Everyone wants to be loved. Would you agree? Most people think of love as a warm fuzzy feeling but in truth, love is a choice. It is an attitude that reveals itself in action. So how do we know when someone loves us? You can tell by the way they treat you, the words they speak to you and the things they do for you. The same goes with God. We can know God loves us by what He did for us, the way He treats us and what He has said to us.
The Ultimate Way
In one of the most famous passages from the Bible it gives us the answer to just how much God loves us. John 3:16 tells us:
16 “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.
Did you get that? He gave us Jesus, who came to earth just so He could die a horrible death to take your sin away in order for you and I to be able to spend eternity in heaven with Him! Pretty incredible, don’t you think? That’s a powerful example of how much He loves us.
How Jesus Showed Love
In John 13 it tells the story of Jesus’ last night on earth with His disciples. These were men who had spent the last 3 years traveling and learning with Jesus. They had seen the miracles, listened to the sermons and seen His example of how to love others. However, on this night He gave the greatest example of His love as His last act before going to the cross. You see, He already knew who would betray Him and deny Him, but yet He chose to wash their feet anyway. Washing the feet of visitors in those days was a lowly servant’s job. Christ took on that role Himself that night to set an example of how we are to love others by showing love to His disciple. By doing this He showed us how to love those who betray us, who are mean to us, or who do things that hurt us just as He did that night.
All of His disciples fled when they came to arrest Jesus but there were two disciples in particular who would soon do things that if done to us, we would probably not want to have anything to do with them anymore. One betrayed Jesus and one denied that he ever knew Him.
Judas Iscariot was the treasurer for the disciples. He was in charge of the money and a trusted part of the team. From verses 26-27 we know that Jesus already knew Judas would betray Him. He knew that Judas would be the one that would give Him over to the authorities and because of that act, Jesus knew He would suffer a painful, horrible death….but yet He still chose to wash Judas’ feet.
And then there was Peter. Peter had a habit of speaking boldly and a bit arrogantly about what he would do for Jesus. He was very exuberant in his beliefs which was good! But, sometimes spoke without thinking and therefore had to be rebuked by Jesus. There are many times in the Bible where Jesus had to put Peter in his place and correct him on things that Peter had rashly said (that’s a whole other post!). This was one of those times. When Jesus told him that he would deny him three times, Peter vehemently denied it. But that’s exactly what happened and even though Jesus knew what Peter would do, He washed Peter’s feet anyway.
Are You Accepting Or Rejecting?
So why is this story so important in showing us how to accept God’s love? Let me explain. Both Judas and Peter experienced fear. Don’t you think? They both acted on that fear and did something to hurt a person they had grown very close to, yet each of them handled the situation differently. One understood just how much Jesus loved him and accepted that love and chose to serve like Jesus even after having denied Him and the other did not understand and his life ended tragically.
Judas betrayed Jesus but soon regretted it and tried to give the money back to the ones who had payed him but it was too late…they wouldn’t take the money back. The deed was done. Now at this point, Judas had a choice. He could have believed all the teachings that he’d heard in the past 3 years, asked God for forgiveness and accept the love that he had heard so much about. But he didn’t. Instead he chose to forget everything he had seen and heard, forget all he had learned, reject the love that had so graciously been offered and chose instead to take his own life.
Peter also regretted what he had done. In Luke 22 it tells of what happened after his third denial of knowing Jesus.
At that moment, the Lord turned and looked at Peter. Suddenly, the Lord’s words flashed through Peter’s mind: “Before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny three times that you even know me.” And Peter left the courtyard, weeping bitterly. (Luke 22:61–62, NLT)
Can you imagine the shame Peter felt? I know I can. Peter beat himself up for it so much so that he felt unworthy. Have you ever done that? I’m sure Judas did the same thing. The difference is, Peter didn’t forget. The Bible tells us he and the other disciples gathered together and prayed. Peter went to his church family (or what would become his church family) and leaned on them during this difficult time. And when he heard that Jesus’s body wasn’t found in the tomb…he ran to see for himself. Don’t you think he was hoping to find Jesus so he could repent and apologize? I feel deep down in my heart that Peter desperately wanted the opportunity to say he was sorry and ask for forgiveness.
I’m sure both Judas and Peter felt shame. That’s one of the devil’s favorite tools to use against us. He likes to make us feel shame for what we’ve done…or sometimes what we’ve not done when we should have been obedient. Judas ran from all he’d been taught. Peter ran to it. He didn’t allow the shame he felt to isolate him from those who could support him during this time.
Lessons We Can Learn
So what lessons can we learn from these two in order to know God loves us? We can remember that not only did Jesus come to earth as a man to teach his disciples about loving and serving others and die on the cross for them, but he did that for you and I as well. We see how fear and shame can keep us from accepting that love and lead us to self-destruction if we aren’t careful. And , we see how we should follow Peter’s example and run to Christ instead of away from Him regardless of what we’ve done or how bad we think our sin is.
Put yourself in Judas and Peter’s place. Which would you be more like? I can’t say that there haven’t been times when I reacted like Judas and it’s cost me dearly. Years that I could have been serving God, I chose to isolate myself from other Christians and that isolation killed my spirit. I was dead inside, with no peace or joy. I had constant turmoil in my spirit and my life.
Thankfully, Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to us to help us through times like that. If only Judas had waited! If only he had repented to God! He too would have been forgiven.
We like to beat Judas up and say he didn’t deserve to be forgiven, but are we so different from him? Haven’t we sometimes rejected him and hung him right back up there on that cross because of our sin? It’s so easy to look at Judas and say he deserved what he got….but don’t we all deserve death as well? Jesus loved Judas even though he knew what Judas was going to do. Jesus chose to love him anyway! And he does the same for us. Do you believe it? Are you going to run to Him or away from Him? God is so patient with us (Romans 2:4)
Just as Jesus chose to wash the disciples feet that fateful night in the upper room, He has also chosen to cleanse us. His blood that He shed on the cross cleanses us from all our sin and makes us white as snow (Isaiah 1:18). He does this because He loves us. Yes, you and me. Jesus didn’t just die for those back in the day of the Bible. He did it for all who would believe in him in the future as well. In his prayer in John 17:20, Jesus prayed “not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message.” That’s you and me! Did you hear me? Jesus prayed for us before He went to the cross!
So how can we know God loves us? By what he’s said, “We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19), what He did, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16), and his attitude towards us and how He’s treated us, “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8). Now, these scriptures are just the tip of the iceberg of what the Bible has to say about how much God loves us. I encourage you to search the scriptures and see what you can find. Google it! There are so many, I can’t put them all in one post.
My prayer is that each and every person who reads this will be able to accept the love that God so graciously offers. Let me know in the comments how you’ve experienced God’s love. And if you’d like to make sure you don’t miss anything, subscribe to receive email updates of all new posts.
May God bless you today, friend