The NEW command that Jesus gives in John 13:34 comes as a shocking new revelation to one that was given hundreds of years ago in the Shema. What makes it new and revolutionary is that he doesn’t just require us to “love one another,” he requires the extra measure of looking at his example so we can love “as I have loved you.” This is the NEW command. The old is fulfilled in the new by looking at this one little verse.
This word love speaks nothing about feelings, passions, butterflies, motions or anything that is fleeting. It is a direct response to the love bestowed upon us by a Savior who gave His life as an atonement for sin that we may have life to the fullest. I will never be able to love anyone fully like that… but I can let that soak up in me. And if I allow it to do so, maybe, just maybe the response will be a reflection of said love towards others.
In these verses, Jesus is speaking to his disciples (those who are following him, attempting to imitate every move he makes). This should be noted because a disciple follows one who disciples. By virtue of that, loving as Jesus loves involves discipling others. Jesus defines that in Matthew 28 as “baptizing and teaching those who have received Christ to obey everything he taught them.” Not just teaching them everything he taught them (passing the info along), but teaching them to obey everything He commanded them. This requires: relationship, example, gently leading, correcting, telling the truth, encouraging, loving. It’s a call to action.
Love in this verse can be summarized as “being the Body.”
Walking backwards through John from chapter 13, we can see all that Jesus did to display his love for his disciples while demonstrating how to love others:
He washed their feet (a traditionally humble and demeaning act, lowering himself to those whose feet he was washing. Including those who he knew would abandon, betray and deny him). He broke bread with them. He received from them (Mary anointing his feet), he exhorted them to enjoy his presence, he told the truth, he told them to trust Him, (12), he displayed faith in a God that can raise the dead (11), he taught them how to recognize his voice (10), he healed the blind while lifting life long generational condemnation often associated with sin, he taught them how to have spiritual sight (9), he showed them how to speak their testimony boldly and without fear, he showed them how to show another person who has sinned what grace in action is (8), he showed them how to be obedient to the word while acknowledging that God will still do something new in accordance to His word and that while we know the truth, we should never believe we have it all dialed in (7). He showed them love by showing that God is our provider, the God of the impossible, and that by His grace and power we can do anything He calls us to according to his will (6). He showed them that in God’s perfect timing, he can heal the lame (5).. He showed love by associating with the marginalized, by displaying that His love is unconditional… there is no way we can sin that would limit his love for us. He showed that when we are forgiven, we can walk with our heads held high and that no matter what our past is, we can still work on His behalf to advance the Kingdom (4). He taught them how to love patiently those who are seeking and questioning their faith in God (3). He taught them that love means not going after your own purposes, but what God wants, He taught them that giving glory to God is an important factor in loving others (2). He taught that true love chooses me, despite myself and that His love is displayed in the Word of God and that if I ever question it, I can read the Bible and find pages and pages of proof that Jesus loves me and shows me how I can love others as he has loved me…. All for the purpose of advancing the Kingdom and bringing Glory to God.
And when I walk in that, I am truly satisfied, knowing I am loved beyond measure.