Love One Another


John 13:34-35
34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”


In John 13, we find ourselves in the upper room following the Lord’s Supper. Jesus has washed His disciples’ feet and just broken the news that one of the twelve would betray Him. After Judas departs from them, Jesus proceeds to tell the remaining eleven about a new commandment.Looking back through scripture, we can see that God’s people had already been given instructions regarding the topic of love.

Loving God…

5You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. - Deuteronomy 6:5

And loving people…

17“You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him. 18You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD. - Leviticus 19:17-18

In John 13, we learn that this new commandment Jesus speaks of does not replace other commandments on love, but rather sets a new, higher standard for it.
How should we love?

We are to love just as Jesus loved us. Just a couple chapters later, Jesus underscores this point again with the disciples saying,

12“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14You are My friends if you do what I command you. - John 15:12-14

This new standard is a sacrificial love modeled after Christ’s love for His church. This is what we are to emulate. And what makes this attempt to replicate Christ’s love even possible? The transforming power of the Holy Spirit. Without Him, our hearts of stone could not be replaced by hearts of flesh (Ez. 36:26), nor could we bear love or any other fruits of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22).

Who are we to love?

Whenever we read scripture, it is important to examine the context of who the intended audience was.  Keep in mind that Judas had been dismissed from the group by this point in the passage. This detail helps us see with greater clarity that Christ is saying something directly to His true followers. He is speaking to those whom He goes on to call friends (John 15:13). What qualifies one to be a friend of God? Obedience to His commands (John 15:14). For whom did Christ say He would lay down His life? His friends.
So then, who are we being instructed to love with the same sacrificial intensity as Christ did? Those who obey Christ’s commands - our fellow believers. This challenge to practice a selfless, sacrificial breed of love has been issued first and foremost to and among believers. Is this a pass to be unkind to non-believers? Of course not!  We are still called to love our neighbor just as Jesus taught in the parable of the good Samaritan (Luke 10). When we actively pursue this level of love and charity within the Church, it should naturally spill over into our interactions with those outside the body of Christ.

Why are we to love like Jesus?

The reason that followers of Jesus are told to practice this remarkable type of love with and among believers is to confound those inside and outside the Church. The text says this is the kind of love that distinguishes us among all people that we are disciples of Jesus Christ. Our love within the Church is meant to be a reminder of God's goodness to believers, and a powerful witness to those peering in from the outside, beckoning them to repent and experience God’s glory. 

Action Step

Spend some time today reflecting on how much your love costs you. Are you kind to that guy at church that gets on your nerves? Do you make time for people in other income brackets? Do you find ways to care for those in great need? Are you willing to experience the discomfort of confronting someone about unrepentant sin because you care about their soul? Do you ever sacrifice your schedule to serve God’s people?

If your love never requires you to put your preferences and comfort aside, consider how you might be able to take a step to lay down your life for someone else today, as Jesus did.


Father, help me to honor and obey you with my life. I ask that you would burden my heart with the desire to love those in the family of God well, and without contempt. Help me to learn how to love sacrificially with the same measure that Christ did for me. May our genuine love for one another produce tangible evidence to all people of Your goodness and faithfulness. Amen
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