Summary: Today we are reminded to give what Jesus gave to us.
John 13:31-35 LOVE ONE ANOTHER
Today is Mother’s Day. Have all of you sent or received your Mother’s Day cards yet? It can be a lot of work, sometimes, trying to find the perfect Mother’s Day card. Some of those cards are just too sappy – you wonder to yourself, “Who writes these things?” Some of those cards are too long – the poems are over three pages long! Some cards have a sense of humor that you just don’t get, or don’t like. Some cards are too cold, too distant. But then, finally, you find the perfect card. Sometimes it takes awhile. Whatever Mother’s Day card you buy, or receive, they all have one common theme, and that common theme is love. I don’t think it’s possible to find a Mother’s Day card that doesn’t contain the word “love” on it. It’s the sign of a healthy family, when the word “love” can be used to describe how everyone feels about each other.
Today, Jesus tells us that love is also a sign of a healthy spiritual family. “Love one another,” Jesus told his disciples. According to Jesus, “love” is not just something that is contained in a greeting card, or is something that you say on Mother’s Day. “Love” is a sign, or THE sign, of being a disciple of Jesus Christ. Today, we’re going to ponder what that means. We’re going to ask ourselves, “Have I been showing this kind of love to my fellow Christians?” We’re going to look at Jesus’ love for us. By the time this sermon is over, it is my prayer that you will be motivated more and more, to show love, real Christian love, to the people that God has placed into your life.
It was a common thing for a Jewish person, right before he died, to gather his family together and tell them one last thing that he wanted them to remember. That’s what Jesus does here. He knows he’s going to die. He knows that he’s no longer going to be spending time with his disciples in the same way that he had been doing before. And so, the night before he died, Jesus gathered his disciples together. He had one last thing he wanted to share with them. Verse 34: “A new command I give you: Love one another.”
You could say that Jesus was giving them the 11th commandment. “Look at the fellow disciples who are sitting next to you. John, look at Andrew. Peter, look at Philip. Matthew, look at James. Look at these people who are sitting next to you! I want you to love them.” And the word for “love” that we find here in the Bible is really a unique word. It’s the word “Agape” in the Greek. It’s a special kind of love, a love that expects nothing in return, a love that doesn’t keep score. A love that just gives and gives an gives, and doesn’t demand any type of giving back. A generous, sacrificial kind of love. “I want you to show each other that kind of love,” Jesus told his disciples.
And then Jesus gave them an example of that special, agape-kind of love. The second half of verse 34: “As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” Very soon, the disciples would see what kind of love Jesus would show them. The giving, the sacrificing, the humility, even the suffering – all these things were a part of the love that Jesus was about to show his disciples.
And as those disciples showed that kind of love to each other, the world would take notice. Look at verse 35: “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” The way Christians would treat each other would be a visible sign to the rest of the world – these people are disciples of Jesus Christ – look at the way they treat each other.
An unbelieving Greek historian in the first century wrote this about the Christians: “It is incredible to see the fervor with which the people of that religion help each other in their wants. They spare nothing. Their first legislator has put it into their heads that they are brethren” (Lucian, AD 120-200). One of the leaders of the Christians wrote this: “It is our care for the helpless, our practice of lovingkindness, that brands us in the eyes of many of our opponents. ‘Look!’ they say. ‘How they love one another! Look how they are prepared to die for one another!’” (Tertullian).
Does this kind of love exist among us, the Christians of today? Is that really a description of just how greatly we are concerned for each other? Sometimes, the answer is yes. But often times, our sinful nature does get the best of us, and the answer is a very sad no. Jesus wanted Christians to go to the ends of the earth for each other. But that sinful nature we have often gets in the way of us really showing any type of love for each other.