Love Like Jesus

Read John 13:31–38.

It is the night of His betrayal, and Jesus is eating a final meal with His disciples. It’s the last time they’ll all be gathered together like this before He is arrested, tortured, and killed. Jesus carefully chooses the words He wants to leave ringing in their ears: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John 13:34).

At first glance, this command hardly seems new. Back in the book of Leviticus, God had told the Israelites, “Love your neighbor as yourself” (19:18). Jesus Himself had echoed this commandment during His public ministry (Matt. 19:16-22, 22:34-40; Mark 12:28-34; Luke 10:25-28). But now at the end of that ministry, not in public but in private, Jesus insists that the command is new.

While loving one another is nothing novel, the intensity with which Jesus instructs His followers to love is unprecedented. “As I have loved you,” He says. This one phrase makes all the difference. Jesus’ love for His disciples is radical, boundless, and unlike anything the world has ever known—and so is to be our love for our brothers and sisters. Jesus loved so exorbitantly that He emptied Himself to become human and willingly laid down His life for His friends (Philippians 2:7; 1 John 3:16). And He is to be our model for loving each other.

What makes this command difficult to live out is not the dying part. I have been a Christian for most of my life, and it’s never come up. Instead, what makes this command challenging are the innumerable ways I am called to consider others more important than myself. When we stop and think about all the little deaths we must die in order to love like Jesus, it’s overwhelming. But maybe that’s the point. It’s that kind of overwhelming love that just might change the world.

“God is love, but He also defines what love is. We don’t have the license to define love according to our standards.” 

Francis Chan

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