Any time you’re learning a new skill, it’s nice to have someone who already knows how to do that thing show you how it’s done.
When I was in college studying to be a teacher, we sat in various elementary classrooms and watched teachers teach their students. I remember one young woman who was exactly the type of teacher I wanted to be. She managed her classroom well, and made the basic subjects she was teaching seem interesting. Her manner was gentle, yet firm, and it was evident that she cared about her students. She was a wonderful example of an excellent teacher.
As we talked about earlier in this series, God’s love is the greatest love we can know. And when it comes to loving our fellow Christians, Jesus set the example for us while He was here on earth. He showed us what it looks like to love each other.
In John 13, Jesus is talking with His disciples. He’s getting ready to be crucified, so will be leaving them here on earth while He returns to heaven. Here’s the instruction He leaves them.
“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” ~John 13:34-35
He says it again in John 15:12.
“This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.”
This is a direct command from Jesus. While we’re instructed elsewhere to love everyone (i.e., Jesus said the second commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself), today I want to look at ways we can love fellow believers. In both John 13 and John 15, Jesus is specifically addressing those who followed Him.
Jesus says that they are to love others in the same manner that He loved them. So how did He love them? Here are just a few ways.
1. He physically served them.
“He [Jesus] riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. After that he poureth water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.” ~John 13:4-5
Honestly this may be the easiest of these ways to show love! We can cut someone’s grass, take them a meal, clean their house, drive them to a doctor’s appointment, or babysit their children. These are the visible, outward signs of our love.
2. He prayed for them.
“I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word….I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.” ~John 17:6, 9 [The entire prayer Jesus prayed for them is in verses 6-26.]
Telling someone you’ll pray for them, and then actually following through are two different things. When someone asks me to pray for them, I try to do it immediately. I also try to write it down on my monthly prayer list when I get it out the next morning. That way I’m reminded daily to take their need to God.
I have a couple of friends who are so good about following up with me on what I’ve asked them to pray for. That is such an encouragement to me! It makes me want to do the same with others.
3. He loved them in spite of their failings.
“Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.” ~John 13:1
Jesus knew that in a short time Peter was going to deny Him, and all the other disciples would flee. Yet John tells us that “He loved them unto the end.”
Other believers are going to disappoint us. We know they’re not perfect, yet we sometimes seem to expect Christians to always do and say the right thing. That would be nice, but it’s just not reality. It’s up to us to exercise grace and forgiveness, even if we feel we’ve been wronged.
4. He loved sacrificially.
“As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep.” ~John 10:15
“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” ~John 15:13
I’m not suggesting that we’ll have to die for another church member. However, we may find opportunities to sacrifice for others. Maybe we give money anonymously to meet a need. Perhaps we give up time we’d planned for something else, or allow ourselves to be inconvenienced so that we can show our love for that person.
I have a lot of growing to do in this area! We can have no greater testimony, whether among believers or non-believers, than that we demonstrate love to others. Jesus says that it’s how people will know that we’re true followers of Him.
Can you think of some other ways that Jesus loved His disciples? If so, please share with us!