This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. John 15:12–13
In His final conversation with His disciples, we may expect Jesus to reveal the things they needed most to remember. What does He say? He begins by washing their feet and teaching the importance of humility and servitude. He assures them that He is going for reasons beneficial for them: (1) to prepare a place for them in His Father’s house and (2) to send the Holy Spirit. He speaks to these troubled men about things like peace (14:27) and perfect joy (15:11). Notice the commandment that Jesus stresses: “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you” (v 12, emphasis in original). He emphasizes the need for love among the disciples after His departure. He assures them that He loves them just as the Father loves Him (15:9), and He urges them to remain in this supreme sacrificial love (vv 10–13). Jesus knew that the disciples would need one another to weather the storms ahead, and love would be the only force strong enough to bind them together.
Why was brotherly love so important to Jesus? Jesus knew that when the disciples failed—and fail they would—only love could bring them back. When Jesus met Peter again after he had denied Him, the Lord did not rebuke him, but simply asked, “Do you love Me?” (John 21:15–17). When Paul said to “speak the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15), he did so in a discussion about maintaining unity (v 3) and edifying (v 15) the body. Furthermore, their love would demonstrate to the world that Jesus truly was from God. When Jesus died, far from sneaking back into anonymity, the disciples stood side-by-side and faced the consequences of preaching openly in Jesus’ name! With no treasury from which to begin a ministry, they sold their possessions and made daily distribution to the poor (Acts 4:32–37). Their love for one another made it plain that Jesus had permanently transformed their lives in a way that only deity could. Does the world see this in us today?
How should we love one another? Just as Jesus loved His disciples. John tells us that He loved them “to the end” (13:1) and that He loved them enough to lay down His life for them (15:13)—not only as their Messiah, but as their friend (15:13–15)! When we learn to love in this way, we will work to make the Christian walk easier for each other. We do this by refusing to cast any stumbling block into our brother’s way (Rom. 14:13), by sacrificing and praying for one another, and by refusing to speak ill of one another (Jas. 4:11). Loving brethren are willing both to stand by one another and up to one another, and they forgive as often as necessary (Matt. 18:15; Luke 7:40–43).
As Jesus’ disciples, we must stand together, because we are better together than we could ever be apart. A coal will burn brightly when it is inside the fire with other coals glowing beside it, but when pulled out, it will soon grow cold. If your love for your brethren is lacking, start looking for opportunities to nourish it, and when you do, you may be surprised how far a little love will go. Robie Ellis
“God loves you and I love you and that’s the way it’s gonna be!” – Mike