by Chaplain Jim Corbett
We are fast approaching the end of Easter; Christ would soon leave His disciples. They would no longer have their beloved Teacher to talk to, to touch. What would sustain them for the hard years ahead? Christ must have thought of such things. With the time of His death near at hand, Christ had offered a special gift to an intimate band of his followers. The setting is just following Christ washing His disciples’ feet, and Judas departure to betray Christ. Speaking to His band of students, Christ reveals again the immediate nature of His glorification and death. Christ knows it is coming and embraces the chosen path. But what about those He must leave behind.
Director, Pastoral Care
Walker Baptist Medical Center
Read the words of Christ to His followers in John 13:33-35 (NRSV):
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.
Why would Christ give this new commandment at just this time? As He prepares them for His departure He offers them community of mutual support and love. Fred Craddock in his book John makes the statement “Here love is the cement to hold together the community of faith.” The disciples would soon have to depend upon each other in ways they could not possibly imagine. Christ offers them the glue to sustain and hold them together.
Today, we are not alone either. Christ’s words of challenge and promise speak to us with the commandment to “Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.”
As for me, I have known love. The love demonstrated with a compassionate touch. The love of a good friend who listened as I poured out my troubles. The risky love of much needed criticism given. Such love will exist as long as Christ has followers. Christ left to glory, but He did not leave His disciples alone. They had each other, and so do we.
The end of the last verse of the great hymn “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee” written by Henry van Dyke says it well:
Thou our Father, Christ our Brother--All who live in love are Thine;
Teach us how to love each other, Lift us to the joy divine.