To be honest, we could have skipped most of the Jesus Says commands and gone straight to this one. The simple fact is this, most of the previous commands are found in this one command. But exploring all of the Jesus Says statements inform our understanding of this command. Jesus said, “This is my command: Love each other.” (John 15:17, NIV)
Jesus spoke this command three times in John’s Gospel. “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (John 13:34, NIV) And, “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” (John 15:12, NIV) Finally, “This is my command: Love each other.” (John 15:17, NIV) I think Jesus really means it, what about you?
Jesus describes the kind of love He has in mind by saying, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13, NIV) In the previous commands, there is some sense of laying down our lives for another by setting aside our rights, our desires, our wants, our likes, our energy, our resources, and our time for the sake of someone else out of love. It is a tall order loaded with risk. We may lose out, lessen in some way, or even be rejected and hated.
Also, notice that Jesus didn’t provide any exceptions. There isn’t a “but if” escape clause or “only if” limitations. There aren’t any expiration dates or mention of how many failures, offenses, or sins it takes to nullify this command. It is powerful in its simplicity – love each other.
Some may argue about the scope of this command and the meaning of “each other”. Is the scope limited to only loving only our sisters and brothers in Christ or the whole world? But think about this for a moment. Jesus said to love each other in the same way that He loves. That’s the standard. We all know, or should know, John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world…” Jesus did not demonstrate an example of a limited or fenced in love; but of a love that extends to all. Jesus love even extended to us before we knew Him.
Jesus command is to love each other in our similarities and our differences. Love each other regardless of anything humankind uses to distinguish, separate, or discriminate from each other. This love is not a gushy-make-you-feel-good-no-matter-what kind of love but a kind of love that wants the best for each other. A kind of love that accepts all but also says the hard things when needed. A love that is freely given without any strings or expectations of return. After all, love is not an investment, but a wonderful, beautiful, and costly gift.
Some will look at this and say that Dale’s gone off his rocker. Their mind filled with folks they know should be excluded from this command. Perhaps even quoting scriptures of wrath, judgment, and exclusion but they forget that Paul concluded one such list with, “such were some of you.” (1 Corinthians 6:11) I’m not saying that everyone is saved, but that Jesus followers are carriers of God’s love which desires everyone to enter in. Because of God’s love, I choose to trust the work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of people that are sinful, wounded, bitter, different, self-centered, wrong-headed, and stubborn – in other words, people just like me and you.
Jesus says love each other