For the LOVE.
I’ve been preparing for a class I'm teaching soon and part of a passage I’ve been studying has crawled off the page and taken root in my spirit. I can't stop thinking about it and I cry every time I read it. Duh, I know that's usually not saying much for me. I just finished tearing up because the old couple next to me on this plane is so adorable it made me cry. Y'all, they are so sweet and I just can't.
But back to Jesus. Back to our passage.
It's such a simple sentence yet so profound. It’s beautifully written, sincerely stated and deeply impactful. If we'll let it be.
“Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.” (John 13:1)
The “his” and “he” in the passage is Jesus.
The “own” and “them” in the passage is you and me.
The timing of the passage is near the end of Jesus’ ministry here on earth. Right before his death.
But the implications reach so much further than a particular day or year or season of Jesus’ life.
They reach all the way to you and me today.
Love was the motivation for all that Jesus ever did.
And we were "who" his love was always meant to reach.
Can you imagine making every single decision, each minute of every day based on love? And more specifically, love for someone else?
From the moment we wake up in the morning, immediately thinking of how we can show and express love to the first person we are going to see. And as we go about our day always looking for opportunities to show love to everyone that crosses our path.
Everything that God has ever done, every move Jesus made on this earth - it’s all been motivated by love. God’s love for his own. God's love for you and for me.
If you’ve been following along for very long you know London. Yes, it’s an amazing city but more than that he’s my beloved dog. I adore him. We rescued each other 6 years ago and I can’t imagine my life without him. I love him so much! He is always good to me. Well, yes, he has left his “mark” on more than just my heart but still, he doesn’t ever try and hurt me. He loves me unconditionally and he is always there for me. And I love him SO MUCH!
His favorite thing to do every day is take a walk. But sometimes I just don’t feel like taking him on a walk. I know he looks forward to it. He loves it. I love him, but sometimes I make a selfish decision based more on love for myself than love for him. He also loves for people to pet him. He doesn’t discriminate. Anyone with hands will do, or a foot even. Just be touching him with some part of your body. When you take a break he whimpers and whines. Sometimes I let him whimper. I choose to ignore him until he stops. I really do love him! I just sometimes need a break!
God has never, ever done that with you or me.
He never has, nor ever will he need a break.
He’s never taken a few minutes or a day to himself, to be selfish. You'll never catch him locked in the bathroom for some "me time". (We've all been there!)
He never just disregards what we need.
He’s loved us all along.
He will love us to the end.
To the end of this day. To the end of this trial. To the end of our life here on Earth. and then some.
He will love us to the end.
How remarkable that we show love so imperfectly and yet still get to receive the perfect love of a perfect Father.
It means I have a lot of room to love a little better. Sure, with London. But how about with my husband? My kids? My friends?
Your spouse? Family? Friends?
Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.
Having loved our own who are in our world, we loved them to the end.
Who has he placed in our world to love?
How can we love them well?
The original word used for “love” in this John 13 passage is the exact same one that we find in the very famous John 3:16 passage:
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,”
God so loved that he gave his Son. Jesus so loved that he gave his life.
We are talking about a love that inspires action. God didn’t just feel love for you. He expressed it. Over and over and over and over. And over.
He is expressing his love for you even today.
So it begs the question of us...
How am I expressing my love?
But there is one big catch that we cannot miss if we are going to love anybody the way God loves us.
God's love is FOR us but it's not ABOUT us.
If God's love for me were about me then it would vary day to day based on how I am doing. He would love me a whole lot on Sunday mornings when I am at church worshiping him, praising him, thanking him for all he has done for me. He might not love me so much Sunday afternoon when I lose my mind watching the Cowboys blow another 4th quarter lead. He might not love me so much when that car decides I'm not allowed to get over in that space they own on the road in front of them EVEN THOUGH I have my blinker on and I'm waving and trying to be nice. Until they don't let me in and then bad things happen inside my vehicle that I won't confess right here and now. We're working on it.
If God's love were about me he wouldn't be able to love me in those not so pretty moments. But thankfully his love for me is about him. And he doesn't have those moments so he loves me perfectly, always.
So, our example shows us that our love for others can't be about them. Yikes. It makes so much sense though! If my love for others is based on them that is going to be a roller coaster for everyone involved!
I'll love you if and when you do what I want, act how I want, say what I want and generally live your life the way I think you should. Ok?
In our original John 13 passage Jesus is about to wash the disciples feet. Soon his love for them is going to be expressed in a very public and most sacrificial way on the cross. But first it's going to be expressed in a private room on his hands and knees.
Obviously the picture of Jesus dying on the cross for our sins is the most profound image of our faith. That and the empty tomb, the fact that Jesus rose from that grave and conquered death are the foundations of who we are and what we believe.
But this picture, this moment, we can't miss either.
Jesus, in that room, on that floor, showing his love by washing the muddy, dusty feet of twelve men.
Twelve men. Not eleven. Twelve.
Judas was in the room. Judas the betrayer of Jesus. Judas who moments later would leave and eventually meet up with the soldiers that he would ultimately take to capture Jesus so he could be arrested, condemned and murdered.
Jesus washed Judas' feet that night.
Sit with that for a moment.
Then, try and justify a situation where you can't show love to someone because they...well, anything.
If God's love for us was about us at all only 11 pairs of feet would have been washed that night. Actually, none of the disciples feet would have been washed if it were about us. None of them were worthy. None of us are either. What should have happened is twelve men should have been lined up to wash Jesus' feet. That's what should have happened. But God's never been worried about our "should have" moments. He overlooks them all.
My kids should have done this. My husband should have done that. It would have been nice if my friends would have done this. But they didn't.
Can I choose for my love for them to not be about them? It's not about me either. So, that leaves God. Our perfect God. Can I let my love for others just be all about him?
Love them as he loves me.
Can we try? We won't be perfect. Remember that's never the goal. We just keep going to back to him. Back to our source and example for it all.
He loves you as his own.
And he’ll love you to the end.