"A new commandment I give to you,
that you love one another:
just as I have loved you,
you also are to love one another."
As Jesus looks ahead to his death, and his resurrection and a time when he will no longer be with his disciples he leaves them this commandment to love on another. In so doing he expects his disciples to emulate his love. It is the example they are to follow and he will soon show them at the cross that it is a love which is willing to lay down one's life for another. It is a love that is willing to forgo all rights, privileges and comforts and at great cost love another.
So as we look at this passage what is it that can be gleamed from its words?
1) The commandment to love was not new for Deuteronomy 6:5 commanded love for God, and Leviticus 19:18 commanded loving one's neighbour as oneself.
2) However it is new in nature because it is a sacrificial love modeled after his example. It is the love of one who stooped down and washed his disciples feet and it is the love of one who sacrificed his life for the good of his friends.
But it was also new because it is a love that is produced through the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer. It is a love that is implanted in the believer at conversion, which he previously did not have, and it grows incrementally as he comes to know and understand more of Christ which the Spirit illumines to him and uses to cause him to grow in love.
3) The criteria of this love cannot be found in those who Jesus loved but it is found in his nature to freely love whoever he chooses.
There are several criteria we use to determine whether we will love another person. (a) The likeability of a person- personality, interests. (b) The status of a person such as their profession, education, income, home. (c) The talents of a person- what they can bring to the table and contribute. (d) The appearance of a person- how they look and dress. (e) The mannerisms of a person and how they talk. (f) The achievements of a person. What they have done. Where have they been. (f) The so called "moral virtues" of a person.
The criteria for Jesus love is based solely upon himself and not us. His love is free from any influence outside himself and has its criteria in his freedom to love whosoever he chooses. And so we find he chooses to love those who:
a) Do not deserve his love.
b) Who have nothing in and of themselves that make them lovable.
c) Who do not love him.
4) Most wonderful of all is how he showed his love for disciples. He did so in the following ways:
a) By being a servant to them.
b) By giving of his time and energy for those who needed his help.
c) By protecting his disciples during his earthly ministry.
d) By proclaiming the gospel.
e) By teaching his disciples the truth about God and rebuking them when they fell into error.
(f) By being patient with them.
(g) By providing for their everyday needs.
(h) By forgiving them for the many blunders and sins they committed.
(I) By being a faithful friend to them.
(J) By giving up his life so that they can live.
(5) Jesus' life was so much more but was not less than an example for Christians to follow. This is especially so in his love. As we look at how he interacted and what he said and how he behaved with people in the pages of the gospels we are to emulate how he loved.
6) This love of Christ is the mark of a true Christian and a true Church. It is what defines a Christian and a church that has understood the gospel, for at the heart of the gospel is the love of God in Christ Jesus, and from the tree of the gospel it is the fruit that marks Christian behavior both inside the church and at the world at large.
Dear Christian we are not to love as the world does based on something someone has done or a quality they possess which makes them desirable. Christ loved his disciples because he loved his disciples. We are to love others because we love others not expecting anything in return, or expecting to be loved in the same way. Instead we are to follow Jesus and love others often at great discomfort and cost to ourselves just as Jesus has done towards us.