John 13:34-35 The One Another Commands of Scripture: Love One Another WC McCarter
Discussion about the “One Another” Commands of the New Testament. Discussion about the importance of being accountable to one another. Christians are connected to one another.
People come up with all sorts of things to show their community associations. Even Christians have come up with all kinds of symbols to show that they belong to Christ. We label ourselves with this and that so that we are sure that everyone knows who we are. Yet, Christ tells us in this passage of Scripture that there is one distinguishing trait by which all will know that we are His disciples. You can label yourself with any word known to man, you can wear certain clothes to mark yourself out, you can put a big billboard in your front yard that says, “I AM A CHRISTIAN,” but without this one characteristic you are nothing. We will explore this for a few minutes today and pray that we are all enlightened to this very important sentence, “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Love is a key theme in the Apostle John’s writings. He learned what Jesus taught.
Read a few verses from His Gospel and Epistles:
a) John 3:16 “For God so loved the world…”
b) John 13:1 “…having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.”
c) 1 John 3:11 “For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another…”
d) 1 John 3:16 “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.”
e) 1 John 3:23 “And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment.”
f) 1 John 4:11 “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”
g) 2 John 1:5 “And now I plead with you, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment to you, but that which we have had from the beginning: that we love one another.”
Do you think that this is slightly important? Do you think that John learned something from the Lord Jesus Christ that he absolutely needed to impart? I think so. . . .
READ Scripture- This is the Word of God
(Would you meditate on this for a moment?)
We know that this is vitally important for a couple of obvious reasons. First, the Lord Jesus commanded this. Second, He said this to His disciples on the night that He was betrayed. This was one of the last things that He taught them. On that crucial night of “cramming for the exam,” Jesus gave this “new” command to His followers.
Love One Another [34-35]
Jesus now imparts to His closest followers His expectations for them in light of His parting. He is leaving, and they are staying. He tells them what He expects of them. He gives them a new commandment that is really not new at all. It is the phrase “new commandment” that passed through the Latin language and gave us our term “Maundy,” hence “Maundy Thursday.” The newness is not in the sense of recent, but in the sense of fresh. This commandment was not recent at all, but had a long history dating back to the Mosaic Law (*SEE Deut 6:5; Lev 19:18; also Mk 12:28-33; Rom 13:8-10; 1 Jn 2:7-8). The “new commandment” points to the footwashing which points to the cross. A fresh interpretation is given to the commandment by the Lord Jesus Himself. We are to love unselfishly and sacrificially. There is a new standard in light of the new covenant which is in Christ’s blood.
The love that the Lord is talking about here is not the light, fluffy, emotional, and superficial love that we often see in the world today. The love the Lord is talking about is real, heavy, difficult, painful, and lasting. It is not simply saying “I love you,” which may be hard enough for some of you to say to one another, but it is much more than that. This love is active and sacrificial. It is humbling. I will show you just how humbling it is when we read about the footwashing in just a few minutes.
How is it that Jesus says the world will know His disciples? Bumper stickers? Pins? Screen-printed t-shirts? WWJD bracelets? Because you are perfect? Because you are holier-than-thou? No, no, no. This is how everyone will know that we are Christ’s disciples: If we love the way He loved. He laid down His life for us and we ought to also lay down our lives for each other. We are to be living sacrifices. Our love must be different. Yes, we will love the world with compassion and evangelism, but we are distinct from the world. Our binding love is directed toward one another. That is what makes our love holy. On this verse many quote from Tertullian, a second century Christian leader, writer, and apologist. He reported how the pagans of his time marveled at the Christians and would say, “See how they love one another . . . how are they ready even to die for one another!” Is that how the society at-large views us today? Do they see a unique love?
Conclusion and Christian Application
Notice how the love teaching follows the footwashing- Jesus’ demonstration shows them that this type of love is real, active, hands-on, and even dirty at times. The type of love that He expects of His followers is out of the norm; awkward and even uncomfortable. That is what makes it sacrifice. It is not an abstract thought for us to sit around and discuss, but is something that we must do. When Jesus says it to His first disciples it is not a suggestion of something that would be nice for them to do, but is something that will characterize them for all time. Those who follow this saying are really Christ’s disciples, truly Christians in every sense of the word. The New Testament teaches us to consider others better than ourselves, to look out for the interests of others. How are you doing with that? Are you mindful of others, or only yourself?