I am now en route to Manila after a few days in the U.K. with Every Nation's Europe regional director Wolfi Eckleben and our Every Nation London church. Last week in Madrid, I read a passage in John 13 that I have read over and over almost every day.
Now before the Passover Feast, Jesus knew that His hour had come to depart from this world to the Father. Having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end" (John 13:1).
One part of this passage continues to stand out: "He loved them to the end."
"Them." Who is John referring to?
Judas—a disciple who had been with him for three years, and who, in a few minutes would leave dinner early to betray Jesus to the chief priests (John 13:21-27; 18:2-3).
Peter—One of Jesus' closest friends, who in a few hours, would deny ever knowing Him (John 13:36-38; 18:15-18).
James and John—disciples who that same evening could not stay awake to pray with Jesus in the garden in the darkest moment of His life (Matt. 26:36-45).
Thomas—one of the Twelve who was so skeptical of the reports that Jesus had risen from the dead, he demanded physical proof (John 20:24-29).
Andrew, Nathanael, Thaddeus, Matthew, Phillip, Simon the Zealot and the other James—all of whom deserted Jesus out of fear when Judas and the chief priests came with a mob to arrest him in the garden (Matthew 26:56).
These are the people John was referring to: A betrayer. A denier. A doubter. Deserters.
And yet Jesus loved them to the end. Jesus loved them anyway.
It's easy for leaders to love faithful followers.
But only Christlike leaders choose to love betrayers, deniers, doubters and deserters. Only Christlike leaders love these kinds of people till the end.
My prayer is that we as leaders and pastors would learn from Jesus' example of leading with unconditional love till the end.
Steve Murrell serves as the president of Every Nation Churches and Ministries, a ministry that does church planting and campus ministry in over 70 nations.
This article originally appeared at stevemurrell.com.
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