“This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.“
The result of abiding in Christ and Him abiding in us is that we love one another as He has loved us. “Now the end of the commandment is love out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned (1 Timothy 1:5).” Love is of God, and it is the fulfillment of the Law and the mark by which all men will know that we are Christ’s disciples. But the beginning of this is to abide in Christ. Notice that He says, “This is My commandment, THAT (so that, in order that) you love one another as I have loved you.” If you’re like me, you might think that Jesus’s commandment in this verse is to love one another as He has loved us, but that’s NOT what it says. Wait, what?!? Yes! “This is my commandment.” What is His commandment? What He has just been commanding them: “Abide in me and I in you.” That is His commandment. And the result is that we will love each other as He has loved us. He repeats Himself in verse 17, “These things I command you, that you love one another.” In this passage He is not commanding us to love one another—that’s not the primary theme. He is commanding us to abide in Him and He in us SO THAT we love one another.
Please don’t think that I’m saying Jesus doesn’t command us to love one another or that loving one another as He has loved us is not one of His commandments. It is!! But what Jesus is commanding His disciples to do here is to ABIDE IN HIM. The teaching of Jesus in this parable of the vine and branches is about abiding in Christ and He abiding in us with the result that we bear fruit and love one another. Love is a fruit of the Spirit. Love is OF GOD. So how do we get it? How will we love one another and, more specifically, love one another AS HE HAS LOVED US? Again, it begins with abiding in Christ.
THIS IS His commandment so that will love one another as He has loved us. Don’t try this on your own—it doesn’t work. The most I can be, apart from Christ abiding in me, is nice to people. But that only lasts so long and eventually my niceness has a limit or only can last so long. It’s like a branch trying to bear fruit by going to the produce section of the grocery store and taping fruit on its branches. It may look great to us and others, but it is only temporary. Real love must come from the life of Christ flowing into us and through us.
“… Love one another as I have loved you” begs the question of how has Christ loved us? This bring us to a place of receiving Christ’s loving us first. We must know Him and His love for us. Ephesians 5:1-2 says, “Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.” Here we see the pattern of Christ giving Himself for us and to God. This is important because our natural tendency is to give ourselves TO people including our own selves. But here’s the problem with that, when I give myself TO someone then I am worshiping and serving them. We are not to offer ourselves to people. Not even Christ offered Himself TO us. He did NOT give Himself TO us. But He gave Himself TO GOD and God gave Him to us. Christ gave Himself FOR us.
To be continued in tomorrow’s post