Lesson 23: “Love One Another, As I Have Loved You”
Purpose: to inspire class members to follow Jesus’ example by loving and serving others.
I think it’s normal for us to hope that we will be remembered after we are gone. For most of us, the people we expect to remember us are probably children and grandchildren. But even if, like me, you won’t be leaving any descendants when you pass on, we all still want to be remembered, to believe that the world is better, somehow, than it would have been had we never been born. Maybe the people you hope will remember you are the ones who will find and appreciate the poetry you’ve written that you’ve been too shy to share. Or maybe they won’t even know your name, but someone will be gladdened by a garden you make, or a charity you support, or an improvement you have made to something in the course of your life’s work. Who will those people be? (rhetorical question – don’t seek answers)
Imagine that you have an evening to spend with your grandchildren, or with whoever it is who will remember you. You know, somehow, that this is the last time you will be able to visit quietly and intimately with them. What are the most important things you could tell them? What would you want them to remember forever about this last evening with them? Why? (brief class discussion)
Today and for the next week or two we’ll be talking about the last few hours of Christ’s life – the time that is traditionally called “the Passion.” In ordinary English conversation, what is usually meant by the word “passionate” – as in, “Her passion was collecting teapots” or “He is passionately in love with Helen”? What does the word mean when it is applied to the last hours of Christ’s life? (The word has Greek and Latin roots meaning “to suffer.”) In what broad ways is Jesus going to be suffering in the coming hours? – we know, for instance, that he will suffer great physical pain. What other types of suffering will he undergo? (mental, spiritual, loneliness, betrayal, etc.)
How is the word “compassion” related to “passion”? (means “suffering with”) In what ways will Jesus’s passion be his own suffering, and in what ways will it be suffering with/for others?
In the chapters that you have read for today’s lesson – you have read them, right? – we learn that Jesus goes up to the Passover in Jerusalem for the last time, and that he spends an evening in an upper room with his apostles. Jesus knows, of course, that although he will return for a time after the resurrection later that week, this is the last quiet, intimate time he will have with his closest disciples. He is living out what we have been talking about theoretically – he has one last time to instruct them, to prepare them for his leaving.
1. Jesus institutes the sacrament
2. After washing their feet, Jesus commands the Apostles to love one another.
3. Jesus teaches “I am the way, the truth, and the life” and “I am the true vine.”
4. Taking upon us the name of Christ.
You’re as familiar as I am with the events of that evening. What goes on in that upper room?
(Discuss the events as class members name them, in whatever order they come. Or, list them on the board as they are mentioned so that you can more easily direct which ones are discussed, and move along from one to another. Some possible questions to stimulate discussion:)
Sacrament (Luke 22:14:20)
14And when the hour was come, he sat down, and the twelve apostles with him. 15And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer: 16For I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God. 17And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves: 18For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come. 19And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. 20Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.
This certainly fits with our earlier discussion about wanting to be remembered. Is Jesus commanding remembrance for his own sake? If not, if he commands it for the sake of his disciples, how does remembering benefit them, and us?
How might someone’s life be different if he forgets Christ, than if he remembers Christ?
Why are we commanded to remember the flesh and blood of Christ at this moment, instead of, say, some key teachings or doctrines given by Christ?
If we had not been raised to be familiar with the bread and water being the symbolic flesh and blood, then the nature of the sacrament might be very unpleasant, even cannibalistic. Why might Christ have chosen to instruct his disciples by eating and drinking, rather than in some other way?
Washing of the feet (John 13:1-11)
1Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end. 2And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him; 3Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God; 4He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. 5After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded. 6Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet? 7Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter. 8Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me. 9Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head. 10Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all. 11For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean.
The ritual of washing feet goes back at least as far as Abraham (Genesis 18:4), when Abraham greets three angelic visitors with an offer of rest and food and water to wash their feet.
What is Jesus trying to teach the disciples by washing their feet?
Do you think this teaching was more effective with a physical action, such as Jesus made, or would it have served just as well to have said in words [quote whatever the class has suggested as the teaching conveyed by Jesus’s washing of the feet]
What are some examples of actions or behaviors in the modern Church, and in your life, that better convey a principle taught by Christ than words alone could convey?
Jesus foretells his betrayal (John 13:21-30)
21When Jesus had thus said, he was troubled in spirit, and testified, and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me. 22Then the disciples looked one on another, doubting of whom he spake. 23Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved. 24Simon Peter therefore beckoned to him, that he should ask who it should be of whom he spake. 25He then lying on Jesus’ breast saith unto him, Lord, who is it? 26Jesus answered, He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it. And when he had dipped the sop, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. 27And after the sop Satan entered into him. Then said Jesus unto him, That thou doest, do quickly. 28Now no man at the table knew for what intent he spake this unto him. 29For some of them thought, because Judas had the bag, that Jesus had said unto him, Buy those things that we have need of against the feast; or, that he should give something to the poor. 30He then having received the sop went immediately out: and it was night.
“Men would recline on couches at feasts … Each person would recline slightly behind the person to his right; thus John could lean his head back and be even with Jesus’ chest. (They would lean on the left elbow with the right arm free and so could not cut up their food; it would come presliced at the banquet.) This beloved disciple (presumably John) has one of the most honored positions at the feast, along with the person on the left – perhaps Judas, as some commentators have suggested, given verse 26.” (IVP)
Here we see Jesus physically placed between the love of a disciple whom he loves on one hand, and the coming sin and betrayal of Judas on the other hand. Does that mean anything particular to you? Are you surrounded equally as closely by both good and evil? Jesus knew the difference between the two disciples, although the rest of his apostles could not identify Judas as the traitor – are we doomed to be in the position of those apostles, being unable to distinguish between the good and evil around us? or how can we access the powers Jesus exercised to know the difference?
The new commandment (John 13:31-35)
31Therefore, when he was gone out, Jesus said, Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him. 32If God be glorified in him, God shall also glorify him in himself, and shall straightway glorify him. 33Little children, yet a little while I am with you. Ye shall seek me: and as I said unto the Jews, Whither I go, ye cannot come; so now I say to you. 34A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. 35By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
How has Christ loved us?
Jesus gives this commandment immediately after telling his disciples that he is leaving them. Is there any significance in that?
What is “new” about this commandment? Haven’t we been commanded to love before? Compare this verse to Leviticus 19:18:
Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the Lord
How is this commandment “new” or how does it differ from that one?
Jesus seems to repeat this commandment in 15:12-13:
12This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. 13Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
Does that restatement suggest how we are commanded to love one another?
Jesus foretells Peter’s denial (John 13:36-38)
36Simon Peter said unto him, Lord, whither goest thou? Jesus answered him, Whither I go, thou canst not follow me now; but thou shalt follow me afterwards. 37Peter said unto him, Lord, why cannot I follow thee now? I will lay down my life for thy sake. 38Jesus answered him, Wilt thou lay down thy life for my sake? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, The cock shall not crow, till thou hast denied me thrice.
Explain the concept of a pericope (a coherent unit of thought, which is sometimes obscured in our Bibles by the artificial division into chapters and verses), then reread verses 36-38, going on to John 14:1-3 without interruption:
1Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. 2In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.
Does that change your understanding of Peter’s denial? Is Jesus condemning Peter for his forthcoming denial?
Promise of sending the Holy Ghost (John 13:15-27)
Acknowledge this contribution if suggested by a class member, but leave discussion of it for next week’s lesson.
Teachings of “the way, the truth, and the life” and “the true vine” (John 14, 15)
These doctrinal teachings are less likely to be mentioned by class members than the visible actions reported, but discuss them and the symbolism involved if they are suggested.
Now that we have considered some of what Jesus said and did with his disciples during that last intimate evening, can you see any parallels between his choices and whatever you might have thought about earlier when you considered what you might say to your own loved ones?
It is one thing to talk about and agree with the idea that we remember and honor the Savior by being of service to each other. It’s another to stir ourselves to action and actually be of service to one another. We don’t want to be like those the Lord described to Joseph Smith, do we – “they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me”?
(If discussion has been short and time is long, ask class members to describe instances where others have been of service to them in a Christlike way. If time is short, simply close with a testimony, including an instance of Christlike service offered to me.)