The Bible is full to the brim with lessons for us to learn, words of wisdom to be remembered, and warnings of pitfalls to avoid. The Gospels are an especially rich source of basic biblical principles straight from the mouth of Jesus. Today I would like to take a minute to read through a particular section of Jesus’ many teachings and break it down. This section, John 15:12-17, is Jesus’ admonition to His disciples to love one another.
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another.” – John 15:12-17
The first thing I’ll point out is the beginning and the end of this section. “Love one another.” Any time the same thing is said twice in the Bible, you know it’s important. Love is obviously something that is very important to God, seeing as He is love (1 John 4:16). How does He command us to love one another? “…as I have loved you.” That immediately begs the question: How does He love us? He loves us unconditionally, without regard to our past or our present sins, accomplishments, or faithfulness. Consequently, that means that we are commanded to follow the same standard. Love one another, both enemies and friends.
“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”
Often quoted as an example of what all Christians should strive to be, this verse reminds us of what being a Christian truly costs. We are called to love and be love to others. Soon after teaching this to the disciples, He went and became an example of this very lesson. He laid down His life for His friends. Should we not do the same?
“You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants…”
I was recently reading back through this passage, and this verse caught my attention in a way that it never had before. It just amazes me that Jesus calls us friends. We humble ourselves to the position of His servant, and rightfully so because we are so infinitely small compared to Him. Instead of accepting our servanthood though, He calls us friends. He invites us in to share in His knowledge and to serve alongside Him instead of under Him.
To summarize, God loves us. He commands us to do the same with the world, even laying down our lives for our others. He tells us that we aren’t just servants, but friends. We’re loved with the love of an equal, not the pity of a master, though we don’t even deserve that much. Go love. Love like Jesus loved.