Today’s reading: John 13-15.
“What kind of New Year’s resolution would Jesus make?”
I don’t usually make resolutions. I’m skeptical about their staying power. I don’t think Jesus would have made them, either. At his last supper, however, he laid down some commands that have the kind of authority that would even make a skeptic change his mind.
Be a servant.
When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them…”I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.” John 13:12,15
In opening his account of the last supper, John says that Jesus (1) knew everything that God had put into his hands, (2) knew where he had come from, and (3) knew where he was going. If there was any doubt before about his divine knowledge, John removed it. Yet knowing all this, what did our Lord do? He didn’t exalt himself, but dressed himself like a slave and performed the servant’s job of washing dirty feet. His challenge to us is to humble ourselves daily and do the servant’s work.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35
The command to love mirrors the commandment to love our neighbor as ourself. We are to love as Jesus loved, meaning sacrificially, unconditionally, faithfully, and whole-heartedly. Such love will open the eyes of the lost world.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27
Anxiety is the disease of the modern age, but Jesus offers the cure. We can be comforted because:
- Jesus is preparing an eternal home for us (v. 3).
- He shows us the way to get there (v. 6).
- He now sits beside the Father interceding for us, so our needs will be met and we will be able to minister powerfully as Jesus did (v. 13).
- The Holy Spirit is with us now, counseling and teaching us. (V. 16, 17, 26).
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing…This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” John 15:5,8
The secret of the vine is this: if we abide in Jesus the fruit will come in the proper season. Abiding has three characteristics. We can abide in place, remaining with Jesus, living where he is. We can abide in time, meaning that we remain faithful to him through the years without forsaking him. We can abide in character, remaining like him by obeying his word.
Resolutions are only words. These commands of Jesus call for action. Are you resolved to act? “Father, give each of us the will to act in obedience to your commands, by being humble servants, loving one another as Jesus loved, taking comfort from your provision, and remaining with you in place, over time, and in character. Amen”
Image by revger on Flickr, CC by-nc-sa 2.0