Love is the Answer
It’s a Thursday evening, around the holidays. People are pouring into the city to visit relatives and honor ancient traditions. The markets are packed. A lot of last-minute planning—so much to do! Things feel especially tense, tenser than usual. But holidays always bring out the troublemakers and crazies and would-be messiahs.
Just a few days back some northerner staged a crazy parade that lampooned Roman power by doing everything on the cheap. No impressive stallions; just a young donkey. No royal carpets stretched along the route; just a bunch of threadbare coats and a few palm branches. No trumpets and cheers; just a chorus of tone-deaf provincials croaking, “Hosanna! Save us!” It was a bold move. But few noticed, given the chaotic crowds and heightened police presence.
Apparently, the self-appointed savior didn’t get the attention he needed. The next morning he turned the Temple market upside down. Called the merchants and religious leaders “thieves.” It got real ugly. And if he makes it through the week alive if will be a miracle. All it takes is one troublemaker to mess things up for everybody.
With all of this swirling around Jesus of Nazareth, it’s an odd time for a wanted man to host an intimate dinner party, maybe not the smartest move given tensions surfacing inside hiscircle. Friendships are cracking.
There’s a bounty on the Jesus’s head, a lot of cash, about $200 worth, which can feed a lot of people, fund a lot of projects. Something to consider. Then there’s guilt by association. If Jesus gets arrested, who’s next? These folks have families to think of, businesses to run, lives to live. They didn’t come all this way to land in jail!
Maybe this dinner isn’t such a good idea.
But they go and immediately everything turns upside down. (Doesn’t it always, though?) The guest of honor insists on washing their feet, a task so menial it’s usually relegated to a servant girl. Then Jesus reveals there’s a traitor and liar among them. Does he send either away? No! He shares his food with the traitor and lets the liar stay for the entire meal.
It’s all very strange. But not as strange as the topic Jesus keeps returning to. And that’s love. Jesus knows the storm isn’t lifting any time soon. He knows forces at work in the world will continue to captivate the minds and fears of millions. He knows the public is fickle and can’t be counted on to do what’s best for them. He knows the disciples are going to spend a lot of long days and nights hunkered down behind closed doors, keeping their distance from danger that walks the streets. Jesus knows the only thing to sustain them will be unshakable faith in the power of love—God’s love, his love, the shared love of his beloved friends.
Love is the commandment because love carries us through the storm, whether it’s a political firestorm in first century Jerusalem or a 21st-century pandemic that viciously preys on theplanet’s weakest and poorest. The broken governments of both eras are fueled by untrammeled greed, power plays, and brutal disregard for the truly needy. Both governments have no realsolutions and reliable answers for their problems.
Yet the word for us this Holy Week is not “fear.” It’s “love.” Love is how we ride out this storm. Love is our assurance that life ultimately overpowers death. Love is the core message that causes us to proclaim, “This is not the end of us!” Easter is coming. Amen.
Join us this week as Gather revisits Jesus’s farewell dinner with his friends. We will meet virtually via Zoom on Thursday, April 9, at 7:30p CDT. Join the conversation by going to https://us04web.zoom.us/j/998881155?pwd=NExiTTl6eUhmck85V0lUMWpZNWswQT09. Meeting ID: 998 881 155; Password: 031850
We need your help!
As we think about the future of Gather, please let us know what gifts you bring and would like to share with the community. There are many roles that have to come together to make Gather happen every week. This includes setup, technical support, worship, managing handouts and information, coordinating drinks, and teardown. We need your help. Please let us know what type of service you’d be interested in!
Watch God Work,
Tim & Shea
As we prepare to become a vibrant worshipping community, we invite you to enjoy a Spotify playlist that captures the kind of worship we hope to embrace. Give it a spin while you’re driving. Make it your workout jam. Add it to your devotional time. Most of all, feel yourself becoming part of a sacred village of believers who love their God and one another!
Check out the Gather Worship Playlist here.