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Loving One Another
*** Watch: https://youtu.be/Jpv3Ygkp4Zc
In a quick review of New Testament, I found that the phrase, “one another” was used 100 times, and 60% of the time it was written as a command, and even more telling is that 47 of these were written instructions to followers of Jesus Christ.
And what is even more telling is that out of these 47 written commands, 11 of them are of our need to love one another.
So I think it’s safe to say that this is something that Jesus wants to get across to His church. In fact, He uses the terminology that it is not only a command, but a new commandment.
Now, love is one of the most precious commodities out there, and one of the greatest gifts we can ever give and receive.
But why does the Lord place such a high priority on our need to love, which is seen in what Jesus described as the Greatest Commandment, telling us of our need to love the Lord with the whole of our being, that is, with our heart, soul, and mind; and then to love one another with that very same love (Matthew 22:36-39).
And then to top it off, the Apostle Paul said that out of the top three qualities that a Christian can and should possess, that is, faith, hope, and love, the greatest of these is love (1 Corinthians 13:13).
And in case anybody might wonder why, well it’s because the Lord God Himself is love.
“And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.” (1 John 4:16 NKJV)
In fact, just a couple of verses earlier, verse 8, we are told that if a person does not love, they don’t know God, because again, John said, “God is love.”
This is actually confirmed by Jesus in the Great Commandment when He said that the second commandment, to love our neighbors as ourselves, is like the first, which is to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, and mind (Matthew 22:36-39). And by saying that it is like the first, it is through our love for others that we show God just how much we love Him.
The passage of Scripture that I would like to use for our lesson today is from what Jesus said in John 13:34-35.
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35 NKJV)
The importance and centrality of this command cannot be understated. What we might say is that there isn’t a more important teachings found in the Bible than this one, and that’s because it is the basis for not only our faith, but in our relationship with God and each another.
This is seen in how the Scriptures teach that in love we are to serve, tolerate, greet, give preference, and be devoted to one another. And so, it might be safe to conclude all the other commandments hinge upon our loving God and one another, which is what Jesus said right after giving the Great Commandment saying, “On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:40 NKJV)
Jesus is making it clear that our love for others is the way we display to the world our love for God. And so, this instruction for loving one another is not so much a new commandment, as it is one that Jesus needs to refresh and re-emphasize within the minds, hearts, souls, and spirits of His followers.
We also see its importance in that Jesus began His last teaching to the disciples with these words. Plus, nowhere else in the New Testament does this term, “new commandment” occur. And with the commandments already established in God’s law, as found in the Old Testament, Jesus giving this new commandment is quite significant and shouldn’t be overlooked, especially seeing that Jesus is the Lord God come down in human form.
So what can we learn about love in what Jesus said in our signature verse.
1. It’s a Command to be Followed
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another.” (John 13:34a NKJV)
Actually by keeping this commandment, we are showing Jesus just how much we love Him. Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” (John 14:15 NKJV)
The Apostle John said, “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.” (1 John 5:3 NKJV)
And so, this new commandment, to love one another, is something that shouldn’t be thought as a burden or hindrance to the faith, but one that is a pure joy to follow.
Further, this is not some good suggestion that Jesus is putting out there for us, but something that needs to be obeyed, because it was by keeping this commandment to love one another, that we show the world that we are indeed His disciples.
And the significance of this cannot be understated. We are told by Jesus that we are not only to love our neighbor as ourselves, but we are also to love our enemies.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.” (Matthew 5:43-44 NKJV)
And here’s the point I’m getting to, and why this is such an important commandment to obey, and that’s because how can we ever love our neighbor, or even our enemies, if we haven’t got the “love one another,” down. I mean, this should be the easiest of the three. But if we can’t love each other, how can we possible love anyone else.
2. It’s Our Model to Follow
What I find fascinating is that Jesus said that it’s not enough to love one another, but we are to love one another as He modeled that love for us. Let’s look at the rest of verse 34.
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” (John 13:34 NKJV)
The kicker word in this whole passage is the smallest word listed, that is, “as.” The word means, “just as,” or “in the same manner as.”
And so, what Jesus is saying is that in the same way He loved us, we are to love one another. And when we see just how Jesus loved us, this is now not as easy as it sounds.
Why do I say that, it’s because Jesus modeled this love that we are to love one another with, by dying for us. And so we must be willing to sacrifice our lives, that is, be those living sacrifices that we’re told that we are to be.
The Apostle John said, “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” (1 John 4:10–11 NIV)
And so, if it is His love that we are to love one another with, then what does this love look like so that we can model it to others.
a. Jesus’s Love is Visible
Jesus’s love was visible for everyone to see.
When at the tomb of Lazarus, Jesus saw the grief of those who were weeping their loss, and it says they all saw Jesus weeping as well, so much so that the Jewish leaders who were in attendance noted just how much Jesus loved Lazarus (John 11:33-36).
We see similar displays throughout the gospel accounts.
The question then becomes, seeing that we are to love one another as Jesus has loved us, do others see the reality of our faith through the love we display, a love that is willing to die for one another?
Peter understood this and gave this assessment to the church.
“Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart.” (1 Peter 1:22 NKJV)
And so a love that is visible is a love that is lived out every day, just as Jesus lived out this love while He was alive, and then in His death.
To love then like Jesus, our love needs to be visible for all to see, not through the words we speak about God’s love, but in real everyday concrete actions, where the surrounding world will then know without a doubt that Jesus is our Savior and Lord.
b. God’s Love is Selfless
We see this love talked about by Paul in his letter to the Philippian Church where he said, “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:3-4 NKJV)
And we are to love like this through the example set by Jesus, as Paul goes on to say in verses 5-8.
“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” (Philippians 2:5-8 NKJV)
In fact, Paul demonstrated this love to the church in Corinth, even though it was not returned in like manner.
“And I will not be burdensome to you; for I do not seek yours, but you … And I will very gladly spend and be spent for your souls; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I am loved.” (2 Corinthians 12:14-15 NKJV)
c. God’s Love is Unconditional
This is the love that we talked about last week in our message, “A Lifestyle of Love.”
It’s a love where no conditions are attached to it. We see this love on display through what Paul said to the church in Rome in how they were to receive one another as Christ received them.
“Therefore receive one another, just as Christ also received us, to the glory of God.” (Romans 15:7 NKJV)
Just as Jesus has loved us and has received us with all our faults, problems and junk, we are to receive, accept, and love others the same way.
We see this unconditional love on God’s part when He sent Jesus to die for us.
“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8 NKJV)
One little girl understood this, when we wrote to God, “Dear God, I bet it’s very hard for you to love everybody in the whole world. There are only 4 people in our family and I can never do it.”
In the end, the only way others will know of our love for God, and that we are indeed followers of Jesus Christ is through our love for each other, as Paul ends by saying,
“By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35 NKJV)
What Jesus said is that those in our family, community, and world will see the reality of our faith, not through our church attendance, nor in what or how we give, but rather they will see that we are faithful followers of Jesus by our love for one another, which is exactly why we gather together, and give as the Bible tells us.
And so, in the end, all the other commandments center upon this one, to love one another.
Wednesday Evening Bible Study