Summary: Christians, we must love one another... 1. Because this is God's fervent command for His church. 2. Because this is God's firm command for His church. 3. Because this is God's finest command for His church. 4. Because this command is the true flag of our faith.
The Lord's Crucial Commandment for Christians
The Gospel of John
Sermon by Rick Crandall
Grayson Baptist Church - July 22, 2018
(Revised January 3, 2020)
*Please open your Bibles to John 13. Remember that here God's Word has moved forward to the night before the cross, and here the Lord gave His followers a crucial new commandment. We see it first in John 13:34 where Jesus said, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another."
*This new commandment for Christians to love one another is very crucial indeed. And tonight's Scripture shows us why. Please think about that as we read vs. 31-38.
*How should Christians treat one another? How does God want us to treat each other? The fact is that God has a giant interest in how we treat each other. And we know this is true, because the Bible talks about this over 60 times in the New Testament.
*The heart and soul of how we should treat each other is found in the new commandment the Lord gives us here. God's best way for us to treat each other is to love one another. God's best for us is to keep on loving one another with His kind of agape love. God wants us to always love each other with the same kind of unconditional love that Jesus has for us. And tonight's Scripture shows us why.
1. FIRST, CHRISTIANS, WE MUST LOVE ONE ANOTHER BECAUSE THIS IS GOD'S FERVENT COMMAND FOR US.
*The Lord's fervent, passionate commandment for His church is for us to love one another. Remember the background here: The time for the cross was almost at hand. In vs. 31, Judas had already gone out to betray the Lord. In vs. 38, Jesus told Peter how he would deny the Lord. The agony of Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane, and His death on the cross were just hours away.
*In a moment like this, the most important things rise to the surface. King Duncan explained, "Now was the time to make sure the disciples understood the basics. And nothing was more basic to Jesus' ministry than the message of love," so in vs. 34, Jesus said, 'A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; As I have loved you, that you also love one another.'" (1)
*Try to picture the Lord's passion as He spoke these words to His disciples. Missionary Karen Watson gave us a picture of Christ's passion, and it was in her last letter. Our International Mission Board had begun asking our missionaries to write "last letters." They were inspired by the old tradition of soldiers and missionaries who wrote a last letter in advance, -- in case they didn't make it home.
*Karen Watson wrote a letter like that, and it was read by her pastor at her funeral. Karen was one of the four missionaries killed in Iraq on March 15th, 2004. The vehicle they were riding in was ambushed in the city of Mosul. Karen was 38 and had been a Christian for about 8 years. She loved God's Word and His work with great passion. Here is Karen Watson's Last Letter:
You should only be opening this letter in the event of my death. When God calls there are no regrets. I tried to share my heart with you as much as possible, my heart for the nations. I wasn't called to a place; I was called to Him. To obey was my objective, to suffer was expected, His glory my reward, His glory my reward...
*The missionary heart:
Cares more than some think is wise
Risks more than some think is safe
Dreams more than some think is practical
Expects more than some think is possible
I was called not to comfort or to success but to obedience...
There is no Joy outside of knowing Jesus and serving Him. I love you and my church family.
In His care, (Peace), Karen" (2)
*Karen Watson had boundless passion for the things of God! She had the same kind of passion Jesus had when He said, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another. As I have loved you, that you also love one another."
2. WE MUST LOVE ONE ANOTHER, BECAUSE IT'S GOD'S FERVENT COMMAND FOR US, AND IT'S HIS FIRM COMMAND FOR US.
*There is nothing wishy-washy about the Lord's commandment to love one another. This is not a suggestion. This is not God saying, "Oh, by the way My people, you might want to think about loving one another." No. This is an absolute, rock-solid command from God. And we know this because of how many times God stresses this command in His Word.