You Should Love One Another as Jesus Loves You.

If you knew you had 24 hours to live, how would you spend it? A common answer is to spend it with the people you love the most. But if you knew those people would leave you during that time when you needed them most, would that change how you would spend it?

In John 13:1-17, Jesus knew that He was about to be betrayed and crucified. Yet Jesus called His friends to and modeled for them the defining characteristic of a Christ-follower.

Commit to Loving Each Other Even When Others Are Inconsistent

In the first 18 verses, the word "know" or words derived from it appear 6 times.

Jesus knew Judas was an unbeliever, that the disciples would abandon Him, and that Peter would deny Him. He knew they didn't understand what was about to happen. He also knew all of them were genuine except Judas. John 13:1 says that Jesus loved them to the end.

Jesus loved them to the end of giving His life for them, because He was committed to following His Father's plan.

A display of Jesus’ love can be found in verse 4: Jesus washing the disciples' feet. The point of this action was the process, not the cleanliness. (Jesus could have just thought it and the disciples’ feet would have been clean!) Jesus wanted to display that He vividly loved the disciples and, equally, to give us an example of how to love each other.

Humble Yourself Even When Others Remain Superior

This display of Jesus’ love was very out of the ordinary. There is no record of someone of higher rank or authority demoting themselves to an inferior position in this way. It was so unheard-of that Peter responds passionately in verse 8. In the Greek, Peter’s words had triple emphasis, like saying, “you will never ever do this forever.”

Jesus willingly took on the form of a servant or slave. Although He was superior to all (verse 13), now he was playing the part of one inferior.

“Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, as He already existed in the form of God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but emptied Himself by taking the form of a bond-servant and being born in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death: death on a cross.”
– Philippians 2:5-8

This is why Jesus answers Peter that if He does not do this to Peter, he will have no part with Him.

Serve When Others Fail to Appreciate It

In verses 12-17, Jesus tells the disciples that He was providing us an example. If He, being superior, can serve as an inferior, then we can act as the servant to our peers. In fact, we need to serve each other. Jesus had chosen to serve the disciples. He came to serve, lovingly giving Himself even though the disciples did not fully understand.

Application Points

Jesus washed the disciples’ feet to give an example that they need to serve one another and love one another. Jesus took us in our mess. He didn't wait until we cleaned up - He loved us in our mess and changed us.

  • Remember that Jesus did this not just for us, but for others too. How can you actively serve others? Do not wait until they deserve it or have a better Christian walk. We each are working through the process of sanctification.
  • Don't walk away from this narrative appreciating Jesus but not seeing each other. Don't walk out of church week after week after singing songs and hearing the message without seeing each other. If you do that, you are just a consumer of church.
  • Trust in the One who has proclaimed that if I clean you, you are clean (verse 10).

Tools for Further Study

Cross References to Explore:
  • John 19:30
  • Philippians 2:5-8 - servanthood
  • Titus 3:3
  • 1 John 1:7-9
  • Luke 22 - who is the greatest among us?
A Hymn to Encourage: “Come, All Christians, Be Committed”

Come, all Christians, be committed To the service of the Lord;
Make your lives for him more fitted, Tune your hearts with one accord.
Come into His courts with gladness, Each his sacred vows renew,
Turn away from sin and sadness, Be transformed with life anew.

Of your time and talents give ye, They are gifts from God above
To be used by Christians freely To proclaim His wondrous love.
Come again to serve the Savior, Tithes and off'rings with you bring.
In your work, with Him find favor, And with joy His praises sing.

God's command to love each other Is required of every one;
Showing mercy to another Mirrors His redemptive plan.
In compassion He has given Of His love that is divine;
On the cross sins were forgiven; Joy and peace are fully thine.

Come in praise and adoration, All who in Christ's name believe;
Worship Him with consecration, Grace and love you will receive.
For His grace give Him the glory, For the Spirit and the Word,
And repeat the gospel story Till all men His name have heard.