Do you realize the extent of Jesus’ love for you? Can you see and believe his love for sinners, for the world, for humanity? Or do you think you are the exception to his love? That your sins are too great, your love too weak, or your mistakes too many for Jesus to want you? Jesus is hot in pursuit of your heart. He is chasing you. Nothing you could do could change his passion for you.
By the same token, he is passionate about others. Even about the people we would tend to discount or disqualify. Jesus loves them, and he wants you and me to reach out to them, to accept them, to befriend them.
A few hours after the Last Supper, Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane with his disciples. He knew his time had come to be arrested. In the distance, he saw Judas and a crowd of soldiers and thugs coming toward him.
Judas stepped forward to greet Jesus. He kissed him, which in that culture should have been a sign of friendship—but it wasn’t this time. Judas had previously told the men with him, “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him” (Matthew 26:48).
At that moment, Jesus said something I still cannot comprehend: “Do what you came for, friend” (verse 50). Wait, what? Friend? Why would Jesus choose that term? He knew what was happening. He knew the rejection, the greed, the hatred in Judas’s heart. He knew the pain that lay ahead as a result of this betrayal. And yet he still called Judas friend. . . .
Jesus loved Judas all the way to the end, and he loves us with the same passion, the same constancy, the same commitment. His message of unconditional friendship to sinners is the foundation of our walk with him.
I am so glad our love for God doesn’t dictate his love for us. Our love is fickle, but his love is faithful. Jesus pursued us when we were dead in our sins. He came to us. He convinced us of his love. He cleansed us and restored us.
He will never give up on us. He will never stop loving us. He is the friend of sinners, and when we accept his friendship, his love, and his grace, we become friends for all eternity.