Boldly going where no love has gone before

John 13:1-35

Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon Iscariot to betray him. And during supper Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus answered, “You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” Jesus said to him, “One who has bathed does not need to wash, except for the feet, but is entirely clean. And you are clean, though not all of you.” For he knew who was to betray him; for this reason he said, “Not all of you are clean.” After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.

I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But it is to fulfill the scripture, ‘The one who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’ I tell you this now, before it occurs, so that when it does occur, you may believe that I am he. Very truly, I tell you, whoever receives one whom I send receives me; and whoever receives me receives him who sent me.” After saying this Jesus was troubled in spirit, and declared, “Very truly, I tell you, one of you will betray me.” The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he was speaking. One of his disciples—the one whom Jesus loved—was reclining next to him; Simon Peter therefore motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. So while reclining next to Jesus, he asked him, “Lord, who is it?” Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.” So when he had dipped the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas son of Simon Iscariot. After he received the piece of bread, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, “Do quickly what you are going to do.” Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him. Some thought that, because Judas had the common purse, Jesus was telling him, “Buy what we need for the festival”; or, that he should give something to the poor. So, after receiving the piece of bread, he immediately went out. And it was night.

When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. 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.”

As I child I loved going with my Father. The moment he said he was going to his workplace on the weekend, to check on something, my instant whine was, “Can I come with?” To go with my Dad to his workplace was a magical adventure. It was to enter into his adult world that seemed so big and so important.

You will excuse me then if I feel just a little dejected when Jesus tells me he is going away and that I can’t go with him. “Can I come with?” “No. Where I am going you cannot come

Jesus is returning to the Father. To that big and important place that humans have striven to discover and unite with since the beginning of human consciousness. Every shamanic ritual, every religious act has been an attempt to access the world of God. Drugs, drums and dance, have been employed as vehicles to carry the supplicant to the “other side” the place of God. Fasting, feasting, flagellating. It seems there is nothing we haven’t tried to, “bravely go where no one has gone before.

Jesus is very clear. ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.’

Does that mean that he is inaccessible? At first glance it may seem so, but if we will read beyond the rebuttal we discover a key to the kingdom.

We may not be able to go where Jesus has gone, but there seems to be a simple practice that brings his Spirit back to us. ‘ I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.

The logical progression is quite clear.

Jesus has shown in the broken bread and the poured out wine, that he is the new Passover. The one who has, and who will, for all eternity pour out his life with loving care for his disciples.

Judas cannot participate in this as he has other plans.

The disciples will be shattered and scattered by what they will witness and understand as the ultimate failure of the Kingdom of God enterprise.

In all of this Jesus will be showing in his dying and in his forgiving that love can triumph over human destructiveness.

Of course this is not mere erotic love so he does not speak of a command to eros (one of the Greek words for love he could have used.) It is also not human philanthropic love that philos depicts. No Jesus commands the disciples to agapate one another as he has sacrificially loved us.

The command is nothing less than a command to become Jesus.

It is in the pouring out of our lives in selfless sacrificial love that people will know that we are Christ followers. I have a hunch that it is the way that we can go where he has gone.

When we have emptied ourselves and only love remains, then we will be one with the Father and we will be with Jesus.

We will have come to where he is in every moment… the silent heart of unconditional Love.


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