Jesus said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved your, that you also love one another (John 13:34) As we approach the new year in just a few hours, while some people are crazy drinking, eating, nations warring, some are happy just being together as a family etc. let us talk about what Jesus said -“LOVE”
Love is not merely advised or exemplified; it is COMMANDED. Christ commanded his disciples. In addition to our text, we read: John 14:21 “He who has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me; and he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him. John 15:10 “If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.”
The commandment to love was not new. Deut.6:5 commands us to love. Loving your neighbour as you love yourself is not new. The Old Testament taught, ‘You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbour as yourself: I am the Lord.” (Lev. 19:18).
Jesus taught that one must love his neighbor: “Great love has no man than this - that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13) Jesus’ command regarding love presented a distinctly new standard for three reasons: First, the newness of this commandment was that it was based on the love between Jesus and the Father. John10:17-18 “For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life, that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down and I have power to take it again; this charge I have received from my Father” John 14:31 “I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father”
Second, it was a sacrificial love modeled after His love. He said “as I love you”
Third, it is produced through the New Covenant by the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit poured that agape love into our hearts. (Rom.5:5)
The love Jesus is talking about is not honey sweet. It is not mere emotion. The love He commands is the kind of love that cost Him His life on the cross. It is sacrificial love. No wonder love has been called the greatest thing in the world.
A story is told of a dog dying for his master. It would have been a better illustration if the master gives his life for his dog. Parents have died for children and children for parents. Husbands and wives have died for each other.
A better illustration is one who died for his enemy. “Why, one will hardly die for a righteous man – though perhaps for a good man one will dare even to die. But God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners (enemies) Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:7-8). Jesus is talking about a new kind of love. To whatever extent church fellowship can approach that kind of love, they will be moving closer to the greatest revolution in Christian history.
Rome during Nero’s time and others before him and all those who followed him was full of hate and vengeance to their enemies. They colonized many countries and forced them to pay taxes for Rome. But Rome collapsed and gave up. They saw Christians willing to die because of their love for Jesus. Christians love one another. Rome collapsed and proclaimed Christianity as the official religion of the Empire in the beginning of the 4th century AD. Love did it.
When an evangelist asked a new convert, ‘Was there one thing I said tonight that helped you reach your decision?” the young lady said, ‘honestly, I don’t remember much of what you said. It was a telephone call from my parents today. When I saw how much they loved me in spite of the way I have treated them, I said there must be something to being a Christian.” Jesus said, “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). Love is not only the best motive, but also the best method. Love always wins. All by grace folks… all by grace. Happy New Year to all!