Daily Thought for: 16th June
LOVE ONE ANOTHER, AS I HAVE LOVED YOU
John 13. 33-38; 15. 12-14
Here the Lord Jesus announces a new commandment, calling His followers to love one another. He describes it as radically, distinctively new. Why? After all, centuries before, God had commanded His people to love their neighbours as themselves, Lev. 19. 18. This was one of the fundamentals of the divine law. The newness of the new commandment lies in the standard of love which it demands. Christ’s people are to love each other as He loved them, with love of the same quality. The Lord Jesus had loved His own to the very end, 13. 1. So they should love each other.
In our day, we think of love as primarily an emotion. Scripture emphasises love shown in actions. John exhorts us to love not merely in word and in tongue but in deed and in truth, 1 John 3. 18. In the feet washing, the Master had just demonstrated His selfless love. In a few hours, He was about to display it supremely on the cross of Calvary. There can be no greater love than for a man to lay down his life for his friends. The Lord Jesus was shortly to sacrifice His life for His enemies, Rom. 5. 10. ‘Love is defined by the cross’, Milne. There we see the depths of the demands of the new commandment.
It is easy to memorise and recite the new commandment. Yet what counts is obeying it. The Lord demands that we display our love for each other in costly kindness and sacrificial devotion. We know the love of Jesus because He laid down His life for us. So, we ought to lay done our lives for the brethren, 1 John 3. 16. Every believer, however mature, is still challenged daily by the new commandment. It rebukes our deeply engrained selfishness.
Yet the Lord expects that His love command will be clearly seen in operation among His people. All around us will mark that we really are His disciples if we seek to keep this commandment. A watching world will see the genuineness of our claim to be followers of Christ by the degree to which we love each other. In the 2nd century, Tertullian said, ‘But it is mainly the deeds of a love so noble that lead many to put a brand upon us. See, they say, how they love one another ... how they are ready even to die for one another’. May it be so in the 21st century!