Most Christians are familiar with this commandment of Jesus, given in John 13:34, 35 to his disciples as he prepared them for his coming departure:
"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”"
As I have loved you, you also are to love one another. We know how God loves us. Generously. Bountifully. Mercifully. But most of all, faithfully. Steadfastly. His loving kindness endures forever, his faithfulness to all generations.
But what did that love look like for Jesus, who was fully man? He was telling his disciples to love one another as he had loved them during his life; he was preparing them for his death. The answer is in the first verse of chapter 13. (Interestingly, what lies between his commandment and that first verse is the washing of feet, the Supper, and the announcement that one would betray; what follows the commandment is the foretelling of Peter's denial.)
"Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end."
He loved them to the end. And for those of you who were wondering, yes, to the very telos. Jesus, because he was a man who would die, had an end. When the steadfast and faithful love of God is incarnate, it has an end. And it goes to that end. The steadfast love of God is supposed to be incarnate in us.
This is difficult. It is easy to feel affection for a time. What is God-like is loving to the end of your time. And, as Jesus on his throne testifies, beyond, to new time.
This means that you love your wife until the end. You love your children until the end. You love your friends until the end. You love the people of God until the end. They may break faith, but you will love them to the end. It is not only by the show of love that they will know we are his disciples. It is by the end.
Have mercy upon us, O Lord.