Daily D – John 13:34-35
John 13:34, 35 “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.” (New International Version)
Today is Maundy Thursday. Maybe you are like me and need a reminder of what the word Maundy means. This word comes to us from the Latin word mandatum meaning “command.” We translate it into English as “mandate.”
On the evening of what we call the Last Supper, Jesus washed the feet of the disciples. (See John 13:1-17.) Jesus called this “an example,” (verse 15). This was not the mandate or command Maundy Thursday commemorates. We find the mandate, the command, in the verses above.
Jesus calls this command “new.” There is more than one definition of “new.” See for yourself here: [https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/new]
Which New did Jesus have in mind? It was not what Deuteronomy 6:5 or Leviticus 19:18 declare. Nothing had changed in that regard. They were still to love God supremely and their neighbors as themselves. Jesus called these two the first and second greatest commandments. (See Matthew 22:37-40.) He said they accurately summarize all that is declared in the Ten Commandments.
John 13:1 tells us Jesus loved his disciples “to the end.” Jesus also loved them to the death. We often read and hear about how people love others “to the end” or “’til death us do part.”
What was different about Jesus’ love? It did not end at the cemetery gate. It was and is a love enduring, a love enfolding, a love eternal. Jesus loved to the uttermost.
In the words of Buzz Lightyear, Jesus loved them “To infinity – and beyond!”
Jesus did not withhold anything in how he loved his followers then. He does not withhold anything in how he loves us now. His love is perfect in every respect. We who are perfectly loved never have to fear his love growing cold, distant, or redirected exclusively to another.
John never got over what he experienced from Jesus. Take a look at 1 John 4:7-12. Then read on to verses 16-18. Maybe someone ought to make T-shirts and bumper stickers with the two-word slogan, “No fear.”
I love my wife, kids, grandchildren, coworkers, and friends. I am incapable of perfect love. Jesus is incapable of anything less than perfect love. My love leaves my loved ones in some measure of want. Jesus, my Shepherd and my King, loves me with a love so perfect I shall not know want.
So how do we love like Jesus? Here is a perfectly imperfect prescription. First, love everybody. Love ‘em all. Seek every person’s highest and best. Whatever our Father in heaven desires for a person, join him in seeking to provide it or to introduce them to it.
Second, love like Jesus. Withhold nothing in your power to give in edifying love. Third, cultivate this lifestyle and demonstrate it with always.
Fourth, perhaps most importantly for those of us who lack Jesus’ perfection, freely confess the truth of the lack in our love, the gaps in our abilities to provide love endless, love enduring, love perfected.
This will require us to study the nature of God’s love and how he expresses it. We will need to do a deep dive into what it means to be loved and to give love in a manner that is truly loving. This will require moving well beyond silly love songs and manufactured drama. This will require pondering the elements of what we call the Lord’s Supper. The bread is both symbol and sign. The cup holds so much more than juice. This is love at maximum expression.
Hmmmm . . . I will think on these things.
I will learn to live and love like Jesus.
Our Father, how can I respond to love so perfect? I will live and love like Jesus. Empower me to do so now and always. Amen.
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Deuteronomy 8:12-18 When you eat and are full, and build beautiful houses to live in, and your herds and flocks grow large, and your silver and gold multiply, and everything else you have increases, be careful that your heart doesn’t become proud and you forget the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the place of slavery. He led you through the great and terrible wilderness with its poisonous snakes and scorpions, a thirsty land where there was no water. He brought water out of the flint rock for you. He fed you in the wilderness with manna, which your ancestors had not known, in order to humble and test you, so that in the end he might cause you to prosper. You may say to yourself, ‘My power and my own ability have gained this wealth for me,’ but remember that the Lord your God gives you the power to gain wealth, in order to confirm his covenant he swore to your ancestors, as it is today.
Deuteronomy 6:4-9 “Listen, Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them be a symbol on your forehead. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your city gates.“
Deuteronomy 1:2, 3 It is an eleven-day journey from Horeb to Kadesh-barnea by way of Mount Seir. In the fortieth year, in the eleventh month, on the first of the month, Moses told the Israelites everything the Lord had commanded him to say to them.