Week 36 Sunday

To the End – and Beyond

Today’s scripture selection: John 13-15

Key Verse: John 13:1b

     In telling the events surrounding Jesus’ last hours before his crucifixion, John makes this poignant statement:

“Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.”

That has always struck me as a particularly beautiful description of God’s love.

In Christ, God loved those “in the world”…

  • Those long forgotten
  • Those oppressed
  • Those suffering
  • Those in need of savior

And, having loved them, even when the “world” turned against him – he still loved them, to the end – the end found while nailed to a cross of execution.

Now, if things really did “end” there – it would be just one more very sad story of tragic love.

But John knew better.  And so do the Christians living today.

God’s love, in Christ, led to that sacrificial cross – and to death.  But it also led to an empty tomb – and to the defeat of death.  That is the promise of resurrection that Christians still celebrate today, two thousand years after Jesus’ enemies thought they had finished him off.

So it’s much more than the story of a loving leader who sacrificially gives of himself “in the name of love.”  It’s not martyrdom – no matter how noble martyrdom might be.

It’s the story of God saving those beloved children of his in the most extraordinary of ways – via death and re-birth.

Maybe it should go something like this…

“Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end – and beyond.”

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for your extraordinary love that knows no bounds – not even death.  AMEN.

By Paul Simrell

The Reverend Paul W. Simrell has served for over thirty years in a variety of congregational and institutional settings. He is a recognized minister with standing in the Virginia region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and is nationally endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for specialized ministry in both pastoral counseling and chaplaincy. Ordained in 1982, he has served congregations in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He currently serves as the pastor of Elpis Christian Church, a small, historic congregation located just a few miles west of Richmond, Virginia. Elpis is the Greek word meaning “expectant hope.” He also serves on the associate clinical staff of the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care, Richmond, Virginia, both as a pastoral counselor and a ministerial assessment specialist, specializing in executive, clergy and relationship coaching. He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Lexington Theological Seminary and has done advanced clinical training in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care in Richmond, Virginia. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, an ACPE Practitioner, and a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors. He is a Certified Facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich relationship assessment and skills-building program and served as a volunteer chaplain for over twenty years with the CJW Medical Center campuses in Richmond, Virginia. His avocational interests include playing the piano and drawing. He is very happily married to his wife Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell, a free-lance writer, who is also a Certified Facilitator for the Prepare-Enrich program. Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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