Scripture: John 15:9-17 (alternate reading: John 21:20-25)
9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you; abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. 12 "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
13 Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide; so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17 This I command you, to love one another.
Meditation: How can love lead to immeasurable joy? Jesus tells his disciples that he is united with his Father in heaven in a perfect bond of mutual love, honor, and joy in one another. Their love is inseparable and unbreakable. That is why the Son delights in obeying the eternal Father who loves him with infinite love. The Father and Son invite all to join in their eternal bond of love and friendship. How can we enter into that unbreakable bond of love and friendship? Jesus, the Word of God who became flesh for us, shows us the way - keep my word, keep my commandments. If you abide in my word you will know my love and that love will fill you with immense joy - a joy which is unsurpassing, exalted, and unfading (2 Peter 1:3,8).
A new command of love
Jesus' commands are not hard or burdensome for those who know his love and mercy. The Lord fills us with his Spirit and transforms our hearts to be like his heart. Paul the Apostle reminds us that "God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us" (Romans 5:5). Jesus gave his disciples a new commandment - a new way of love and fruitful service which is empowered by his Holy Spirit. We are called to love and serve others just as Jesus has loved us with heartfelt compassion, kindness, and mercy. Jesus proved his love for us by laying down his life for us, even to death on the cross. Our love for God is a response to his exceeding love for us through the gift of his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
How do we prove our love for God and grow in the knowledge and depth of his unfathomable love? The same way Jesus did - by embracing the way of the cross each and every day. What is the cross in my life? When my will crosses with God's will, then his will must be done. If we accept God's way of love, truth, and wisdom, then we will discover the joy and freedom of loving, serving, and laying down our lives for others, just as Jesus freely laid down his life for each and every one of us. Do you know the joy of being united with the Lord Jesus in a bond of unbreakable love and peace?
A Friend of God
One of the special marks of favor shown in the Scriptures is to be called the friend of God. God called Abraham his friend (Isaiah 41:8), and God spoke with Moses as a "man speaks with his friend" (Exodus 33:11). Jesus, the Lord and Master, calls the disciples his friends rather than his servants (John 15:15). What does it mean to be a friend of God? Friendship certainly entails a relationship of love which goes beyond mere duty or loyalty. Scripture tells us that "a friend loves at all times; and a brother is born for adversity" (Proverbs 17:17).
The distinctive feature of Jesus' relationship with his disciples was his personal and unconditional love and care for them. He loved his own to the very end (John 13:1). He loved his disciples selflessly and generously because his love was wholly directed to their good. His love was costly and sacrificial - he gave not only the best he had, but all that he had. He gave his very own life in order to bring the abundant everlasting life of the eternal Father to those who believed in him.
The fire of Christ's love purifies and transforms
The love of Jesus Christ compels us to give our best not only to God but to our neighbor who is created in the image and likeness of God. God's love purifies and transforms us into the likeness of Christ. The Lord Jesus promises that those who abide in his love will bear much fruit for the kingdom of God - fruit that will last for eternity as well (John 15:16). If you seek to unite your heart with the heart of Jesus, your life will bear abundant fruit - the fruit which comes from the Holy Spirit who dwells within us - the fruit of love, joy, peace, goodness, and friendship which lasts forever (Galatians 5:22-23).
"Lord Jesus, fill me with your Holy Spirit and make me fruitful in your love, mercy, kindness, and compassion. May there be nothing in my life which keeps me from your love and joy."
1 Praise the LORD! Praise, O servants of
the LORD, praise the name of the LORD!
2 Blessed be the name of the LORD from this time forth and for evermore!
3 From the rising of the sun to its setting the name of the LORD is to be praised!
4 The LORD is high above all nations, and his glory above the heavens!
5 Who is like the LORD our God, who is seated on high,
6 who looks far down upon the heavens and the earth?
7 He raises the poor from the dust, and lifts the needy from the ash heap,
8 to make them sit with princes, with the princes of his people.
Daily Quote from the early church fathers: Love your enemy and make a friend, by Gregory the Great, 540-604 A.D.
"The unique, the highest proof of love is this, to love the person who is against us. This is why Truth himself bore the suffering of the cross and yet bestowed his love on his persecutors, saying, 'Father, forgive them for they know not what they do' (Luke 23:34). Why should we wonder that his living disciples loved their enemies, when their dying master loved his? He expressed the depth of his love when he said, 'No one has greater love that this, than that he lay down his life for his friends' (John 15:13).' The Lord had come to die even for his enemies, and yet he said he would lay down his life for his friends to show us that when we are able to win over our enemies by loving them, even our persecutors are our friends." (excerpt from FORTY GOSPEL HOMILIES 27)
from Common Bible: Revised Standard Version of the
Bible, copyright 1973, and Ignatius Edition of the
Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 2006,
by the Division of Christian Education of the National
Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States
of America. Used by permission. All rights
reserved. Citation references for quotes from the
writings of the early church fathers can be found here.
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