“Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end” John 13:1

We see it every once in awhile on social media or the news. The story of someone who has lost a friend, a mate, a partner and stands guard over the grave site or the body, unwilling to leave, held captive as it were by love.

blank-tombstone-26137514One of the more touching stories I remember was that of an elderly couple who passed away together in their hospital room holding hands. They had been together for nearly 75 years as I recall and they became, to me, the essence of ‘loving one another to the end.’

In John 13:34 Jesus tells us the true essence of love when he says, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.”

Jesus said these words just hours before he would be arrested and murdered innocently on the cross. As the disciples gathered together for what would be the final Passover Meal they would celebrate with Jesus, the focus of his teaching with them gathered around two words: Love and humility.

He showed them, at that last supper, a true example of love and humility by washing their feet. In fact, throughout his ministry Jesus showed us love that wasn’t just in word but in action.

Jesus loved the unlovely; reached out to those who we avoid; accepted those we criticize; touched those we consider untouchable, all in the name of love. When he said ‘I give you a new commandment’ the commandment wasn’t ‘new’ in the sense of something never before seen, but new in the sense that he showed us a ‘new way of considering love. God has always been love. God has always sought a love relationship with his children.

Jesus didn’t replace or change the commandment, “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” He filled it out and gave it clear illustration by saying, ‘Here is what I mean by loving one another. Watch me. Just as you want to be free, set others free; just as you want to experience life in its fullest, live in such a way as to help others find freedom; just as you want to be free of guilt; forgive others of the guilt of their sin towards you.

The Apostle John writes, in I John 3:16, “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers” Love is shown by how we treat ourselves and others.

Ephesians 5:29–30 says, “No one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body.”

When we love as Christ loves our lives are marked by joy. Hebrews 12:1-3 encourages us with these words, ‘Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.’

It was Jesus’ love for me and for you that gave him the strength to endure all he had to endure on the cross. It was Jesus love for me that proves what John tells us in John 13:1, ‘Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.’

With this perfect example of undying love before us we should not only be encouraged in our daily walk, we should be motivated to show that same kind of love Jesus has shown us. An unconditional live in which He laid his life down for us so that we could lay our lives down for others. Jesus truly loved us to the end.

PRAYER: “Lord Jesus, I thank you for the example of love you gave us as you walked among a rebellious and immoral people. I praise you for this love that is available to me even though I don’t deserve it. Forgive me for my hateful and judgmental attitudes. Help me to show the same love you showed me to those around me who need your touch today. In your precious name, Amen.