And then I can hear someone like Peter speaking up, saying, “Well, I’m not surprised at the way Jesus treated Judas. Jesus loved us until the very end and that includes him. I betrayed Jesus as well; I denied Him—and not just once, but three times. With His own eyes He saw me turn my back on Him. Yet when He rose again, He specifically called out my name and said, ‘Go and tell Peter.’ When He found me I was ashamed, discouraged and backslidden. But when I first saw Him after the resurrection, all I saw were His love and His mercy. Not once did He bring up my turning away or reprimand me and tell me how wrong I was. He simply came close and asked, ‘Do you love Me?’
“No, I’m not surprised He loved Judas. He loved each one of us. And we must never forget what He told us: that we must love one another as He loved us.”
The disciples’ lives were completely transformed by what they saw in Jesus. They watched Him respond to beggars, hold little children and heal the blind. But what impacted them even more was what they saw in Him after the resurrection—the forgiveness and love after the betrayal and turning away, the joy with which He showed them the scars in His hands and side (see Luke 24:39) and the camaraderie displayed as He cooked breakfast for them on the beach after a long night of toil (see John 21:9).
I believe that the only reason the disciples were able to impact their world in such a great way and endure such intense persecution was because of the unfailing love they saw in Jesus. It was this love that enabled Stephen to suffer and die for the Lord in Acts 7, crying out for his persecutors just as Jesus did, saying, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin” (Acts 7:60). “Love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8, NIV).
Only as we behold Christ, aware of His presence and remembering the ultimate love He always displayed, can we begin to reflect His love to those around us.