12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father.”
The commandment that Jesus gives us is simple but not easy, and it takes a lifetime to live into it. Laying down our lives for others is a daily choice as living sacrifices. Living that kind of life gives us insight to understand what God is doing and how we are participants in the works of love.
- Are there other commandments that you want to add to this that may distract you from loving?
- Who are you laying down your life for these days? What does that look like?
- What is it like for you to see what God is doing in the world, through the lenses of love?
Gracious Jesus, you are inviting us to the difficult simplicity of loving others. You laid down your life out of that same love that animates our love for others. Help us to love sacrificially and as we do, give us eyes to see the work you are doing and the willingness to participate with you. In Your name, Amen.
John 15: 16-19
16 You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. 17 I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another. 18 “If the world hates you, be aware that it hated me before it hated you. 19 If you belonged to the world, the world would love you as its own. Because you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world—therefore the world hates you.
Jesus reminds his followers that he has chosen them and appointed them to bear fruit. He warns them that it will not be easy, just as it was not easy for him but encourages them to live as those who belong, not to the world, but to God.
- Why is it important for us to remember that we are chosen and appointed by Jesus, and not the other way around?
- When have you felt at odds with or hated by the world? What comes to mind when you think of “the world?”
- How is your life reflecting love for others?
Gracious Jesus, thank you for reminding us that we belong to you and not to the world, and that the resistance we feel is a reflection of our separation from the world. Help us to focus on following you and loving one another as we entrust our lives and hearts to you. In Your name, Amen.
20 Remember the word that I said to you, ‘Servants are not greater than their master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also. 21 But they will do all these things to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Whoever hates me hates my Father also. 24 If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not have sin. But now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. 25 It was to fulfill the word that is written in their law, ‘They hated me without a cause.’
When we are following wholeheartedly after Jesus, people will respond to us as they would to him. No doubt the disciples remembered his words as their ministry received mixed reviews. With them, we are invited to be faithful to Jesus, to love our enemies, and to entrust our lives and the lives of others into his hands.
- Where do you feel resistance in your circle of influence?
- How do you remain faithful to Jesus’ mandate to love one another and to love our enemies?
- What is challenging about applying this to your life right now?
Gracious Lord, we are not greater than you, but are your servants and participants of your kingdom. Help us to live wholeheartedly for you, knowing that you invite others through us to follow you, and their response to the invitation is directed to you, not us. Help us to love all who come into our lives, those who accept you and those who reject you. In Your name, Amen.
John 15:26-16:4 -
26 “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who comes from the Father, he will testify on my behalf. 27 You also are to testify because you have been with me from the beginning. “I have said these things to you to keep you from stumbling. 2 They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, an hour is coming when those who kill you will think that by doing so they are offering worship to God. 3 And they will do this because they have not known the Father or me. 4 But I have said these things to you so that when their hour comes you may remember that I told you about them.
One of the works of the Spirit is to testify to the truth of God, carrying on the work of Jesus. And we are invited as well to testify to this truth. Jesus warns us that there will be resistance, misunderstanding, and rejection, so that we will not lose our way when we experience difficulty.
- Where do you see the Spirit testifying to God today?
- In what context are you testifying to the work of God?
- What is Jesus inviting you to during this time?
Gracious Jesus, you did not lead us to believe that following you as participants of your kingdom would be easy. You laid it out for us so that we would be prepared and not stumble. Renew our courage to testify to you and help us to use every opportunity to be your agents of truth and love in the world. In Your name, Amen.
“I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. 5 But now I am going to him who sent me; yet none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ 6 But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your hearts. 7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.”
As Jesus prepares his disciples for their participation in His kingdom, they are overwhelmed with the prospect of Jesus no longer being with them. But He is assuring them that his Spirit will be among them in ways that Jesus was unable to be, making it good that Jesus is going away.
- In what ways do you see that it is good that Jesus is no longer physically with us?
- How do you experience the Holy Spirit in your life?
- What does it mean to you that the Holy Spirit is your Advocate, or One who walks beside you?
Gracious Jesus, thank you for your continued work in our lives, and continued presence through your Spirit. Give us the capacity to see with our hearts so that we might encounter you throughout our days. Turn our attention to you and to how you see the world so that we might continue to be your agents of love and truth to those around us. In Your name, Amen.