I noticed something that I had not before as I read John 13 last night: When Jesus washed his disciples’ feet, he also washed the feet of the man he knew would betray him. In the same chapter in which Jesus tells his followers that one of them will betray him and sends Judas Iscariot off to do what he is going to do, the Son of God gets down on his knees and washes the feet of Judas like a servant.
Judas was with Jesus for at least three years. Even though we hypothesize that he was a snake from the beginning, I suspect he had a lot of redeeming qualities. When Jesus sent out his followers to declare the Kingdom of God, Judas was one of them. None of the other disciples, pointed their finger at Judas when Jesus predicted the betrayal. In fact, when he left they thought he was getting more supplies or perhaps going to give money to the poor.
It is one thing to love those that are your enemies from the start. It is another entirely to love someone close whom you know will utterly betray you. Even though Jesus knew the betrayal would occur, I suspect that it cut him deeply. It is only human to feel that way.
Yet Jesus seemed to love and include this traitor to the very end. The Washing of Feet was a powerful moment in Jesus’ ministry. By it he demonstrates the servant nature which he wants his followers to emulate. He does not come to Judas’ feet and say, “No, you don’t get to be a part of this.” He knelt down, took his feet, and washed them. It speaks volumes about what kind of love Jesus embodied.
As we interact with our friends, our would-be enemies, and even those that would betray us, may we remember that Jesus washed the feet of Judas. And may we serve in a way honoring that act of shocking love.