Feb. 15, 2017

The Jesus Kind of Love - Part 1

It is interesting that Jesus spoke so often to His followers about love.
It would seem that those who were devoted to His teachings wouldn’t need so many
reminders to love. But, here we have it, in black and white (and in some versions ‘red and white’).

Love Your Neighbor

The Pharisees considered themselves experts in the law. They saw themselves as
the elite of society in economy, socially and concerning religion. But they were
perplexed and agitated by Jesus and His wisdom. He stumped them with His answers and His questions (Matthew 22: 41-46; Luke 2:46-47). Their egos were bruised in His presence and so they sought to discredit Him before the people. In one of these futile efforts, a lawyer of the Pharisees posed this question.

Matthew 22:36   Master, which is the great commandment in the law?

And Jesus answered.

Matthew 22:37   Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart,
and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
38  This is the first and great commandment.
39  And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

Again it is recorded in Luke 10:25-28 where a certain lawyer has an
exchange with Jesus about what is required to inherit eternal life. The question
is “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” Because of how the religious
leaders lived, the lawyer expected some complicated answer that would make him look good in the eyes of Jesus and to the others listening. Instead Jesus gave a very simple answer: love. Love God with everything that is in you and love others with the same intensity and totality that you love yourself.

Judging by the behavior of those around Him, not many were living according to this commandment. The Pharisees and Sadducees were full of envy against Jesus and eventually sought to kill him. Even some of His followers argued among themselves as to which of them would be the greatest in the kingdom. None of these folks were loving God like they should and they certainly weren’t loving others as God had commanded.
So at this point, most weren’t following the command to love their neighbors as they love themselves. But then Jesus takes it up a notch and wows them with this:

Love Your Brothers and Sisters in the Same Manner Jesus Has Loved You

John 13:34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.

Jesus calls this a “new” commandment. It isn’t a suggestion of how He would prefer His followers to live. But it is a commandment, a requirement, an essential element in our walk with Him.

35  By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love
one to another.

The Jesus Kind of Love is so vital that Jesus names it as the identifier of His disciples. He doesn’t say that how a person prays or how often they attend worship services or doing great miracles identifies one as a follower of the Lord. He said those who consistently practice His teachings will be identified by their love for each other.

It seems like it would be easy to genuinely express love and concern for other believers. But even now we see and hear of people who profess to be Christians doing and saying things that don’t demonstrate love for their fellow laborers.

Meditate on the Jesus Kind of Love operating in your life. Are you identifiable as a disciple of Jesus?

More on this topic next time. Thanks for visiting!