Thursday, April 21, 2016

John 13:31-35 Loving Others with Divine Love

KEY TEXT: John 13:34-35 “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. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

KEY THOT: The distinguishing mark of a true disciple of Jesus is not knowledge but love. And here Jesus is referring to love in two directions: love between him and his disciples and love among the disciples. Jesus call his commandment a “new” commandment. The commandment to love has been given by Moses some 1,500 years before Christ: “love your neighbor as yourself” (Lev. 19:18). However, what is new in Jesus’ commandment is not about love but how we are to love. In the OT, it is “as yourself” but in the NT (Jesus’ command), it is “as I have loved you” (John 13:34). So the standard in Jesus’ love command is much higher: disciples of Jesus are called to love one another according to Jesus’ own divine love (agape), which is self-denying and self-giving. Just as we have been loved by God with his own agape-love, we are now to love one another with the same agape-love. To love “your neighbor as yourself” is natural love (for the standard of love is love for myself). But now we are called to love like Jesus has loved us with his agape-love which transcends from “yourself” to “your enemy.” And this is impossible without God’s love “poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Rom. 5:5). 

True disciples of Jesus are people who are “born again” (received Christ) and “filled with the Spirit” (released the Spirit) in their lives. It is the Holy Spirit alone who can transform our human love (philia) into divine love (agape). Human love is limited and confined to our neighbor. But agape-love is unlimited and extended to our enemies. Such love is only possible from the Holy Spirit. When we find our love becoming lacking and limited, we know that we have not been walking by the Spirit and not filled with His Spirit. We then need to repent of our self-indulgence and ask Jesus to be Lord of our lives and allow Him to fill us again with His Spirit.

Father God, we thank You that You have called us to love one another as You have loved us. And we know that apart from Your Spirit, we can’t do it. We repent of self-indulgence and ask You now to fill us again with Your love through Your Holy Spirit. Amen.

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