Love. We are so flippant with this word. We use it as an amped up description of our likes. “I like pie but I love ice cream.” “I like walking through the woods but I love walking on the beach.” You get the picture. We all do it.
But love means more than an amplified expression of our preferences. And love is more than a feeling. It is a choice. Love is costly. It requires time, humility and sacrifice. Its beauty is realized when it is proven by actions.
We are going to read a lot about love throughout the remaining pages of John’s gospel. Jesus explains, describes, and demonstrates love as He prepared His disciples for His upcoming death.
The first verse of chapter 13 says, Jesus knew the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, He now showed them the full extent of his love.
Jesus knew of His limited time to help His friends understand what they could not see on their side of the cross. And He had last minute instructions to prepare them for what could be expected as they moved forward after His death. Why? Because He loved them and knew the fear, grief and disappointment they would experience.
The next verses are very descriptive of Jesus’ preparation for His teaching lesson. I believe every word is intentional.
First, He got up from the meal.
Next, He took off His outer clothing.
He then wrapped a towel around His waist.
He poured water into a basin.
He then washed His disciples’ feet.
Finally, He dried them with the towel wrapped around Him.
Years ago I read this passage and experienced one of those “aha” moments. I was very aware of my mediocre organizational skills. Truly! I once took an exam to evaluate skills, and I scored 0 when it game to organizational skills. Zero!
I first identified my deficiency when I accepted the position of directing Women’s Ministries. I knew I loved God and I loved women…but that was all I had to offer. Thankfully, God prepared the way. Lisa was already there. We quickly became a team. All I had to do was say, “Lisa, I have an idea.” She would promptly whip out her notepad and pen and begin putting all the pieces together. I relied a lot on her.
It was during this period, I read this passage and noticed how specific the Bible was about Jesus’ preparation for ministry. Things don’t just happen without preparation. Lisa and I diligently worked together to prepare for every event, Bible study, conference and meeting. Preparation was a crucial component to fulfilling God’s plans. And the preparation paved the way to producing fruit.
I no longer serve in that capacity but the lesson I learned long ago motivates me to study Scripture. First and foremost, I read the Bible so I can know God and His character. Second, I read so I can know myself in light of who He is and in light of His desires for me and my character. And I read because His Word prepares me for what this life throws at me.
I believe that Jesus is still in the business of preparing us for the unknown. I think He still wants to show us how to navigate through life without fear. And He uses His living Word. This is His gift, an expression of love for us.
There is no way I could have adequately prepared physically for this pandemic we are facing today. In the midst of it, I still am not sure if I have adequate resources. I could never have foreseen the far reaching ramifications of COVID-19.
But emotionally and spiritually, I am ok. I won’t say I’m great because…who can honesty make such a claim? But the fear that tries to creep into my spirit is quickly replaced by faith. I know the peace that surpasses all understanding. I know the end of my story. And it’s a “happily ever after” ending.
Thought to ponder:
How well have I prepared for such a time as this?