“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13: 34-35)
Following Judas departure to betray Him, Jesus tells his 11 closest followers how to treat one another so that “all men will know” they are His disciples. Considering this verse in the Spirit, a couple of questions come to mind:
- What does it look like to love another like Jesus did; is it even possible?
- Why is it significant others know they are His disciples?
Dr. RC Sproul writes, “on the mountain, Jesus ‘called to Him those He Himself wanted’ (Mark 3:13). Out of that group, He called Peter, Andrew, James, John, Matthew, and others. He called them not to a study of the law, of science, or of a trade; rather, He called them to Himself. Jesus called the ones He wanted, and His call was a sovereign one, because everyone He called to that office came to that office, and they came willingly to join that band of men who were to be a part of whom He was.” These, (the ekklesia) as they are called in the Greek “the called-out ones,” Sproul continues, “(are) simply put, the invisible church, the true church, is composed of those who are called by God not only outwardly, but inwardly by the Holy Spirit.”
Jesus succinctly demands that His disciples act like Him. When one claims the name of Jesus Christ as Lord and master of his life by faith, a transformation process begins the end of which results in a completely new human being that, over time, is completely distinct from “all men.” A disciple of Jesus Christ is different in every sense than a man or woman who has not trusted Jesus Christ for salvation. This new paradigm is distinguishable and in my view altogether genuine.
A declaration of faith at an altar or a Billy Graham event does not necessarily make one a disciple. Many deceive themselves, perhaps like Judas, accepting a false idea of Christianity, believing church attendance and eliminating or at least reducing the number and frequency of “bad habits” makes one a Christian. Through this new command Jesus tells us, discipleship requires action (“pick up your cross and follow me”) which in turn initiates a life altering transformation over time as the believer is influenced by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Recall Jesus’ words, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” (Matthew 7: 21-23) As many who stand far off from Christians will say, “why would I want to be a Christian, they are all hypocrites?” I have to agree when I respond to them saying, “Many people call themselves a lot of things that they neither practice or are very good at.” Christianity, Jesus implies, requires more than armchair quarterback participation. If one is to be a member of His body the Church, one must be transformed through a power that is more than can be mustered by human will.
Jesus tells his closest followers that when you love each other like I love you; when you imitate me in all things; and express a genuine desire to be re-born into a new creation that is truly different on the inside as well as the outside, then you will be my disciples. Secondly, then he insists that when you do these things, those around you will know that you are my disciples. They will see Jesus in you. You will reflect Christ’s image because you will be a different person than you were before you began to follow Jesus. In other words, you will move from being one who says “Lord Lord,” into being one who “does the will of (your) Father.”
Father, thank you for giving us this new commandment. Thank you for teaching us that being a Christian is more than just wearing a label. It is participating in a new life in Jesus Christ. Strengthen each of us where we are in the journey of discipleship, and in your grace teach us to walk in the footsteps of your Son as we pick up are crosses daily and follow Him.
How do people see Jesus at work in your life? What would Jesus think?
I link up here sometimes.