Bible Reading: John 13:31-35
Jesus gives a NEW commandment to love, and yet to love was clearly commanded in the Old Testament. In Leviticus we read, “You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord” [Leviticus 19:18]. What Jesus is speaking about is a whole new dimension of love, and it is specifically related to His death on the cross of which He had just been speaking [v.31-33]. It is Calvary love. This is the highest form of love. The Greek word for this kind of love is agape – the God-like love that sacrifices. The word agape speaks of an attitude or emotion of deep affection for another person, but with a focus on loving action and not feelings alone.
Jesus speaks a lot in the next three chapters of John’s Gospel about the Holy Spirit. Christ’s new commandment to love is specifically related to the work and ministry of the Holy Spirit. Writing to the Romans Paul says, “the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us” [Romans 5:5]. This is not our love, but the Holy Spirit in us causing God’s love to flow through us. The Old Testament says that we should love our neighbour in the same way that we love ourselves, but the New Testament says that we should love in the same way that God loves.
How does God show His love? Firstly, God’s love is for His enemies and not just for His friends. Even whilst we were enemies of God He showed His love for us in sending Christ to die for us [Romans 5:10]. Secondly, God’s love is sacrificial. Jesus said, “This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you [John 15:12 NLT]. How did Jesus love us? By laying down His life for us! Thirdly, God’s love always seeks to bless others.
It is extravagant! Words that speak of love are to do good, to bless, to pray, to give and to be compassionate [see Luke 6:27-36]. Fourthly, God’s love is intensely practical. In 1 John 3:16-19] John writes, “Let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions…If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion – how can God’s love be in that person?” It is as practical as helping to meet another’s need if we are in a position to do so!
To love in this way might be very costly and make us vulnerable to being abused and misused, but the consequences of not loving will be even more costly. It is when we love in this way that we will be known as Christ’s disciples [v.35].
What words would you use to describe God’s love shown to us at Calvary?
What are the kind of things that might hinder you from being a channel of God’s love to other people?
Will you ask the Lord to fill you with the Holy Spirit so that the love of Jesus for others will permeate every area of your life?