Jesus spoke these iconic words to His disciples at the last supper the night before His crucifixion. His words purposefully prepared them for the events that would transpire in the next 24 hours and beyond. After all, each one of these faithful (and some not so faithful) followers probably held dreams of a prominent place alongside Jesus as their reigning and conquering Messiah; but those dreams were about to be dashed to bits.
With that in mind, Jesus gave His disciples this cornerstone commandment so that they could stand firm in their love toward one another when all of the world would come against them. Whenever we feel like the world is coming against us, we need to rest in this command as well. For when we do, it will steady and saturate our hearts so that Christ’s love overflows from us—splashing onto others in ways that reflect the Lord’s sacrificial love.
Feeling Love Versus Living Out Love
As these disciples dined with Jesus, I’m sure the responsibility and choice to love one another had not yet sunken to the level of understanding that they needed. If Jesus’ disciples understood it at all, it was based on the feelings of love they had for one another. However, their feelings of love were just the starting point for what Christ wanted them and us to experience and extend. Feelings of love alone are never enough to meet the need in any situation or relationship, nor are feelings of love even comparable to the depth of love Jesus demonstrated and embodies.
After Christ’s death and resurrection, the disciples began to grasp and activate this command to love. In time, most of Jesus’ twelve disciples would go on to face intense and torturous persecution—testing and proving their love to a watching and love-hungry world. In fact, tradition holds that most of the inner-twelve disciples died as martyrs in the worst of ways. This gives further evidence that Christ’s love was flowing in and through them. We too can only love to this degree unless we are looking to Jesus for His love to flow through us to others as well.
Consider these important and clarifying questions …
How much do you rely on feelings of love rather than on Christ’s supernatural love flowing through you to others?
How eager are you to accept the harshest of treatment in order to show the world a portrait of your loving Savior?
A Personal Focus and Challenge
When struggles come my way, even when those struggles come at the hands of my fellow and beloved Christ-followers, I don’t always show this kind of love back to them—at least not immediately. So I know that this is not an easy command to follow. But each time that you and I receive and extend Christ’s love, He drives His love deeper into our hearts—fulfilling our voracious hunger for love.
What’s even better is how Christ uses our love-saturated hearts as conduits for filling and satisfying the hungry hearts of our world as well. My hope is that we will all live out and offer Christ’s love to everyone we meet today, so that no one’s heart goes hungry for the love that only Jesus can supply.