THE BADGE OF A DISCIPLE
Thursday, 18 April 2019
John 13 : 18-35
John 13:34: “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.”
A new commandment to love one another was expressed on an occasion sandwiched between the betrayal of Judas Iscariot and Peter’s denial.This is an unusual setting for expressing such an important command as this. As we know in the old Testament times the occasion of giving of the Ten Commandments was a solemn one (Exodus Chapter 19). In this instance the lowly nature of the whole proclamation brings the true nature of love and simplicity expressed here. But it carries another solemn voice that none of the thundering voice of this world can match. It was at the foot of the cross that Jesus expressed this new commandment. It was a newest kind of its own, ever since the fall of man. No man has ever tasted this kind of pure love except from the Creator Himself. This does not have the taint of self-love in it but it was self-giving love. This was the very reason why such a solemn situation was chosen by Jesus Himself to give this very important commandment.
The love this world expresses loses its lustre when one’s self is affected. Unless the self is satisfied the love of this world immediately ceases. But this is another kind of love, Jesus commands—He said “as I loved you, you need to love one another.” This was spoken at the verge of His crucifixion and the very expression of this is seen on the cross of Calvary. Even when His own close associates were deserting him or denying him or betraying Him, this wonderful agape love is in its blossom. None of these tarnishing influences had any effect on this kind of pure love, which only heaven can express.
Jesus knew very well that unless the axe is laid to the root of self-love- that is taking the self of every person to the cross with Him, this cannot be practiced! That is the reason why Jesus says it’s a new commandment. None other than Jesus could display this kind of love because it was expressed as the emptying of Himself which culminated on the cross. Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” (John 15:13) Jesus demonstrated this greater love by laying His life for others. This is the kind of love Jesus asks His followers to practice.
The distinguishing mark of a disciple is expressed in the next verse. John 13:35: "By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." Only a true disciple of Jesus can express this kind of love. This is the true identity that cannot be imitated by anyone else in this world. And Jesus made that as the uniform for His disciples, so that all the world can see them and identify them as His own disciples. That is why John says in his first epistle, if one needs to test himself that he is born again then check whether he truly loves his own brother in Christ. 1 John 3:14: “We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death.” God’s kingdom is a kingdom based on love! A true disciple will follow His Master’s example of self-sacrificing love for one another.
Dear Father in heaven, give me the true badge
of the love of Christ in my heart so that this world will know
You as love. Amen.
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