The Full Extent of Love

The Herald News February 13, 2014

“…he now showed them the full extent of his love.” John 13:1

My wife is all wet. The truth is: she is smarter and wiser than me, and is almost always right about everything. But she likes to be all wet.

I haven’t talked this over with my daughters yet, but I think we should have a continuous flow of young grandkids so I can enjoy the exuberance and joy it brings out in Cheryl.

The grandkids call Cheryl Anya, and when she is with them, there is no greater display of love. It’s wet, too. You see, her favorite thing is to give baths to the kids. Your mind can visualize this right now, can’t it? Young kids in a tub, water toys, bathtub letters that stick on the wall, a smiling grandmother hanging over the tub, H2O everywhere. Everywhere…

In John 13, the Apostle Peter had an issue with washings. With the crucifixion near, Jesus was in the midst of washing the feet of the disciples. Peter completely missed the symbolism and example of service by Jesus and resisted Jesus’ humble act. Rebuked by Jesus but still protesting, Peter—like us—tells Jesus to give him a bath all over. I think Peter was trying to be honoring but his impetuous-self got in the way of understanding.

Verses 8-10 have an interesting interplay of words behind the scenes. Jesus, ever mixing direct statements, veiled truths, and figurative language, forcefully responds and teaches: some cleanings are temporary. But He exclaims, “When I wash your feet tonight Peter, something far greater is portrayed. Except for one, all of my disciples—and yes—even YOU Peter are forever clean.” For Christ’s followers the towel and basin depict a single act (the cross) and we are forever clean before God when we embrace the cross. Merrill Tenney writes about John13: “The work of Christ draws a permanent line between those who have been cleansed and those who are not clean.”

It helps in our own losses and crosses to focus on this “full extent of his love.”

A good friend tells the true story of a college student who received the news that his father and siblings had all been killed in a plane crash. My friend went to his dorm room to see him but he was gone. His attention was drawn to a card on display with these two words: “Think Jesus.”

Cheryl’s great joy in bathing our grandchildren is quickly, naturally coming to an end as the kids grow older. By contrast, her love for our grandkids is impregnable and unending, and pictures our unassailable Father and the full extent of His love for those who follow His Son.

I’d be honored to hear of a time when “Think Jesus” was all you could do at:


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