Summary: We hear all the time that we are to love each other, but what does that really mean? Today we are going to take a look at what Jesus might have meant by "loving each other as I have loved you."
I wonder why it’s such a compliment to tell a woman she looks like a breath of spring, but not to tell her she looks like the end of hard winter. Isn’t that the same thing?
I wonder why it pleases her to say time stands still when you look into her face, but not to say her face would stop a clock. Why?
I wonder why people who punish a child for lying will tell the same child, "Just say I’m not home."
I wonder why, when the preacher says, "In closing..." he doesn’t.
I wonder why a speaker who "needs no introduction" gets one anyway.
Many things in this world could cause us to wonder.
But one of the strangest to me is that why God would love us.
John opens chapter 15 this morning with an agriculture image:
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
For the people of that time, this image probably resonated well with the farmers and workers of the field.
There’s a relationship seen in this image of the vine and the branches. The branches receive their food, nourishment, and other life-sustaining elements through the vine. If there is a strong relationship between the vine and the branches, the branches will produce fruit; but if that relationship fails and fruit isn’t produced, the gardener will cut them away.
This morning Jesus says, “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.”
Just as the vine and the branches need to be in relationship with each other, Jesus invites us to be in relationship with Him by loving others.
Love is a complex word.
Ask 100 people what love means to them and you’ll probably get at least 50 different answers. Maybe more.
People say: I love my wife. I love my cats. I love cherry cheesecake. I love to garden. I love to paint. I love old movies. I love… well, you fill in the blank.
Love is a very complex word. These mentioned (and others), I would hope, are different types of love.
Often love can be misplaced or misdirected.
And sometimes, people end up “looking for love in all the wrong places”.
The challenge that we face this morning is “what did Jesus mean by ‘love each other as I have loved you’?”
Maybe it’s helpful to look at what Jesus did and said prior to this statement.
Starting with John 3, we see that Jesus speaks to Nicodemus at night. Nicodemus was a teacher of the law and was nervous to talk to Jesus during the day, afraid that someone might see him. Jesus showed patience towards Nicodemus to answer his questions so that he might understand.
Maybe this is the type of love that Jesus was talking about.
In the very next chapter, Jesus reaches out to a Samaritan and talks to her.