I don't know about you, but I regularly disappoint myself and feel the need for some fresh assurance that God actually still likes me. There are many familiar verses in the Bible that one can turn to at such times, but there's a verse in John that, for me, best brings God's love right down to the everyday reality of my routine stumbles and fumbles.
At the end of Jesus' ministry, as He sat in the upper room with His disciples, it is said of Jesus in regards to His 12 disciples that "He loved them to the end" (John 13:1). Of all that Jesus did and said, for me, that simple statement that He loved His disciples to the end may be the thing that best demonstrates His divine love. Yes, there's the excitement of all the signs and wonders among the multitudes for whom we're told Jesus felt such compassion. But it's the intimacy of those quiet words in John 13:1 -- He loved them to the end -- that gets me. Here's the 12 guys Jesus spent the most time with, daily witnessing their weaknesses -- 12 bungling, openly competitive, slow to understand, men "of little faith" that Jesus had to work with in all their clumsy humanity for three years. Matthew (ch. 20) tells us that they were still vying for positions over each other just prior to the Passion Week, right before the meal in the upper room of John 13, at the very end of their 3-year training program with the Son of God. I wouldn't have loved them to the end. I'd have turfed them!
But because I know I'm at least as unreliable as them -- and of even less faith than them -- I'm left in wonder at this Man, Christ Jesus, who loves each of us as His disciples "to the end." What an encouragement for one who can never seem to get things quite right or who sometimes struggles to just relax in God's love. It ought to lift my soul to know that the Son of God will love me to the end -- to the end of each day, to the end of this year, to the end of my life. Such encouraging words ought to change the way I approach each day, as well as the coming year with all its challenges and all its potential!
© 2008 by Ken Peters