I don’t think that anyone would question the fact that as followers of Christ, we are to love others. It begins all the way back in the OT. One of the first things that God’s people learn is to love God and to love others.
Jesus gives us an illustration of loving others in the story of the Good Samaritan.
He also shows us what it is to love others in His own life example. Think of how He ate with people who were outcast, He went to homes of those who knew no love, He went to serve and rescue the ‘least of these’.
There is no doubt that we are called to show love to others. But, I think that we can easily encounter a problem if we don’t also take the words of Jesus in the lesson today seriously.
When we first read this, we can easily miss what Jesus is trying to tell us because we have heard so much of this scripture in songs and lessons. Let’s look at what is going on.
First, Jesus has been spending time with the disciples teaching them lessons regarding being a servant and has shared the Passover meal with them. He has identified who the betrayer is and Judas has departed.
This is significant because the series of events that are leading up to Jesus’ crucifixion are underway. This begins the betrayal which leads to the arrest. Jesus is trying to tell the remaining disciples what is happening.
Jesus will glorify The Father by giving of His life. God will be glorified in Jesus who He sent as a sacrifice. Jesus will be glorified in the resurrection thus showing His power over death and the grave. All of this is powerful news for the followers of Jesus.
Jesus is also saying that He is the only One who can do this. He is giving up His life for His followers…you and me. No one can do this for Him. His love is for you and me beginning now.
Then, Jesus gives them a new commandment. When we first read this, we wonder what is so new about it. As I said in the beginning, they had been taught since the beginning to love God and to love others. So, what is so new?
We must understand something…Jesus is asking the disciples, what will be a new community of believers different from what has been before (because of Jesus)…to love one another. Now, they aren’t just to love one another. They are to love one another as Christ has loved them.
Jesus gave Himself for you and me. He showed the ultimate love. He asks us as a community of believers to love one another…love each other. And if we show love to each other, then we are able to show love to the world. People will see that we are a community of believers who love Jesus Christ if we show love to each other as Christ has loved us.
Why is this significant? Let’s consider that the church, us, the community of believers, is made up of people. We are people from various backgrounds. We have different opinions. We see the world from different lenses. We had different upbringings. We have different personalities. Yet, Jesus calls us, His people, to come together and to love one another.
That isn’t always going to be easy. On the surface, that doesn’t seem possible. How can you put a whole bunch of different people together and ask them to love one another? To top it off….let’s put a whole bunch of people who love the Lord and put them in different churches and ask them all to love one another. Just getting along with the people in your own circle can be challenging enough.
The KEY: We have the love of Jesus Christ in us if we are His followers.
We can show love to others because the love has been poured out in us. When we aren’t able to work together or love one another, it is because we aren’t allowing the love of Jesus to work in and through us.
This is new for the disciples because they haven’t experienced the kind of love that is about to take place soon. They haven’t experienced the power of Jesus Christ to it’s fullest just yet. But, when they do…they are to love one another.
People should know us by our love…not just for them, but for each other.
That is the starting point for a powerful community of believers. If we allow Jesus to change us with His powerful love, Jesus changes the church, Jesus changes the world. Will you allow Jesus to change you?