At Passover, Jesus gathered his followers and spelled out a new relational arrangement between God and humankind: “As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” But Jesus wasn’t celebratory. He seemed troubled. Initiating this new covenant with God would require sacrifice. What came next would confuse his followers and send them scattering.
After the crucifixion, even Jesus’ closest followers expected him to do what dead people usually do—stay dead. They had no idea the next few hours would change the course of history. For what the Pharisees and Pontius Pilate intended as an end was just the beginning of something new.
Jesus didn’t come to initiate Judaism 2.0. He came to offer something entirely new to the world: a new covenant that would forever change humankind’s relationship with God. And with that new covenant came a new ethic—one that insisted that the greatest choose the back of the line.
Against all odds, a cult following a crucified teacher with no territory, military, or authority survived and multiplied. They were fueled by Jesus’ new command: “As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” It sounds as countercultural and revolutionary to our ears as it did to Jesus’ disciples when they first heard it. It’s way less complicated than the old covenant, but way more challenging.
Bible: John 11:57; 12:12; Luke 22:6; Matthew 22:15–16, 24–25, 33–40; John 13:34–35; Ephesians 4:32; 1 Corinthians 13:4–5; Philippians 2:5; Ephesians 5:1–2; John 13:34
The words “unlimited” and “unconditional” make us suspicious. Whether those words describe an insurance policy, cellphone agreement, or meal plan for a college student, we assume unlimited is really limited and unconditional has some conditions. That suspicion extends to our relationship with God. Unconditional love? Unlimited forgiveness? There must be a catch. But what if there isn’t?
Jesus initiated a new covenant—a new agreement between God and humanity. It includes every nation for every generation, fulfilling God’s promise to Abrahaam and replacing God’s covenant with Israel. It is unconditional and unlimited. And it’s available to you.
Jesus introduced the most powerful, transformational, and inspirational leadership principle on the planet. Every leader you respect practices it. The leaders you don’t respect don’t practice it. You can lead without it, but you won’t be a leader worth following unless you embrace it.
Against all odds, the followers of a crucified teacher with no territory, military, or authority survived and multiplied. And they did so because they embraced a counterintuitive leadership principle: the first go last. That feels unnatural, but when we see it, we admire it. Christians are called to it. And it begins with a question: How can I help?
Bible: John 11:46–48, 53–54; 12:9–12, 19; 13:4, 8, 13–17; Mark 10:32–38, 41–45
Jesus claimed to be greater than the temple. He made the temple obsolete. Most of his followers assumed his end game was to declare himself king. The more discerning among them sensed something else was going on. Jesus spoke with authority but refused to take charge. He wielded extraordinary power, but never for himself. What was he up to?
Answer: Super simple... so simple we want to make it complex (religion)! God loved. God gave. We believe. We receive. Does that sound too simple? If so, it’s because Jesus defies our expectations.