They Will Know We Are Christians by Our Love
Maundy Thursday Reflection
“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.” —John 13:34-35
She has been in an acute care facility for more than a year. She entered the facility thinking her stay would be short. She did not want to be there; she wanted to be in her apartment living independently as she had since the death of her husband and two sons several years prior. She worked hard on her therapy and prayed she would get to leave soon, but this was not to be. She developed pneumonia and after several days recovered, but her body was weak. She lost her appetite, could not eat and she became weaker and weaker. After 92 years, her body was giving out. It just wouldn’t do what she wanted it to do.
Sitting by her side I took her hand in mine and I asked God, “Why?” Why is she suffering so, why can’t you call her home? She is ready. I love her so much, but to see her like this? I am reminded of how God must have felt as the events of Holy Week drew near, knowing a son would be betrayed. And Jesus, how heavy his heart must have been knowing his beloved disciple, Judas, was about to betray him for 30 pieces of silver and Peter, the Rock, would deny knowing him to save himself.
That night Jesus took the basin filled with water, washed and dried the feet of the disciples—what love he showed! Jesus knew their imperfections, and still he loved them.
Jesus chose to have bread with his disciples, allowing them to experience his love first hand. He took time to be with his disciples, helping them understand what was about to take place, putting others before himself. “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
This beautiful child of God has lived her life for others. Has she been perfect all of her life? No, but she has loved and followed God as best she could. Even as the end of her life draws near, she honors and glorifies God. As I prayed with her, she was crying and said, “It is okay. I’m ready when God is.”
Why? Because Jesus showed us how to love, to serve and to be disciples. We are to love others based on Jesus’ sacrificial love for us. Such love will not only bring unbelievers to Christ; it will also keep believers strong and united.
Holy God, thank you for your son, Jesus the Christ. Thank you for the sacrifice you experienced for all of us, giving us hope for tomorrow. Because of your sacrificial love we can walk each day with the realization that you walk beside us, leading us each step we take. Guide us, Lord, and may we always give you the honor and glory. In the name of Jesus. Amen.
Nancy Bearden is a director of the Women's Division from the South Georgia Conference.