Equipping Your Reimagine Journey
The two men walked along the road by the sea on their way from Smyrna to Pergamum. The older man’s step was quite as spry as the younger. The elder was Jewish. The younger man was obviously Greek. Despite the differences in their backgrounds and ages they carried on a lively conversation as they walked. John often used their travels to plant his life and all that he knew of Jesus into the life of Polycarp. As they walked Polycarp asked a favorite question.
“What was the greatest miracle our Lord ever performed on this earth?”
John answered, “As much as I have enjoyed speculating about this question of yours, I have always thought there was something wrong with whatever answer I gave. I have come to believe that none of his miracles can be seen separately. His whole life was miraculous. He is the Son of God. His godliness is at the heart of everything he did.” They were both silent while Polycarp digested what John had said.
He then asked, “How did he express his godliness most often?”
“By his love,” John said with hardly a pause. “Everything he did was love.”
Polycarp said, “I have sometimes heard you speak of yourself as ‘The disciple that Jesus loved.’ But didn’t Jesus love all of his disciples? He loves every one of us.”
“Yes,” John said. “I sometimes think he especially loved me. All of us must have thought that from time to time. His love is overwhelming. I describe myself that way to give attention to the love of Jesus and keep myself anonymous. His love in our lives is the most important thing about us.”
Polycarp said, “I don’t think anyone in Asia, outside of our churches, would relate godliness to love. Some might try to demonstrate devotion by emotional or sexual excesses.The stoics would think of strict behavior.”
“Yes,” John said, “and even though our ancient Scriptures overflow with the love of God, the Pharisees, the strictest Jewish practitioners, never seemed to teach anything about it, except in an abstract way. Jesus lived out his love. The love of Jesus was more striking and more powerful than any other sign that he gave us.”
“Tell me one of the ways Jesus expressed his godly nature in love.” At this point they came to a busier road that left the seaside for some distance. They were silent as they came out onto the high road, negotiating with the crowds and wagons, even livestock being driven to market. As they found their place in the rhythm of traffic John began to give an answer.
“On the night that Jesus was betrayed, we gathered for that last Passover meal. You know what the Passover feast is, don’t you.”
“Yes,” Polycarp said. “I have heard you describe the feast and even its beginnings in your history.”
“Well, as we gathered for the meal, Jesus rose and laid aside his clothes. He wrapped a towel around his waist and began to wash our feet, drying them with the towel.”
“Really? Jesus himself dressed as a slave and washed your feet? That is amazing. It is almost as if he were saying he was not the Master.”
“My son, in his love Jesus humbled Himself before each of us. He knew he had come from God and was preparing to return to him. We could not always see it, but his humble love accentuated his majesty. Simon Peter tried to stop Jesus from washing his feet. Jesus said, ‘Simon, if I do not wash you, you have no part in me.’ In his love Jesus cleansed us from our sins. In his love he forgives and transforms us. By regular forgiveness he cleanses us day by day. Jesus taught us amazing lessons by his love. And I think the greatest miracle of his love is producing it in us. When he finished washing our feet, Jesus took back His clothes and asked, ‘Do you understand what I have done?’ He said, ‘You call me Teacher and Lord and you are right. If I then, your Teacher and Lord have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet.’”
Polycarp blurted out, “Did he mean that literally?”
“Possibly,” John answered. “But he meant far more than that. Jesus gave us an example of love that humbles us before each other.”
“But Jesus did that knowing he was the Son of God. How can we do it?”
John said, “We know that Jesus came from his Father and returned to his Father’s arms. We know that in him we too are loved by God. Whether or not we are among those who live until Jesus returns, we will soon go to his Father’s embrace.
“Jesus was teaching us to serve others in the power of his love. He showed us his forgiveness and gave us the power to forgive those who wrong us. Jesus told Peter that we only needed our feet washed because we were already clean. Then he said, ‘But not all of you are clean.’ He knew Judas was going to betray him that night. In his love Jesus washed the feet of his betrayer. We too can grow to love our enemies. This kind of love can only be reproduced in those of us who know Jesus.”
Polycarp said, “I have heard you say that before. And I don’t understand what Jesus meant. Was He saying he only choses those who are willing to love our enemies?”
John answered, “Jesus said we were chosen before the foundation of the world. Loving others like Jesus is his gift to us. Of course God knew before the foundation of the world who would receive his love. But that is more than Jesus explained when he said he knew whom he had chosen. I believe it is more complicated and certainly less deserved than that.
Jesus gave us one final command to love one another. ‘A new commandment I give you, to love as I have loved you.’ This is how people will know that we are his disciples.”
Polycarp said, “That is certainly true. I heard a man in Ephesus telling other people about us. Frankly, he misrepresented almost everything we believe. But he ended by saying, ‘And look how much they love one another.”
This story was based on events recorded in John chapter 13.
Lord Jesus, we belong to you. Reproduce your supernatural love in us.
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