PARTNERS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT: PART LXX
Love, yes love, can be a window into heaven, but love can also be a door into hell. I have been through times when I felt guilty of not loving God and Christ enough, not praying enough, not reading the Bible enough, and not being more active in Church. And, I, myself, have been guilty of making others feel guilty for not showing enough love. I have come to the conclusion, that I cannot measure love for myself and even less so for others. I have also discovered that being with people, as one of them, inconspicuously does not require much love. But if I tried to be a bit more friendlier to some, I was misunderstood, and I ended up using love, that I did not have to dig myself out of having been too forward with my love. The disciples James and John Zebedee also used love to be promoted; and therefore, they were embarrassed when Jesus had to turn them down, and when Jesus had to explain to them that in His Kingdom no one would be lording over others and the Lord, Himself, will be like a servant, who gives His Life just to save some (Mark 10:35-48). For that reason, Jesus made to love a Commandment:
“A new commandment I give you, that you love one another; even as I loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35).
THE UNFORGETTABLE SCENE WHEN THE LORD BECAME THE SERVANT
Twelve lords had sat down at the table and they expected to be served the Passover meal. No one came to serve them and prepare them for the Passover. To their surprise, their Lord became their Servant and Jesus even washed their feet as an example to show what He meant by the word “love.” Then, Jesus explained what He expected these twelve lords to do when He was no longer with them. And that was why Jesus added “love” to the Ten Commandments. Therefore, “love,” as a Commandment, can ease and resolve most of man’s troubles.
When he had washed their feet, and taken his garments, and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. If then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him (John 13:12-17).
It was risky to hand over the Kingdom of Jesus to his disciples, who had never managed anything. Jesus had no other alternative, but to trust Peter with keeping the little flock together until Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit would choose leaders, who would spread the Kingdom around the world (Luke 12:32-34; John 21:15-18; Matthew 16:17-29; Acts 1:6-11). For the time being, Jesus charged his disciples as follows:
Let your loins be girded and your lamps burning, and be like men who are waiting for their master to come from the marriage feast, so that they may open to him at once when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes; truly, I say to you, he will gird himself and have them sit at table, and he will come and serve them. If he comes in the second watch, or in the third, and finds them so, blessed are those servants! But know this, that if the householder had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have left his house to be broken into. You also must be ready; for the Son of man is coming at an unexpected hour (Luke 12:35-40).
PETER, THE MAN WHO WAS TO LEAD JESUS’ FLOCK, ASKED WHOM JESUS HAD IN MIND?
It was while I attended a Christian Institute to prepare for college that a guest minister, during chapel, tried to straighten some of us out with his sermon for a troublesome deacons. That morning the deacon responded, “You did tell them, you did!” Peter was no different from us, those of us, who avoid responsibilities and try to hang the blame and guilt on others. Especially, those among us, who wait for the Lord to do things, should take James’ statement to heart: “Whoever knows what is right to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin” (James 4:17).
Peter said, “Lord, are you telling this parable for us or for all?” And the Lord said, “Who then is the faithful and wise steward, whom his master will set over his household, to give them their portion of food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master when he comes will find so doing. Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. But if that servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed in coming,’ and begins to beat the menservants and the maidservants and to eat and drink and get drunk, the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will punish him, and put him with the unfaithful. And that servant who knew his master’s will, but did not make ready or act according to his will, shall receive a severe beating. But he who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, shall receive a light beating. Every one to whom much is given, of him will much be required; and of him to whom men commit much they will demand the more (Luke 12:41-48).
PETER PUT HIS FOOT IN HIS MOUTH FOR OUR BENEFIT
Peter asked Jesus whether seven times was enough to forgive a brother? The answer was: “No!” Jesus told Peter to move it up to “seventy times seven” (Matthew 18:21-22). The question opened the door to the problem of leaders, managers, and the people in authority, who love themselves much more than they love their subordinates and the people in their care. These people, who are on top of the ladder, do not have “an in with God,” and therefore, they must be held accountable for their mismanagements and for the lack of love for their fellowmen in similar circumstances. At least, that is what Jesus taught in this parable.
Therefore, the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. When he began the reckoning, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents; and as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him the lord of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. But that same servant, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat and said, ‘Pay what you owe.’ So his fellow servant fell down and besought him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ He refused and went and put him in prison till he should pay the debt. When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place. Then his lord summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you besought me; and should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his lord delivered him to the jailers, till he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart (Matthew 18:23-35).
LOVE IS MEASURED BY WHAT WE DO — AND SO ARE WE
A Pharisee invited Jesus to dine with him and he made certain that the public also had access to his house. By proving that Jesus was not a prophet, the Pharisee dispensed with the hospitality. Therefore, he hoped that someone would incriminate His Guest. When an ill-reputed woman came, who made her living the hard and immoral way, the Pharisee had his wish fulfilled. The woman came, standing behind Jesus’ feet — covering Jesus’ feet with her tears — wiped Jesus’ feet with her hair — kissed Jesus’ feet — and then she spread her costly ointment all over Jesus’ feet. The women’s action convinced the Pharisee that Jesus could not be a man of God because Jesus did not know what kind of a woman she was — to be allowed to dare to do this to a prophet. Jesus sensed his host’s perception; and therefore, Jesus asked him to solve a puzzle (Luke 7:36-39).
And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “What is it Teacher?” “certain creditor had two debtors; one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he forgave them both. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, to whom he forgave more.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.” Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house, you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.” And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace” (Luke 7:40-50).
THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS COMPRISED OF PEOPLE WHO SERVE AND NOT OF THOSE WHO WAIT TO BE SERVED
Now, King Jesus is on vacation and He will return and hold his servants accountable for the work they have done in His absence. Jesus spoke the parable not just for the Jews, but also for the Christians. Especially, if we believe there is a crown waiting for us in heaven; yet in reality, we do not have the credentials, which the Apostle Paul earned with his hard work. To Jesus and to Paul, love was a servant and not a master:
This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide; so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. This I command you, to love one another (John 15:12-17).
For I (Paul) am already on the point of being sacrificed; the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing (II Timothy 4:6-8).
Owe no man anything, except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. The commandment, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not kill, You shall not steal, you shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this sentence, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
Besides this you know what hour it is, how it is full time now for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed; the night is far gone, the day is at hand. Let us then cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; let us conduct ourselves becomingly as in the day, and not in revealing and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires (Romans 13:8-14).
LET’S MAKE SURE THAT THE LOVE WE CHASE IS THE LOVE THAT SAVES
Jesus had many people following Him for the wrong reason. And therefore, Jesus left His warning! Jesus told his followers what they ought to do, and so did the Apostle John:
When they found him (Jesus) on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you get here? Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek me not because you saw signs, but because you eat your fill of the loaves. Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of man will give to you; for on him has God the Father set the seal.” Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the work of God? Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent” (John 6:25-29).
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If any one loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life, is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world passes away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever (I John 2:15-17).
Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust” consume and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal; for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also (Matthew 6:19-21).
Be informed that there is a “treasury” in heaven that records our deeds and names to be opened on Judgment Day (Revelation 20:11-15).