Saturday, June 13, 2015

the behavior of true love (part 6)

It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he 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 him.

He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”

Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”

“No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”

Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”

“Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”

Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.

When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them. (John 13:1-17)

As we wrap up this blog series in John 13, let's focus on the final lesson our Teacher demonstrated to his twelve within this scriptural account. Remember, everything Christ did during this last meal was symbolic of His willing sacrifice and the future security of His followers. As such, once Jesus finished giving these men the good news of His new covenant and upcoming kingdom... once He ceremonially broke bread and drank wine, giving them means to remember His earthly sacrifice as our Passover Lamb... then Jesus shared one final lesson to show us how those in His new kingdom are called to behave.

This is Jesus, the King of kings, who lowers Himself so that men might be redeemed. The Master who confidently knows exactly who He is in the eyes of His Father, and is able to extend that same confidence to His beloved friends - friends that He would love to the end! Soon, His earthly goal would be complete. Soon, His death on the cross would guarantee our eternal freedom from sin and death. Do we fully understand this, and what He has done for us?

Here, our Teacher takes off His coat, pulls up His sleeves, and wraps a towel around his waist. He has come ready to wash our feet so that we may walk clean once again. He is ready to serve us. Ready to display His humility in the most demeaning and holy way in order to prove to us that His love is unchanging. This is the behavior of true love, isn't it? For to fully extend love to another, one must be willing to surrender over themselves... their whole self! One must humbly approach their beloved with kindness and gentleness - girding themself as a slave so that the other might be lifted higher. This is the true love in which God's kingdom stands, and Jesus is it's Cornerstone. His love fulfills all requirements of God's law. His love never fails. His love promises life to the fullest!

Yes, in this lesson, Jesus calls each of us to know Him as a close, intimate friend. His love assures us that servanthood and obedience to His Word are the only proven Way to know victory and remain healthy. He urges us to always, ALWAYS, believe His truths. To never waiver from His plan. To reject the enemy who lurks and preys about, and instead focus on His coming kingdom. Focus always on the Passover Lamb! Forever remember His body, His blood, His sacrifice, His promise to save!

And, if we are indeed His friends (if we love Jesus with all our heart, soul, mind, strength), we will keep His commands. We will mirror His example and gird our hearts in humility. We will become slaves for His good. Why? So that Jesus might be lifted higher and higher! For the only thing that counts in God's economy is our faith expressing itself through Christ's love. As citizens of His coming kingdom, we must recognize and adhere to this new Way of thinking. We must live our lives as lambs following the leadership of our Shepherd. We must love as Christ loves us... to the end!

So, what does true love look like? It looks like the God of the universe washing our feet, ladies! It looks like the Savior dying on the cross to save His people. It looks like the Almighty Father surrendering His most precious Son in order to assure His beloved a celebration feast in His holy presence.

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure. (1 John 3:1-3)

But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did. (1 John 2:5-6)

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. (1 John 4:7-16)

We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister. (1 John 4:19-21)

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. (1 John 3:16)

And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. (1 John 3:23)

For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself. (Galatians 5:14)

Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them. (John 14:21)

This is true love. Not that we loved God, but that He loved us! Yes, God's love is the standard - the Way of the new! And, because His love is patient... we must behave patiently. Because His love is kind... we too must behave kindly. We must not envy. We must not boast. We must not be proud. We must not dishonor. In Christ's love, we are no longer to be self-seeking or easily angered. For in Christ's kingdom, love keeps no record of wrongs... nor does it delight in evil. Instead, Jesus encourages us to rejoice in the truth! Rejoice in the Way, the Truth, and the Life! Rejoice and be glad in Him... everyday!

How blessed a friend we have in Jesus who loves us to the end! How great is the Father's love for us that, in Christ, nothing can separate us from His presence! Today, let us embrace this new kingdom and model the perfect, holy behavior of true love!

Today, let us rejoice and LOVE LOVE LOVE! In Jesus' Holy Name, Amen!



© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

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