October 19, 2020
So Jesus told him, “What you are about to do, do quickly.” But no one at the meal understood why Jesus said this to him. Since Judas had charge of the money, some thought Jesus was telling him to buy what was needed for the festival, or to give something to the poor. As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out. And it was night.
When he was gone, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man is glorified and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will glorify the Son in himself, and will glorify him at once.
“My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Simon Peter asked him, “Lord, where are you going?”
Jesus replied, “Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.”
Peter asked, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.”
Then Jesus answered, “Will you really lay down your life for me? Very truly I tell you, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!
A new command. We are on the eve of the end and Jesus gives his disciples a new command: “love one another.”
What’s new about this? This command is all over the Bible. Jesus had certainly said this kind of thing before. Love one another. Big whoop! We want to say, “But we’ve already heard that, Jesus.”
Jesus means a different kind of love. He’s talking about a love that is more than just love. And isn’t that the problem? Love has come to mean so many things that it means little to nothing anymore. The truth? It’s always been that way. Jesus refuses to leave it at “love one another.” He goes on to define what he means when he says love.
As I have loved you, so you must love one another.
With five small words, Jesus explodes this tired old word as we understand it: “As I have loved you.” What if we took these five little words and went back and inscribed them at the top of every page of the Gospel of John? That would be a good excercise in interpretation.
There are at least three steps in the progression toward this kind of love. First, we love others for our own sake. Second, we learn to love others for their sake. Third, by the grace and mercy of God alone, we will learn to love others for God’s sake. To love another person for God’s sake means to love them with the very same love with which Jesus has loved us. In this sense, it is impossible to love another person for God’s sake apart from God.
The primary ministry and mission of the Holy Spirit is to inhabit our whole lives to the end that we be given to loving others as Jesus has loved us. This is the entire meaning of sanctification—of being made holy as God is holy—loving others as Jesus has loved us. This is the sum total of the will of God: to love others as Jesus has loved us. Let’s give John Wesley the last word on this subject today:
[One cause of] a thousand mistakes is [this:] . . . not considering deeply enough that love is the highest gift of God; humble, gentle, patient love; that all visions, revelations, [or] manifestations whatever, are little things compared to love; and that all [other] gifts . . . are either the same with or infinitely inferior to it.
[Y]ou should be thoroughly [aware] of this—the heaven of heavens is love. There is nothing higher in religion; there is, in effect, nothing else; if you look for anything but more love, you are looking wide of the mark, you are getting out of the royal way. And when you are asking others, “Have you received this or that blessing?” if you mean anything but more love, you mean wrong; you are leading them out of the way, and putting them [on] a false scent. Settle it then in your heart, that from the moment God has saved you from all sin, you are to aim at nothing more but more of that love describe in the thirteenth [chapter] of [First] Corinthians. You can go no higher than this, till you are carried into Abraham’s bosom.
(From A Plain Account of Christian Perfection [Franklin, TN: Seedbed Publishing, 2014], 93.)
Abba Father, we thank you for your Son, Jesus, who takes us to the next level of love and shows us it is not up but down, at the feet of others. Fill us with this love and train us to love others as you have loved us. Come, Holy Spirit, and reveal to the depths of our souls just how profoundly Jesus has loved us. We pray in Jesus’ name, amen.
1. Our love for others will not exceed the depths of our knowing of Jesus’ love for us. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest, where do you rate your knowing beyond knowledge of the love of God in Jesus Christ?
2. Why is it necessary for Jesus to qualify for us the meaning of love?
3. What holds you back from loving others with this kind of love? What can be done to grow beyond it?
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For the Awakening,