January 24th, 2023 - Love One Another

Love One Another

Welcome back! As we begin our time in the Word this morning, let’s take a few minutes to quiet our minds and hearts before the Lord and ask Him to meet with us over these next few moments. If you can, pause whatever you are doing so that you can be still, close your eyes, and take several deep breaths. As you breathe in, be reminded that God is good, that He is sovereign and in control, that His way is best. Pray with me and ask the Lord to move in power through the truth of His Word as we delight in His presence now.
God, would you come and meet with us here. Renew our minds with your Truth. Challenge us to become more like Jesus and help us to willingly obey you wherever you lead us.

Today, we read some of Jesus’ departing words to his disciples as He gathers with them prior to his arrest and crucifixion; this is John 15:12-15:
12 This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. 13 There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me. John 15:12-15

Jesus has gathered his disciples and has just washed their feet, predicted his betrayal and promised that the Holy Spirit would come. He encourages his followers to remain intimately connected to him, telling them in verse 9 that “I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. Then, in verse 12, he gives them a new commandment: to love each other. But, he doesn’t stop there; he tells them to love one another with the same measure and quality of His love for them! He is essentially saying, to His disciples, and to us today, that His love is to be both the source and the measure of our love for others! The love of Christ for us is the source of our love for each other; John reminds us of this elsewhere in Scripture, in 1 John 4:19:  We love because he first loved us. Because we have experienced the love of Jesus, we have seen the model for the way we should love each other–completely, unconditionally, sacrificially.
Verse 13 goes on to delineate the measure of Christ’s love for us, saying “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” Jesus tells his disciples that that great love is demonstrated through great sacrifice, knowing that He will lead the way, exemplifying this sacrificial love for them, and for all the world, in mere hours, when He gives his life away on the cross. Jesus asks all who follow Him to follow Him into love that is costly; it always requires the giving up of something–perhaps comfort or reputation, the status quo, or what seems wise in the world’s eyes, sometimes your schedule or resources, and often, it can come with great pain. But His love cost Him all He had, his very life; there was no cost that was greater than His love for His people.
The measure of His love is not only unconditional and sacrificial, but it treats servants as friends: in verse 15, Jesus calls his disciples his friends, those he has confided in. This was so countercultural to the thinking at the time of what a rabbi/disciple relationship should be; disciples were servants of their masters, not friends. In the culture at the time, servants could be trusted tools, useful to their master, but never considered partners in their master’s work, the way a friend would. So, Jesus’ love, freely given, invites His disciples into deeper relationship and intimacy with Him and prompts them to walk in obedience to Him (verse 14); Jesus’ identifies His followers as friends by their obedience to Him; imitation of Christ’s love and obedience to Christ’s commands demonstrates to the world who our Savior is!
Don’t rush past this command to love one another just because it is familiar today. Instead, sit in this moment and ask the Lord whether His love is truly the source and measure of your love for others. Are you allowing Him to love others through you, both unconditionally and sacrificially? Who is he calling you to love in a tangible way today? Maybe it is a coworker who is struggling; perhaps buy their lunch today and encourage them to keep going. Consider sending an encouragement card in the mail to someone who has loved you well, just to say thank you. Perhaps there is someone in the Body of believers that you are at odds with; would you sacrifice your pride today to have a hard conversation and give an apology so that there can be unity restored? Great love is costly, but it always leads us into greater intimacy with Jesus and leads others to experience and know Him more closely. Ask Him to put names and faces of people you need to love well on your mind and your heart right now, and obey Him in however He leads you to demonstrate that love.

Once you have asked the Lord who He is inviting you to actively show love to today, spend time surrendering any resistance, pride or excuses that come to mind to Him. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Ask him to be the source and measure of your love for those people and to empower you to be obedient to love them as He has loved you.

Pray: Jesus, thank you for loving me so unconditionally and sacrificially that you gave up your life to bring me back to the Father. I’m so grateful that there was no cost too great for you to pay for the ones you love! Please help me to love those around me as you have loved me; when I am unable, love them through me, by the power of your Spirit. Help me to be willing to love unconditionally and sacrificially, not shying away from obeying you, even when there is a great cost. Jesus, help me to love like you, because you have loved me so well. In your name, Amen.