As I have loved you

Posted on April 5, 2012 by

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Today we remember the Last Supper.  The time of Jesus’ final instruction to the disciples. As Jesus knows what is ahead, he wants to leave his disciples with some images that will make the abstract concrete, and ultimately carry down through the ages. We immediately think of the passover meal that Jesus redefines with the breaking of the bread and the drinking of the wine, however, there is another image and teaching that we must not forget.

“[Jesus] got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around his waist.” John 13:4-5

He takes the place of humility and washes the disciples feet. He then says,

I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. John 13:15

Does Jesus want us to actually wash people’s feet? Maybe, but while actually washing people’s is a moving and wonderful experience, Jesus is actually setting this as a concrete example of the greater command he is calling us to. A few verses later says,

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35

Love expressed through service is not flashy.  It is often never noticed. It rarely is in the headlines, but it is what changes the world.  The world needs to see people loving and serving one another. I remember, as a young kid in church, singing the following refrain. It still echoes through my soul today.

The will know we are Christians by our love, by our love,
yes they’ll know we are Christians by our love

Jesus did not say they will know that we are his disciple by our great theological arguments and our positions on political issues. While I think we need to be theologically astute and socially engaged, the mark of being a Christian is that we love one another. To be clear, we are saved by grace through faith but our love for one another and the world is the visible marker of being a follower of Christ.

We know from 1 John 4:19  that we love because He first loved us.  This refers to the source and empowerment of our love for others. In John 13, however, Jesus commands us to love as Christ loved us, which means in the same way, not just because he loved us. Love is a verb, an action verb. We are to love sacrificially.  We are to give of ourselves.  It should hurt and cost us to love others, especially our enemies. As Jesus gave his life for us, we are called to give ourselves for others. This is why Jesus calls us to deny ourselves, pick up our cross daily, and follow him. In response to his love for us, we are called to lay down our lives for Him and His sake.  We must put aside our “rights,” our selfish desires, our agendas. We must pick up love, service, sacrifice, forgiveness and offer these to others.  As we receive his love, as we are transformed from the inside, as we are made alive, we are called, even commanded, to emulate Jesus’ love for us to other people. We are to love in the same way that Jesus loved. 

This Easter season, pray about and ask yourself the following?

What do you need to lay down?
What do you need to let go of?
Who do you need to serve?
Who needs your love and attention?
Who do you need to forgive?

Love others because and as Jesus loves you. Do it now!

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