Summary: We are to love one another as Jesus loved us.
“A New Standard”
If you knew that the evening you were spending with your loved ones would be the last you’d ever spend with them, what would you say? What would you do? What would well up in our heart as the final, lasting memory you want to leave with them?
Perhaps the idea sounds farfetched, since most of us will not know when that final time together has come. But for Jesus it was very real. He knew His death was approaching and that these would be His final hours with his disciples. So His message is important – it obviously was well thought out and was the passion of His heart. And, indeed, Jesus communicated and demonstrated one clear, strong message: “A new commandment I give you: Love one another.” The ‘love one another’ is not surprising, but how is that new? That message had been around for a long time – it’s even imbedded in the Old Testament. Jesus continued: “As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” It’s new in that the model for our love is Jesus Himself and in that love for one another is the identification mark of Jesus’ followers.
We are to LOVE AS JESUS LOVED. These words of Jesus follow His demonstration of love. The 13th chapter of John begins with Jesus washing the feet of His disciples and telling them that this is what they should do to one another. And we know that at least John caught the message. When John wrote one of his letters, He said (1 Jn. 3:16): “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.” Jesus’ love was shown in A LIFE LAID DOWN for others. The word used for love is ‘agape’. Agape love does not arise from emotion or feelings; it is AN ACT OF THE WILL. Jesus does not love us because we are so loveable but because He promised to love us – He wills to love us. Agape love moves out of the realm of attraction and into the realm of decision. It includes loving when there are no feelings of love, no motivations for love. Agape love is a posture, a stance, an attitude, a frame of mind, A LIFE’S DIRECTION TOWARDS OTHERS that is conditioned by our understanding of God’s self-giving love in Jesus. “While we were still sinners Christ died for us.” (Rom. 5:8) I appreciate how Eugene Peterson puts it in The Message translation: “Christ arrives right on time to make this happen. He didn't, and doesn't, wait for us to get ready. He presented himself for this sacrificial death when we were far too weak and rebellious to do anything to get ourselves ready. And even if we hadn't been so weak, we wouldn't have known what to do anyway. We can understand someone dying for a person worth dying for, and we can understand how someone good and noble could inspire us to selfless sacrifice. But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him.” Jesus willingly laid down His life for us.