The following is an excerpt from the message "Love is Beautiful" presented by Pastor Kyla on Sunday, June 11, 2017. You can listen to the full message here.
It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
John 13: 1- 5 (NIV)
I have a painting that hangs in my bedroom. It is a vibrant depiction of red poppies done by Vancouver Island artist, Peter Shostak. I received this piece as a gift from my parents when I graduated from University. It is the first thing I see every morning, and it is undeniably beautiful.
It also has a frame on it that was chosen by the artist. I'm not sure what his practice is these days, but at the time, when you bought Shostak's work, you bought it framed. This was because the artist saw the frame as a significant piece of the work. The way the art was framed really affected how you saw the piece.
So it is with scripture. The frame is significant. How the narrative is framed really affects how you see the picture of what is unfolding. The writer of this passage takes great care when selecting the frame. “Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.”
The frame of this story gives you the key to viewing what this passage is really about. “Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.” This story is framed in love. If you see nothing else when gazing on its beauty, be sure to see love.
Love is an interesting word. We use it in our culture to mean all kinds of things. In the biblical texts we see three unique uses of the word: Philia, or brotherly love; Eros, or sensual love; Agape, or divine love. Not surprisingly here, the word translated is a form of Agape love. Agape is a word that emits self-sacrifice. It is a word that, rooted in the very essence of God, (because God is Agape, 1John 4:8) has its very own beauty to gaze upon. The beauty is not flashy or showy. It is not self-aggrandizing or boastful.
Agape Love is patient, Agape is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud It does not dishonor others, Agape Love is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Agape Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. Agape always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Agape Love never fails.
Adapted from 1Corinthians 13: 4-7
This is not a passage telling you how to love, rather this is a description of God who is Agape, the beauty for which there is no comparison. This beautiful love is the frame for the foot-washing story before us. As we read through this depiction of Jesus, let its essence grip your heart and move your spirit to not only know, but to feel and experience the great Agape Love that is God.
We talk, as a church, about making Jesus known. Know that as we do, we are announcing our intention to be a faith family set on describing for others who Jesus really is. Jesus is Agape, love, the very frame of the whole story of God. Isn't He beautiful?
Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.
John 13: 34 – 35 (The Message)