that Jesus continually chooses to spend time with are not the religious people, but the sinners.
In your friendships, it is important to have Christian friends, but what about non-Christians? Do you only spend time with your Christian friends, or do you also find ways to get to know those who don't know Jesus... even if that means spending time with someone who might not be a great friend? As a Christian, you want to have friends that help you grow in your relationship with Christ, but do you also have people in your life that are being influenced by your presence in theirs?
Even though Jesus knew exactly what Judas was going to do, he ate with him. And even though Judas followed through with his betrayal, when Jesus went to the cross his death was for Judas as much as it was for the rest of the disciples. And just as much as Jesus' death was for all the disciples, it was also for all people.
When we look at our relationship with God, we can learn more about loving others by looking at God's love for us than we can learn from looking at anything else. When I look at my friendship with Jesus, I fail often. I forget to make the Bible a part of my daily life. I don't follow his commands. I hurt other people. I even forget to spend time talking to Him. Yet even though I have failed, Jesus sacrificed his life for me. Even though I am often a bad friend, Jesus continues to love me.
There probably are people in your life that have hurt you, can you love them anyways? There probably are people in your life who won't make a good friend, can you love even people who might be bad friends? You probably can list of people who would not help you grow in your relationship with Jesus, how can you love even those people like Jesus loved others?
Photo Credit: Julie Campbell