Now before the Feast of the Passover,
Jesus knowing that His hour had come
that He would depart out of this world to the Father,
having loved His own who were in the world,
He loved them to the end.
John 13:1, NASB
After a hasty lunch and filling Ebony's treat ball with his, I bundled myself and my belongings out to the car for a medical checkup. Ebony ran into the garage after me, treat ball clattering on the concrete where he dropped it. Before I could register what was happening, he ran around my legs and leaped into the car ahead of me.
Now, he does ride in the car occasionally, to the vet, the kennel, my mom's house, or the coffee shop drive-through. None of these had recently transpired, however, and he has never before shown any great zeal for riding shotgun. Moreover, Ebony loves to eat and especially to eat out of his ball. Chasing his lunch around the house is a highlight of his day. Every day. Sometimes supper too.
On this day, he abandoned his full treat ball in hopes of riding in the car with me to parts unknown.
Allen, home for the day, was already chasing him down to gather him back into the house so I could make my appointment, but the realization had stopped me in my tracks for a moment: Ebony loves me. Well, I knew that and so did you. The thing is, he really loves me, and not just because I'm the person who feeds him and gives him rawhide bones and sometimes plays his favorite game. He loves me just for me. He loves me more than food. (And that's saying something. He's part Lab.) He loves me so much he'd rather ride in the car with me to someplace potentially yucky than stay home and eat.
That thought carried me through the rest of a long afternoon and took me down memory lane to our return from Bangkok and the way Steinway greeted me, after a year apart, like I was the prodigal mama come home.
In my reading that week from John's eyewitness account of the last week of Jesus' life, Jesus' love dripped like Mary's perfume from every page, like the water from the basin as He loved in humble service. He loves me, He loves me, He loves me, all the way through Gethesemane and Golgotha, all the way to the garden of the empty tomb and beyond. "Jesus loves me; this I know, for the Bible tells me so."
And yet, on most days Ebony's love feels more real to me than my Lord's.
Perhaps that's why centuries of Christian tradition sets this week, this Holy Week, apart as the Week of weeks on the church calendar. Perhaps that's why our local congregation observes the Lord's Supper each and every week. My ears are dull, my heart slow to believe the love God has for us, for me. Only remembering and remembering and remembering can imprint His love on my heart as my name is nail-writ on His hands.
Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed" (John 20:26b-29, ESV).My Lord and my God, we believe; help our unbelief. You have shown us beyond a shadow of a doubt the love You have for us, that love which soaked the cross with Messiah's blood, the love which stoops to wash the feet of the one who will deny Him, the love which faced down death to rescue from its clutches all who believe in Christ the Lord as Savior, the love which "knew no sin [but became] sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." Grant us the blessing of those who have not seen and yet have believed. Let the remembrance of the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus Messiah quicken our hearts to fresh trust in Your love and to a fresh pouring out of Your love to our brothers and sisters. In the name of this Jesus we pray, Amen.
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
~Charles Wesley, "And Can It Be That I Should Gain?"