Matt. 22:34-40; John 13:12-17; John 13:31-38
Theme for this Easter season: “One Another” – Love One Another, Be At Peace with One Another, Comfort One Another, Encourage One Another.
Concept that has decided emphasis in NT (40+ times); beginning with this text: “love one another”, 19x total in NT, 5x by Jesus in space of just few hours. Knew the time had come: evening meal was in progress, all thirteen (Jesus plus the Twelve) were present. John introduces scene: “Having loved his own who were in the world, he now loved them to the very end.” John talking about far more than simple sentimental expressions of affection. This was love in action in context of personal relationship…at a time when most of us would have made choices much different from what Jesus did.
Jesus knew what awaited him that evening: soldiers would shatter the quiet of the olive garden and Jesus’ intimate fellowship with his Father. He would endure a mock trial, false accusation, injustice heaped upon insult and blasphemy, all at the hands of lawless men (Acts 2:23). Jesus knew more than that – Jesus knew which of the Twelve would betray him…and yet Jesus washed his feet same as all the rest. Jesus knew that the Eleven would forsake him in the Garden and run away in the darkness (Mark 14:50). But, if it changed anything, that knowledge only intensified his compassion. Jesus knew impetuous Peter would promise the world, few hours later categorically deny any relationship with Jesus. Jesus still treated him with gracious tenderness.
Early in evening, the betrayer left; can almost hear sigh of relief from Jesus at beginning of our text. Immediate oppressive weight of betrayer’s presence, under Satan’s direct control (v.27) no longer present. Jesus recognized this time as final opportunity to prepare disciples for what lay just ahead. Any reserve Judas’ presence might have caused now gone – Jesus speaks openly, affectionately, heart-to-heart with the Eleven. Probably most intimate conversation Jesus had with disciples, “little children”, gently focusing their attention to the future. Full significance of Jesus’ remarks probably didn’t penetrate disciples’ thinking until much later…especially given the startling and profound things he said. For example, putting law (commandment) and love together!
A. it’s new (34a, c)
“Love is usually understood to be a powerful emotion involving an intense attachment to an object and a high evaluation of it. On some understandings, however, love does not involve emotion at all, but only an active interest in the wellbeing of the object.” Routledge
biblical love actually some combination of the two – attachment to and high valuation of an object plus active interest in its well-being
various opinions about Jesus’ statement – “a new commandment” – what did he mean “new”?
“love one another” not new in this sense – love for others was an old command, Jesus in answering the lawyer quoted it
first written down for us in Lev. 19:18‘You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.”
significant difference, though: in God’s original command and in Jesus’ new command, not simply told to love, are told how to love
is a new example, a new standard, a new level of obedience required –
Jesus’ love is the standard
or should we say the Father’s love is the model: John 15:9”As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you”; the Son’s loveis the fuel: John 13:34 “just as I have loved you, so that you also love one another.”
does not abrogate the second command – love your neighbor; instead, further specifies how we should love our “Christian” neighbor
B. it’s commanded (35a)
3x “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another” (John 13:34); “This is My commandment, that you love one another” (John 15:12); “These things I command you, that you love one another” (John 15:17)
in other words, it’s an order – has full weight of God behind it, just as binding as any other command found in Bible
don’t tell me how to think, I can make up my own mind; Jesus went way over the line – told us who to love and how to love
we talk about there being no Lone Rangers in Jesus’ service; need to be part of a local church, etc., etc. – all very true
more than that, you cannot consider yourself a true follower of Christ apart from mutual loving relationships with other Christ-followers
obedience to command of Christ mandates it, following his example expects it, carrying out his purpose in loving requires it
important qualifier – mutual – is not to be one-directional, should be reciprocal <=> Rom 12:10 “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.”
C. it’s about others (34b)
Father loved Jesus, Jesus loved others, we are to love others…with no consideration for what might receive in return
don’t have a problem loving self, do that naturally – that level of love should be directed toward others, neighbors + brothers and sisters, our neighbors in Christ’s kingdom
showed/demonstrated his love for others by…..
serving – “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45)
entire ministry life one of serving others, investing in others, living example that culminated in humble act of foot-washing: “I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you”
teaching – called Teacher, disciples asked “teach us to pray”; sat daily teaching in the temple, taught the multitudes, in synagogues, by the sea, his “default” way of relating to those around him
encouraging – with few exceptions, only people Jesus was hard on (rebuked) were those who knew better – religious leaders
miracles were encouragement; lifted up woman caught in adultery; restored Peter after his denial
giving his life (John 15:13) – didn’t come to earth for himself: came to give his life for a bunch of dead people – while we were still sinners (dead in trespasses and sins) Christ died for us (Rom. 5:8)
protecting (John 18:8) – said to soldiers, “you’re after me, let them go”; says same to Satan – Jesus the real enemy Satan is after, of necessity tries to hold us hostage
D. it’s our identifier (35)
they will know you are a Christian by your: denominational membership; Bible version; charitable contributions; theological understanding; Confession
most of those are good, also not what Jesus said
don’t miss the emphasis here: Jesus’ point was not that his followers are loving and other people aren’t; was their love in community he underscored
if we want people to find Jesus attractive, must first show our sincerity in our love for one another – don’t tell the pagan Jesus loves him and you love him while you treat fellow-Christian like trash
“The only way people will know that you are my disciples, says Jesus, is to demonstrate it, not individually, but by your relationships — for there can be no real apologetic without a community of love and relationships. “As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” After we have given all the arguments, the defenses and the evidences, this indeed is the final apologetic.” Ravi Zacharias
E. it’s unconditional (38)
Jesus not only commanded love for one another, he declared his love for his disciples – as I have loved you (34b)
Jesus loved, he did that knowing of Peter’s disloyalty, the shortcomings and falterings of every one of his followers
issues didn’t stop with resurrection, with 40 days of “graduate school”, nor with ascension, not even Pentecost and outpouring of Spirit – NT just like OT a record of God’s people still struggling with sinfulness throughout earthly pilgrimage
Jesus loves us through all that, in spite of it, and gave his life to redeem us from our sin and sanctify us, ultimately making us pure and fit for his presence
Cannot look at the cross with understanding and fail to love one another
For ever let us cling to these thoughts about the crucifixion. Let us remember that painting and sculpture [and movie] can never tell a tenth part of what took place on the cross. Crucifixes and pictures at best can only show us a human being agonizing in a painful death. But of the length and breadth and depth and height of the work transacted on the cross, — of God’s law honored, man’s sins borne, sin punished in a Substitute, free salvation bought for man, — of all this they can tell nothing. Yet all this lies hid under the crucifixion. No wonder St. Paul cries, “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Gal. 6:14) J C Ryle