Red Letter Words Week Two: Love
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”
Love one another.
Jesus says that this is His commandment. It’s not a suggestion, not just a good idea…but His commandment. A command to love.
Reading more of John 15 helps us get a better idea of the context of these words:
1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. 9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you.15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another.
Jesus says that He is the vine, and we are the branches. Apart from Him, we cannot bear fruit (vs. 4). Apart from Him, we can do nothing (vs. 5). Apart from Him, we wither (vs. 6). But if we abide in Him, we will bear fruit, we will glorify the Father, and we will prove that we are His disciples (vs. 8).
Jesus said, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.” (vs. 9)
So how do we abide in His love?
Jesus says, “If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love.” (vs. 10)
And what are His commandments?
Well, often we tend to think of the Ten Commandments when we talk about the commandments of God. In Mark 12, Jesus Himself says that the greatest commandment is to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:30). But in this particular passage Jesus specifically says, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” (vs. 12)
I love how the Amplified Bible phrases it:
“This is My commandment,
that you love and unselfishly seek the best for one another,
just as I have loved you.”
Unselfishly seek the best for one another.
Just as He has loved us.
Love like He loves.
This is how we abide in Him...this is how we abide in His love: by loving like He loves. When we love like He loves, we become a branch of His love, letting His love flow freely and unselfishly through us. And not only that, but we will have joy…His joy will be in us and our joy will be full (vs. 11).
This command to love is not some new idea Jesus is introducing here. Even in the Old Testament, God’s people are commanded to love. Leviticus 19:18 says to love your neighbor as yourself. Deuteronomy 6:5 says to love God with all your heart. All throughout the Scriptures, God’s people are commanded to love.
But what Jesus does here takes the command to love to a new level: He is now telling us to not just love others like we love ourselves ("love your neighbor as yourself")…He says to love others the way HE loves us. “Love one another as I have loved you.”
How did Jesus love us?
He laid down His life.
Jesus goes on to say, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you.” (vs. 13-14)
Do what He commands. Love one another. Love like He loves…laying down our lives, setting aside our pride, unselfishly seeking the best for one another.
It sounds so good on paper…but honestly? People are hard. And loving people can be really hard.
- I don’t understand their choices
- I’ve been hurt by their actions
- I don’t agree with them
- They don’t believe the same things I do
- They annoy me
- They are rude or mean
- They don’t love me back
- They break my heart
But Jesus says “Love…as I have loved you.”
Love like Jesus so that they will experience the love of Jesus. Because the love of Jesus changes everything.
In Matthew 5:43-45 Jesus says to not just love our neighbors, but to love our enemies.
Not just love one another, but love the other…that person who is not like you, that person who doesn’t like you, that person who is hard to love. Love them. Love them like Jesus loves them.
Unselfishly seek the best for them.
Love them like Jesus so they will experience the love of Jesus...so they will be drawn to His love, so they will want to know HIM.
Love them like Jesus loves them.
Goodness, that can be hard! And on my own, apart from Christ, it is just not really possible. I think that's why it's so important to abide in Him. Jesus says, “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” (vs. 7) I don't think this means that God is like some genie in a bottle granting all our wishes if we abide in Him. If I am abiding in Him and His words are abiding in me, I will want to obey Him and my wishes will align with His wishes…I will want to love others selflessly, and I can ask for His help to love the way He loves, and He promises to help me do what seems impossible and love even those who are hard to love.
1 Peter 4:8 says, “Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins.”
Oh, if I could just brand that into my heart and never ever forget...
Jesus commands me to love like He loves. He tells me to live a kind of love that is willing to lay down its own life, willing to give all for the sake of another.
What am I really willing to lay down for another?
What am I willing to lay down for the other?
Who do I struggle to love?
How can I love that person/those people like Jesus loves them today?
A prayer for today:
Lord, help us to love one another today the way that you love us. Reveal anything in our hearts that may be keeping us from bearing fruit, anything that may be hindering us from loving someone the way You love them. May we abide in Your love today, and may Your love flow freely and unselfishly through us as we reach out and love others. May the words we speak be words of love, may our actions bear witness of your love in our lives. Fill us with joy today as we abide in Your unfailing, unending, unbelievable love for us. We love you.
In Jesus’ name, Amen
Free Printables for this week's Red Letter Words Devotional: