Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.’ I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
“Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and as I said to the Jews so I now say to you, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.”
These words from Jesus remind me of the night my little sister was born. he was born by emergency c-section when I was 9 years old. I didn’t want to be separated from my mother and father. They were both clearly distressed. I remember the moment my dad dropped me off with friends. I didn’t want to let him go. The next time that I saw him, everything would be different. I wanted to be there, but my dad explained that he and my mother were going somewhere that I could not go.
Imagine being a disciple and hearing these words from Jesus. “I am only with you a little longer, where I am going, you cannot come.” How are you feeling? Are you scared? Confused, worried, sad? I would be. Can you taste the anxiety in the air? Everything is about to change.
Jesus is addressing all of the fear in the room on this the night before his death. He uses his precious last moments, last actions, and last words to give us hope. The disciples do not know what to do next. Jesus keeps saying he is going to die and the political climate around them leads them to believe this is true. They are not ready to let him go, not ready for thing to be changed. They feel hopeless, and scared like a little child watching the family car drive away towards the hospital.
Jesus’ response to the disciples’ fear and to our fear and hopelessness is this. Prepare to love. Love like I love you. Love so much, Love so hard, Love to true, love so full of hope that you become a threat to the hopeless world. Have the audacity to love like it will make a difference. Cling to each other in your pain and fear, react to those feelings with love. Do it so well that it becomes the thing that marks you and sets you apart. Face fear and hopelessness with love and sometimes on the other side you find yourself with an expanded family and more joy than you could have ever imagined. Tonight, we walk with Jesus through the valley of the shadow of death. We recognize his pain, our pain, and the pain of those around us. Jesus asks that our response to that pain be love.