May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. 1 Thessalonians 3:12 (NIV).
This is Paul talking about Jesus, about Jesus making the love of the Thessalonians increase and overflow for each other and everyone else. Class dismissed.
But before you go, of course I have a few words. Of course, since it’s Maundy Thursday, I’ll try to put them in that context.
Put yourself in the upper room that night. You’re a helper bringing food in and out. It’s a simple dinner, a menu that stretches back centuries. Jesus and his friends, these famous people you’ve heard about, maybe met, maybe listened to, are here and you’re helping them celebrate the holiest night of the year. You bring in lamb, herbs, unleavened bread, wine; you watch them as they say the words and ask the questions that Jews have said and asked most every year since the exodus from Egypt.
The overwhelming emotion in the room seems to be reverent sadness. Given that this is the Passover, that’s appropriate. But there’s something else afoot there, another emotion at work, something you can’t quite pin down but it’s moving and it’s growing. Jesus is leading His friends in the mystical seder, and talking with them about sad things, about being tortured and persecuted and murdered. He’s telling them strange things, speaking about His body and blood, and they are listening intently but don’t seem to really understand.
And then He’s talking with them about love, about incomparable love. He’s talking about God’s love. He’s telling them to love each other, to serve Him by serving others, to do as He does. Jesus then stoops down to do the dirtiest job you know of: He washes His friends’ feet.
That’s when you get a revelation, a light starts to shine in your head. “He loves them.” That’s a pretty obvious thought, but it’s miraculous. He really, truly, fully loves these people the way only God does. Jesus is talking the talk and walking the walk by both demonstrating and speaking of His love. His love is expressed in everything He’s doing, and He’s serving them in ways you don’t expect God would. But Jesus is doing it anyway and what He’s doing is inspiring, deeply moving, selfless and perfect. Jesus is showing them, and you, the kind of person you want to be. It’s life-changing.
And it happened on Maundy Thursday. That kind of love is what Paul was talking about, the love Jesus would inspire and grow in the hearts of the Thessalonians. It’s the kind of love that would make a wandering missionary long to see his friends. It’s the kind of love that changes hearts, attitudes, and lives, both then and now. It’s for you.
For further reading: Matthew 26:17-35, Mark 14:12-31, Luke 22:7-38, John 13:1-17:26, 1 Thessalonians 3:13.
Lord, all praise to You for Your love, for the lessons You taught on Maundy Thursday.