21 Dec LOVE
“As the Father has loved me, I have also loved you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commands you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.
“I have told you these things so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.
“This is my command: Love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this: to lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants anymore, because a servant doesn’t know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything I have heard from my Father. You did not choose me, but I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce fruit and that your fruit should remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he will give you.
“This is what I command you: Love one another.”
These words were some of the last of Jesus’ teachings while He was here on earth. He was at The Last Supper, just hours away from His betrayal and death, speaking to His closest friends, His faithful disciples. What was He desperate for them to understand before He left? Love.
The progression in this text shows us, from start to finish, what love looks like. Jesus says His love for us comes out of the love He freely accepts from His Father. The way He keeps Himself in that fully loved position is to keep His Father’s commands. He tells us that we can follow His example and “live loved” by keeping His commands as well.
It’s always beneficial to look for the reason behind commands, and the reason here is crystal clear: “so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.” His desire is for us to be completely satisfied. Deeply content. Doesn’t that sound exactly like what we all want for ourselves?
So what are the commands that we are to keep in order to find this soul satisfaction? That’s gotta be a long list. A daunting mountain of do’s and don’ts. An unattainable ideal, full of caveats.
Nope. Just one command: Love one another.
It’s simple, but I bet you’ve lived long enough to know that it’s not easy. There is probably someone in your life who isn’t the easiest to love. Whether they refuse to love you back, have hurt you beyond belief, or just kind of rub you the wrong way, some people are just hard to love! But Jesus is telling us that we can lean into the love we have from Him, and find an unlimited source of love for others right there.
He tells His disciples that the greatest love a person can have is to lay down their life for his friends. Remember, He’s saying these words to His friends just hours before His own death on their behalf. So when we think about loving that person that is just hard to love, we can remember the extreme love Jesus has for us, and how He showed us by laying His life down on the Cross. That rough relationship can be an opportunity to get a small taste of laying down your life for a friend. Lay down your pride. Lay down your entitlement. Lay down your busy schedule. Lay down your comfort. When you’re living loved by Jesus, you can lay down your life for others, and that’s where joy is found.
If it seems impossible in your situation, you’re not alone! Even Jesus asked for a way out. I think that’s why He added “whatever you ask the Father in my name, he will give you.” We need help! It’s not natural to love others more than ourselves. But Jesus delights in giving us exactly what we ask for when we’re asking in order to follow Him more closely.
So, yes, this command to love others is simple. And it can even be easy when we ask Him for help. It’s a love this world does not understand. A love that will soften hearts and change the world. We’re invited to bring that love on His behalf to our little corner of the world every day.