John 15:12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one that this, ‘that someone lay down his life for his friends. ‘You are my friends if you do what I command you.”
Think of what Jesus could have commanded those that were under Hhis authority – as well as those who refused to acknowledge His authority over them but whom He could have forced to serve Him. He could have had anything. He had the power to make anyone serve Him by forcing them to prepare His meals, give Him all their wealth, and wait on Him hand and foot. Who could have resisted Him? He had complete power over nature, sickness, demons, and the angels of heaven. Even the wind and the waves obeyed Him. Yet, incredibly, His greatest and highest command was that we love each other.
Often when we think about how we love someone else, it’s actually an emotion in response to all the good things that they’ve done for us, like those things that are the mark of a good parent, or the actions that characterize our friends. But the love that Jesus speaks of in John 15 is not that kind of love. It is not, primarily, an emotion. Rather, it’s an act of self-sacrifice that one demonstrates towards others. Jesus demonstrated this as He used His great power to heal the sick, to feed the hungry, to cast out demons, to calm a storm that terrified His disciples – and in His greatest act, to die for us, rise again, and thus destroy the power of death over us. And He did this not just for those who were His friends, but also for all those who were His enemies but who would eventually become His friends as they put their faith in Him.
So, what about us? Is that the kind of love we demonstrate towards others? Do we use the power and abilities we have been given to bless others around us – not just our current friends and family, but those who aren’t our friends – yet? We don’t have the power to calm a storm, but we do have the ability to visit a sick person, or give someone a cup of cold water (or other things like hospitality, money, time, and kindness) to those in need. In the end, that will be the test that will mark those who truly loved the King – for as we’ve done to the least of these brothers of His, we’ve done to Him (Matthew 25:40).