- Sermon Notes
Love One Another
In John chapter 13 Jesus is with his disciples and they are having Passover supper together. It’s literally just hours before Jesus will be arrested. This is one of the last opportunities He has to speak to them and so these words have great significance to the disciples and to us.
Here, in these verses, Jesus gives a new commandment; saying, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you.” But then He added something very important, saying, “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
How does the world know we’re His disciples, His people? They have really nice buildings? They have really big Bibles? They have really great coffee? They love eating together? No, Jesus said that the world will know we are His disciples by the love that we have for one another.
But not just any kind of love, Jesus said, “Love one another, even as I have loved you.” That’s an amazing kind of love. The other day as my wife and I were pulling up to visit our daughter’s family, our granddaughter, Aviah, met us at the car and the first thing she said was, “Grandpa, I have a question for you, would you die for me?” “Of course I would,” I responded. She smiled and then said, “That’s what mom said, too.”
That’s the kind of love we have for those closest to us, but Jesus extended that to say that we should love one another, all of us, in the same way. Then the world will know that we are His disciples.
You might remember that there are different Greek words translated “love” in the Bible. What kind of love did Jesus mean here? The word “love” is used four times and each time it’s the Greek word “agape”; unconditional, unmerited love, love that is born out of one’s heart and character, not because someone is lovable, it’s far beyond that.
You’ve heard the expression, “I love so much it hurts,” there is an aspect of agape love where that is very true. In other words, you love so much that when they suffer, it hurts you as well.
This is a parent’s love for an infant child. You go through the pain of childbirth because of love; but then you see that the child is part of you, and you are part of that child. You can see the child is made in your image. God’s love for us is unconditional, unmerited, He sees His image in us; He has placed His Spirit within us.
You might say, I can see God dying for me through Christ, or someone dying for their kids, but you’re asking us to have a die for one another kind of love? Rich, don’t you know what I know about people? Not everyone is lovable, some people are difficult to love, and some people have issues, struggles, problems, or troubled pasts.
But here again, Jesus gives us the example. That brings us to John chapter 13. Jesus knew that there was a betrayer among them. He had just washed his feet, He is eating a meal with him and is about to share food with him. All the while, Judas Iscariot had 30 pieces of silver in his pocket because he had already agreed to betray Him. Yet Jesus loved him.
I. Only Love Received will Change Us
- Judas is an example of someone who walked with Jesus, but did not receive His love and was therefore not changed by it. Why did he not receive Christ’s love? Because there was something else going on.
- But even still, even though Jesus knew Judas would betray Him, He did not stop loving Judas. In fact, even as Judas was betraying Him, He called him friend.
- We know God’s love is transforming and powerful, but you have to open your heart to receive it to be changed by it.
- Jesus gives us a picture of Him standing at the door and knocking; you have to open the door of your heart, He then enters in and sits down for dinner. In other words, it’s about the relationship.
- When you look at Judas, you have to ask the question “why.” Why did he do it? How is it possible?
- A number of possibilities come to mind, but all of them fall short of being reasonable.
- Maybe Judas’ pride was undone because Jesus embarrassed and rebuked him in front of the others. But Jesus rebuked them all, especially Peter.
- Maybe Judas resented the fact that Jesus chose simple Galilean fisherman and a tax collector over him for leadership. After all, Judas was the only “sophisticated Jew” among them.
- Maybe he was disappointed because Jesus didn’t lead a revolt against the Roman government as he had hoped.
- But the fact remains that none of these seem reasonable. One of the greatest conclusions I’ve come to in life is that sin is never reasonable!
Illus - When we were raising kids and they did something really dumb, I try to never ask them to explain why they did it, because there is no reasonable explanation. “Why did you pour glue in your sister’s hair?” It doesn’t matter what they say next, because no answer will make any sense.
Sometimes people look back on something dumb they’ve done and ask themselves, “What was I thinking?” But that is the very problem, they weren’t thinking or if they were, it didn’t make any sense.
- One thing is for certain, our choices are ours to choose and we can blame no one else.
- I like the challenge that Joshua gave Israel to come to a place of choosing, and he himself was the example.
Joshua 24:15, “Choose for yourselves today whom you will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are now living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
B. Love even the unlovable
- It’s interesting how many people even try to blame God for their condition, saying that He didn’t do enough, that He should have stopped them.
- But then they would be a robot, without a will to choose. But God makes it clear that He has loved them even when they were unlovable.
Romans 5:8, God demonstrates His love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 10:21, “All day long I have stretched out My hands to a disobedient and obstinate people.”
Matthew 5:44-45, “I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”
- In other words, if you are to love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, how much more should we love one another, even difficult ones?
Illus - Some time ago I had a difficult person in my life and one day God gave me a great revelation that truly helped me. I was in the shower and thinking about what I should do when I felt God say, “Does God love this person?” I knew that God loved him. “Does God want to bless this person?” I knew that God did. “Then you be in agreement with God.”
- Be in agreement with God or you’re going to live cross-grain with God; if you live cross-grain with God you’re going to get a lot of splinters.
1 John 4:20, If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.
C. God is the One who redeems
- Jesus said that He came to seek and save that which was lost. He is a friend of sinners, but we are the ones who must open our heart.
- Some say that Judas had no choice because he was just fulfilling what God had prophesied beforehand. But just because something is given in prophecy doesn’t mean that God caused it.
- God says in His word that there would be a great falling away as the end is drawing near and that the love of many would grow cold. He doesn’t cause them to fall away, they do that themselves. Jesus said the antichrist will arise also, but neither is God the cause of such great evil.
- Romans 8:28 says, “God causes all things to work together for good, to those who love God and are called according to His purpose.” It doesn’t say that God causes all things, it says that He causes all things to work together.
II. God Helps You to Love
- Jesus doesn’t just give commandments and then say, “You’re on your own, see if you can do it.” If that was the case, we would all fail.
- When some people hear Jesus say, “Love one another, even as I have loved you,” they respond, “This is so hard because it sounds like God really wants us to do that.”
- There is no option here. Jesus didn’t say, Love, unless they’re really difficult and then you can write them off. No, He said that this was a new commandment.
- Here’s the point, God doesn’t just tell you to love, He helps you to love.
A. He gives you the Spirit of the living God
- In the next chapter, Jesus will say over and over that He will send the Spirit of God, another Helper; that He may be with us forever.
John 14:16, “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever.”
- It’s the Spirit of God that transforms our lives by igniting our soul to love God with all our heart.
Galatians 5:22, The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control;
- Jesus also said, “Apart from Me you can do nothing.” But when we abide in Him, we bear much fruit; what fruit? The fruit of the Spirit.
- In order to love one another as God is asking us to love, we need to be changed; we can’t be the old person we used to be.
- God calls the church the bride of Christ. It’s a picture of the kind of relationship, the kind of love God wants us to have in our relationship to Him.
Illus - If you’re married, you know that a good, healthy marriage takes a lot of work. You have to invest your heart, you have to spend time communicating. The same is true in our relationship to the Lord, you invest your heart and pour out your soul.
- Peter didn’t understanding what Jesus meant when He said, “Where I’m going, you cannot come.”
- Peter responded, “Lord, why can I not follow You right now? I will lay down my life for You.”
- This is when Jesus told Peter that he would deny the Lord three times that very night. But in the other gospels He explains that they will all fall away.
Matthew 26:31, Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away because of Me this night. For it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’”
- But Peter is a picture of us all and from it we see why we need the shepherd.
Isaiah 53:6, All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.
Illus - God describes us as sheep and while it’s not exactly a compliment, it is appropriate. We don’t like to think of ourselves as sheep, but it describes as well. I’ve never seen a Christian school yet that chooses “sheep” as a mascot.
You know the old saying, “You can’t teach old dogs new tricks?” Well you can’t teach old sheep or young sheep new tricks, or any tricks for that matter.
- Why does God see us as sheep? Because we need a shepherd! And it’s true. I’m a dumb sheep, you’re a dumb sheep. And we need the Shepherd.
- But what a difference that makes. At the resurrection of Christ and the filling of the Holy Spirit, Peter was transformed from denying the Lord three times to living out his life in the boldness and fullness God called him to be.
John 13:21-38 NASB