the ultimate distinctive | John 13.31-35
When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and glorify him at once. Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek me, and just as I said to the Jews, so now I also say to you, ‘Where I am going you cannot come.’ A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:31-35 | ESV
And when he left, Jesus beamed, “Oh how bright now is the glory of the Son of Man – and it’s God’s bright glory resting on him, in him. And if it’s God’s bright glory resting on him and in him, then this is a Divine sunrise for him – yes! He causes the Son to shine right here, right now. Oh my wee ones, I’m only here with you a wee bit longer. You’ll hunt high and low for me, and it’s the same scenario I forecasted for the religious elite: ‘Where I’m going you can’t come.’ Yes. This is now your scenario too. But while you won’t find me, you must find this: the new commandment. It’s my gift to you: Love another. Just as I have loved you, you also are to love each other. This will be your calling card, your distinctive signature by which any and everyone will recognize you as one of mine, my follower, my disciple: the love you bear and share among yourselves.” MAV (Mike’s Amplified Version)
Now comes the brightening and the lightening.
As foul deeds awake and night deepens outside, the Light burns brightly now in the upper room. Jesus has gone from being torn up on the inside to beaming. A lesson for us on the benefits of facing and embracing the dark stuff of life rather than pretending it doesn’t exist. And from this beaming issues the new commandment.
We have seen the Great Commandment and “the second like unto it” – “love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength” and “love your neighbor as yourself.” Now we see the new commandment.
Love one another.
No more haggling over the definition of “neighbor” – who is in, who is out.
One another. Reciprocal, reciprocating love – even when (especially when!) it’s not reciprocated. Love for the other. The best, the worst, least, the lost, the friend leaning back on your heart as well as the one selling you out for thirty pieces of silver right down the darkened street.
Love one another as I have loved you. It’s no longer the standard of my own level of self-care (“Hey, I like it when people kick me in the teeth, so I kick them in the teeth – first, usually.” Yeah, not so much.). Love as he has loved us.
This is our signature.
Our ultimate distinctive.
And you thought it was that carefully constructed creed, or that religiously tuned worship service, or that meticulously defined and updated moral platform on a host of current social and religious hot topics.
For the other.
As he loved.
As he loves.
Now soak a bit in how one ancient author describes that love – channeled through more modern pen:
We can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit! Christ arrives right on time to make this happen. He didn’t, and doesn’t, wait for us to get ready. He presented himself for this sacrificial death when we were far too weak and rebellious to do anything to get ourselves ready. And even if we hadn’t been so weak, we wouldn’t have known what to do anyway. We can understand someone dying for a person worth dying for, and we can understand how someone good and noble could inspire us to selfless sacrifice. But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him.
Romans 5:5-8 in The Message.
Yes. Soak in that a bit…before you set out into the wide world.
How – and who! – is the new commandment challenging you to love as he has loved you? What steps will you take towards carrying out this love today?
Lord, help me to stop swimming on the surface of love, merely flirting with it like a warm, fuzzy ball bobbing on the horizon of my life; take me into the depths of love, though it cost all – and it will. Through Jesus.