It’s one of the most famous commands in Scripture. Even those who have barely cracked a Bible open in their lives are familiar with verses like these. The gospel reading this week won’t surprise you. It’s advice we hear often:
Love one another.
What’s amazing about this scripture is where it’s located in the story of John’s gospel. Immediately after Judas left the Passover meal to betray Jesus, we find Jesus urging his friends to love one another. And it wasn’t a faceless person, but their friend who had just left the group.
He was saying, “That guy who just betrayed us — that guy you treated as a brother who is this very moment stabbing us in the back — love THAT guy.” Because Judas was one of them; he had just lost his way. It’s easy to love those who love us. It is another to actively love those who oppose us.
Who plays the role of Judas in your life? Who actively stands in your way? Because it is that person that we are called to love. Not just our family. Or our neighbors. But the one who might return our love with hate.
Because it is in loving that person that people will know that we are the disciples of Jesus. May we do our best to love the Judas in our lives today.
As soon as Judas left the room, Jesus said, “The time has come for the Son of Man to enter into his glory, and God will be glorified because of him. And since God receives glory because of the Son, he will soon give glory to the Son. Dear children, I will be with you only a little longer. And as I told the Jewish leaders, you will search for me, but you can’t come where I am going. So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”
Soon the news reached the apostles and other believers in Judea that the Gentiles had received the word of God. But when Peter arrived back in Jerusalem, the Jewish believers criticized him. “You entered the home of Gentiles and even ate with them!” they said.
Then Peter told them exactly what had happened. “I was in the town of Joppa,” he said, “and while I was praying, I went into a trance and saw a vision. Something like a large sheet was let down by its four corners from the sky. And it came right down to me. When I looked inside the sheet, I saw all sorts of tame and wild animals, reptiles, and birds. And I heard a voice say, ‘Get up, Peter; kill and eat them.’
“‘No, Lord,’ I replied. ‘I have never eaten anything that our Jewish laws have declared impure or unclean.’
“But the voice from heaven spoke again: ‘Do not call something unclean if God has made it clean.’ This happened three times before the sheet and all it contained was pulled back up to heaven.
“Just then three men who had been sent from Caesarea arrived at the house where we were staying. The Holy Spirit told me to go with them and not to worry that they were Gentiles. These six brothers here accompanied me, and we soon entered the home of the man who had sent for us. He told us how an angel had appeared to him in his home and had told him, ‘Send messengers to Joppa, and summon a man named Simon Peter. He will tell you how you and everyone in your household can be saved!’
“As I began to speak,” Peter continued, “the Holy Spirit fell on them, just as he fell on us at the beginning. Then I thought of the Lord’s words when he said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ And since God gave these Gentiles the same gift he gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to stand in God’s way?”
When the others heard this, they stopped objecting and began praising God. They said, “We can see that God has also given the Gentiles the privilege of repenting of their sins and receiving eternal life.”
Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord from the heavens!
Praise him from the skies!
Praise him, all his angels!
Praise him, all the armies of heaven!
Praise him, sun and moon!
Praise him, all you twinkling stars!
Praise him, skies above!
Praise him, vapors high above the clouds!
Let every created thing give praise to the Lord,
for he issued his command, and they came into being.
He set them in place forever and ever.
His decree will never be revoked.
Praise the Lord from the earth,
you creatures of the ocean depths,
fire and hail, snow and clouds,
wind and weather that obey him,
mountains and all hills,
fruit trees and all cedars,
wild animals and all livestock,
small scurrying animals and birds,
kings of the earth and all people,
rulers and judges of the earth,
young men and young women,
old men and children.
Let them all praise the name of the Lord.
For his name is very great;
his glory towers over the earth and heaven!
He has made his people strong,
honoring his faithful ones—
the people of Israel who are close to him.
Praise the Lord!
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.
I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”
And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.” And he also said, “It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega—the Beginning and the End. To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of the water of life.
Thank you, Lord
for the gift of your love.
May I be an living example of that love
to everyone that I meet today.
Teach me to love those who I normally consider unlovable.
Help me to see others the way that you see them.
And through my actions and words may they come to know you better.