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Big Jesus wins award for the 'best community entry' in the parade.
We had a unique perspective on Jesus, His fame and renown. If the crowds were silenced even the stones would have cried out to Him. This must be what it was like for Jesus to enter Jerusalem, re-enacted for the benefit of his LGBT people... What does this say for us and for Him?
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Extracts from Jim’s Preach ‘God's Love’
An expert in the law tested Jesus "Rabbi, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?"
"‘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 neighbour as you love yourself.’
All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments. Matthew 22:35 – 40
As a new Christian I believed that love was the answer to all the problems in the church. I based that on what Jesus said about loving God and loving your neighbour.
Much is talked about love in church circles...... and we fail spectacularly at it.
I’ve now learnt to try to read scripture in the context it was written. As a result I view tonight's reading differently.
The reading begins by a law expert asking a question about the Mosaic Law and wanting to know what was the greatest commandment of that law. As Jews, both Jesus and the lawyer were obliged to keep all the regulations of the Law of Moses. Jesus replied to the lawyer according to that law.
That’s where I went wrong as a new Christian. I read what Jesus said about loving God and your neighbour being the greatest commandment of the Law of Moses and I tried to do it. I tried to obey that part of the Mosaic Law and I failed.
Law shows us what to do. It doesn’t give us the ability to do it. I applied the law to love and not surprisingly I failed. I had reduced love to a rule to be obeyed.
The disciple John is a good example of how to love and the disciple Peter is a good example of failing to love. In his gospel 5 times John calls himself ‘the disciple whom Jesus loved’. It’s after John has spent time with Jesus that he writes this.
John’s focus is on Jesus and Jesus’ love for him. Peter does not have the same certainty about Jesus' love for him. Peter is well aware of the Jewish rules to love and he tries to keep those rules by trying to love Jesus.
At the last supper Peter wanted to know who Jesus thought would betray him. He asked John to ask Jesus for him. Peter had to go through a go-between to ask Jesus a question. Something was lacking in Peter's relationship with Jesus. He didn't have John's confidence to ask Jesus outright.
John’s connection with Jesus was based upon his certainty of Jesus’ love for him. I believe Peters was based more on knowing what he should do. Peter said he'd die for Jesus because he thought he should. Jesus knew that Peter was applying the law on love to Him and that Peter wanted to do the right thing. But Jesus also knew that Peter lacked the power to do so
Peter denied Jesus and all the disciples ran away. All except one, ‘the disciple whom Jesus loved’.
At the trial of Jesus John was there on the inside and while Peter was on the outside, denying Jesus 3 times. John is the only one of the twelve disciples at the crucifixion and Jesus entrusts the care of his mother Mary to John.
After the resurrection Mary Magdalene told Peter and John the tomb was empty. Peter shoots off running to the grave with John in hot pursuit but John arrived first. I wonder... Did Peter slow down because he was fearful? He knew that his love had failed and that he had denied knowing Jesus.
Whereas John can’t wait, Jesus' love for him drives him on.
After the resurrection and the miraculous catch of fish Peter is more confident. It is the third time Peter had seen Jesus after the resurrection and he had received no condemnation for his denials. Now just as Peter had denied Jesus 3 times, Jesus asks Peter 3 times if he loves (agape) Him.
Agape love is unconditional love.
Peter doesn’t answer according to the Law. The religious law stated ‘Agape love your neighbour' meaning 'have unconditional love for your neighbour'.
Jesus twice asks Peter 'Do you agape me?... Do you unconditionally love me?' Peter was no longer trying to uphold the law, no longer boasting what he would do for Jesus. Twice he answers truthfully with a Greek word 'phileo'... friendship love. He was saying he loved Jesus as a friend.
Peter is now recognising his own limitations. He's no longer full pride in what he could do.
So Jesus asks Peter the third time 'Do you love me?' But this time using 'phileo'. Jesus asks 'do you love me as a friend?'. And Peter answers for the third time 'yes, I love you as a friend'.
Jesus doesn’t seem to mind that Peter is now breaking the law to 'agape' love, to love unconditionally. Because Jesus knows the Holy Spirit will inspire Peter to 'agape' love when needed.
When we tell people they must love we are just putting people under a law. And Jesus put an end to the Law of Moses. Col 2:14 says, having cancelled the Mosaic law with its regulations that was against us ………. he took it away, nailing it to the cross.
Love for God and each other is not a rule or an ideology. Its a fruit of the Holy Spirit in us. Experiencing Jesus' love for us, is the wellspring of our love for Him and for others.
Let’s be like John, up close and personal with Jesus, allowing ourselves to receive His love.
And like John maybe we’ll get a glimpse of the Glory of Jesus and be surprised when His love grows within us.
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