A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. John 13:34-35
Two weeks ago we looked together at the beginning of this chapter. Do you remember? In John 13: 3 it said that “because Jesus knew where he came from (his starting point) and because he knew where he was going (his destination)…and because he knew that God was with him….”
“He got up from the table, took off his outer garment, wrapped a towel around his waist, filled a basin with water, and began to wash his disciples’ feet.”
Following this foot washing, there was a conversation where Jesus indicated that one of them would betray him. Of course, it turns out to be Judas, the one to whom Jesus hands the bread after dipping it in the dish.
Our short text for today is directly following this.
“I’m giving you a new commandment. Love One Another….Just as I have loved You, you must also love each other. In fact, others will know that you are truly my disciples by this – that you truly love each other.”
So the obvious question becomes – “How, then, did Jesus love his disciples?” Once we understand that, we are told to do the same.
From the very beginning of this chapter …. we are told that Jesus loved his disciples completely and without holding anything back. But there are two parallel passages in these last few chapters of John that specifically give us hints as to “how Jesus loved his disciples.”
Parallel Passage #1
“You call me `Teacher’ and `Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.”
1. So here’s one way that Jesus has loved them – by washing their feet. He has taken the role of a servant (although he was their lord and master), lovingly performing this common and menial task for them.
Parallel Passage #2
A second parallel to these words will come in John 15:12-13:
“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”
2. Here’s a second way that Jesus will show love for his disciples – by laying down his life for them on the cross. He will quite literally give his ALL for them.
The love of which Jesus speaks, then, and which Jesus demonstrates in his life and death, is a love which extends from the “everyday” and mundane to the sacrificial and heroic – and includes every kind of self-giving act in between. Jesus tells his disciples that it is by this kind of love that everyone will know that they are his disciples.
Further, we note that this all-encompassing love of Jesus for his disciples was not based on their merit or on how well they had performed.
Just in chapter 13 we have several examples: Jesus demonstrates his love, even for Judas who will betray him, by washing his feet and offering him bread. He shows patience and love for Peter who will deny him, and shows love for all the disciples, even when he is aware that they will all desert him later that night. The love that Jesus demonstrates is certainly not based on the merit of the recipients, and Jesus commands his disciples to love others in the same way. AGAPE love…. Unconditional love!
People around us – the world around us – will not be impressed with our faith, or with Christianity in general, because of our theological correctness, our political correctness, our outstanding moral purity, and certainly not by the size or beauty of our church building. According to Jesus, it is on this ONE thing alone that our witness stands or falls – on whether or not we display love for each other through concrete actions – whether they be mundane, menial, and commonplace….. or whether they be sacrificial and heroic. The unconditional love and respect shown for each other, regardless of whether we share opinions or not – will be the absolute proof that our faith is real and not a sham.
Is it just me…. or does it seem that the media, and our society in general, have an impression of Christians and Christianity as being angry and grumpy….rather than loving and non-judgmental? Perhaps this is unfair. But would that impression be different if we as a CHURCH could demonstrate more acts of service and unconditional love toward those who are different than us?
How can we show this love toward others this week? Will it be by washing feet? Will it be by laying down our lives for another? Holy Spirit….move us into acts of service and love!
(the above is a summary of the message shared during worship on May 29, 2022).