Read: John 13:1-38
“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.” John 13:34-35
The headlines in our passage today go from the dirty (and smelly!) work of washing feet, to Jesus predicting Judas’ betrayal, to Jesus predicting that Peter, one of His closest friends, would deny ever knowing Him. It’s a passage full of relational awkwardness as the confused disciples allow their Messiah to do a job that would normally be assigned to the lowest servant. Then one of their own number ends up leaving the supper after Jesus “outs” him as the one who was going to betray Him. And if that wasn’t enough to ruin their appetite, Peter gets called out in front of everyone, having been told that he would disown Jesus before the night was over. Serious drama at the Last Supper!
And yet, in the middle of all that tension, in spite of the relational angst, Jesus steers the narrative of the evening to love. Judas, who had been one of them for the past 3 years, had just walked out and was on his way to betray Jesus to the authorities. Tensions were high – I really doubt “love” was what the disciples were thinking about at that moment. But it’s what Jesus was thinking about.
In the face of a consuming hatred that would carry Him to the cross, Jesus’ priority was love. “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.”
That sounds great to me. I can love people right? Well, to be honest, I’m really good at loving people who are “lovable”. People who bug me? Not so much. So if the way I love people is how I’ll be recognized as a Christian – I’ve got some work to do!
I think the real work comes when we get hurt. When there’s relational awkwardness. It’s so much easier to walk away and tell ourselves it’s all good. We can forgive and forget, but the relationship is over. But Jesus didn’t walk away from Peter. How many times did Peter and the other disciples say or do dumb things – things that hurt? How many times do we say and do dumb things that hurt? And Jesus didn’t walk away from His relationship with Peter and He doesn’t walk away from His relationship with us.
Jesus tells us to love in the same way that He loves. Forgiving. Sacrificial. Humble. Real. Jesus sets the bar for love really high! And that’s why the world notices – because it’s just so different from what the world gives. The love of Jesus is a game changer for every person on this earth if only they can experience it. And the way they’ll experience it is through us.
Let’s bring it!
Lord Jesus, thank You for loving me “like that”. Help me to love others in the same way – not just the ones who are easy to love, but the ones who are difficult to love too. Please don’t let me get away with thinking I’m loving people when I’m really not – put a check in my spirit and show me my real heart. I love you Lord! In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.