Love One Another
Is this really a new commandment? They've been told to love before. It's a new commandment because they've never been told to love this way before. They're to love one another 'as I have loved you.'
No one holds a grudge. The grudge holds them!
You don't need to wear a lapel pin or a Christian t-shirt. You don't need a bumper sticker. It doesn't matter if you post it online.
“By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:35).
I'm not against these outward statements of Christianity, that is, unless you don't back it up with your life and your love for people. In that case, peel it off the bumper, and only use the shirt for painting inside.
The proof that we are disciples is that we love one another in the Lord Jesus Christ.
About 200 years ago an encyclopedia wrote an article on love, and it took 5 pages. That same encyclopedia attempted to describe the atom and they took about four lines. In a more recent addition of that same encyclopedia they left love out all together and took five pages to explain the atom.
You know Jesus said: “because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold” (Matthew 24:12). We live in a day of abounding iniquity and dwindling love. And even psychiatrists will tell you that what people in this world need more than anything else is the ability to love and to be loved. Do you know what the world needs now? [love, sweet love!] We are sick. We are sin sick. Some didn't grow up under the right kind of love, and need to learn true love from the Heavenly Father.
Love doesn't make the world go round but it makes the trip worthwhile. It really does. We need to love one another.
Love is very hard to explain and it's very hard to express, even romantic love. I remember when I fell in love with Kimberly. I can't explain the feeling except to say I felt like a grasshopper on roller skates. It's just so exciting to be in love. I remember when I kissed her the first time. I put my arms around her waist and she put her arms around my neck and I felt those cold chills go down my back. [Her popsicle was melting.]
Somebody eloquently said that love is an inward expressability of an outward all overishness. Love is that feeling you get when you feel a feeling you've never felt before. It's hard to put love into words, isn't it?
How much more difficult is it to express the love of God When Jesus said: “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another” (John 13:34)?
An example is what we need. And last week we began studying the story of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet. Go back to the beginning of that chapter and look at it with me for just a moment.
v. 1 The Bible says He loved His own right up until the end of His sojourn here on earth, and He is still loving us. And, then He gives them a commandment that they are to love one another even as He has loved them. Now, sandwiched in between those things is the washing of the disciple's feet, which is the great illustration of the kind of love that I am talking about today.
1. Selfless love.
vv. 4-5: “He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.”
It was meant not only to cleanse but to refresh, relax, renew, restore and get a foot massage. You know, if your feet hurt you then you hurt all over, don't you. And, you ladies like that. And think how clean it would keep the house. We maybe haven't made all that much progress as we think we've made.
Washing feet of inferiors shows humility as we discovered last time. Washing fishermen's feet shows love. And of all the lessons on humility and holiness we studied, love is the foundation. God is love, and any good thing we can ever study begins in God's love, and is made up of His love DNA. We only learn true love from God. It's how we learn to love others.
We're talking about selfless love. Now, we live in a society that puts so much emphasis upon self. Self-fulfillment. Self-aggrandizement. That's the age in which we live. But Jesus said no to self. Jesus laid aside that self-ism that He might serve others.
On the other hand, you can’t have genuine love without genuine humility. The Bible says real love “seeketh not her own” (1 Corinthians 13:5). When you are all about yourself, that is self-love, and I wish the word 'love' wasn't even in that expression because it isn't true love at all. Loving God and loving others is real love, and that takes humility.
We need to further break down true humility. If you think that real humility is just going around saying, "I'm no good" then you've got it wrong. Real humility is realizing that you are really special in God, and fearfully and wonderfully made. You are somebody in Him. Don't insult the God Who made you. And, if He also redeemed you the Bible says you're the righteousness of God in Christ. You're a child of God, a royal blue blood, a son of Heaven, and a joint-heir with Jesus. You need to understand who you are!
Notice what this passage says in v. 3: “Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God;” You see, you cannot have real humility until you know who you are. I'm not talking about being an egotist. The Bible says: “...not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly...” (Romans 12:3).
How am I to think of myself? Not in sinful exaggeration, nor false humiliation, but in sober estimation. I am what I am by the grace of God. Do you know what I know? I know I'm born of God and I'm going to God. I know who I am. You see it's not until I know who I am that I no longer feel threatened and afraid to love others. If I don't know who I am, having my self-assurance in Christ, then it's hard for me to humble myself because I'm afraid I'm going to lose something. But, if I know I have something and it's of God then I can't lose it and I'm not at risk. I'm not jeopardizing myself to serve you. I don't have to earn approval or praise.
Real humility is not thinking lowly of yourself. Real humility is understanding what you are in Christ and therefore being free to serve one another.
Ephesians 1:6: “he hath made us accepted in the beloved.” Who is the beloved? The Lord Jesus. I'm accepted in Him.
God has accepted you. Not because of anything good in you. He has accepted you because of His grace. We are made accepted in the beloved. God doesn't love us because we're valuable, we're valuable because He loves us.
I know I've been saved. I know I've been redeemed—I can finally accept me. That doesn't mean that I accept my faults and failures. But I know beyond that, beneath that, through that, over that and all around that is the grace of God. I know who I am in Jesus Christ. Now, when I accept me for the very first time I am free to accept you. Until I am no longer threatened I can't really accept you. I want to use you, abuse you, misuse you, categorize you, manipulate you and merchandize you because I'm not sure of myself. I have to put you down in order to try and push myself up. But, when God accepts me and I accept that God accepts me then I accept me and for the first time I'm free to accept you. Now, when I am no longer trying to manipulate you and when I can truly humble myself around you then for the first time you are free to accept me. You see God accepts me, that's grace. I accept that He accepts me, that's faith. I accept me, that's peace. I accept you, that's love. You accept me, that's fellowship. And, it all begins with understanding who I am in the Lord Jesus.
Do you know the people who are not free to love? They don't know who they are in the Lord Jesus. They have not discovered the riches that they have in Christ Jesus. Friend, when you understand who you are in Christ Jesus then you've got love to give because you've got nothing to lose. Out of His infinite riches in Jesus He gives and gives and gives again. You don't have to be afraid to share yourself anymore.
Real love is selfless love. There is nothing so empty as a self-centered life. There is nothing so centered as a self-empty life. Nothing so centered as a life that says I don't have to prove anything any more. I am free now just to serve you and to give myself to you rather than to use you. Real love is selfless love.
2. Steadfast love.
v. 1 “Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world—that is, in just a bit He is going to be crucified.—unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end” (John 13:1).
I mean here most of us would have been saying, "I don't have time to be washing anybodies feet, I can tell you that much. I'm going to be crucified. I've got to be thinking about myself. In just a little while I'm going to be nailed up on that cross." But the Bible says, "Jesus knowing" (John 13:3). I mean with full-on view, knowing that dark Gethsemane, bitter Calvary, the shame, the rejection, the humiliation was there...He's still loving His disciples. Real love is steadfast.
Oh it's easy to love everybody when everything is lovely...when they love us. But, do you know who Jesus was loving? Jesus was loving Judas. The Bible says Satan had entered into the heart of Judas and yet Jesus washed his feet. Did not Jesus teach us to love our enemies and to do good to those who despitefully use us? Thank God He practiced what He preached. And those disciples were arguing who's going to be the greatest among them. And, while they are arguing about who is going to be the greatest Jesus is washing their feet. Now, they didn't deserve it. And, Jesus had other things to think about. But, He kept on loving. His love was steadfast.
Do you have that kind of love? Do you have love that does not change because of circumstances? I asked myself this as I prepared this message. You see, so many times we excuse ourselves don't we? “I have a headache,” or “I'm tired,” or “I've been sick,” or “You don't know the pressure I'm under.” No one was under more pressure than Christ. In a moment He is going to sweat blood in the Garden of Gethsemane and He is still loving. If you want to know what you are full of you see what spills out when you are jostled. That's what you're full of, whatever spills out. And, out of the Lord Jesus came infinite love. And do you know what this tells me. He's never going to stop loving me.
“For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).
Actually when it says: “he loved them unto the end” (John 13:1). The Greek word is istelos [istelos.] He loved them unto perfection. His perfect love never, ever stops. Out of His infinite riches in Jesus He gives and gives again.
3. Serving love.
... by love serve one another.
v. 5: “After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.”
Now, listen friend, Jesus literally did something. He didn't just talk about love, He actually showed love. The Bible says in I John chapter 3:18: “My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.” Love is action! Don't just say it...show it!
Do you know what could happen this morning? This morning you could get all the answers filled into the blanks. And you could say, "Hey let's see what the pastor said. He said first of all, of yes I remember. He said that we are to have the kind of love this to be selfless love. Oh what was the second point oh yes I remember, it's to be steadfast love. What was the third kind of love? Yeah, I've got it, Serving love." And, you get that in your notebook.
Here's something better: Get it in your life. Don't love in word but in deed and in truth. Jesus is literally doing something. It's when we really love each other that we begin to serve each other. It's when we truly love lost people that we begin to witness.
Next, Jesus gave His disciples what they needed. Do you know what they needed at that moment? They needed to be renewed, refreshed, restored, revived and reinvigorated. That's what they needed.
If you love me let me tell you what you are going to do for me. If you love me you are not necessarily going to give me what I want because many times what I want is not what I need and what I need is not what I want. My mom use to say, “You need a spanking.” She was right. But, I sure didn't want one.
And you're certainly not going to give me what I deserve if you love me. What did Judas deserve? He didn't deserve to have his feet washed. What did those disciples deserve? They didn't deserve to have their feet washed. Jesus did not give them what they desired nor what they deserved but He gave them what they needed.
And, it was a small thing, in a way, washing feet. It was a humble thing. An insignificant gift in the grand scheme of it all.
We've got a lot of those kinds of jobs around this church. We need nursery workers. It would be nice if some of you were to lay aside your Sunday finery as Jesus laid aside His garments and go work in the nursery. We need people to help in children's ministries. We need people to clean up the kitchen. We need people to do some of the jobs that are not really glamorous jobs. Not necessarily the thing that is glamorous but the thing that is needed. Real love is serving love. Not just in word but in deed and in truth.
4. Sanctifying love.
in vv. 6-11, He is no longer talking about physical dirt on physical feet. Now, he is talking about spiritual dirt. Now, He is talking about forgiveness when He said to Peter: “What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter” (John 13:7). Because Peter cursed and swore and denied Christ and Christ forgave Peter He said, "You'll understand it later on, what I'm talking about." You see, just as a person has a bath, so we get saved and we're cleansed from our sins. But, just as a person who has had a bath goes out to walk through dusty feet, he gets his feet dirty. Those of us who have been saved, still we live in a world that is polluted with sin. And, as it were, we get our spiritual feet defiled. And, we need to come to Jesus, not to get bathed again but we come to get out feet washed.
Our love is to be sanctifying love. We're to wash one another's feet. “If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet” (John 13:14). If He forgives us, we are to forgive one another.
“And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32).
ill.--I can't look down on Brent while I'm washing His feet. Isn't that true? You can't look down on anybody when you are washing
their feet. Galatians 6:1
Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.
Real love is sanctifying love. It makes another what they ought to be. And, it loves them into fellowship with one another and with the Lord.
ill.--imagine Jesus Christ walking in that door right over there in bodily form. He has in His hand a basin of water. And, you know it's Jesus. And, let's suppose of everybody here He walks up to you and looks into your eyes, with a basin of water, looks right at you. You're face to face with Jesus Christ. And, now let's imagine He asks you a question. He says to you, "May I wash your feet?" What if He said that to you this morning? How would you feel? I mean to have the Lord—the maker of the universe, the one who died for you—ask you that question, "May I wash your feet?” At first you'd say, "Oh no Lord. You can't wash my feet." Then you'd remember what Peter said wouldn’t you. Then you'd say with hot tears coursing down your cheeks—"Yes Lord. You may wash my feet." Can you imagine Him untying your shoes, removing your socks, taking those nail pierced hands and bathing and massaging your feet this morning? How would you feel if He did that? And, then suppose when He finished He looked at you and He said, "Now, my child, will you wash my feet?" What would you say?
You look down at those nail pierced feet—those feet that walked the dusty shores of Galilee and those feet that never walked in sin—and you would say, "Gladly Lord Jesus, gladly will I wash your blessed feet." And, with tears you would kneel before your Lord and lovingly you would bathe the feet of Jesus.
Now, I want to lay the imagination aside. Jesus Christ is here this morning. And, He wants to wash your feet. Are you willing to let him? Are you willing to let Him cleanse you and forgive you of every sin and restore you, renew you and refresh you? Are you? Now, I want to ask you another question. Are you willing to wash His feet this morning? You say, "Well wait a minute. I can't wash His feet.” Wrong! Jesus said: “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” (Matthew 25:40). Is there anybody that you're holding a grudge against? Is there anybody that's done you wrong? Are you willing to kneel before them and say, "I want to refresh you and restore you. I want to wash your feet, I want to love you and I want to forgive you as God for Christ sake hath forgiven me."?
Now, don't tell me that you would want to wash the feet of Jesus Christ if you don't want to wash the feet of that brother or that sister sitting next to you this morning. You say, "They don't deserve it.” That is the love we're talking about!
[some portions from Dr. Adrian Rogers]
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