John 13: 31-35
When Judas was gone, Jesus said, “Now the Human One has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify the Human One in himself and will glorify him immediately. Little children, I’m with you for a little while longer. You will look for me—but, just as I told the Jewish leaders, I also tell you now—‘Where I’m going, you can’t come.’
“I give you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, so you also must love each other. This is how everyone will know that you are my disciples, when you love each other.
The feet of each one of the disciples are clean after having been washed by Jesus. Judas has left the scene to carry out the betrayal that will lead us to the public humiliation, the agony, the desperation and the grotesque death of the Peaceful Christ. The clock is ticking fast and Jesus knows, with certainty that this difficult road that he must face will certainly be the greatest devastation that the disciples have ever witnessed in their lives.
Jesus gets to the point. No parables. No wise sayings. Just the straight up truth that is an amazing summary of the Gospel. The new commandment. Love each other.
When death comes a knocking, and the Son of God has just a short time left to communicate the heart of his message to his disciples, he doesn’t say, “Believe the right things.” He doesn’t say, “Maintain personal and doctrinal purity.” He doesn’t say, “Worship like this or attend a church like that.” He doesn’t even say, “Read the scriptures,” or “Pray every morning when you wake up,” or “Preach the Gospel to every living creature.” He says, “Love one another.” That’s it. Love one another. How have we managed to botch it over the 2000 years since it was commanded by Jesus?
What is our saving grace?
Jesus doesn’t leave us alone and bereft. We are not direction-less in the wilderness. He gives us a road map, a clear and beautiful way forward: “As I have loved you.” Follow my example, he says. Do what I do. Love as I love. Live as you have seen me live.
Weep with those who weep. Laugh with those who laugh. Touch the untouchables. Feed the hungry. Welcome the child. Release the captive. Forgive the sinner. Confront the oppressor. Comfort the oppressed. Wash each other’s feet. Hold each other close. Tell each other the truth. Guide each other home.
“Love one another as I have loved you.” For our own sakes. And for the world’s.
Pastor Michael Williams