Welcome back to the Commands of Christ blog series where we are examining together the nine foundational commands given by Jesus and which are essential for new disciples understand and obey. If you missed the first four posts in this series, you can find them by clicking Repent and Believe, Be Baptized, Pray, and Make Disciples.
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age,” (Matthew 28:18-20).
In this post, we will look at the fifth of nine foundational commands that Christ gave for disciples to obey. This fifth command is to love and is found in Matthew 22:37-39.
And He said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbour as yourself.
So it’s clear, then, that love is something that must be done as a disciple of Jesus who is intent upon obeying all of His commands. And there likely aren’t very many disciples who would deny this love imperative. But what does it mean to love? What does love look like? How do I know what love is and who to love?
What is love?
Ask 100 people on the street what love is and you will probably get 100 different answers. But there is only one answer that a disciple should seek and that is the one given by Jesus. In John 15:12-14, Jesus gives the sense of what love is. He says that there is no greater love than the willingness of one to lay down his life for another. This is the ultimate definition of what love is.
And most of us in North America are pretty safe in saying that we love like that because the likelihood that I might be placed in the position of having to lay down my life for another is pretty remote. But is that the extent of what loving by laying down your life for another really means? Is it possible to lay down your life daily?
I believe that love is laying down your own life, your plans, your schedule, your agenda for the sake of others. Kind of like the Good Samaritan that Jesus talked about in Luke 10:25-37. He set aside his plans and schedule to care for the person who had been attacked on the road and left for dead. The Samaritan invested his time, energy and resources to care for him. And Jesus held this Samaritan up as an example of love.
Why do we love?
In John 13:34-45 Jesus says to us, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
From this, we see three reasons why we are to love. First, because it is commanded; “A new commandment I give to you,”. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. We are commanded to love each other. Second, because Jesus loves us; “As I have loved you,”. And third, because this is the way the world will know that we are disciples of Jesus; “By this all people will know that you are My disciples.”
Who do we love?
In Matthew 22:37-39, Jesus makes it clear who we are to love. “And He said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbour as yourself.”
These are also commandments. We are to love God and we are to love our neighbours.
How do we love?
John 14:15 tells us that we love Jesus by obeying Him. And so we are fond of saying to people, “Love Jesus and do what He says.”
God has loved us with a love with the greatest love there is, the love that moves one to lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13). But this doesn’t mean that Jesus loved us, His friends, more than His Father. It means that Jesus loved us best because He loved His Father most (John 17:26; Mark 14:36). And “if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 John 4:11). That means that we also ought to love with a love that moves us to lay down our lives for others, particularly those who do not know the good news that God loves them.
So how are you doing with this command to love? Are you loving Jesus and doing what He says? How are you being a good neighbour like the Good Samaritan that Jesus spoke about? Let us know in the comments section. We would love to hear how you are doing and how we might support you in your desire to be a better disciple of Jesus.