A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. John 13:34
I wasn’t truthful about the tulips. A gift from my younger daughter, the packaged bulbs traveled home with her to the US from Amsterdam after she visited there. So I made a show of accepting the bulbs with great excitement, as excited as I was to reunite with her. But tulips are my least favorite flower. Many bloom early and fade fast. The July weather, meantime, made it too hot to plant them.
Finally, however, in late September, I planted “my daughter’s” bulbs—thinking of her and thus planting them with love. With each turn of the rocky soil, my concern for the bulbs grew. Giving their plant bed a final pat, I offered the bulbs a blessing, “sleep well,” hoping to see blooming tulips in the spring.
My little project became a humble reminder of God’s call for us to love one another, even if we’re not each other’s “favorites.” Looking past each other’s faulty “weeds,” we’re enabled by God to extend love to others, even in temperamental seasons. Then, over time, mutual love blooms in spite of ourselves. “By this,” Jesus said, “everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35). Pruned by Him, we’re blessed then to bloom, as my tulips did the next spring—on the same weekend my daughter arrived for a short visit. “Look what’s blooming!” I said. Finally, me.
Whom is God asking you to love, even if that person isn’t your “favorite”? What can you do to show that person more of the love of Christ?
Dear Jesus, prune my heart so I can learn to love others in Christ.
John 13:31–35 comes immediately after Judas leaves the scene of the Last Supper to betray Jesus (vv. 26–30). “When he was gone, Jesus said, ‘Now the Son of Man is glorified and God is glorified in him’ ” (v. 31). The form of the verbs used here indicates that glorification was present and had happened, even though Jesus’ death and resurrection hadn’t yet occurred. This is often referred to as “the prophetic perfect” verb tense, which describes future events so certain to take place that they’re referred to as if they’ve already happened. Throughout the Bible, prophets often stated prophecies this way to indicate the assurance of what would happen. It’s interesting to note that the gospel of John refers to these events differently than do the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke). The Synoptics refer to Jesus’ death as His humiliation, rather than glorification, but John continually includes the cross as a part of Jesus’ glorification.