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Day 8: Jesus Declares a New Command

Reflect: The block of teaching recorded in John 13:31–16:33, is known as Jesus’ farewell discourse. In these chapters, Jesus instructs His disciples about loving one another, the significance of His upcoming death, resurrection, and the coming of the Holy Spirit. Let’s focus in, and reread, John 13:34-35. The new commandment, in these verses, is that Jesus’ disciples are instructed to love other people the way Jesus loved them—serving them like a slave would, even to the point of laying down their lives for others. It is in this new way of living that others will know His disciples are followers of Christ because they love each other unto death, like Jesus loved them. The Greek word Jesus uses for love in verse 34 is agape. It means to have a strong, non-sexual affection and love for a person and his goodness, as understood by God’s moral character; a sacrificial love that voluntarily suffers inconvenience, discomfort and even death for the benefit of another without expecting anything in return. When my husband and I became parents, we couldn’t take our eyes off this wiggly little 6lb. 11oz. love of our lives. Our precious newborn could only cry, eat, spit up, wake us up from sleeping and require lots of diaper changes. But, our love for him was unconditional. We gave to him, adored him and expected nothing in return. That was the closest moment that either of us had experienced an agape type of love. It’s easy for people to have an agape love for a newborn, but Jesus wants us to have this love towards other adults and our teenagers too, even if at times they have infantile behavior.

If we continue to hold on to the resulting hurt or pain for too long, it will turn into bitter roots and bitter roots will grow bitter fruit.

Respond: What would it take for us to have this love that Jesus is talking about? For us to be able to love others with this agape love we need a pure heart that is committed to Jesus. It is impossible for us to have a pure enough heart to love this way on our own. It should be comforting to know that God knows every detail of your heart (Acts 15:8). Nothing about you or what you want to say to Him will surprise Him. He loves you just as you are at this very moment, but has greater things for you.

You may want to take a few minutes and sit with Jesus, have a conversation with Him like a good friend and ask Him these questions: “Jesus am I loving others in my life in the way you intended? What do I need to change?” (Pause and allow a few minutes of quiet so that the Spirit of God can speak to you.) Then continue, “Jesus, will you please purify my heart and help me to love with agape love? Lord, will you help me to see someone that I can show this love to today?”

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