If you love me, you will obey what I command. John 14:15
In the Gospel records, Jesus didn’t say much about love until He sat down with His disciples at the Last Supper. After they had eaten He said, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John 13:34). In the conversation that followed He used love 23 times and “love one another” 5 times.
Jesus and the disciples had traveled together for three years. I don’t know about your family, but when my family’s been with each other for a week’s vacation, we start squabbling about petty things: where to eat, what to do, and where to sit in the car. I can’t imagine being on a three-year-long journey with them! If Jesus had traveled with my family, He’d probably tell us exactly what He told the disciples: you need to love each other.
Jesus wasn’t talking about being polite or tolerating each other. Twice He said to the disciples, “as I have loved you” (John 13:34,15:12). That’s the hard part. The Greek word translated “loved” is agapao, which means “have a preference for” and “to regard the welfare of.”* Paul explained it this way: “Let each esteem others better than himself” (Philippians 2:3 NKJV).
That’s not easy for me. Loving those who misjudge my intentions, dismiss my concerns, and place their needs above mine? Loving those who respond to me as unkindly as I often respond to them?
Impossible! And yet that’s what Jesus commanded the disciples and us to do. But He also said that His love can flow through us to others. That’s the only way we can obey His command. Agapao love does not come naturally to us. Jesus is the source.
At the Last Supper and on the road to Gethsemane, Jesus emphasized that the most accurate measure of our love for Him is our love for each other. He repeated it many times that night. He’s still repeating it. I wonder how many times He’ll have to say it before we start living it.
What makes it possible for us to love others as Jesus loved us? Read John 14:15-17 and 15:1-10.
Read Philippians 2:1-8. What connections do you see between Paul’s words and Jesus’ words in John 15:11-13. How can you show that kind of love to someone today?
Read Proverbs 6:16-19. How does Jesus’ teaching on loving each other address all of these sins that grieve God’s heart?
Denise K. Loock
*Hebrew transliterations and their definitions are taken from the lexicon provided by www.Blueletterbible.com.