John 13:1 “Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.”
Our experience of love is no comparison to the love God has for us. The love we experience here is flawed, temporary, and often a risk. We liken our experience to God’s love and fear He will stop loving us when we fail.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
That fragment at the end of the passage this morning captured my heart.
“…he loved them unto the end.”
A true friend will stick with you even after you have failed miserably, after everyone else has left, and they remain to help pick up the pieces. If we cannot find such a one here on this earth, God says He has an everlasting love for us.
Jeremiah 31:3 “The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.”
The agape, unconditional love we receive from our Heavenly Father is rare to find in the heart of man, let alone His children. Yet, God calls to love one another with that very same love.
John 13:34-35 “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”
God commands us to love the unlovely, those who’ve hurt us, and those who’ve hurt our loved ones. God goes even further in His request.
Matthew 5:43-45 “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.”
The only love that can survive under those conditions is the unconditional, agape love from the Father. When my flesh and my heart wants vengeance and justice, God calls for mercy and grace.
When I can calm my flesh and my heart, and hear the Spirit’s voice and follow His leading, it is then I can love as God asks me. Our enemy will do everything in his power to get us to respond in the flesh. Then, once we give in, he tells the world how God is not a loving God if this is how His children act.
Jesus was right.
John 13:35 “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”
We can have the will to love and exercise our character to try to love, but without God loving through us, we will fail miserably.
Jesus looked down from the cross and forgave the very ones who put Him there. We may not hang on a cross, but we will be tried, wounded, hurt, oppressed, and persecuted. How we act, not react, and love, not retaliate, will make all the difference in the world.
We must be ready for so many things.
We must put on our armor to be ready for a fight. We must have forgiveness at the ready for those who hurt us. We must have grace, mercy, and love when our flesh wants vengeance and justice. We must prepare to offer forgiveness to the very ones who hurt us.
It often makes no sense. But, God commands it. How He can use it may not be revealed until we see Him in Heaven.
Let us, His children, pray that we are open to allowing Him to love through us. In that way, we may pierce the hardest of hearts and see the miracle of salvation to one we thought impenetrable.
Only an everlasting love has that kind of power.