Today is the first day of Lent, the season in the liturgical calendar when we prepare our hearts for the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. Over the next 7 weeks, I’ll be reading through John 13-17, which contains Jesus’ final words to his disciples as he prepares them for what’s to come. Each week I’ll be sharing a reflection based on the Scriptures, and I’d like to invite you to journey with me through these chapters. If you’d like to follow along, make sure to subscribe to my blog at the bottom of this page. This first reflection is posted on the blog, but the following reflections will only be sent out through email to new and existing subscribers. I’d love to hear your thoughts and reflections along the way. Feel free to share them in the comments below or by replying to the future emails.
Read John 13:1-20
Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. – John 13:1b (ESV)
It was for love that God sent his only Son. It was for love that Jesus entered into our broken world clothed in flesh. It was for love that Jesus humbled himself and took on the nature of a servant as he walked throughout his life on earth. And now, it is for love that Jesus approaches the end of his life as he prepares to endure the cross.
In one sentence we read that Jesus has loved his own to the end, and in the next we read that one of his own is preparing to betray him. And yet, his love remains. As Jesus took off his outer garments, he knew his disciple would take on a treasonous plot. As he stooped to wash his feet, he knew his friend would rise to turn him in. As Jesus gave out the bread that symbolized his own body, he knew his companion would give up his soul for some silver. Still, he loved him to the end.
In the evangelical church, we often think of Jesus’ sacrifice in a very personal way. We think of him dying for those of us who profess to believe in him. But John’s gospel makes it clear that Jesus came to rescue a world who had turned against him. He came to his own who were created through him, yet his own did not receive him (John 1:10-11). He poured out his life for those who would deny and destroy him. Jesus came to save humanity from both the powers of evil and our own selfish ambition that leads to destruction.
Jesus didn’t just love when it was convenient or comfortable for him. He loved to the very end of himself. He loved when he knelt to wash his disciples’ feet rather than ordering one of them to wash his own. He loved when he told his disciples to put away their weapons when he could have taken up a sword to defend himself. He loved to the point of hanging on a cross with outstretched arms asking his Father to forgive those who had put him there.
Jesus showed us what love looks like, and then he summoned us to do the same. He told us to follow the example that he had laid out for us. Just as Jesus laid down his privilege, his power, and his very personhood for the sake of the world, he calls us to humble ourselves, to stop grasping for status, and to seek the good of others.
Jesus loved to the end. Will we follow him there?
O God of love,
You have loved us to the end.
Though we grasp for glory, you stoop to wash our feet.
Though we seek our own good, you give your life for the sake of all.
Though we divide and conquer, you draw us into your outstretched arms.
Forgive us for we know not what we do.
Teach us to love like you love.
Lead us to follow your example.
Help us to love to the end.
Remember to subscribe at the bottom of this page if you'd like to receive the remaining Lent reflections over the next 6 weeks. If you're already subscribed, there's no need to do anything more. You'll see the next reflection in your email inbox next week.