Garden of Grace

Matthew 26:50a Jesus replied, "Friend, do what you came for."

Sometimes when I pray to Jesus, my heart is so full of the many ways in which I have disappointed Him. Iíll remember a harsh word that Iíve recently spoken, or a promise that Iíve cast aside, or even a person that Iíve unintentionally hurt.

I call myself a Christian, but I frequently fail to live up to the high expectations that both the Lord and the world have of His servants. And when my mistakes really burden me, I feel as though Iíve betrayed what Christ should mean to me and Iím sorry for being such a poor example to others.

When I read the story of Judasí betrayal today, and I reflected upon it, I know that had I been there in the Garden of Gethsemane, I could have walked in Judasí shoes. His greed and insecurity, his pride and bitterness, his act of betrayal and disloyalty could all have been mine. I feel as though Iíve failed my Lord and I donít deserve His love.

And then a surprising thing happens: I re-read the scripture and I see an amazing moment of Christís grace. He doesnít condemn Judas, or strike him down dead. Jesus doesnít convict or judge His betrayer. Instead, He calls Judas ďFriend.Ē

Through this revelation, the grace of God overflows and overwhelms my soul. I can ask for forgiveness and be restored because Christ still calls me, ďFriend.Ē I donít have to dwell on past disappointments or mistakes. I can come to the Lord humbly and sincerely. I can receive His pardon because He is still willing to accept me as His friend.

Whatever burdens we are carrying; whatever past failures there have been in our lives; whatever mistakes we have made or disappointments that we have created, know this: Jesus can forgive them all because no matter what we have thought, said, or done, He is still wiling to call us ďFriend.Ē

Prayer: Lord Jesus, we all have been Judases in our lives and we are sorry for our sins. Come to us this day and cleanse us of the past. Restore us to Your present favor and lead us towards Your everlasting Kingdom. In Your Holy Name, we humbly pray. Amen.

John Stuart

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