4 Minute Daily Devotions: Garden of Grace

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

Podcast version here

Sometimes when I pray to Jesus, my heart is so full of the many ways in which I have disappointed Him. I’ll remember a harsh word that I’ve recently spoken, or a promise that I’ve cast aside, or even a person that I’ve 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 I’ve betrayed what Christ should mean to me and I’m sorry for being such a poor example to others.

When I read the story of Judas’ betrayal today, and I reflected upon it, I know that had I been there in the Garden of Gethsemane, I could have walked in Judas’ shoes. His greed and insecurity, his pride and bitterness, his act of betrayal and disloyalty could all have been mine. I feel as though I’ve failed my Lord and I don’t deserve His love.

And then a surprising thing happens: I re-read the scripture and I see an amazing moment of Christ’s grace. He doesn’t condemn Judas, or strike him down dead. Jesus doesn’t convict or judge His betrayer. Instead, He calls Judas “Friend.”

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, “Friend.” I don’t 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 “Friend.”

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 is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. If you would like to comment on today’s message, please send him an email to pastor@erinpresbyterian.org.

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About stushie

I'm originally from Scotland and have been a Presbyterian pastor for over twenty years. I live in Knoxville, TN. I enjoy art as a means of therapy, but also as a creative way to strengthen my spiritual connection to God.
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