Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Monday, 1 February 21:
Matthew 26:31-32 – “Then Jesus said to them, ‘You will all fall away because of me this night. For it is written, “I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.” But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.’”
Jesus’ Passover evening with His disciples and The Lord’s Supper is a well-known event among Christians, but we couldn’t meditate enough on the example Jesus sets for us on this night. Think about it — Just before His imminent crucifixion, Jesus meets with those closest to Him, those with whom He has walked with through great challenges and through miraculous moments for the last three years; He sits with them knowing that one has already decided to betray Him to the malevolent authorities and knowing that the rest of them will abandon Him and deny Him. What does He do? He loves them. The Book of John tells us even more –
John 13:1-5 — Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him.”
In the face of unthinkable betrayal by those closest to Him, Jesus “loved them to the end,” even to the point of washing their feet as a servant. Not only did Jesus tell the disciples they would abandon and betray Him, He also told them that He wouldn’t abandon them but rather would be waiting for them on the other side of their betrayal – “But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.”
This is an amazing account of God’s mercy, grace, and unfailing love, perhaps hard for us to even imagine, and all this before Jesus suffers the cross for generations of undeserving, uncaring sinners like us. But John records, after Jesus had washed their feet, He said, “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.” (John 13:14-17)
Ok, did you catch that? Did your really let that sink in? We are to do what He did. How do we treat those who mistreat us in terrible ways? Do we humble ourselves in love as Jesus did, and do we continue to love others through and beyond betrayal or persecution even though it might cost us everything? Or, do we somehow think we are greater than our Master, that we deserve better treatment and justice than He did? Jesus reminds us, “a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him,” and then, Jesus counsels us, “If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.” So, do you want to be blessed? “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 5:44) Truly love them from your heart.
Of course, we all know how hard it can be to love those who hurt us, because it is so easy for us to lose perspective. Remember what John said, “Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, rose [and washed their feet]. In the face of betrayal, Jesus maintained an eternal perspective. He didn’t view circumstances and people the way others do. He knew the Father had already given Him all things, so Jesus wasn’t driven by fear, but rather driven by love. So often, we feel we need to fight, defend ourselves, and protect what is ours because we lose perspective and think those who mistreat us can really take something away from us which God cannot restore a thousand-fold. In Christ, we have riches beyond imagination, we have nothing to fear, nothing to be defensive about, and we are free to love in confidence, trusting God with whatever we surrender to others in His Name. Do you trust God enough to love the way He has commanded you to love?
- John 19:11 — Jesus answered him, “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above. Therefore he who delivered me over to you has the greater sin.”
- Romans 8:31-39 — What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
- Hebrews 11:6 — And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.
- 1 John 4:18 — There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.
- 1 John 4:16 — So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.
- 1 John 4:8 — Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.
- John 14:21; 15:12 — Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him…. This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
- Luke 6:27 — But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you….
- Romans 8:35 — Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?
- Titus 3:4-5 — But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy….
- 1 John 4:9-10 — In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
- John 13:34-35 — 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. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.
- 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 — Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 1 Feb 21: Meditate deeply on today’s readings, and pray that God will instill the reality of His love in your heart. Focus intently on loving others as Jesus loves you.