Love one another!
Opening message at 70 Years Jubilee EBWU Conference - Lviv, Ukraine, 20 September 2018
Love is all around…love is the water of the dry land, sun for the seeds warming up and to grow the plants to bear fruits, love is in the air, love is the element of the life…
Love is in the Bible… The Bible is about the love! Not just general love, but love of God. Wow, this is too high for me, isn’t it?
Let us see a conversation about love!
“When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said: “Feed my sheep. Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”
Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is going to betray you?”) When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?”
Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.”
When I was child I told to my dad that I love him so much. (And I stretched out my arms)
The question is always so relevant: do you like me? Do you love me?
As women we ask it from our man. The question makes them crazy…”Did I not told you?” Or “I told you once, when I said 'yes' at the altar, I will tell you when it will change”. Maybe the wife was not satisfied with this answer…
Well, a Hungarian psychologist said: I cannot tell you how much I love you. You are the one who can tell me how much I love you. Can you follow this statement? You and I will experience it…
Look at this very special dialog: peaceful surroundings, full stomach, silence, after a good meal, some of them could have a nap, and Jesus turned to Peter. Friendly, atmosphere, all the troubles are over, Jesus is back. They experience him as a human, probably he was eating with them. If I had been in Peter’s situation I should have felt some embarrassment because of my denial, but I would have tried not to bring it into this conversation. And Jesus also didn’t mention anything about it to Peter.
He only asked Peter a very simple question. A very simple question, but He asked it three times.
What if Peter had asked Jesus, “do you love me, Jesus”? Why was not any question on Peter’s side? What do you think, why Peter didn’t dare to ask Jesus “do you love me”? “How much do you love me”?
So much? - stretching his arms wide.
Did Jesus tell to his disciples that he loves them? He showed them, what is the meaning of love. He gave His blood for all of us, he showed the example to practice the acts of love… being merciful, being generous, setting free the fettered, healing the sick, feeding the hungry, lifting up those who fall. And there is a long list about how the love of God was visible in His Son, who gave His life for each of us!
So, yes, it was not Peter’s turn to ask the question: “do you love me”? But Jesus could ask Peter.
This is the point - I, as Peter, with this statement, that “I love you, Lord”, I say yes to belong to you. And this “yes” will join us together so deeply that I should go on the path what you gives me. Even it will be not a journey of success, but many hardships, pain and struggle. What is more, what happened to Peter, as Jesus told him: they took him where he wouldn’t have wanted to go… Isn’t it frightening?
Is it the way why I need to love Jesus, to experience all these fights, struggles, pain?
No, Jesus called Peter not for the suffering, but for pastoring, for doing all the things what Jesus showed with his example: love the people, help the little ones, comfort those who cry, live the mercy of God in this Earth, be like the Good Samaritan, be a counselor, be a comforter, and bring joy to the others, like the sunshine, like the water on the dry land… be a source for others. Be the source of Love.
Jesus Christ rewrote the ten commands into one: Matthew 22:37-39. “Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
One more very short notice: how human is Peter still. He has this moving conversation, I think he understood what Jesus' message was but he (faithfully to his character) had a question about the other disciple, probably about John, whom Jesus loved. But Jesus very strictly close the conversation: “this is not your issue”. You and me… we need to see very clearly what is our relation built on. You follow me, this is all, what I asked you for. Don’t compare yourself to the others. They are your fellows, love them, but you can love them, if you say “yes” for my love, say yes to our relationship. You belong to me, and I am your Pastor, your Lord, your Savior, I am your God.
Conclusion, quotation from a nice letter:
1 John 4:7-11.
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.