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Daily reading: 23 February

'Love one another as I have loved you.'

Something to read

‘This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.

- John 15:12-17.

Something to think about

‘I no longer call you servants.’ It’s hard to think that Jesus ever did call his disciples that, but it was probably an accurate description of their relationship up to this point: he was the master, they were the followers.

Jesus had accepted that role, but only so that he could teach them, bringing them to the point where, he says, they know everything that he does about the Father.

How difficult the disciples found this! It was so much easier to stay as a servant, waiting for Jesus to give a lead, following him to the next place, never taking any initiative.

A friend has to think independently, be one step ahead, anticipating the needs of the person who has been befriended.

Christ’s last act as a master was to give the disciples one final commandment. And what a monster of a commandment! (A curse on that dreary little tune it has been set to.) Simple, obvious, vital — and a lifetime’s challenge.

This might be called Jesus’s living will: he knows by now that he will not be around for much longer, and so leading the disciples is no longer an option. He leaves them friendship. In future, they must look after themselves, or rather, each other, with love.

Something to do

So many people to love, so little time to do it in. But it’s not lack of time that stops us most, it’s lack of imagination. Think of some new act of kindness — or an old act of kindness to a new person: something that will surprise and delight. Acts of love are astonishingly powerful, akin to a physical force, though mostly we don’t see the effect they have.

Something to pray

Through Christ’s example, his teaching, and the work of the Holy Spirit within us, help us to know your will, Father, and perform it naturally, and with joy. Amen

Today’s contributor is Paul Handley, who at the time of writing is the Managing Editor of The Church Times

Published on 23 February 2021

Resource language
  • N/A
Themes – Areas of work
  • Theology
Bible reference
John 15:12-17