When you think of Jesus what’s the first thing that pops into your head? For me it’s His love. A love so strong, Jesus laid down His life to call me His own. And I in return love Him. But that isn’t enough. Because Jesus wants more than my love. He wants me to love others with the same passion that I reserve for Him alone.
The chapter begins with a humbling and beautiful example of the importance of love to Jesus. As one of His last acts before His sacrifice on the Cross, the Lord knelt and began to cleanse the feet of the disciples. A task usually reserved for the lowliest slave in the house, as an act of love and an example of serving others, Jesus wiped away the dirt from the men who would hurt, disappoint, and betray Him.
In Matthew 22:37-40 Jesus responds to the question of which is the greatest commandment. “You shall love the Lord your God with all of your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole law.” Love is the foundation of the Law. And loving God means loving all that He created; especially those created in His image. This is the message echoed throughout the Bible and especially in the teachings of Jesus. And no more is our love for the Lord evident than when we are loving others.
When we demonstrate Christian love, it distinguishes us from the rest of the world. It isn’t through our doctrines, our big beautiful churches, our posts on Facebook, or our Cross necklaces by which we are known as His disciples. Instead, it’s through our actions, and our love for others. We are the ambassadors of the Lord and should reflect His character of love.
What Jesus is calling us to do isn’t easy. And undoubtedly as soon as you make a commitment to love others, along will come a person to test that resolve. But God never calls us to go it alone, nor to do what He asks in our own strength. Our strength comes from the power of the Holy Spirit. And through this power we can follow the example of Jesus and serve others joyfully, and without the expectation of anything in return. Even those who hurt, betray, and disappoint us. That’s the kind of Christlike love for others Jesus wants us to have!
The goal of the Christian walk is to become transformed into the image of Christ. To mirror His unconditional love and to, “….love one another, just as I have loved you.“, (John 15:12) Loving Jesus means humbling serving and loving others. 1 John 4:9-11 powerfully reminds us, “…God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love another.”
I love this explanation of what Christian love should look like by Rick Ezell. “Love entails a cost. Love gets its hands dirty. It takes a chance, goes out on a limb, and takes a gamble. Love makes a statement and leaves a legacy. It does the unexpected, surprising, and stirring. It performs acts that steal the heart and leaves an impression on the soul.”
That’s the kind of Christlike love for others I want to have! A joyful, humble, foot washing kind of love. And not because I love Him, but because He loved me first!