Love to the End: An Excerpt from Lent Reflections
Today is the first day of Lent, the liturgical season in which we remember the life and death of Jesus in order to prepare our hearts to celebrate the resurrection. I've put together a weekly devotional to help you engage with Christ in this season, and below you'll find an excerpt from the devotional. This resource journeys through Jesus' last words to his disciples in John 13-17. If you'd like to follow along throughout the duration of Lent, you can order your digital copy of Lent Reflections here.
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 finally, it was for love that Jesus prepared to endure the cross.
In one sentence we read that Jesus loved his own to the end, and in the next we read that one of his own was preparing to betray him. And yet, his love remained. 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 Western Christianity, 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. Amen
Order your copy of Lent Reflections here.