In today’s study we explore God’s love for us, our love for Him, and our love for one another. We are challenged to genuinely love others as God loves us. His unconditional love for us is not based on who we are but who He is.
He doesn’t start or stop loving us. He doesn’t say I love you “if” or I love you “but,” He loves us, period.
Loving like Jesus is more than words, more than loving when it is easy or convenient. It is love in action, love when it is not returned, and love when there is nothing in it for us.
The life that is being transformed in Jesus Christ is a life being lived beyond the natural and the normal. It is the love life of Jesus being lived-out in His followers. As a matter of fact 1 John 1:6 says, “Whoever claims to live in Him must walk as Jesus did.”
Our text today takes place at the Last Supper table. Jesus is preparing His disciples for the days ahead and rehearsing with them the most important things for them to remember. He laces His conversation with the command to love like He has loved them and live a life of love as they have observed Him living.
Love grounded in God’s love
God’s love for us is dramatically demonstrated in Jesus Christ. Jesus had already told them that: “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30). Jesus has demonstrated the Father’s love and challenged them to do the same.
Obedience is a product of love. We “abide” in His love as we keep His commands. We don’t lose His love by being disobedient, but we lose the blessing that come from “abiding” in His love.
As parents, we love our children. However, our children can miss the blessings of our love should they rebel or reject us. They “abide” in our love in a right relationship with us.
Love reflecting Jesus’ love for us
We bring Jesus joy through loving obedience and we discover our personal joy as we obey His commands. The fact that I can bring Jesus joy though my love and obedience is awesome. My love for Him compels me to lavish Him with that which brings Him joy.
On this strategic night of our text Jesus challenged His disciples to discover the fullness of joy in love others. His desire for them and for us is to love each other like He loves us. Wow! His love is amazing and we are to strive to love like that.
I have the opportunity to see students on Truett-McConnell’s campus give of themselves in acts of love. They engage the culture with numerous ministries, from distributing food to caring for the needs of the elderly and going around the world to share the Gospel.
Why would college students with full class schedules be engaged in these ministries? Because the love of Christ compels them to. You can look in their eyes and see the joy they discover in expressing love to others.
Love for others involves sacrifice
Jesus challenges His disciples with the greatest act of love that anyone can ever perform: dying to save a friend. The very day after He spoke these words to His disciples He would “lay down His life” for them and the entire world.
He demonstrated throughout His ministry the model of love expressed in action. He challenges us with the command to love like Him.
Jesus declares the men around the table are His “friends.” He had already declared His love for them and what an ultimate act of love was for a friend, willingness to die. Now he tells them that they are His friends as they do what He has commanded.
Jesus uses words wisely and He uses the term “friend” to speak of an important relationship that existed between Jesus and His disciples then as well as to obedient followers today. He had been with the twelve for a little more than three years. Their relationship had grown as they heard, observed, and participated in Jesus’ ministry.
Like many of you I have hundreds of acquaintances, Facebook even calls them “friends” but in all honesty, I have few real friends.
My real friends are men who have gone with me through good times and bad. We know one another’s failings and strengths. We love one another enough to trust one another with our very lives.
When Jesus, our Lord, our Savior, Son of God, calls us “friend,” He invites us to enjoy a relationship with Him that endures in good times and bad. He has proven His “love” (friendship) beyond question. We respond to His love and it transforms us to love others when we recognize our need and what He has provided for us through His life, death, and resurrection.
Live it out
Walk – How is your love life? Spend some time listing evidence of your obedience to Jesus’s command to love. Is there enough evidence for you to be convicted of being a “friend” of Jesus?
Run – Make a list of things you can do to love like Jesus this week. Make plans to implement your list and be open to random opportunities as they emerge.
Soar – Share His love with one of your friends by sharing the good news of His gift of eternal life that is available through Him. Ask God to guide you in ceasing the opportunity to love others.