Focus passage: John 15:9-17
How much do you love me? How much do you love your wife or your children? How much do you love the friend down the street or the cousin across the country? I guess the only way to really know is what you would do for them. Would you help them by giving them $1000 if they were really in trouble? Would you give someone one of your kidneys if you were a match? To be honest, I would gladly do either of those for a wife or one of my children, but giving a kidney would be hard for a friend or even a cousin that I don’t see often. Jesus seems to sometimes ask the impossible. On the night before Jesus dies, He asks them to love each other just as He has loved them. There had been no doubt of His love through the three years He had been with them. Now as He prepared to show them how much He loved them by dying for them, he asked what they were willing to do for each other. What would you sacrifice for Jesus? Could you love others even half as much as He has loved you?
Was it an impossible command? v.12. I sense the disciples wondering if they could ever love as much as Jesus had loved them and others. I find myself wondering the same thing. He had been willing to make sacrifices for them and for others. His love had always been pure and open to a lot of people who did not deserve His love. He had opened his hear to the widow, the prostitute, the tax collector and even many Pharisees. Who could love like that? There is no way you will love anyone, even yourself as much as Jesus loves you. I sense Him telling you and me to look to Him as the model for love. Don’t love conditionally. Don’t love expecting something back in return. To love as He does is not about quantity, it is about quality. Aim to love with an open heart like Jesus did.
He is our source of love v.9 Come to Jesus and let him show you his love. Real love is only possible if we abide in Jesus. They must keep connected to Jesus if they are to have the power needed to have such love. Our love runs out. It gets tired. It gets distracted. His love never ran out. He loved even the unlovable people of His society. I know that when I struggle to love others, the problem is that I don’t always realize how much Jesus loves me. I have not pondered the depth of His love and the depth of my unworthiness. I don’t deserve His love, but God has given it to me regardless. When I bask in the love of Jesus, it warms me and gives me confidence to love others. I give His love to others because, by myself, I don’t have enough love to give away.
Still don’t feel like loving? v. 11 There are times that all sounds nice, but I am struggling with my own problems and don’t have time to love and listen to the troubles of others. How can I help others when I feel like I am running on empty? In order to love, we have to be filled with Jesus’ love. The disciples had felt that love intimately for three years. Now Jesus was asking them to love as they had been loved. Many Christians have kept Jesus at an arm’s length. He is not allowed in their workplace, their home, or their hobbies. He is at the edge of life confined to church events. That makes it hard to love others because we are starving for love ourselves. Those who find it easy to love have invited Jesus into their lives and hearts so that they can reach in and let His love reach out from inside them.
Giving from the abundance of Jesus’ love. v.15 A starving man struggles to give away some of the precious food he has. A person who receives more food each day gives out of the abundance for they have more than they need. Jesus has called them friends and has given them more than they could use every day He has been with them. Sounds like foolishness, doesn’t it. Yet, Jesus in the previous verses talks about abiding in him and abiding in his words. Taking time to learn from Jesus is the key. You can’t spend two hours and think you have mastered Algebra. Those who daily are in Bible study and prayer are putting the Lord inside of their hearts in a powerful way that they can reach in and use in those times that they need to love or need Jesus’ help.
People notice when Christians love. They notice when Christians feel the hungry at a soup kitchen. They notice when Christians hand out backpacks to school children or visit the elderly at the nursing home. If a business is giving away free pens or has a drawing for a free trip to the Caribbean, there is often a feeling that there is a catch. Our world gives to get something in return. The genuine love of Christians as they care for the people around them defies logic. It is not giving because we get something in return. It is giving to others because Jesus has already given to us. Such love and giving set Christians apart from the world and can lead people to want the love of Jesus that we have. While we can never love to the degree that Jesus did, if we have Jesus in our heart, we will love the way that he did.