” ‘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.’ ” ~ John 13:34-35
” ‘This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends… These things I command you, that you love one another.’ ” ~ John 15:12-13, 17
Jesus was teaching His disciples right up until His arrest, trial, and execution. And then, after His resurrection and before His ascension, He taught them some more! His last public address was in John 12. In chapters 13-16, Jesus spoke personally with the twelve. And in chapter 17, John recorded Jesus’ prayer to His Father, for the sake of the twelve, but also for our sake, for you and me. I am so humbled and thankful He prayed for me, and He still does (Romans 8:34).
Jesus clearly wanted the disciples, and you and me, to love. LOVE. “You love one another.” “As I have loved you, you love one another.” “You love one another as I have loved you.” “You love one another.” These are not suggestions, but commands. YOU love one another. Period. End of discussion.
But He also tells us how. As I have loved you. Jesus is the perfect example of how we should love each other.
How does Jesus love? We are shown throughout the four Gospels how He loved others. He healed them, taught them the Way and the Truth, listened to them, forgave them, rejoiced with them, mourned and wept with them. But He also reprimanded them. He accepted and loved people as they were, but He loved them so much that He wanted to teach them the way they should go. And ultimately, He came to die for them, to save them from their sins, and to restore a right relationship with the Father. “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.”
What a hard thing, to truly love one another! Oh, it is no problem to love our friends, and most of our family. But to love those who are not friendly, but hurtful? Dear God, this is such a hard thing you ask of us! We cannot do this on our own.
” ‘And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.’ ” ~ John 17:26
This last verse of Jesus’ prayer holds the key. Jesus has “declared” the name of God the Father to the disciples, and to us. The name of God is His very nature, who He is. And John tells us in another of his books that God is love.
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” ~ 1 John 4:7-11
God’s love for us caused Him to send His only Son, Jesus, whom He also dearly loves, to us, as a sacrifice for us, to make a way to save us from eternal death. When we believe in Jesus, by grace through faith we are saved, and receive the gift of life from God. And then God’s love is in us, and Jesus is in us. With God’s love, Jesus’ power, and the Holy Spirit’s leading, we are able obey this command, to love others, as God loves us. And sometimes, it is simply a matter of letting God love others through us, as we surrender to His will and let Him work in us and through us. Because we cannot do it on our own.
“But He said, ‘The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.’ ” ~ Luke 18:27
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” ~ Philippians 4:13
” ‘By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.’ ” ~ John 13:35
Do people know we are Christians by our love for one another?