The last words or actions of a person who is going to die often get a heightened level of attention. Many have experienced this tender moment, gathered with family around someone in the last days of life. Often, it is the way in which someone dies which becomes as memorable as how they lived. What people say and do in their dying moments can have lasting value to those being left behind.
That is why it is so important to remember that Jesus final commandment to “love one another” was given to his disciples on the last night of his life. Jesus knew, even if the disciples didn’t, that he was going to be turned over to the authorities, tried and put on the cross. In his last opportunity to gather with his friends, to eat with them, to share stories with them, to teach them, he knew that it would be a memorable time for Jesus to share final acts and words of love and encouragement
On that night, Jesus loved his friends and invited them to eat with him, and gave to them a way to remember him and be present with him. We celebrate Holy Communion, 2000 years later, because Jesus loved us.
On that night, Jesus washed the feet of his followers, modeling the self-emptying nature of the love that Jesus had for them, and the one that he asked them to have for others. This act of service to others was done because Jesus loved us.
On that night, Jesus gave us this one commandment, this capstone of all the things he had taught his disciples – “Love One Another”. That commandment is the underlying foundation of all the others. Nothing matters unless it is done in love. Jesus gave us this commandment because he first loved us.
On that night Jesus loved his disciples even though he knew that most would abandon him in the time of his greatest need. Because Jesus loved us, we are all free to love each other without the expectation of anything in return. As forgiven children of God, all we need do is the next loving thing.
And that is how the world will know us.
Devotions for the Week of April 24
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About this website
Gustavus Adolphus Lutheran Church (GA) in New York City has been chosen as one of eight internship congregations to participate this year in a church-wide initiative designed to increase our understanding of Holy Scripture and most importantly, to cultivate our engagement with it. In partnership with The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, Vicar John Heidgerd will be working to develop innovative ways to deepen our faith formation and sense of discipleship for the sake of ourselves and our communities.