Love One Another

John Ch. 13:34-35

Introduction:


I’d like for you to go to John, Chapter 13 for a moment this afternoon. We will begin in v. 31. It’s the last evening of Jesus life, as you know. He has already eaten the Passover meal and given a few instructions to his disciples and, because of Satan, one has already closed his heart and left. Judas has gone away. And now in v. 31-33, it begins with these words. “…” Now you have to capture the entire setting because this is the last few hours of Jesus’ life. If it’s the last hours, what does it mean? Time is counted. And if time is counted, time is precious. You don’t waste the last moments when you know you soon will be gone. I have seen a few people, right at that time, and most often, what they want are three things.

And so, here Jesus has gathered his family and he is giving his last instructions. These are of most importance. They will be meant to guide the apostles when he is gone. And with the intent of impressing the point, he demonstrates what he teaches. He washes the feet of the twelve. He says, “Do as I have done – serve each other.” And now he has the attention of the twelve like he’s never had their attention before. When he says, “I am going away and you can’t come,” they probably are on the edge of their seats. You can almost imagine their eyes riveted on Jesus, seeking to understand all that is happening. And while Jesus has their attention, like that, he teaches one other important lesson. Let’s read it in v. 34 and 35. “…”

I know this afternoon, you must have heard a few sermons on that subject of love and I wish I could package this material, in such a way, that you would be more inspired than ever before on this subject. But I don’t know this afternoon that I can package it any differently than what you’ve heard all those times before. In fact, what I am going to do today is probably a repeat of what you’ve already heard. I suspect any of you could come here and say the same things I am about to say for you’ve heard them many times. But the Bible says repetition isn’t bad. That’s how you learn and I know that’s often the way I am challenged, again, to do the things I used to do and I no longer do. So, let’s dive into it. There are three lessons I want to draw from the text.


I. The WHAT


Jesus, here in the upper room, is saying to the eleven men, “I want you to keep a new commandment, “Love one another.” But I ask you, was it the first time Jesus talked about love? No, three years earlier, on the side of a mountain, he was saying, “Love your enemy.” Matt 5:43-44. Let us read. “…” And then there was this time when a teacher of the law confronted Jesus, Matt 22:34-46. So love was not a new subject for Jesus. And yet, on the last evening of his life, he looks at them and he says, “A new command I give you. Love one another.” So what is different to make this command a new one? The recipient object of the love is different. It is no longer love your neighbor; but, love one another. A neighbor is any person in need. I recognize where one another has reference to the church of our Master’s disciples, who don’t always have needs. Now the eleven had been together about three years. They had shared a lot of meals and dreams together. They had shared joys, sorrows and many conversations. But you know what happens when it’s like that. The honeymoon is over. You know each other’s differences, each other’s strength, but also weaknesses. And often, these weaknesses get under your skin. It’s like a family. There is no mask between family members. And because there is no mask, the going gets tough sometimes. A child’s comment that I read last week expresses it best, in my opinion. It’s part of an article on siblings.


Subject: Church Fellowship


Brothers and Sisters…


A child in our church reminded us of a critical truth about siblings. Early in our Sunday morning worship services, I invited all the children to set beside me near the front. I use a hand puppet or two to make a point about the Christian life. On this day, I had a cute, cuddly, rabbit puppet on one hand and a large, ugly, intimidating puppet of an iguana on the other. I asked the children, “Do you know anyone like the bunny rabbit who is cute and sweet and easy to love?” Most of the youngsters nodded, “Yes,” but the child to my left said, “Yes! My sister!” I was impressed and said so. It’s great to have a sister you love. Then, I continued, “Do you know anyone like the iguana who is crabby and acts ugly and is hard to get along with?” Again the children nodded their assent. And once again, the child to my left said loudly, “Yes! My sister!” We all had a good laugh from that, and we had to admit that she was exactly right. We are all like her sister, easy to love, at times, hard to get close to, at other times.

Hey, friend, if you don’t have any brothers and sisters, I’ve got you some! They’re down at the church. You will find them to be everything siblings ought to be - friends, confidants, helpers, and, sometimes a real pain. But that’s life.


Joe McKeever
A Matter of Fax


You see, John must have been a real pain to James, sometimes. Just like Thomas must have been a real pain to Simon, at times. Just like I am a real pain to you, sometimes. But Jesus says, “You must love one another in this family.” Perhaps because it’s the starting point. For you see, if we can’t love each other, how are we ever going to love a neighbor down the street who has no commitment to Godly living. Or, if we can’t love each other, how can we expect to love an enemy. And even stronger than that, if you can’t commit to love me and I to love you, how can we really ever love God? John will say it this way in 1 John 4:20. “…” And so it all starts in this family. We have to love each other, to love God, our enemies and our neighbors. Again, let me say, if a man can’t love his wife, if a man can’t love his kids and if he can’t commit to loving his in-laws and his siblings, then how will he ever love a stranger or one who mistreats him? It’s the same in the church. We can’t love each other or God if we don’t love each other in our family setting.


But now back to our original thought, “A new command I give you, love one another.” What is new in that? The recipient we have said, but also the standard. It is no longer as you love yourself, but as I have loved you. In other words, the standard from there would be Jesus, not self. That brings me to my second point this afternoon. To the How.


II. HOW?


How am I to love? Like Jesus loved! Anyone who has ever heard the story of Jesus quickly understands it’s a story of love! No one, who has ever heard of the cross, has denied that it took love for Jesus to do this! A few years ago, there was a show on TV called Rescue 911. It was a real-life show that showed real rescues! Well, a few years ago, there was a mother teaching her little girl how to snow ski. They were there waiting for the lift to come by and pick them up and take them up on that side of the mountain so they could ski back down the mountain. That chairlift came and the mother sat down. The little girl sat down, but as the lift started to pick up speed and go up, the little girl slipped out. She grabbed hold of her mother’s leg and the mother just had time to reach down and grab the little girl’s coat front. All the while, the chair was getting higher and higher and higher up the side of the mountain. The mother was not strong enough to take the little girl and pull her back into the chair and the little girl was not strong enough to climb up her mother’s leg into the chair. And all the while, they were going higher and higher. Finally, someone saw what was happening and they stopped the lift. But when they stopped it, the little girl was now 40 feet above the ground, hanging on her mother’s leg. Now that’s a long way up. If you’ve ever been 40 feet above the ground and looked down, you know it’s a long way. And the little girl was screaming. She was trying to frantically hang on. The mother, herself, was having a hard time. But there was a worker at the ski lodge, a young man, who saw all of this. He knew he had no time to go seek other help. So he did a very dangerous, but courageous thing. He ran to the pole nearest the chair; he climbed 40 feet up; and when he got to the top, he did something unbelievable. He went from the pole to the cable; grabbed hold of it; and foot by foot made his way to the chair. He finally got there. He reached down, grabbed the little girl and pulled her up to safety. A little later, the mother was interviewed. She was asked about that young man who had saved the little girl’s life. And I don’t know if I have her words exactly right, but she said something like this, “You can’t help but love the one who saves your child!”

Well, the story of Jesus is far more dramatic than that story I’ve just told and it’s far more significant; because, in the story of Jesus, you find before he came, he was God. And yet, for our sake, he took the leap to come to this earth. And when he got on this earth, he walked day after day as a servant. And he filled each moment with people. Wherever he saw people in need, he reached out. He did it over and over again; until finally, in the end, he elected to go the cross; and he died on that cross so that people had the opportunity to be saved. What a story!


And Jesus says to these eleven men, on the last night of his life, I want you to love each other. And I want you to love each other the way I loved you. The standard is different here! Yes, it is! You see, many times, I am not good to myself because I don’t love myself and, if you love others as you love yourself, you won’t be too good to them either. But if you love as Jesus loved, you’ll always have an impact on the world around you. That’s why Jesus will say to husbands, in Eph 5:25, “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church.” That’s why in 1 John, Chapter 3:16-17, John says, “…” And what John is saying, simply, is “love each other the way Jesus loved”. That is the standard. That is how to love. That is my second point.


III. The WHY


And then it brings me to my third point, to the why. I ought to love my brethren, for if you look back at Jesus’ words in John 13, the thought is not completely studied or dealt with, without the reason Jesus mentions, right after saying, “love one another”! In v. 35, Jesus adds, “By this all men will know ….”

A long time ago, a preacher defined excellent speeches like this. He said, “Excellent speeches are speeches that have a good message. And they are the ones that are properly illustrated. And then the one which rides and flies on the wings of humor!” I think he had a point. The speeches I like best are those with a good message, good illustrations and good humor. When a speaker has a message flying on the wings of humor, he touches his audience almost every single time.

I think there is a parallel you can make here with Christianity. For you see, Christianity has a good message - a message that gives life and happiness. And it’s well illustrated with parables. But Christianity doesn’t fly without love. It touches people only when it flies on the wings of love. If it doesn’t fly on the wings of love, it doesn’t fly at all! We are a people who have spent a great deal of time with the message. We have searched and searched and studied and studied until we found the right doctrine. And I believe this is very good. I believe it’s important because the wrong message can only lead to the wrong result. But I will tell you this. If the right doctrine does not start being accompanied by love, it will not fly at all. If the right message is not proclaimed in the midst of love, people won’t convert or they’ll convert and will fall away as soon as they get baptized! I think these eleven men, learned that that night! For when you study the rest of their life, you find them staying together, respecting each other, being in peace with each other. They are committed to each other. And in Acts, Chapter 2, when the church is started, somehow, they are able to infect that early church with that concept of love. Because you go to v. 42 of Acts, Chapter 2, right after the church is beginning and it says, “All of these people continued in fellowship, the Apostle’s teaching”. And when they would find some in their number in need, they shared what they had with those in need even, to the point, where they sold what they had. And what I like is the last verse of Acts, Chapter 2. It says, “….” What that means is, everyone around the city of Jerusalem would look and see the church and they liked what they saw. It was the message, yes, but not all together the message. For the message had already been preached. But now, it’s a little different because there is a group residing in that city, displaying the message on the wings of love. And all over the city, they look at the Christians and they say, “Oh, what a wonderful thing!” And they respond to the message. Now go to the rest of the New Testament and you will find that book after book will emphasize the need for us to be a people with love, for us to love one another fervently. And you go in I Corinthians. A church is plagued with problems, split with divisions and Paul will say, “It’s because you don’t honor each other; it’s because you don’t really care about each other. Now would you have liked to be part of a church like that? Would you have been attracted to a group like that? So Paul rebukes them and in Chapter 13, he gets to the heart of the issue. He says, “….” And what Paul is saying is, some of you have the ability to speak, to give, to move mountains with your faith. But I tell you this. If you don’t have love, it is nothing and you are nothing!

Conclusion

So Jesus says three things to these eleven men on his last night.


And those eleven men went out and taught, throughout the world, this principle to the whole community of believers. And so this afternoon, this lesson applies to us. Therefore, I close with these three conclusions – these three statements. We, Disciples of Christ, must also love one another. It’s not an option. No more an option than baptism. How many times do I say, “People need to be baptized”? Well, in the same way, I ought to say, “Love one another”. It’s just as important. For if we can’t love each other here, I can’t ever expect to love my neighbor, or my enemy, or to really say I love God. How do we love? Like Jesus – sacrificing ourselves like him. And then it’s love that will happen. If this world looks at us and does not see that love, they’ll see who we are not! So, love one another. It’s easier to hate. I know you can look at a person and find 5-10 reasons why you hate that person; but I’ll give you one reason you ought to love - because Jesus said, “Love one another!”

So, I ask you, how well are you doing on that subject of love?