Read John 13
Focus on verse 34-35
If I type the word “love” into the search line in my Internet browser the search engine returns nearly seven million possible options for me to sift through. I suspect if I began to sort through these I would find references of great variety. Everything from sacred to profane, from simple to complex, from common to bizarre, and every reference would have some connection to the word “love”.
In today’s reading we find John describing what has come to be called The Last Supper – the last Passover meal that Jesus shared with His disciples prior to His death and resurrection. In these last moments Jesus gives His followers some last instructions including a new commandment to love one another.
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (v. 34-35)
There are certain kinds of love that are somewhat instinctive. The love a mother has for her children. The love that grows between a man and a woman when they realize that they are “in love” with each other. There is another kind of love that is not as instinctive. It is the kind of unconditional love that Jesus had for people. It is the kind of love that God has for us, and it is the kind of love that Jesus is instructing His followers to have for one another.
This is the kind of love that is not dependent upon a specific relationship; it is not dependent upon any particular action or behavior. It is the kind of love we offer to a person simply because we choose to do so, and I would go so far as to suggest that unless we understand and have experienced the love of God, it is impossible for us to offer this kind of love to anyone else.
We are only capable of loving one another because God first loved us. Even those who do not acknowledge God, get their capacity to love from God, because God is the only source of love, therefore any capacity to love that we have – must come from Him. Those who have experienced and accepted God’s love tend to have a greater capacity to pass that love on to others. In fact one might even go so far as to suggest that one of the critical signs of a person who knows God is the way they show love to others.
When people genuinely demonstrate unconditional love to one another it tends to capture the attention of those who have not yet experienced that love. Most people are impressed and attracted to the love of God demonstrated with integrity. If we love one another the world will know that we are disciples of Jesus. In this regard, love may well be the single most important aspect of being a follower of Jesus.