Loving Father, may I have the power to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge (Ephesians 3:18-19).
Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon Iscariot to betray him. And during supper Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him.
“Boys, I love you more than the last number in the whole wide world!” “But Daddy, Daddy,” my little sons would feign protest: “There is no last number in the whole wide world!” That was our nightly bedtime ritual, always leading me to say: “I know there is no last number in the whole wide world, and that is how much I love you! You can’t count it!”
Jesus’ disciples need reassurance of love on this dark night as they enter the Upper Room. Today’s Scripture reassures that Jesus loves them to the uttermost: “Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.” John is a skillful, poetic Gospel writer, fond of using nuanced words pregnant with multiple meanings. He is doing that here in trying to describe Jesus’ love for His own who face the problems of this world. John selects the Greek word telos that is variously translated, “Jesus loved His own to the fullest degree,” as well as “Jesus loved His own to the end.” Bible scholars think that John’s ambiguity is intentional, as he wants people to know that Jesus loves His own “to the fullest extent” and “to the last”. Jesus loves us from the beginning to the end with the fullest measure of His love. At the end we will see the total revelation of His love to its most complete extent. Know that Jesus loves you to the uttermost all the way to the end.
John’s own experience of the telos love of Jesus is what transformed him from the tempestuous “son of thunder” to Christianity’s “apostle of love”. Thus, the word love is foundational to Jesus’ Upper Room Discourse and foundational to experiencing His peace and joy. The word love is used 28 times in John 13-16, but only six times in John 1-12. The emphasis is clearly on Jesus and the Father’s never-ending, boundless love for us!
I’ve always liked the poster depicting Jesus’ outstretched arms as the cross, and the caption, “I love you this much!” In the apostle John’s first letter he zeros in on the essence of love: “In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 4:10).
How much does God love you? How far will His love go? Look at the cross!
- Do I ever doubt Jesus’ love for me? If I do, why?
- Take a few moments to talk with Jesus about His love for you to the end.
O most merciful Redeemer, Friend and Brother, may I know Thee more clearly, love Thee more dearly, and follow Thee more nearly, day by day.
Richard of Chichester (1197-1253)