Summary: How are you known at work, in your neighborhood? Jesus has this question in mind when he is speaks to his disciples on love. You are known by your love.
I took two bicycle camp holidays to Majorca along with six of my friends. Each of them were two weeks long. Each group had about 150 people total on the trip. Once we reached the Island we divided into five groups by our riding ability. So we spent the early morning up until lunch riding with about thirty cyclists in our similar category.
The rest of the day we would spend drinking cappuccinos, eating Black Forest gateau (why not we had already cycled 70 miles) and talking about the events of the days ride. If someone said something funny we would talk about it. We would talk about who had struggled riding up the mountain. If someone did something foolish or had an argument on the ride we recounted that and anything else that happened we discussed it. It seemed we spent more time each day talking about the ride than we did riding.
Because we did not know the names of the others in our group we identified each one by a description. It could be the “tall guy with the long mop style hair”. One description was the tan guy because even though everyone had a tan by that time, he came to the trip with a pre-made tanning from a tanning salon. Usually when we described someone like this everyone knew who we were talking about even though no one knew their name.
At one point I wondered if all the others cloistered in small groups and discussed the ride the rest of the day like we did. My conclusion was they probably did. My next thought was how was I known? Am I the guy who loves like Jesus loves? In what way would they describe me to the others in the group to identify who they were talking about?
Jesus is aware that people easily see our character and they identify us by what they see. This can work for you or against you. How people see you can reflect on Christianity as a whole. How are you known at work, in your neighborhood? Jesus has this in mind when he is speaks to his disciples on love. You are known by your love.
"A new command I give you: Love one another. 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."
The setting for Jesus new commandment to love one another was the upper room. It was at the Last supper. Jesus has washed the feet of the disciples and Judas already left to betray Jesus.
Jesus is known by his love. He says in Vs 34 to love others “as I have loved you.” The command is based on Jesus example. Up until that point everyone thought the teachers is not the one who washes the feet of his disciples. But he has just washed the disciple’s feet. It is a costly call to live out love the way Jesus did. He laid down his life in love.
We too often love out of mixed motives. A former College President advised the current president to treat the student well. He said, "Always be kind to your “A” students. Someday one of them will return to your campus as a good professor. Be kind to your “B” students one of them will return as an administrator. And also be kind to your “C” students. Someday one of them will return and build a multi-million dollar donation to the college. This is a typical kind of love we often see. It is a love that looks to benefit oneself. Jesus now talks about an unconditional love. That’s why it was new. It is based on Jesus example.
This is a New Commandment. Did Jesus forget Leviticus 19:18? This Old Testament passage says. “Love your neighbor as yourself”. How could Jesus command here be a new command if we have had this one nearly two thousand years before Jesus time? It is a new command because the command is not new in time. It is new in kind. Never before had anyone been commanded to love like this.
Jesus takes the Leviticus command much farther. He quotes this command in the Sermon on the Mount (Mathew 5:43-44). It was old hat to love your neighbor, people like yourself, but to love your enemy that is new.
This verse from Leviticus 19:18 was used by the experts of the law to test Jesus. His new in kind command was so radical his critics were left speechless. It was Jesus expansion on their question, who is my neighbor (Luke 10:29) that Jesus told them the story of the Good Samaritan. It was not new to love, but it was a radical new kind of love to love the way Jesus loved.