34 “I give you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, so you also must love each other. 35 This is how everyone will know that you are my disciples, when you love each other.”
Jesus gave us the greatest commandment: “Love each other. Just as I have loved you.” Of course this all-consuming law sounds easier than it really is. Furthermore, when we stop and think about the true magnitude of this law, we must also remember what has just happened in this part of Jesus’ story.
Just before giving the disciples this new law, Jesus foretold his coming betrayal. Judas Iscariot had already turned traitor: “Satan entered into him.” Knowing what was about to happen, Jesus turned to Judas and said, “What you are about to do, do quickly.” Although the other disciples did not know what was actually happening, Jesus was offering his ultimate obedience to God. By the time Jesus tells of the greatest commandment, he has done so even in the face of the enemy, Satan.
So when we hear Jesus say “love each other,” we know that this commandment is not just to love someone whom we don’t know or who needs help. It is not just to love someone who is different or someone we don’t like. It is to love even our enemies. It is to love others who may have literally worked to undo us. Loving each other, including our enemies, goes beyond what most of us are willing to do. Loving our enemies puts us out there. Perhaps this makes us feel like we are more vulnerable than we are willing to be. It is obviously hard and sometimes it may feel impossible. But loving our enemies makes us step up and be the example that our God wants us to be. Loving all others, including our enemies, is what sets us apart as disciples of Jesus Christ.
By Barbara Carlson
For Pondering & Prayer
I am reminded of the folk song lyrics, “And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love. Yes they’ll know we are Christians by our love.” Following the greatest commandment is how others will know that we are disciples of Jesus Christ. How is this hard for you? How might YOU be difficult to love from another person’s perspective? What is the ultimate measure of loving our enemies? Who in your life has shared an example that reminds you to love all others, even those who are the hardest to love?
Prayer: Dear Jesus, we are grateful for the example you have given us, which is to love all others, even when we treat them as our enemies. At times we know that we too act in ways that are unlovable. We are sorry for the times that we have fallen short. Yet you love us anyway. Help us to love others as you have loved us. Amen.