Belfast Telegraph

Thought for the weekend: The love that conquers all

By Canon Walter Lewis

Friendship for us as human beings is very important. We are created as individuals. But we are also social beings.

In about 1600 AD, John Donne, Dean of St Paul's Cathedral, London, expressed these deep sentiments in his poem, 'No Man is an Island'. We are all enriched by others: we are all diminished by the death of others!

Friendship and love are close elements in the same family of feelings and emotions. Show me the person who does not warm to the demonstration of self-disinterested love and friendship.

Cast around in your mind and ask a simple question: 'What was it in Jesus that made him so appealing to others?' Was it his form of dress or his appearance? Was it his teaching or preaching? Was it his healing and miracles? All these may have played a part.

However, if you had approached and questioned anyone about their reasons for being drawn to Jesus – at the root of all their answers would have been the truth that they knew they were loved by him. Jesus, indeed, was a friend – a friend who was on their side, who really loved them. It was with the confidence of 'being loved' that they staked their lives on Jesus.

The matter of friendship was at the centre of events at the Last Supper in the Upper Room. The Twelve Apostles were there – Jesus' chosen circle of friends. He loved them dearly. At the Supper, he said to them, 'You are my friends ... I have called you friends'. As friends, they were the people in whom Jesus put his trust. At the Last Supper, he shared with them his profound feelings and thoughts.

Yet, into this greatest fellowship meal in the story of mankind, there came an awful shadow – the breach of friendship! One who was a trusted friend was an enemy. "Very truly, I tell you, one of you will betray me", Jesus told them. Uncertain of what Jesus was saying, the apostles asked him, "Lord, who is it?"

That person was Judas. Jesus said to him, "Do quickly what you are going to do!"

Jesus was the host in the Upper Room and had made all the preparations for the Passover Meal. He had invited Judas Iscariot to sit on his left side, in the place of honour – a clear sign of Jesus' friendship and love for Judas. Jesus' love for this apostle was unaffected by anything that Judas could do! There was no bitterness or hostility.

When Judas had gone out into the night, Jesus said, "Now the Son of Man has been glorified". Jesus' death will be his glory.

In that glory, his love for his apostles, disciples, friends, enemies, Jesus is indestructible and victorious. In the victory of Jesus on the Cross, friendship and love are forever triumphant!

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