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78. "Greater love hath no man than this"
78. "Greater love hath no man than this"
Lead up to death (Betrayal, Last supper etc)

78. The Last Supper (3 of 5)

John 15, 1-27; 16, 1. A.D. 30. Age 33. Jerusalem: Upper Room.
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The Last Supper (3 of 5)….I AM the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches; he that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit; for without me ye can do nothing.

If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.

Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.

As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.

These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. This is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you.

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth; but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.

Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and thatyour fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you. These things I command you, that ye love one another.

If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.

Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord.

If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me.

If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloak for their sin. He that hateth me hateth my Father also.

If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father.

But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause.

But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me: and ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning.

These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended.

Scripture: John 15:1-8

Meditation 1 of 5: 

Why does Jesus speak of himself as the true vine? The image of the vine was a rich one for the Jews since the land of Israel was covered with numerous vineyards. It had religious connotations to it as well.  Isaiah spoke of the house of Israel as “the vineyard of the Lord” (Isaiah 5:7).  Jeremiah said that God had planted Israel “as his choice vine” (Jeremiah 2:21). While the vine became a symbol of Israel as a nation, it also was used in the scriptures as a sign of degeneration.  Isaiah’s prophecy spoke of Israel as a vineyard which “yielded wild grapes” (see Isaiah 5:1-7). Jeremiah said that Israel had become a“degenerate and wild vine” (Jeremiah 2:21).  When Jesus calls himself the true vine he makes clear that no one can claim their spiritual inheritance through association with a particular people or bloodline.  Rather, it is only through Jesus Christ that one can become grafted into the true “vineyard of the Lord”.  Jesus offers true life — the abundant life which comes from God and which results in great fruitfulness. How does the vine become fruitful?  The vinedresser must carefully prune the vine before it can bear good fruit.  Vines characteristically have two kinds of branches — those which bear fruit and those which don’t.  The non-bearing branches must be carefully pruned back in order for the vine to conserve its strength for bearing good fruit.  Jesus used this image to describe the kind of life he produces in those who are united with him — the fruit of “righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit”  (Romans 14:17). Jesus says there can be no fruit in our lives apart from him.  The fruit he speaks of here is the fruit of the Holy Spirit (see Galatians 5:22-23). There is a simple truth here: We are either fruit-bearing or non-fruit-bearing. There is no in-between. But the bearing of healthy fruit requires drastic pruning. The Lord promises that we will bear much fruit if we abide in him and allow him to purify us. Do you trust in the Lord’s abiding presence with you?

“Lord, may I be one with you in all that I say and do.  Draw me close that I may glorify you and bear fruit for your kingdom. Inflame my heart with your love and remove from it anything that would make me ineffective or unfruitful in loving and serving you as My All.” 

Scripture: John 15:9-11

Meditation2 of 5: 

Do you know the love that produces immeasurable joy? Jesus speaks of the love which the Father and he have for those who belong to him.  We can never outgive God in love, because he has loved us without measure. Our love for him is a response to his exceeding mercy and kindness towards us. Paul the Apostle tells us that we can abound in joy and hope because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us (Romans 5:5).  In God’s love we find the fulness of grace, life, peace, and joy. Jesus gives his disciples a new commandment — a new way of love.  We are to love others as Jesus has loved us.  What is the essence of this new commandment?  True love is sacrificial.  It gives all to the beloved.  And there is no greater proof in love than the sacrifice of one’s life for the sake of another. Jesus proved his love for his disciples by giving his life for them, even to death on the cross. We prove our love for God and for one another when we embrace the way of the cross.  What is the cross in my life?  When my will crosses with God’s will, then God’s will must be done.  Do you know the joy and contentment of a life fully surrendered to God and consumed with his love?

“Lord, may I abound in hope, joy, and love.  Inflame my heart with love for you and your ways and with charity and compassion for my neighbor.  May there be nothing in my life which keeps me from your love.

Scripture: John 15:12-17

Meditation 3 of 5: 

Do you know the friendship of God?  One of the special marks of favor shown in the scriptures is to be called the friend of God.  Abraham is called the friend of God (Isaiah 41:8). God speaks with Abraham as a man speaks with his friend (Exodus 33:11). Jesus, the Lord and Master, in turn, calls the disciples his friends rather than his servants. What does it mean to be a friend of God? Friendship with God certainly entails a loving relationship which goes beyond mere duty and obedience. Jesus’ discourse on friendship and brotherly love echoes the words of Proverbs:  A friend loves at all times; and a brother is born for adversity (Proverbs 17:17). The distinctive feature of Jesus’ relationship with his disciples was his personal love for them. He loved his own to the end (John 13:1).  His love was unconditional and wholly directed to the good of others.  His love was also sacrificial.  He gave the best he had and all that he had.  He gave his very life for those he loved in order to secure for them everlasting life with the Father.

True love is costly. A true lover gives the best he can offer and is willing to sacrifice everything he has for the beloved.  God willingly paid the price for our redemption — the sacrifice of his only begotten Son. That’s the nature of true friendship and love — the willingness to give all for the beloved. True friends will lay down their lives for each other. Jesus tells us that he is our friend and he loves us whole-heartedly and unconditionally. He wants us to love one another just as he loves us, whole-heartedly and without reserve. His love fills our hearts and transforms our minds and frees us to give ourselves in loving service to others. If we open our hearts to his love and obey his command to love our neighbor, then we will bear much fruit in our lives, fruit that will last for eternity. Do you wish to be fruitful and to abound in the love of God?

“Teach us, good Lord, to serve you as you deserve, to give and not to count the cost, to fight and not to heed the wounds, to toil and not to seek for rest, to labor and not to ask for any reward, save that of knowing that we do your will; through Jesus Christ our Lord.”  (Prayer of Ignatius Loyola) 

Scripture: John 15:18-21

Meditation 4 of 5: 

What does Jesus mean when he says “you are not of this world”?  The “world” in scripture refers to that society of people who are hostile towards God and opposed to his will.  The “world” rejected Jesus and his disciples can expect the same treatment. Jesus leaves no middle ground for his followers. We are either for him or against him, for his kingdom of light or for the kingdom of darkness. The prophet Isaiah warned that humans separated from God by sin and spiritual darkness would end up calling evil good and good evil (Isaiah 5:20).  How can we rightly distinguish good from evil? The love of God draws us to all that is lovely, true and good.  If we truly love God then we will submit to his truth and will for our lives.  A friend of God cannot expect to be a friend of the world. Jesus’ demand is unequivocal and without compromise. Do not love the world or the things in the world. If any one loves the world, love for the Father is not in him (1 John 2:15). We must make a choice either for or against God. Do you seek to please God in all your thoughts, actions, and relationships? Let the Holy Spirit inflame your heart with the love of God.

“Lord, may the fire of your love inflame my heart with zeal for your kingdom. And may there be no rivals to keep my from loving your first and foremost above all else.” 

Scripture: John 15:26-16:4

Meditation 5 of 5:  

When you need help or support who do you turn to? A friend who has earned your trust? Jesus offers his disciples the best and truest of friends. Who is this promised friend? Jesus calls the Holy Spirit our Counselor and Advocate (also translated Paraclete or Helper).  Counselor is a legal term for the one who will defend someone against an adversary and who guides that person during the ordeal of trial.  The Holy Spirit is our Advocate and Helper who brings us safely through the challenges and adversities we must face in this life. As Jesus approached the hour he was to be glorified — through his death on the cross and his resurrection, he revealed more fully to his disciples the person and role of the Holy Spirit.  What does Jesus tell us about the Holy Spirit?  First, the Holy Spirit is inseparably one with the Father and the Son. It is the Holy Spirit who gives life— the very life of God — and who kindles faith in hearts receptive to God’s word. The Spirit makes it possible for us to know God personally. He gives us experiential knowledge of God as our Father. The Spirit witnesses to our spirit that the Father has indeed sent his Son into the world to redeem it and has raised his Son Jesus from the dead and has seated him at his right hand in glory and power.  The Holy Spirit reveals to us the knowledge, wisdom and plan of God for the ages and the Spirit enables us to see with the “eyes of faith” what the Father and the Son are doing. Through the gift and working of the Holy Spirit we become witnesses to the great work of God in Christ Jesus.  Jesus warned his disciples that they could expect persecution just as Jesus was opposed and treated  hostilely. We have been given the Holy Spirit to help us live as disciples of Jesus Christ. The Spirit gives us courage and perseverance when we meet adversities and challenges. Do you pray for the Holy Spirit to strengthen you in faith, hope and love and to give you courage and perseverance with hope when you meet adversities and challenges?

“O merciful God, fill our hearts, we pray, with the graces of your Holy Spirit; with love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, humility and self-control.  Teach us to love those who hate us; to pray for those who despitefully use us; that we may be the children of your love, our Father, who makes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.  In adversity grant us grace to be patient; in prosperity keep us humble; may we guard the door of our lips; may we lightly esteem the pleasures of this world, and thirst after heavenly things; through Jesus Christ our Lord.”  (Prayer of Anselm, 1033-1109)

Psalm 149:1-9

1 Praise the LORD! Sing to the LORD a new song, his praise in the assembly of the faithful! 
2 Let Israel be glad in his Maker, let the sons of Zion rejoice in their King! 
3 Let them praise his name with dancing, making melody to him with timbrel and lyre! 
4 For the LORD takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with victory. 
5 Let the faithful exult in glory; let them sing for joy on their couches. 
6 Let the high praises of God be in their throats and two-edged swords in their hands, 
7 to wreak vengeance on the nations and chastisement on the peoples, 
8 to bind their kings with chains and their nobles with fetters of iron, 
9 to execute on them the judgment written! This is glory for all his faithful ones.  Praise the LORD!

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