Pursue Your Faith
Pursue Your Faith
The commandment is new because of its object, but also because of its measure.
The measure of this love is, “as I have loved you. Earlier in chapter 13, Jesus gave His disciples a new standard of love. He did this by washing their feet (13:4-17). In doing so, He humbled Himself and served His disciples in an intentional and tangible way. Jesus is calling us to love others as He did.
This sacrificial love also reaches out to Judas as he’s about to betray Christ. Jesus wants you and me to sacrificially love other believers to death if necessary. It is a vastly greater love that gives up one’s own life for another, that sacrifices self-interest to promote the interests of another (15:13). The sacrificial work of Christ on the cross is the “new” standard for the Christian’s love for fellow-believers.
In 13:34-35, the word Jesus uses for love is the Greek verb agapao and its noun form agape.
Of the four words for love in the Greek language, this one is the capstone.
Essentially, it means to seek the highest good of another. Agape love sacrifices for others. It is an act of the will. It is a decision, a commitment. Love is not about your needs or my needs; it’s about God’s will. When Jesus says “as I have loved you,” He sets Himself up as the standard by which His disciples are to forever measure their love for one another. He is telling them, “I left the splendors and comforts of heaven because I loved you. I called you to be Mine, knowing full well your faults. I taught you, even when you were stubborn and closed-minded. I corrected you when you stepped out of line. I washed your feet on the way to my death. When you denied me and betrayed me, I loved you with an everlasting love. All this was for your highest good. My interest was not in myself, but in you.
In 13:35, Jesus declares that when we love each other we will become a magnet to the world. He says, “By this all men [people] will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.
Jesus is giving the world the right to examine our credibility. The world can see if we’re for real. If you and I love one another everyone will know that we are Jesus’ disciples.
This does not refer to a theoretical knowledge but to a knowledge gained by first-hand, rub-of-the-shoulders observation. How can you reveal to the world that you are Jesus’ disciple?
By demonstrating love! When people see this kind of uncommon love exemplified in the Church they are naturally curious. They begin to wonder if the gospel could be true. They begin to believe that Christ DOES bring transformation. On the flip side, when we fail to show love we invalidate the message. People don’t believe there is real transformation in Christ. We make the idea of Christian community very unappealing. People ask, “Why would I want more stress and conflict in my life?” I don’t need Christ or His church!
It is important to notice that there is an “if” involved in 13:35. Believers can violate the love command. Failure to love does not mean I am not a Christian, but it means the world has the right to make the judgment that I am not a Christian. Therefore, if we expect unbelievers to know that we are Christ’s disciples, we must show the mark. The early church displayed the mark. Tertullian, a church father who wrote a century after the gospel of John was written said that unbelievers saw Christians loving one another and commented, “Behold, how they love one another.” Even today, nothing so astonishes a fractured world as a community in which radical, faithful, genuine love is shared among its members. There are many places you can go and find communities of shared interest. There are many places you can go to find people just like yourself, who live for sports or music or gardening or politics.
But true agape love is hard to find. Ultimately, it can only be found in the Christ.
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