Living the Life: Daily Reflections on The Upper Room Discourse
for Lent 2018
PRAY: Loving Father, may I have the power to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge (Ephesians 3:18-19).
“Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me;
and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, ‘Where I am going,
you cannot come.’ I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another..
By this everyone will know that you are my disciples,
if you have love for one another.”
I remember well the day my son Wyatt was leaving Arizona to move to Washington D.C. His car was packed and he was ready to go. I knew this would be the last time we would see each other for a good while. So in our last moments together I kept thinking of things I wanted to tell him.
In today’s Scripture Jesus is saying good-bye for a while to His disciples. Here are His last moments with them. There must have been so many things He wanted to tell them, so many things He wanted them to remember. And what Jesus most wants them to remember is: “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.” This was always so important for Jesus: “Love each other as I have loved you.”
Jesus’ disciples likely knew the teachings of the Torah and the command in the book of Leviticus: “…you shall love your neighbor as yourself…” (Leviticus 19:18b). A commandment to love would not have been new to Jesus’ disciples. The “newness” of Jesus’ command is that they are to love “Just as I have loved you”:
“Jesus’ command is new because of its PATTERN and its POWER. We are to LIVE OUT the love of Jesus, as we LIVE ON the love of Jesus.” (Sermon by John Piper, September 14, 2008, “The New Commandment of Christ”)
Jesus’ parting words will reveal where we get His kind of love: Jesus is the Vine and we are the branches. His fruit will be produced in us as we abide in His love (John 15:1-10). It is Jesus’ kind of love that will mark us as His followers. Jesus says, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” Loving as Jesus loves is the badge of belonging to Him.
Philosopher and theologian Francis Schaeffer said:
“In the midst of the world, in the midst of our present culture, Jesus is giving a right to the world. Upon his authority he gives the world the right to judge whether you and I are born-again Christians, on the basis of our observable love toward all Christians.” (Francis Schaeffer, The Mark of the Christian)
The church father Jerome says that when the apostle John was elderly and infirm he had to be carried into the church meetings. People would eagerly ask John for a word from the Lord, and he would always say, “Little children, love one another.” Some people tired of hearing the same words from John and asked why he always said the same thing. John always replied: “It is the Lord’s command, if this alone is done, it is enough.” (Jerome, Commentary on Galatians)
It is enough! This is not Jesus’ new suggestion, or new possibility. It is Jesus’ command for us today! Let us so LIVE ON His love that we can LIVE OUT His love for others!
- What would it mean for me to LIVE ON Jesus’ love for me?
- What would it mean for me to LIVE OUT Jesus’ love for others?
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)
Previous Lent Devotional 2018 Entries
Dr. Timothy Smith
Water from Rock Ministries, Founder and Executive Director, Rev. Dr. Timothy Smith, has dedicated much of his life to helping people grow in intimacy with God and experiencing spiritual renewal. During his 35 years of ministering to people from various backgrounds as an ordained minister, chaplain (hospital, hospice, and prison) spiritual director, adjunct seminary professor, and retreat leader, Tim has experienced firsthand the renewing power of Jesus Christ. And his many experiences of renewal have taught him the need for connecting an intelligent biblical faith to a warm, heart-felt devotion to God. We must be people of head and heart, together.
Thus, in his teaching and ministry, Tim focuses on laying a biblical foundation for faith, along with training in the spiritual practices that Christ and his Church have pursued. In seeking renewal for our day, Tim draws upon the disciplines and vitality that shape the various streams of Christian devotion and welcomes all who seek to know God better.
Tim’s daily prayer for the Spirit’s renewing power is taken from the Apostle Paul:
I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
— Ephesians 3:16-19