love to the end

Having loved his dear companions,

he continued to love them right to the end.

John 13:2, The Message

Today is Holy Thursday, Maundy Thursday, the day we traditionally celebrate the Last Supper of Jesus with his disciples.

I was dinking around on the internet--we cannot call it research--looking at comparisons of the Gospels on the Last Supper.  I was being amazed, as always, by the immense and intricate research that others have done, reconciling the four accounts into one cohesive whole.  

And I thought, well, I don't think I have anything to say about the Last Supper that hasn't been said.  

And then Sarah Bessey posted a blog that includes the verse above, from The Message.  

So I started looking at John's Gospel again, at how different it is from the other accounts.

John's Gospel talks about a bunch of stuff that happens at the Last Supper that none of the other gospel writers record.  

  • John tells about Jesus washing the feet of the disciples.
  • While all of the gospels record that Jesus predicted that he would be betrayed, only John records that Jesus "was greatly troubled in spirit."
  • John records dialogue around the table: the new command, to love one another; the place he's preparing; the Vine and the Branches; the promise of the Holy Spirit.
  • John records Jesus saying that we're going to feel like we're in constant labor while we live in this world--and he promises that, just like childbirth, there's a joyful purpose in suffering.  
  • John records the Oneness Prayer of Jesus in chapter 17.

And finally, after that great prayer, Jesus and the disciples go out to the Garden.

You know what John completely leaves out of the Last Supper?

Bread and wine.

I find that fascinating.

I think John may have been kind of like me:  "Details, schmetails!  Of course there was bread and wine!  There's always bread and wine!  Plus the other guys wrote about it already, so look it up if you need to!" 

I think John took this as his thesis:

Having loved his dear companions,

he continued to love them right to the end.

And then, I think, he shows us HOW Jesus loved.  

  • He washed their feet.
  • He told the truth about what was going to happen, even if none of them understood it very well.
  • He was open emotionally:  they could see he was greatly troubled.
  • He told them to stick together, to love each other and to cling to the Vine.
  • He told them it was going to be tough, but the Comforter would come, and there would be a Place at the end, to be safe and together again.
  • He told them to really, really stick together.

And then they went out into the Garden, where they all fell asleep, then ran away.  

And all through that, Jesus continued to love them right to the end.

"If we are faithless, he remains faithful."  2 Timothy 2:13

Throughout the season of Lent, we've been trying to watch with Jesus at the Cross, attending to the words he spoke, the things he suffered, the sorrow he felt.

And this is the mystery of our faith: that Christ has died, and risen, and will come again; that he is present with us now through the gift of the Holy Spirit and his Body--us, together, each other.

He loved us to the end.

And he continues to love us to the end.

And so ought we to love one another:  right to the end.

Washing feet, telling the truth, being emotionally vulnerable, sticking together, especially when it's tough.  Reminding ourselves and each other that yes, this is hard labor, and YES, there's a purpose in it, and there's a someday-Place for us to rest and be safe and at home, with love, right to the end.  

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