Summary: Smokejumpers are the elite of the elite firefighters jumping straight into the fight of their lives, as Jesus did for us.

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John 13:31-35

Sunday, May 13, 2001

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PRAY… & Intro…

Imagine if you can, not knowing whether you’d live to see the end of today.

Imagine being with friends and family, unsure whether or not you’d see them tomorrow.

How might the life and love you share with those close to you be re-shaped if you knew your days were numbered?

There is a rare brand of people known as smokejumpers who face this reality every day.

These are an elite form of firefighters who battle firestorms in remote, wooded locales.

First, they jump out of an airplane with a hundred pounds of gear into the middle of a burning forest. Then they hit the ground and begin to dig. They chase the fire and fight it by hand—typically without water or retardant. They beat the fire with sand bags, digging trenches, and cutting down trees with burning branches…they are smokejumpers!

Dangerous? To say the least! It’s a killer…but it’s what they do

There is an undeniable aura surrounding this tight-knit team of men and women…

Deployed anywhere, at anytime, covering 150 miles in an hour.

Usually the first ones to arrive at isolated fires…fighting for days at times.

Can you imagine not knowing whether you’d live to see the end of today?

Can you imagine being with friends and family, unsure whether or not you’d see them tomorrow?

How might the life and love you share with those close to you be re-shaped if you knew your days were numbered?

This is precisely Jesus’ situation in the text for today…

He could smell the smoke of fires in his not-to-distant future…

He knew a fire was burning that only he could fight…

He was prepared to jump into the fire of the betrayal, arrest, trial, and execution

He knew his days were limited…so what to say…what to do!?!?!?!?

Every moment, every word counted…

After dinner he took his chance…and said: “Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, love one another.” In the same way I loved you… This is not some sappy, emotional, drippy love that arrives like flowers on a bad day…this is a radical, right now, right here love… THIS is the topic of today…and everyday…

Friday night at Brady’s spring party… talking about church, etc… He asked rhetorically:

“Jesus never pushed anyone away…excluded anyone, did he?”

I thought I knew the answer, but didn’t answer…I went straight to my office and did a survey of the gospels… researched the life/love of Jesus…

My friend’s question…simple and genuine…cut to the core of HOW he loved…HOW

he wants us to live and love…today and everyday…

This survey gave me the picture of what Jesus meant when he commanded us

“Love one another…AS I HAVE LOVED YOU.”

Here is what I found…

1. Leprosy Love of Jesus…first thing Jesus does coming off the greatest sermon ever given…the sermon on the mount? Visits, touches, and cures the most outcast person of his culture…a man with leprosy…who are the lepers in our lives?

2. Leftovers Love of Jesus…on two occasions, Jesus fed masses and made sure there were leftovers! He didn’t ask for food stamps or demand proof of membership…he fed them all and said, “I’ll always have more than you need…more love that is!”

Who is starved for love in our lives?

3. Tough Love of Jesus…the rich young man who claimed to have kept all the commandments asked Jesus what else he needed to do…JC said, sell your possessions, give the money to the poor and follow me…the guy bailed out. Too tough…but true. JC wanted him to get rid of anything that stood between them... Who needs to hear the tough truth about what stands between us and God in lives?

4. Blind Love of Jesus…the exchange between Bartimeaus, the blind guy inspires me every time. Just when people who were embarrassed by Bart were telling him to leave Jesus alone…that Jesus had more important things to do…Jesus said, “Come here Bart…their opinion of you matters not to me!” Who are we embarrassed of in?

5. Unlikely Love of Jesus…one of my favorites. No one was more unlikable than shrimpy little Zaccheus. He was the Roman Tax collector who enforced the Roman tax by cruising around with a couple of thugs. Zach kept his own share…he bought his friends with it. No one liked him…but Jesus called him out of that tree and had dinner with him. Can we count the number of people in our lives that we don’t like?

6. Look-in-the-Mirror Love of Jesus…Few accounts as vivid as the woman caught in the act of adultery…Jesus standing between the woman and the gathered crowd with fists full of rocks ready to stone her to death…Jesus says…”Look in the mirror…who is without faults throw the first one.”

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