34 So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. 35 Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.
Text, Context, Pretext
It has been said that a text without a context is a pretext. What does that mean? Let’s take a look!
This passage in and of itself is challenging enough! To love fellow Christians the same way and to the same degree that Jesus loves us. But consider that this concept was introduced as a command just hours before he himself would be arrested, dragged through an illegal trial, beaten beyond recognition, and brutally murdered at the hands of law enforcement. But if that isn’t enough, let’s go back to the dinner table!
Verse 4 of John 13 says that Jesus got up from the table and proceeded to act like a slave: washing his disciples’ feet. And after navigating through some resistance regarding this behavior, he announces that this is how all of us should act, like slaves towards one another. (Philippians 2:5-8)
Then he proceeds to address the fact that he was going to be betrayed by one of the “brothers” at the table; one of the brothers whose feet he had just washed.
After addressing the betrayal and the betrayer, he proceeds to deal with another “main man” who’s going to deny him.
All of this madness reminds me of a term that’s used on the streets: “I’ve got your back!” Really?
So, if there’s a question about what does it mean to love like Jesus loves, we just need to look at the context.
- Don’t give up on one another; even when they fail.
- Hope for the best in one another; even when it’s painful.
- Shoot straight with one another (speak the truth in love); even when it’s awkward.
- Be forgiving of one another; even when it feels stupid.
The bottom line is that we need to walk so closely to the Lord through prayer, his word, fellowship and the other disciplines of the faith that we’ll have enough gas in our tanks to love one another as Jesus loves us. And that will get the attention of the lost!