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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1 Chronicles 22:9-13 But you will have a son who will be a man of peace and rest, and I will give him rest from all his enemies on every side. His name will be Solomon, and I will grant Israel peace and quiet during his reign. He is the one who will build a house for my Name. He will be my son, and I will be his father. And I will establish the throne of his kingdom over Israel forever.’ “Now, my son, the Lord be with you, and may you have success and build the house of the Lord your God, as he said you would. May the Lord give you discretion and understanding when he puts you in command over Israel, so that you may keep the law of the Lord your God. Then you will have success if you are careful to observe the decrees and laws that the Lord gave Moses for Israel. Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged.”