John 13:34 The Everyday Command to Love_The Everyday Faith Company

The Everyday Command of Love


John 13:34

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.
John 13:34

These words of Jesus are some of His last ones spoken to His disciples before His death on the cross. 

They came shortly after Judas left the room in a tension-filled, dramatic moment. And they came just before Jesus looked into the eyes of one of His most passionate disciples and told him how he would disown his Lord.

Disgust, anger, judgment. These feelings and many more were most likely circling the room like vultures.

Yet Jesus spoke about love. But not just any love. Not love the world spews out in sinful, murderous ways. Love like Jesus loves.

When we think about loving others, it’s easy to chain ourselves to our sinful nature and blame our cursed flesh for our lack of love. 

When we find a brother or sister in Christ especially difficult to love, we blame that person.

Or we blame the circumstance.

Or we blame our weaknesses, using them almost like a crutch, a joke, an excuse.

But Jesus did not say “try” to love one another. He said “so you must love one another.” 

Those two words, “so” and “must” reveal two aspects of Jesus’s command. First, He is not telling us to love as best we can. The “so” implies His previous words — “as I have loved you” — which means Jesus is commanding us to love as He loves.

Jesus is commanding us to love sacrificially. Jesus is commanding us to love patiently, with kindness, with forgiveness and with grace. Jesus is commanding us to look into the eyes of the ones who will disown us no matter how well we love them — and love them anyway. 

The second word to point out is “must,” obviously implying this as a command. Jesus did not suggest His disciples love each other. He commanded it. He said they must. Sounds hopeless, right?

But God never sets us up for failure. He understands our limitations. Therefore, if He demands something of us, He will help us.

God has the right to command anything He desires of us. He is God. He is true and just and pure at all times. So whatever He commands of us, we know it is not just for His glory, but our good. If He commands us to love one another as He has loved us, we can trust He will help us in the midst of our everyday to love one another.

This process of sanctification is not easy, but Jesus never leaves us nor forsakes us. We must stop using the excuses of past hurt or the other person’s sin or even our own sin when it comes to withholding love from another believer.

Let us instead cry out to Jesus to help us in our weaknesses. After all, don’t we desire to look more like Him? Don’t we want the world to recognize Jesus through us?

The Holy Spirit will help us throughout our routines and as we interact with others to love as Jesus loves us. The more we actively seek His guidance and humility in this, the more we will experience His joy in our everyday as we look more like Him.

So while culture and even well-meaning individuals create their own version of loving like Jesus, let us come back again and again to Scripture to seek out the truth of what love actually looks like. And let us remember how Jesus set the example — for the joy set before Him, He endured the cross. For us.

That is true love.

Reflection Questions

  • What do we learn about God from this passage?
  • Why is the context of Jesus’ words important when applying this command?
  • How will you find joy in your everyday through what you’ve learned in this passage?

Further reading: John 15

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