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An Undeserved Gift
A timeless lesson learned by one of history's great masters speaks just as powerfully to us today.

While Leonardo da Vinci was painting that famous masterpiece, The Last Supper, he had an intense and bitter argument with a fellow painter. Leonardo was so enraged that he decided to paint the face of his enemy into the face of Judas. That way, his hated adversary’s face would be preserved for ages in the expression of the betraying disciple.

When Leonardo finished Judas, everyone he knew easily recognized the face of the painter with whom he had quarreled.

Leonardo continued to work on the magnificent mural but, as much as he tried, he couldn’t paint the face of Christ. Something was holding him back. He realized that the hatred he felt toward his fellow painter was the problem. So he worked through his intense emotions by repainting Judas, replacing the image of his fellow painter with another face.

Only then was he able to paint Jesus and complete the masterpiece.

A number of years ago, there was a young man who I was trying to help. He had messed up his life with drug addiction. On one occasion, when I walked into his room for a visit, I found him sniffing glue with the intent of getting high. I did my best to capture his attention by talking to him. I stressed this fact: “Jesus really loves you, Gord.”

He responded by lifting his head just long enough to spit right into my face. What a shock! I was surprised that I didn’t react by grabbing him by the throat. Instead (and this was not me), tears began to flow down my face and mingle with the spit. It was Jesus who was reacting through me.

Jesus said, “Bless those who curse you....” (Matthew 5:44). This is only possible if our wellspring, the fountain of the Holy Spirit within, is flowing with love – a supernatural love from above that God puts in every willing heart.

When assessing how you respond, do you feel you can use that kind of love? God can bring you to a place in your life where you begin to see people (yes, even your adversaries) through Jesus’ eyes. To bless those who curse you is a tall order, but with Him all things are possible (see Matthew 19:26)!

The message, “Immanuel...God with us!” warms my heart. With this truth in mind – and in keeping with The Love Dare challenge – let’s make a point of expressing the Lord’s unconditional love throughout the Christmas season and beyond the new year. After all, that’s the reason why He sent His Son Jesus into the world (see John 3:16). We also have another important promise, He will never leave us nor forsake us (see Deuteronomy 31:6; Joshua 1:5; Hebrews 13:5).  (It’s actually repeated three times in the Bible!)

Yes, the message of Christmas is indeed “God with us.” What comfort! Even those who are not believers sense the excitement in the air during this time of year. Intuitively, in the human spirit, each person knows that something “extraordinary” happened that first Christmas more than 2,000 years ago. If they could only experience His amazing saving grace by acknowledging Him as their Saviour and Lord!

May you have a wonderful, warm Christmas that’s overflowing with blessings to be shared with your loved ones – and with all whom your life touches. Just be sure the most honoured “Loved One” is the Person whose birthday we’re celebrating. “Joy to the world, the Lord is come!”

David Mainse is the founder of 100 Huntley Street / Crossroads Christian Communications.

Originally published in Crossroads Compass, December 2009.

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