John 15:9-17 (NRSV)
Verse 9As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. Verse 10If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. Verse 11I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete. Verse 12"This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Verse 13No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends. Verse 14You are my friends if you do what I command you. Verse 15I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. Verse 16You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. Verse 17I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.
Dying words are in a league of their own. What do you think your final words would be if you knew you were going to die in a short while? To whom would your words be addressed? I’m guessing that somewhere in those last words there would be a heartfelt “I love you” as well as some sincere request like “take care of your mother,” or “live your life well.”
In today’s reading, Jesus knows he will die soon. His final words are a heartfelt address to his disciples: “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you.” He makes this sincere final request: “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” Jesus’ dying words are of a new vision for those who follow him: the vision of a human family empowered to love one another with, in, and through Christ’s love—just as we have been loved.
As you have loved us, Christ Jesus, so we love you, and live out that love by loving one another. So fill us with your love that it overflows to bless the world. Amen.