Jesus washing the feet of his disciples

Jesus Christ’s Beloved Enemy

During his Last Supper, Christ washed the feet of Judas Iscariot. By doing so, Christ set the ultimate example of what it means to “love your enemy.” 

For over a millennium, the teachings of Jesus Christ have inspired spiritual growth for those who study and accept his words. During his life, devout Jews found many of Christ’s teachings to be particularly radical, especially when he taught, “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). Even today, we Christians may find it difficult to love our enemies. The idea that we should love our enemies seems counterproductive at first—why love someone who will take advantage of us the first chance they get? Christ answers this question by showing us how loving our enemies leads us to happiness.

Love your enemies. -Matthew 5:44

Image by James Tissot

John 13 tells the infamous story of Judas Iscariot’s betrayal. It is important to note that Christ “knew who should betray him”  (verse 11). Even so, the Savior submitted himself to doing a slave’s task by washing the feet of all his apostles—including Judas. In verse 15, Christ explains why he would do so: “For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.”

Because Christ loved Judas Iscariot, he served him—even though Judas was Christ’s enemy. But the lesson here isn’t that we should simply become subservient to someone who would oppress us; rather, it is that “the servant is not greater than his lord” (verse 16). When we humbly serve an enemy, show kindness to someone who may dislike us, or pray for those who might hold a grudge against us, we show our understanding that we are equal as God’s children. That understanding can enlarge our empathy for others as we come to comprehend God’s and Christ’s unwavering love for us.

Love may not always lead to peace or improved relationships or equality, but “if ye do these things, happy are ye” (verse 17). When we show Christlike love to our enemies, that love brings greater joy and happiness in our lives.

Read the full chapter in John 13:1–17.

Source: The New Testament 

—Aaron Green, Latter-day Saints Insights


Find more insights:

Learn more about Christlike love from Marilyn S. Bateman in “Love Changes Everything.”

Read more about the Last Supper and Judas’s betrayal from James E. Talmage’s Jesus the Christ: “The Last Supper and the Betrayal.”

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