As I Have Loved You
…by Chuck Graham
I give you a new commandment: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. 1
I love these words, especially as thoughts turn to when the promised Messiah became “God with us”. They speak of why He came and our own calling. And it begins with a special Greek word that paints a picture of a master giving his servant something very important to do. 2
This is not about mere obedience, but Jesus entrusting us with a responsibility and our loyalty to Him in fulfilling it. In the end, this assignment is more about others than any one of us. Jesus even told us how to carry it out…just as He has loved us. But what does that mean?
Against all odds, one knew, “We will bring the kids home.”
On June 23, 2018, a youth soccer team was exploring a cave when swift rising water suddenly blocked their exit. 3 The boys and their coach were forced deeper into the darkness. Thai Navy Seals quickly responded and were soon joined by diving specialists from around the world. 4
The water’s strong currents and no visibility made their work difficult and dangerous. Eight days passed before divers found the lost team, huddled together in a small chamber 2.5 miles inside the cave. As news broke, more volunteers arrived, including one determined security officer. 5
A retired Navy Seal himself, Saman Kunam knew the dangers well. At 38 he was older than many of the divers, but did not hesitate to join the rescue. As he left his home in Bangkok, he confidently announced what all hoped, though few believed. “We will bring the kids home.”
You are the hero in my heart. 6
As rain threatened, Saman volunteered to deliver oxygen tanks to the team and place others along the underwater escape route…their only way to survive. Working tirelessly in terrible conditions, he kept pushing himself. Finally, the mission was a complete success…almost.
One mile from the team, a diver found Saman unconscious. All efforts to revive him failed, and soon the world knew. “It is sad news. His job was to deliver oxygen, but he did not have enough on his way back.” 7 Saman Kunam gave his life so others could be saved.
“Just as I have loved you” always requires sacrifice.
Jesus found people who were lost and desperately needed to be rescued. I wonder, as shepherds came to celebrate His birth, were the angels weeping in that silent night? Did they know the rescue plan would require His life so others could be saved?
Christmas is a time for rejoicing. Without the birth of the Messiah, we would be lost in a dark world with no hope of rescue. But because of it—We can live because He died. We can love because He lives! And we can know what He means by, Just as I have loved you.
Take care & be God’s,
Chuck Graham is Founder and Executive Director of Ciloa , an international ministry devoted to sharing God’s encouragement and teaching others how to “encourage one another as long as it is called Today!” He is an author, speaker, teacher, and encourager. Chuck and his wife, Beverly, live in Lawrenceville, Georgia, USA. You can learn more about Chuck and Ciloa at www.Ciloa.org .
1. Read John 13:34-35.
2. Entole, often interpreted in English only as commandment, command, or order.
3. The Thailand soccer team, Wild Boars, had boys between the ages of 11 and 16. Twelve of them and their coach, Ekapol Chantawong, were trapped in the Tham Luang Nang Non cave network.
4. D iving specialists came from Australia, China, Great Britain, Japan, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and the USA.
5. Saman Kunam was a security officer for the Airports Authority in Bangkok, retired Navy Seal, and triathlete.
6. These words were lovingly spoken by the widow of Saman Kunam.
7. Pasakorn Boonyalak, Deputy Governor of Chiang Rai Province, Thailand, announcing the death of Saman Kunam.
Banner Photo: Photo of Saman Kunam, as shown on Facebook and Instagram.
First Photo: Photo by AsiaNews.
Second Photo: Photo by Rungroj Yongrit, EPA-EFE.