‘Last Supper Lessons’ Meditations: 24. Sacrificial Love
Jn 15:12 “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.”
We first saw this command in Study No.8 in 13:34 where we read, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” The word ‘love’ comes up 11 times in these chapters before we reach this one, and the word ‘loved’ another 8 times. In 13:34 the emphasis was on it being a new command, this level of sacrificial love. The present context is different though. Jesus, in the preceding verses has been talking about how the Father has loved him and he has loved them (v.9) and how they need to live in this environment (v.10) and when we do we know joy (v.11). So now he continues that flow: Father to Son to them, and so now them to each other.
It’s a sad thing that we have to be ‘commanded’ to love one another isn’t it, but yet that is the reality because we are redeemed sinners in a fallen world and love doesn’t come naturally. When we ‘try’ to love, it tends to be a self-serving venture. But this chapter has been about abiding and being one with God through Jesus. And of course God IS love (1 Jn 4:8,16) so when we abide in Him, love is the fruit of His Spirit (Gal 5:22), it is something that is naturally there, naturally being expressed, it’s part of the ‘abiding’ fruit. I know we’ve already seen this in Jn 13:34 but how did Jesus love them? He called them, accepting them as they were and he was about to die for them. Hah! It is a love that gives up self for others.
Perhaps this is so obvious that we forget it or simply have never understood it. Take that well-known verse, Jn 3:16 “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” The Father gave up His Son, and the Son gave up his life as demonstrations of their love for us. It wasn’t their fault we were sinners who needed redeeming – only in as much as they created us as sentient beings with free will. But instead of leaving us to get into an ever-deepening mess (and if you don’t believe that, check out Gen 6:5 – unrestrained earth) they created Israel as a people to start to reveal them to the world, and then sent the Son into that prepared environment to reveal the Father’s love and then die to satisfy justice on our behalf. Then they sent the Spirit. Everything about this is about giving as an expression of love. As we said, the Father giving up His Son, the Son giving up his life, both demonstrations of sacrificial love and THAT is the nature of our calling, the type of people we are to be. How often do we teach that, how often we call our people to account for that? We should.