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Love One Another

John  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  40:25
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Last week, we looked at John 13:1-17, and Jesus washing his disciples’ feet. We saw how Jesus knew, and then Jesus loved.
Actually, we stopped in the middle of the scene, and today we want to finish the scene.
Jesus has just washed his disciples’ feet, and returned to the table. He tells them that they need to follow his example in serving one another.
But, he does not stop there.
Let’s pick up the account in John 13:18. We will read through it, and discuss it as we go.
John 13:18 NIV
“I am not referring to all of you; I know those I have chosen. But this is to fulfill this passage of Scripture: ‘He who shared my bread has turned against me.’
Jesus was continuing his conversation about how he had cleaned his disciples, though one of them, Judas, was not clean. Judas was sinful, harboring deceit in his heart.
Jesus points out how bitter the betrayal is by referencing Psalm 41:9. David knew betrayal when one of his closest advisors switched loyalty to David’s son Absalom.
So, too, Jesus knew that one of his closest friends was going to betray him.
John 13:19 NIV
“I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I am who I am.
Notice that ‘I am who I am’. The English translators were trying to make a complete thought, one that would read well in English. In the original Greek, it literally says, “you will believe that I am.”
Jesus was telling them these things so they would believe when they saw it happen. At this point, they did not understand, or believe what Jesus was saying. But once it happened, Jesus wanted them to look back, and know that Jesus, the I am, knew what was going to happen, and told them beforehand. More evidence that he is, indeed, God.
John 13:20–21 NIV
Very truly I tell you, whoever accepts anyone I send accepts me; and whoever accepts me accepts the one who sent me.” After he had said this, Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, “Very truly I tell you, one of you is going to betray me.”
Jesus ties his disciples to himself, and himself to the Father. This is something we will look at with more that Jesus said a little later in the evening.
Then, Jesus finally comes right out and says that one of them will betray him.
Jesus was greatly troubled by this. This word for troubled is the same word used when Jesus was at Lazarus’ tomb, and when the disciples saw Jesus walking on the water and thought they saw a ghost. Jesus was truly upset by what was about to happen.
He was troubled because even though Jesus knew Judas would betray him, he had still treated Judas as a true friend.
John 6:64 tells us,
John 6:64 NIV
Yet there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him.
Jesus knew from the beginning that Judas did not believe. He knew from the beginning that Judas would betray him. Yet, he still treated Judas as a friend, a true friend, and loved him to the end.
Jesus’ disciples were flabbergasted at this announcement by Jesus.
John 13:22–26 NIV
His disciples stared at one another, at a loss to know which of them he meant. One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him. Simon Peter motioned to this disciple and said, “Ask him which one he means.” Leaning back against Jesus, he asked him, “Lord, who is it?” Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.” Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot.
In their culture, to dip bread into the main dish and share it with someone was an indication of closeness of relationship. Jesus was saying that he held Judas as one of his dearest friends.
What is more is that when they ate their meals, the men did not sit in chairs at a table as we do. Rather, they reclined at a low table, resting on their left side, using their right hand to eat.
We know from verse 25, John was on Jesus’ right side—He leaned back to ask Jesus who the betrayer was.
Since Jesus easily handed the bread to Judas, he was likely on Jesus’ left, a place of honor.
Jesus had treated Judas as a most highly honored friend, even though he was the betrayer. He gave him the honored seat. He dipped the bread into the dish, and gave it to him. He highly honored Judas, and told him to go do what he was about to do.
Jesus was in control. And, Jesus was showing love to Judas, to the end.
John 13:27–29 NIV
As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him. So Jesus told him, “What you are about to do, do quickly.” But no one at the meal understood why Jesus said this to him. Since Judas had charge of the money, some thought Jesus was telling him to buy what was needed for the festival, or to give something to the poor.
Woe! Jesus told him to go do what he was going to do? Yes, he did. I think this is what was spoken of in Ezekiel 14. Turn there.
Ezekiel 14:4–5 NIV
Therefore speak to them and tell them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: When any of the Israelites set up idols in their hearts and put a wicked stumbling block before their faces and then go to a prophet, I the Lord will answer them myself in keeping with their great idolatry. I will do this to recapture the hearts of the people of Israel, who have all deserted me for their idols.’
The Israelites had turned away from the living God to worship idols. However, they kept a token religious facade, and would still go to hear from the Lord.
God said, that if they came to him while holding onto the pursuit of the evil in their hearts, he would let them go after their evil desires.
Jesus knew Judas’ heart. Even after Jesus loved him and treated him as an honored friend, Judas still had his evil plans in his heart. So, Jesus answered Judas according to the evil in his heart, and told him to go. He would not repent, so he would reap from the folly he was about to sow.
John 13:30 NIV
As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out. And it was night.
Judas would not repent. He took the bread from Jesus. He kept up the charade that he was indeed close to Jesus, and instead of breaking down and repenting, he took the bread. When he did, Satan entered Judas, and Judas left.
Judas would not repent, and Satan had him in his grasp.
I have been thinking about that lately. I believe we do not consider this enough. When we see evil people doing evil things in the world, we have to recognize that Satan may have entered and devoured them. Having heard the truth, having been drawn by Christ, when they will not repent, they can be devoured by Satan. He has them in their grasp.
Just like Judas, they are out in the world, doing Satan’s bidding. They are in darkness, like Judas.
Once Judas was gone, Jesus talked with his true disciples.
John 13:31–32 NIV
When he was gone, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man is glorified and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will glorify the Son in himself, and will glorify him at once.
We saw Jesus talking about being glorified and glorifying the Father back in chapter 12. This was Jesus’ purpose, and should be our own.
John 13:33 NIV
“My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come.
Jesus had said this before to the Jews. Now, he brings his departure to go back to the Father up to his disciples. He will explain this more in the next chapter, so we will look at this more closely then.
Now, Jesus gives his disciples an instruction. Something they need to do. He touches on a theme that he will be discussing for the rest of the evening. We will find this in the coming chapters as we go through them. Let’s take our time to see this important instruction.
John 13:34 NIV
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.
A new command I give you: Love one another.
This command is truly a theme for the rest of the evening. The Greek words for “love” are only found 12 times in the first 12 chapters of John. From this point on, they are found 44 times.
Jesus, now dealing with his true disciples, just hours before his betrayal, wants to give his final instructions to them. This is his most important instruction to give them before leaving them. Love one another.
But, why would Jesus say this is a new command?
When reading scripture, it is important to keep in mind other scriptures. On two other occasions, loving others was said to be the second greatest command.
On the first occasion, as recorded in Luke, a teacher of the law said, and Jesus affirmed this.
Luke 10:25–28 NIV
On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?” He answered, “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
Then, on another occasion, earlier in the week before Jesus was betrayed, Mark and Matthew record this interaction:
Matthew 22:34–40 NIV
Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
So, on two different occasions Jesus had said that to love your neighbor as yourself was the second great command. So why did Jesus say now:
John 13:34 NIV
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.
What makes this new?
Old command - love your neighbor as yourself...
The new command is love one another as I loved you.
That raises the bar quite a bit doesn’t it?
There are occasions where I do not think very highly of myself. How about you? If I find myself in sin, or doing something I should not do, I do not love myself very much.
So, when I see someone else doing something, it might be easy for me to say, “Hmm. They are going to get what they deserve,” just like I would expect for myself. So, the command to love my neighbor as myself, may not lead me to be very loving in certain situations. Do you follow me?
Now, Jesus is making a new command. We are to love others as he loved us. How did he love us?
We don’t have to look very hard considering the context.
Which of us are not like Judas? Which of us have never in the past, nor in the present, not on occasion, set our hearts on evil, and pursue the thing that we know God says is wrong, sinful? Which of us did not live as God’s enemy before we were saved?
And how did Jesus love us? Just like Judas, Jesus reached out to us in love. He washed our feet. He treated us like treasured, close companions. He… as Paul wrote,
Romans 5:8 NIV
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Jesus died for us. He laid down his life for us. He took our sinful, hurtful, hateful actions on himself. He bore that burden and died for us.
That is how Jesus wants us to love one another.
This is a hard command.
John 13:34 NIV
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.
And it is a command. Jesus said we Must love one another.
Think back in your heart. Is there any other believer against whom you hold a grudge?
Is there anyone against whom you hold their wrong, hurtful actions?
They hurt you, and you have pulled away. You have not shown them love?
I know there are some believers that have done some very wrong things that effected me and my family. I confess that I held that against them for a very long time. I was not loving them.
But I was betrayed by them. They were deceitful and hurtful...
I don’t doubt that Jesus gave this command right after he showed love to Judas to the end, to make a point to his disciples, to us.
Yes. Even those believers that hurt and betray us, we must love them. We must be kind. We must allow the Lord to be the One to judge and repay. We must love in word and in deed, just like Jesus did with Judas.
If and when we do,
John 13:35 NIV
By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
If and when we show love to other believers, instead of holding things against one another, the world will see, and know that we are His disciples.
James Vernon McGee told this story from his life when teaching on this passage:
When I was a boy, my dad died and I went to work to support my mother and sister; so I stayed with two aunts and a bachelor uncle. One aunt was a Baptist and the other a Presbyterian. My uncle was an unbeliever and a beer drinker. Every Sunday he would get up just in time for the noon meal. For dinner every Sunday we heard all the Baptist dirt and the Presbyterian dirt. Years later, when my uncle was in the hospital, one of my aunts wept and asked me, “Vernon, why doesn’t he come to Christ?” I almost told her. Friend, may I say, we do not win the lost by being Christian cannibals. “But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another” (Gal. 5:15). This is the type of thing that is turning the unsaved away from the church today. This is the reason they don’t come in to hear the gospel. They hear the gossip before they can hear the gospel! Do you realize that the most important commandment for a Christian is not to witness, not to serve, but to love other believers?
John 13:35 NIV
By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Loving one another, as Jesus loved us, is the new command. If we start loving one another as Jesus loved us, we will love even those who sin against us. We will love those with whom we do not wholly see eye to eye. We will love in word and deed. We will not be biting and devouring, but truly loving.
Then, the world will know we are his disciples.
This is the concept I would like us to focus on this week.
Take a moment now. Is there anyone, any other believer that you are not truly loving as Jesus loved?
Now, Jesus loved in truth and grace. He called out sin with Judas. He said he was betraying him. He called sin, sin. However, he still showed love. He still showed grace in the moment.
Do we show love? This does not give excuse for sin, or overlook sin. But it is showing love in spite of the hurt of sin, like Jesus did with Judas.
Is there any other believer to whom you are not showing love? Toward whom you hold out on loving because of the hurt?
It might even be your own husband or wife. Do you truly love them as Jesus loves you?
Does Jesus love you in spite of your failings?
Do you love others in spite of their failings?
Does Jesus love you in spite of your self-centeredness?
Do you loves others when they are self-centered?
Does Jesus love you when you do not give him time and attention?
Do you love others when they do not give you time and attention?
Does Jesus just say he loves you, or does he truly love you in word and deed?
Do you truly love in word and deed?
Jesus commanded that we love as he loves us.
This is a tall order. It is beyond our human ability.
However, he is the one who, on the very night he gave the command, instituted the new covenant in his blood. The new covenant in which he says,
Ezekiel 36:25–27 NIV
I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.
We need him to cleanse us. If there is anyone, any other believer whom you are not loving as Jesus loves you, confess it. Be cleansed by Jesus.
Just like Jesus said to Peter, we were cleaned, but we do need to get our feet washed again from time to time. If we have been walking without loving, let’s confess it and be washed clean again.
Let’s rely on him to give us that new heart of flesh, and to remove our hearts of stone so that we can obey this new command to love as he loves us.
Pray
Homework
Read John 13:31-John 21:25. Make note of the times Jesus speaks of love.
Read 1 John, and make note of the way John spoke about loving one another.
Make a list of believers to whom you do not show love as Jesus loved. Confess, and ask God to give you that new heart. Ezekiel 36:25-27.
Consider how you can carry out the new command as Peter describes in 1 Peter 1:22, 2:17, 3:8-12, 4:8-11.
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