Summary: Deals with how to become the most effective witnesses to the truth of Christianity that we can possibly be.
A New Command
I. The Command of Love
A. A New Command
B. A Necessary Command
II. The Source and Measure of Love
A. The Source of Love
B. The Measure of Love
III. The Result of Love
I’d like to begin this morning by getting some help from you. It always helps to know that people are with you when you’re preaching, so I often times engage those who are gathered in some form of participation. What I need from you is your thoughts on things that are of great importance. In particular, I want to know how you come to recognize when something is important. What makes it significant, more so, than another thing? What criteria do you use in your analysis? Give me some of your feedback.
[Possible answers: Who said it, did it, or valued it. The consequences related to it. When it was said or done.]
Today I want to take a look at one of the most important passages in the whole of scripture. These words were spoken by Jesus on the night He was to be betrayed. They were the words of a man who knew that His time was at hand—there was no time to lose, every word He uttered that night carried extreme weight. In these verses, Christ gives us a new command which, when obeyed, will make us into the most effective witnesses to the truth of Christianity that we can possibly be. (Repeat.) Are you ready? The key to reaching our community and our world for Christ is found in this three-word command of Jesus: “Love one another.” Please turn in your Bibles to John 13:34, 35.
The command to love one another is repeated by Jesus three times in three sentences. Each time He reiterates the command, it is to make a specific point. Thus, the outline for this sermon flows quite naturally from the text and is easy for us to remember. If you have a pen and paper handy, why don’t you just jot down these three points which spring forth from these verses: 1) The command to love; 2) The source and measure of love; and 3) The result of love.
The Command of Love
Jesus begins in v. 34 by giving His disciples the command of love: “A new command I give you: Love one another.”
A New Command
I find it intriguing that Jesus would state this command in the way in which He did for two reasons. First, He describes this command as a new command. How was this a new command? Hadn’t He instructed His disciples that they were to love each before this time?
I did a little research with a concordance and came to a remarkable discovery. Although Jesus had taught the Twelve much on the subject of love, He had never specifically commanded them to love one another prior to this occasion. He had told them of the importance of loving God. They were instructed to love their enemies. I suppose one could argue that by implication the command to love their neighbors also included one another. But the explicit command to love one another is given to the disciples for the first time, in John’s compilation of the life of Christ, at this instance.
I believe that Jesus gave His disciples this new command because He recognized an innate flaw that resides within the lives of all of His followers, including you and me. Without specifically commanding His disciples to love one another, there existed the very real possibility that this essential, nurturing activity would be neglected. Let me explain what I mean.
It seems to me that we are much better at and much more apt to deal with love as a noun or an abstract concept than as a verb. We prefer talking about love to demonstrating it.
I would imagine that there are several present here this morning that could name and give a brief definition for each of the three primary Greek words that are translated as the English word love. Many of you could tell me which chapter in the Bible contains the Apostle Paul’s description of love. Some of you could even quote those verses. That kind of knowledge is useful and has its place. However, the problem lies in the fact that we do not comprehend what love does by what it is; rather we recognize what love is by what it does. Let me say that again: we do not comprehend what love does by what it is; rather we recognize what love is by what it does. To know about love in our heads takes only understanding, but to know love in our hearts requires practice. Jesus’ command is that we love one another, not merely talk about it.