Good Friday, Beloved
We had plans to go to one of Amanda's friend's churches this morning, as our own was not having its traditional Good Friday Service, but when we awoke, Les and I were still both battling our sore throats and runny noses, so we had a change of plans. We stayed home. Les and I read the Gospel of John's account of The Last Supper right through to Good Friday aloud. I love John's Gospel! John writes about the way it 'felt', and I can relate. He also recounts more intimate moments and smaller group experiences. John's account of The Last Supper doesn't tell of communion the way the other Gospels do, rather, John tells of Jesus washing the disciples feet. Shortly after this, Jesus told them, "I am going to prepare a place for you. and if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am." I love those words...in those days, those were the words a young man would use in proposing to his bride, and then he would go and add on a room to his parent's house for them. John 13-20 has so many jewels that Jesus left behind for us!
After Les and I read, our family had pancakes together for breakfast and then washed each other's feet and rubbed them with lotion. We spent the rest of the morning watching the children's version of the Jesus video. Lots of tears streamed down my face when the scenes that represent Good Friday flashed by. We talked as a family about why Jesus had to die...and then about the hope that is Easter. I don't like that Jesus had to die for the things I do wrong, and I don't feel worthy of this lavish love of His. It has always been hard for me to pause at Good Friday...to stop reading at chapter 20 and just reflect on this day. I feel so much better when I rush ahead to the resurrection. It's so hard for me to even think of the pain my Savior went through for me. Oh how He loves us!
I was just thinking some more about John, the disciple...whenever he refers to himself in the Gospel, he refers to himself as "the disciple Jesus loved." We refer to ourselves in many ways, often by what we do or have achieved, but John referred to himself as who he really was...the beloved (I think I want to re-read 'The Life of the Beloved' by Nouwen again:) "Who am I?" asked Thomas Merton, and he responded, "I am one loved by Christ."
Brennan Manning writes,
"We give glory to God simply by being ourselves. God created us for union with Himself. This is the original purpose of our lives. And God is defined as love (1John 4:10). Living in awareness of our belovedness is the axis around which the Christian life revolves. Being the beloved is our identity, the core of our existence. It is not merely a lofty thought, an inspiring idea, or one name among many. It is the name by which God knows us and the way He relates to us."
In John 15, Jesus said:
"As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love... I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: LOVE each other as I have loved you."