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April 12, 2017, 8:04 AM

As I Have Loved You



Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Many times the last thing a person says before he or she dies takes on a very special significance. It is as if the very essence of that individual is somehow summed up and compacted into a single message. I imagine this is how the earliest disciples felt about the last words of Christ. During their final meal, they were all at the table with Jesus. And then came those final words, "A new commandment I give to you; love one another" (John 13:34a).

There is actually nothing original or new in the mandate to “Love one another.” This commandment goes back much, much further than the Last Supper. It is a constant theme in the Old Testament. And Jesus had certainly repeated those words during his earthly ministry. What, then, was so special or nuanced about this final mandate? I believe it was the qualifying phrase that Jesus added. He said they were to love one another as I have loved you (John 13:34b). In other words, the unique way Jesus had incarnated the ancient ideal was to become the pattern of how His followers loved one another. So, "How did this One, who became what we are, so that we could understand more fully who God is, actually love?"

St. Augustine gives us two clues as to how Jesus loved. He once observed that Jesus loved each one he ever met as if there were none other in all the world to love. Jesus never failed to focus on the unique in each human being. Second, Jesus loved all as he loved each. The way he loved was not only individualized, but it was also incredibly universal. Jesus was never filled with contempt or disdain. Even when the words Jesus spoke assumed a note of harshness, it was because of a concern he felt for those he addressed. They were never words of hatred. We must never forget that the opposite of love is not anger or hostility but indifference. Jesus never turned away from another as if what happened to that one made no difference to him.

St. Augustine's words are a wonderful description of that unique way Jesus loved and invites us now to love one another. He loved each one he ever met as if there were none other in all the world to love, and he loved all as he loved each. Additionally, the good news for every one of us to hear today is not only that we are loved by God in this marvelous way, but also that this is our deepest identity and is a way we can choose – by the power of God’s Holy Spirit – to live our lives. You and I, with the help of God's unfailing grace, can grow into the wonder of loving each one as if there is none other in all the world to love and loving all as we love each.

Let us pray together: O God, thank you for giving your Son as atoning sacrifice for my sins. May your perfect love for me move and challenge me to be a person of perfect love for others.

You are Loved!

Pastor Jason Stevens


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