Over the next several weeks, we will read together through chapters 13-17 of John’s Gospel, known as the Farewell Discourse. This long passage records Jesus’ actions and words during the Last Supper with his disciples. He was preparing to die on the cross and wanted to leave his followers with a final set of teachings so they would be ready to carry on his ministry in the church age. Now, Jesus’ words come to us, and I hope you will find them uplifting.
Before the Passover celebration, Jesus knew that his hour had come to leave this world and return to his Father. He had loved his disciples during his ministry on earth, and now he loved them to the very end. It was time for supper, and the devil had already prompted Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God. So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him.
We like some endings but can’t stand others. We celebrate at the end of a long separation from someone we love. We will rejoice when the COVID pandemic finally comes to an end. But we’re sad when we reach the end of a good book or the end of a nice vacation. We fear the uncertainty that comes with the end of a job. We feel heartbroken at the end of a relationship. We grieve death at the end of life.
John tells us that Jesus loved his followers “to the very end.” John was in the room that evening, heard Jesus’ words, saw what He did, even let our Lord wash his feet. Each action and word John recorded from that evening illustrates Jesus’ love for his disciples. Jesus loved them to the very end of his life when He suffered and died on the cross. He loved them to the very end of their lives, some dying martyr’s deaths, others succumbing to illness or age. In the same way, Jesus looked down through the generations and loved you and me as He died for our sins, and He will love us to the very end of our lives. He will even love us to the very end of eternity, a time that will never come. Jesus will love us for ever and ever. In that sense, what John really meant is that Jesus showed his followers, including us, the unending vastness and the complete perfection of his love. Jesus showed his love by washing the disciples’ feet, by promising the comfort of the Holy Spirit, by assuring us that He would overcome the world’s troubles, by asking God to bless and protect his church, and finally by going to the cross where He took our sins on himself and opened the door to eternal life for all who come to him in faith.
Jesus loves you to the very end. No matter what. May that promise give you strength for today and hope for eternity. The love of God is the mightiest force in this world, and through Jesus, it flows abundantly over your life from beginning to end.
Thank You, Jesus, for loving me. Thank You for showing me perfect love through Your death on the cross. Remind me of Your unending love when I feel weak, and teach me to love others the way You love me. I pray in Your holy name. Amen.
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Pastor Mike Mirakian