By Sally Lombardo
“Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek me, and just as I said to the Jews, so now I also say to you, ‘Where I am going you cannot come.’ A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:33–35)
We are still eavesdropping in the upper room where the disciples ate with Jesus at the Last Supper. Imagine their sorrow when Jesus said, “Where I am going you cannot come” (13:33). None of us like being told that we cannot go somewhere with a person we love. We hate when someone draws the line. The disciples likely had no idea what Jesus meant. They probably argued with him, saying something like, “But we’ve gone everywhere with you—cities and tiny towns, over mountains and into Samaria! Why would that change now?”
The disciples may have wondered if Jesus was going to leave them for another set of friends. Jesus knew their fears and anxieties. He protected them, gave them purpose, and showed them how to heal the sick and speak the truth. He had shown them how to truly care for others. So after this jarring statement, Jesus said: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another” (John 13:34). The disciples might have looked at one another and said, “This isn’t new! Hasn’t he said this before?” What they may have missed is that this time the commandment would be the answer to their fears. It would comfort them in their loss.
It occurred to me recently that most of us experience fear in life. We fear the future and what might happen, we fear someone leaving us, or we fear that things just might not work out. But God’s love is the answer to all these fears. He has already proven his love for us, “in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). There is no greater love than the Father sending the Son to die for sinners like us.
Now we can extend his love to the people around us—our families, spouses, children, friends, and even our enemies. Learning how to love well means loving the way that Jesus loves, by showing love to others even when it’s hard. God shows us how to redeem our fear through love, his love that overrides all fear. Eventually, one of Jesus’s own disciples would write, “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8). Thankfully, Jesus knew.
Reflection: When you are afraid, how do you remember God’s love for you? What verse can you memorize this week to remind yourself and others of the everlasting love of God? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Let's face it, the Christian life is hard. Relationships take work. Christians forget. Sometimes it is tempting to go back to the days when God was not the center of our lives - to backslide. We are all faced with tremendous pressures to drift away from intimacy with Jesus and the community of the Church. However, the Lord invites us to pay attention, to move forward, to draw near, and to live lives of worship. Draw Near: Hebrews on Christian Worship is a small group Bible study on the Book of Hebrews intended to lead participants into a deeper intimacy with the living God in the context of New Testament worship. Draw nearer to God in authentic worship today!
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