Outstretched Arms of Love: Day Fifteen, Friday

In this Lenten series I would like to invite you to consider Jesus’ “outstretched arms of love” toward all who followed him as disciples, seeking to emulate his life, self-sacrifice, and humble service to others. Today we will reflect on one distinct time and way Jesus stretched out his arms of love to all who beheld his glory, believed his message, belonged as his disciples, and sought to become more and more like his image and with more of their true identity in Christ Alone.

Read John 17

The disciples knew that Jesus loved them, from the moment they were invited into the inner circle as followers and friends, all throughout their years together, and most especially as the time drew near for Jesus to leave them and return to his Father in heaven.  His “farewell discourse” recorded for us in John 14-17 reveals so much of Jesus’ affection for his disciples. All of these words were spoken on the heels of his demonstration of the “fullest extent of his love” for them by washing their feet.

He urges them not to let their hearts become troubled, but to trust in God. He prepares them for his departure, sharing that he is the way and the truth and the life, the only way to the Father. He promises to send them “another Counselor” who will be with them forever, the Holy Spirit of truth and love. He reminds them they are his friends, and promises them that their grief will turn to joy when he’s gone.

As he is concluding these remarks, he turns to the Father in prayer. In John 17, Jesus is praying for his own relationship with the Father, noting that he came to earth to complete the work of glorifying the Father throughout the world. Then, he prays for his immediate disciples, for the Father to protect them by the power of his name, so that they may be one. He also prays that his disciples would have the full measure of Jesus’ joy within them. And, that the Father would sanctify them by the truth of the Word.

What follows in verses 20-26 is Jesus’ prayer for those who would follow him in future generations, including our own. For those he prays for God’s glory to be revealed and released through their unity and oneness, “I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” The focus of Jesus’ heart prayer for disciples of every generation is complete unity, without which the world will never know why Jesus was sent by the Father to earth as the greatest of all expressions of love.

In Jesus’ great high priestly prayer of John 17, his outstretched arms of love embrace us all. No disciple of any millennia since the time of Christ is excluded.  In this prayer, Jesus and his Father, along with the Spirit, are praying for all who follow him and claim his name as believers. As we are united as one in Christ, we reveal the glory of God in this watching and waiting, often wounded and skeptical, world. Only as we are one will the world fully know the gospel of peace, joy and love.

Will you join Jesus in fulfilling his prayerful longing for our generation? Will you participate in building unity among all who call themselves Christian? Behold Jesus blessing his disciples in their community oneness; believe in the priority of unity today; belong to those who choose to be reconcilers and peace makers; become a Christ-follower who desires to see God’s glory revealed and released even today.


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Steve Macchia

Founder & President

The Rev. Dr. Stephen A. Macchia is founder and president of Leadership Transformations, Inc. (LTI), a ministry serving the spiritual formation, discernment, and renewal of leaders and learners since 2003. For more than 20 years he has been the Director of the Pierce Center for Disciple-Building at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he also serves as an adjunct faculty member in the Doctor of Ministry Program. From 1989-2003 he was the president of Vision New England, the largest regional church renewal association in the country. Earlier in his ministry life, Steve was a member of the pastoral staff of Grace Chapel in Lexington, Massachusetts for 11 years. He is the author or co-author of 17 books, including The Discerning Life (Zondervan Reflective), and Crafting a Rule of Life, Becoming A Healthy Church (LTI), and Broken and Whole (IVP).  He and his wife Ruth live in the Boston (MA) area and are the proud parents of two married children and grandparents to three adorable grandchildren. Steve’s personal website is www.SteveMacchia.com.

My soul comes alive singing the great hymns of the church and enjoying the beauty of God’s creation. I’m in awe of God for fulfilling the dream for LTI that he birthed in my heart, for the team he has assembled, and the transformational impact experienced in the leaders and teams we serve.

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Mitzi Mak

Selah-West Faculty

Mitzi started her professional life as a high school social studies teacher. She and her husband Jerry then served cross-culturally for ten+ years, living abroad first in India and then Kurdistan, N. Iraq. In addition to being a Spiritual Director, she now serves as a Formation and Care pastor in her local church in Houston, TX. She has graduated from LTI’s Selah Spiritual Direction training as well as LTI’s Emmaus Formational Leadership Program.

Mitzi enjoys engaging conversation, reading fiction, doing jigsaw/crossword puzzles, ocean gazing and exploring the world with Jerry through food and travel.

God has two main callings in Mitzi’s life: to care for those who care for others and to be a guide in helping others have a healthy relationship with the Trinity – recognizing God’s loving presence and activity in their lives and how to faithfully respond.

Selah was a transformative experience for me – allowing the contemplative within to emerge and to beautifully co-exist with my extraverted personality.