Welcome to a Special Edition Daily Digest!
During Holy Week we have six special Daily Digest Devotions for you. These devotions will be posted at 6am daily from Monday, April 11th through Saturday, April 16th. In addition to the Daily Digest, tune in to Facebook Live each day at noon for a discussion of the day's topic.
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.
This Holy Week at Hope, we’re continuing on our journey of exploring the tensions of the gospel
message with a look at the “new commandment” issued by Jesus in the gospel according to
Jesus is approaching the end of his time with the disciples here on Earth and like any great
teacher, He leaves them, and us, with a final take away thought. It’s Jesus saying “if you
remember nothing else from these last few years, remember this.” John 13:34 — “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.” To feel the full effect of what this means, we need to look at the example
Jesus set before and after issuing this command.
In the first part of this same chapter in John, we get an intimate look into one of the greatest
lessons Jesus gives to his disciples…
1 Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out
of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the
end. 2 During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon
son, to betray him, 3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and
that he had come from God and was going back to God, 4 rose from supper. He laid aside his
outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. 5 Then he poured water into a basin
and began to wash the disciple's feet and wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around
him. 6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” 7 Jesus
answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will
understand.” 8 Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do
not wash you, you have no share with me.” 9 Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only
but also my hands and my head!” 10 Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not
need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one
of you.” 11 For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “Not all of you are
clean.”12 When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place,
he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? 13 You call me Teacher and
Lord, and you are right, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your
feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you
also should do just as I have done to you.”
Reading this account, the first detail that struck me was Jesus washing the feet of Peter. Jesus,
being fully God and fully man, knew Peter’s heart and saw the ungodly pride that ruled his heart.
Pride that would lead him to react with violence in the name of the one who preached peace
when it came time for Jesus’ arrest. Jesus could probably already hear Peter protecting his ego
by denying he had anything to do with the one he had once called “Lord.” Even as Jesus sought
to serve, Peter’s pride tried to deny this gift of love. As Jesus washed the feet of his friend, he
saw all that was in Peter’s heart and still demonstrated his love with passionate humility. He did
the same for Judas knowing that Judas would return this offering with a betrayal. And then he
extends the call to us: “that you also should do just as I have done to you.”
Often when we hear the commandment to love, it calls to mind Jesus’ teaching to “turn the other
cheek” (Matt. 5:38-39) which we have twisted to mean “don’t react.” But simply “not hating” or
“tolerating” someone is not the same as the love we are called to.
Picture a person in your life who is difficult to love. Maybe it’s a willful child. A patronizing aunt.
A roommate tone-deaf to social cues. One of the many nameless, faceless drivers who hit the
breaks too fast or, God forbid, cut you off in the Chick-fil-A drive through (it’s a basic zipper
merge, people). Jesus would wash their feet. He would get on their level, find the dirtiest, least
flattering act of service, and honor them with complete and perfect love. And of course, we find
an even greater example set by Christ after giving us this commandment - that he laid down his
life for each of us in an act of true and perfect love. Love brought him to the cross meant for us.
If we are truly followers of Christ, this commandment to love should bring us to sacrifice and
humble ourselves to those around us.
For those of you thinking to yourselves, “but I’m not Jesus, I can never be perfect,” I totally get
it. But there is no exception to the mandate, “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your
feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet.” Again in verse 34 “just as I have loved you,
you also are to love one another.” We continue to strive for the Jesus kind of love. It’s a love that
is foreign to the culture we live in. While culture says personal happiness and wellbeing
should come before all else, Jesus says love radically and sacrificially. While society teaches
everything, including love, must be worked for and earned, Jesus models an unconditional love
that is given without reserve and without end.
As we prepare our hearts for Easter, I encourage you to follow this example set by Jesus and
prayerfully pursue ways to love through humble service the way our Lord and Teacher did.
What are some ways you have experienced Christ's love in your life?
Has there ever been a time when you failed to follow Jesus' commandment to love His way? What would you do differently?
In what ways have you been able to love others like Christ called us to?
Many of us, like Peter, reject acts of service because we see ourselves as undeserving and are tempted to think we know better than the One who offers us perfect love. What are some ways you can accept love (service) from others?
If you're answering these questions with a partner or group, ask each other for ways you can serve one another and be honest about the needs in your own life.
Join Hannah today at noon on Facebook Live for a discussion of today's devotion.