When Jesus had spoken these words, he went out with his disciples across the Kidron Valley, where there was a garden, which he and his disciples entered.

John 18:1

What were “these words” that Christ had spoken just prior to going into the Kidron Valley to pray, be betrayed, heal a lopped off ear, and arrested?

I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.

John 17:26

These are the concluding words of Christ’s high priestly prayer for His people.  Christ’s passion was to reveal the name of God to His own, make them His possession, ransoming them, and joyfully return to sweet fellowship with the Father.

How astounding it is (at least to me) that the continuity between the upper room discourse and the Garden of Gethsemane is prayer.  Not only prayer, but what Christ prayed.  He prayed that His disciples (then and now) would display that they are Christ’s very own by their love for one another.

Consider the events that happen all around this powerful prayer saturated period (between Thursday night and early Friday morning):  Washing of feet, the last supper, promising the Holy Spirit, comforting words of preparation, betrayal…then slumbering disciples, soldiers, swords, an ear on the ground, blood, healing, a betrayer’s kiss, bound.

Are these all merely examples of how we are to love each other?  To some degree yes, but what we know is that our love for one another flows out of our love for God.  Our love for God is given because He first loved us.  His demonstrates His love for us in Christ dying for sinners…while they were still sinners.  We CANNOT love one another outside of an understanding of subsitutionary atonement.

Christ died for the ungodly.  Not as an example, but has a purchase…a pardon.  Can we possibly see the beauty of this free grace and say, “Thanks for that.  See you on the other side.  In the mean time, I’ve some money to make, a wife to marry, a few kids to have (not too many, though), and a big retirement portfolio to build.  If it gets tough enough, I’ll call on ya.  But still, thanks!”

No way.

Jesus didn’t die to merely give you a good ethic in the accomplishment of the American dream.

Loving people is messy business.  The only way to truly do that is to realize just how undeserving of grace we really are.  That’s why it’s a primary mark of real love, real salvation and at the heart of Christ’s passion in prayer…It puts on display Christ’s atoning work in real, hard life and love.

15 See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies, 21 but test everything; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil.

23 Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.

1 Thessalonians 5:15-24

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