There we were, gathered around the table. Jesus, the twelve disciples, and myself.
I watched Jesus closely, mesmerized by His every move, His every word. And that’s when He stood, grabbed a towel and a basin. One by one He knelt at our feet, taking the form of a servant. Peter. James. John. Love emanating from every part of Him. Thomas. Andrew. Matthew. Compassion flowing through His hands.
Then He came to Judas Iscariot. As Jesus knelt at Judas’ feet, I noticed a change on His face. No longer did I see only love; I also saw pain. Intense pain.
I was puzzled by the change in His expression. It wasn’t until that fateful day when Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss, turning Him over to be crucified, that it made sense. Jesus knew. When He knelt at Judas’ feet, He knew what Judas was about to do. He felt the deep pain of an intimate betrayal.
And yet, Jesus washed his feet anyway. Knelt before him. Loved him. Served him. Even knowing Judas would soon turn Him over to be killed, Jesus still loved, still served.
Looking back on that night, I am continuously amazed at the love of our Savior! To love and serve, to kneel with compassion, before the one who would betray Him. How can I follow that example?
As I reflect on this life-changing moment, I am reminded of my own experience with betrayal. The night I learned of my husband’s affair. The deepest, most intimate betrayal known to man. Hurt and pain overtaking my life. A sense of rejection and worthlessness replacing the truth of who I am in Christ. Wondering if I was doomed to a life of loneliness. Forever disqualified to be used in the Kingdom.
As I struggled to regain my life, to find my place in God’s kingdom, I saw Jesus kneeling at Judas’ feet, taking the form of a servant, showing love and compassion to the one who would betray Him. Was it possible Jesus was calling me to the same love? Was He calling me to wash the feet of the one who betrayed me?
And yet, we are called to follow His example, to love those who persecute us, to serve others faithfully. Somehow I knew God was calling me to love, even though it was the last thing I wanted to do.
Over the years, I’ve struggled to follow Christ’s lead. I’ve managed to put aside the anger and the bitterness, to see God in the midst of the hurt and the pain. I’ve come to find my worth in Christ and trust Him to give me an extraordinary life in spite of adultery and divorce.
But I’ve struggled to find ways to love and serve the one who hurt me. I wish I could tell you I had mastered this type of selfless love, but I can’t. It was a daily struggle for years. Always trying to walk in integrity, always trying to take the high road. Willing to go above and beyond what was necessary for the sake of my children and my relationship with Christ. Doing my best to honor him in the presence of my children. Always trying, often failing.
Christ’s example as I sat with the disciples, observing His life as the thirteenth disciple, has changed me. The memory of His willingness to put aside self and serve even the one who betrayed Him. A calling to follow His example despite the heartache, the pain, heaped upon me. And He beckons me—He beckons us—to follow as He calls, “Come With Me.”
If you would like to journey as Jesus’ thirteenth disciple, I recommend you pick up a copy of Suzanne Eller’s new book Come With Me.