“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” John 15:12
For once, away from the crowds, Jesus began a long teaching session with His disciples. He had a new commandment for them, but as soon as He spoke, Peter asked a question that distracted the Eleven. Jesus repeated it later in the evening because it was essential this chosen little band never forgot it. After the meal Jesus began, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35).
What made this new? Now their love must be of the same quality as the love Jesus had for them! This is a standard certainly higher than how we love ourselves. When He returned to this commandment later in His instructions, He also gave an example that would soon take place.
“This is my commandment, that
Jesus revealed the significance of this bond between Himself and those chosen as friends. Jesus’ friends fulfill the command to love each other as He loved them (John 15:15-16). Jesus’ friends bear fruit that identifies them as ones who belong to God (John 15:16), which reemphasizes His words, “By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be My disciples. …abide in My love” (John 15:8). Jesus ended His prayer that evening with a petition that should warm our hearts with devotion. “I made known Your Name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which You have loved Me may be in them and I in them” (John 17:26). This makes me think about the old campfire song, “It only takes a spark to get a fire going, and soon all those around can warm up to its glowing.” That’s how it is with God’s love. Once you’ve experienced it, you spread His love to everyone. You want to pass it on.
What does this love look like in our lives? Jesus gave us the answer in a parable found in Matthew 25. “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me…. Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’” We all know 1 Corinthians 13 describes God’s love in terms we understand. When we come nearer to loving in this way, we reveal a glimmer of God’s image in us. 1 Corinthians 13:7 is especially challenging. “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” I know someone who took no legal actions against her unfaithful husband. She experienced the Lord meeting the needs of her children and building her faith. The time came when she couldn’t prevent a divorce. Soon after, the husband died and she was not liable for the massive debts he incurred after leaving her. We don’t always understand the way life unfolds but this woman saw God’s love and protection as she loved and entrusted her life to her Savior. Another dear friend continued to love her unfaithful husband and they were reconciled.
Above all, remember God is pleased with you when you abide in Christ and love as He loves us. God gives us these encouraging promises: “He will remember how you helped His people in the past and how you are still helping them. You belong to God, and He won’t forget the love you have shown His people” (Hebrews 6:10 CEV). “As we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face Him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world” (1 John 4:17 NLT).