The period between Easter and Pentecost is referred to by some Christians as the Great Fifty Days. It is often a time for followers of Jesus to contemplate and practice how they might live to glorify God as Easter people in a community.
In four brief scripture verses, Jesus encrypted some hard to decipher messages about the glory of God with one new, yet simple and straightforward, commandment: “Love one another.” Jesus leaves specific instructions with the disciples and directs them to focus on who he is as the Son of Man and what they are to do when Jesus is no longer physically present with them. Most of them might now finally understand what Jesus is giving them as the seeds they would need to grow and blossom into true Christ followers. Some of them might not have given full weight to Jesus’ words until they experienced Judas’s kiss, Peter’s denials, and their own fear as they returned to the upper room after Jesus’ sacrificial act of love for them on the cross.
So, how much weight do we give to these last words of Jesus? It’s powerful to see how God ushered into history the command Jesus gave in this passage from John. It began as far back as the book of Leviticus. There, God gave as part of the law these words: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (19:18). Then, Jesus quoted those words as part of the Great Commandment: a combination of the Shema from Deuteronomy (to love God) and the command to love neighbor (see Mark 12:29-31). Finally, though, here in John’s Gospel, Jesus gives added emphasis and clarity to the commandment: “I give you a new commandment, love one another . . . just as I have loved you.” We are to love others the way Jesus did, the way he would, the way he will—if we are able to live out truly what he commands. After all, loving as Jesus loved is the true praise of God and the only way “everyone will know you are [Jesus’] disciples.”
Loving and patient Guide, teach us to love as Jesus loves. In his name. Amen.
Change can be difficult. It is easy to get comfortable with what is familiar. In Acts, some in Jerusalem criticize Peter for having fellowship with the Gentiles. Peter explains that his actions are not his own idea but are inspired by a vision from God. This change leads to the spread of the gospel. Revelation speaks of a new heaven and a new earth. God cares for the earth that God created, but at the end of time everything will be changed and made better. In John, Jesus gives his disciples a new commandment, namely that they should love one another as he has loved them. This is how others will know that they are truly Jesus’ disciples. Psalm 148 is not about change but is pure praise for the works of the Lord.
Read Acts 11:1-18. God calls Peter to initiate change. How do you respond to changes in your church’s culture? How do you discern what changes are from God?
Read Psalm 148. The next time you sing, focus on praising God and sharing God’s love through your words and melody.
Read Revelation 21:1-6. How do you live a full life while waiting for the new heaven and new earth?
Read John 13:31-35. In the wake of betrayal, Jesus calls his followers to sacrificial love. When have you needed to heed the call to this type of love?
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