The Branch - May 19, 2019
May 26, 2019
Have we been here before?
The passage from John’s Gospel begins: “When Judas had left them …” Wait, what? Didn’t Judas leave to betray Jesus during the Last Supper? That was five weeks ago!
The Gospel reading this week, like last week, is actually an account taken from before the death and resurrection of Jesus. Instead of the institution of the Eucharist, John writes about the washing of the feet (John 13 1-20) and predicting the betrayal of Judas (John 13 21-30). After Judas leaves, Jesus gives a final command to his disciples: Love one another.
Close your eyes for a moment… ok, maybe not since you wouldn’t be able to keep reading. Imagine yourself at Passover sitting at the table with Jesus. Jesus has washed the dust and grime from your feet. One of your friends, Judas, has departed early. And He has just commanded you to love one another. Can you draw the connection between His actions and His words? He humbled himself to be a servant out of love.
I must admit that the sentiment of love seems at odds with the accounts that we receive from the Acts of the Apostles in the time following Easter. I spent some time doing research this week reading through Acts looking for any mention of the word love. I figured that as the last command that Jesus gave to the disciples before his death and resurrection that it had to make an appearance in Acts.
Do you know how many times love is mentioned? Zero.
In fact, the more I was reading through Acts, I was astonished at how much logic and reason was incorporated in the writings. The readings discuss the spread of the early church and overcoming objections in the lands where the disciples travelled.
So, why is there no mention of love? I can see two potential reasons:
1) The command that Jesus left with the Disciples is closely related to the actions that preceded it. He served us out of his immeasurable love for us. He was ordering his disciples to carry on that same service out of love for others. How else can you justify the sacrifices made by the leaders of the early church? The very command of Jesus is carried out by the actions of the disciples; after all, actions do speak louder than words.
2) As an early missionary (evangelist) of the church, if you wandered into a land that did not witness the life and miracles of Jesus, would you start off by telling everyone that they are loved unconditionally? Probably not. If I am already loved unconditionally, they I have no need to change, right? Wrong. It was essential then (as it is now) to be able to share our faith using reason and logic.