I believe one of the greatest blessings God has given to his people is the gift of friendships.
As Jesus was preparing his disciples for his forthcoming crucifixion, he took them aside and washed their feet, an act of great humility and service. He then called them to the same mark, challenging them to serve one another as he had served them, to love as he had loved. That love, he said, would set his people apart in the world. As John records the charge, Jesus said,
“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
If I’m not careful, I’ll assume this love is only represented in marriage. In Ephesians 5, Paul highlights the unique way that the love between a husband and a wife illustrates the love between Christ and the church. Because this picture is so vivid, I am tempted to assume this relationship is in mind here in John 13. Jesus, however, is speaking to a room full of dudes, not a room full of couples. While marriage may uniquely highlight the love of God, the body of Christ as a whole showcases his love as well.
So what does this love look like in practice?
As I think about how to answer that question, I think about my friend Will. Will has walked alongside me in some really great seasons of life as well as in some really difficult seasons of life. In every encounter, Will points me to Jesus, challenging me to seek first the kingdom of God and righteousness. Will and I don’t agree on everything, and we have often gotten into heated arguments over such points of disagreement. Even so, the love of Christ that unites us in brotherhood stands strong. He has been, and he continues to be, a picture of God’s love.
As I think about how to answer that question, I also think about my friend John. John could easily be called Barnabas for his constant encouragement and support. John uplifts all who meet him, infusing any situation with joy and laughter. John is a constant friend, ever ready to serve in any capacity needed. I am a better Christian because of him.
As I think about this passage, I also think about Dustin, Jeff, Cade, Kevin, Solomon, Derek, and so many others. Each of these men have influenced my life, serving as examples of the love Jesus described here. Each of these men challenge me to be a better friend, to more fully live out the words of Jesus. I recognize the mark of Jesus on these men because I see their love and service. And because I can see their love, I know the world can see it as well.
This week, consider Jesus’ words here, and then live them out. Let your light shine in this world before all who can see you. Love well. Serve well. And in so doing, reflect the mark of your Savior.