It may be strange to hear “the love passage,” along with the Passion according to John. Today we are called upon to remember the sacrifice that Jesus made for us. Here we are called upon to think in particular upon his suffering and death. It is hard for us. It has, in many ways, become so cliché, so common, so much a part of our culture and history, that it is hard for the full weight of what he did to hit us… If we aren’t careful, the very works of art and stained glass that surround us, that seek to represent the Passion of the Christ to us, may also serve to deaden us to it’s full impact…
Yes, we are all responsible for what happened to the Son of God. We are responsible. The Jews called out, “may his blood be on us and on our children”. Those fated words, which have been used as a rationale for anti-Semitism, are actually the means for salvation, for them and for us.
It is only by saying those same words, saying “we will bare the full responsibility of our actions in this matter” that the same blood we shed can become our soul’s salvation and protection. No, we don’t deserve it. No, we don’t deserve the curse that we put on him to be overturned into such a blessing. It’s true, we suffer, and Jesus entered into that suffering in the most extreme way, and overcame it, but through it all, we don’t deserve such love.
I read recently, “Love is the only difference between an execution and martyrdom… ” Only Love.
So we have the “love chapter”, used at so many weddings, and one of the most beautiful passages of Scripture, and one of the most beautiful poems ever written… We have it, and it’s most perfect expression, side by side. It may be strange to hear “the love passage,” along with the Passion according to John, but there is a connection.
We have this beauty held together with Christ’s agony and bloody death. We have this beauty held together with the perfect Son of God bearing upon himself the evil and corruption of the entire created universe.
Christ’s sacrifice is, in fact, Love in its finest suit.
Paul said, “If I have not love, I am nothing”. In Christ we have love perfected, perfected by this very event that we are witnessing. In Christ we have love perfected, and this perfect love cannot be beaten down by anything–even the sin of the whole world can’t keep that love down. It is that infinite patience that forgave, even as the nails were put in his hands. That infinite “does not insist on its own way” receives the cheapest wine even though he gave us the best wine at the wedding in Cana. Receives the cheapest wine, even at his death, when he offers to gives us the living water that will quench our thirst forever.
He is that infinite kindness that thought of his mother and her well being, even in the midst of blinding pain…
He was no noisy gong or clanging symbol… As sheep before it’s shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. His love was an action, and it was emphasised by his humility and silence throughout his ordeal… “Will you not speak to me?” Pilate asks… And that old adage, “actions speak louder than words” comes to mind…
“Love bears all things” (even the sin of the world), “believes all things” (that even in the final moments, even when he cries out to God, “Why have you forsaken me?” that his God is still his God… He is still “My God, My God…”), “hopes all things” (that in the end, his soul was to be commended into his fathers hands, “Into thy hands I commend my spirit”), “endures all things” (even the death of the cross). And it is completed in that death. Love finds it’s beginning and end in Christ. “It is finished… shows that the whole accomplishment of our salvation, and all the parts of it, are contained in his death” (John Calvin).
Jesus did it all so that we may be saved. Suffered so that we may have a hope to know that same love working in our hearts… Suffered so that our love would not have to be crippled by weakness and corruption. Suffered so that the curse could be overturned and that the exiled children of Adam could be brought back into the family of God.
It is difficult to get at the full ramifications of it all… But we must try. It’s difficult to comprehend, as difficult as “the love chapter” is in our everyday lives (who can live up to it, really? Only partially at best)… But we will come to know, even as we are fully and truly known. We will come to know, as we take up our cross daily, and seek to follow him.
Let us pray…