I wonder what it looked like when the disciples argued with each other. You had at least three sets of brothers in the twelve, and if you don’t think there was a bunch of squabbling, you probably don’t have any brothers or sisters. They harassed each other, got sick of one another. They competed for promotions and attention. They called each other names and said things that they regretted. It was no different back then than it is today.
They were disciples, not deities. They were sanctified, not saints….not like that.
We don’t have to look any further than Luke’s account of the Last Supper (Luke 22:7-23) to see a perfect example of their bickering, contentious relationships.
If it weren’t so sad, it would be comical. Jesus just got finished establishing the second of two church ordinances. He preached to them the gospel of his substitutionary death, and that, only after he had made himself the lowest servant there, so that he could wash their feet.
And, what did they do? They argued about which of them would be the greatest. Sounds like something I would do. They all made their own individual cases. They listed their credentials. I’m sure that there were put-downs and insults. The more I think about it, the uglier it gets.
At some point, Jesus looked around the room with a broken heart, knowing that Judas Iscariot was about to roll over and give him up to the Jews. Judas was about to sell the Lord of Glory for thirty pieces of silver.
He got up to leave, and Jesus responded to all of that, sort of like this:
“Let me tell you something. Ya’ll are gonna have to start loving each other, but it’s got to be better than this. You need to love each other like I’ve loved you.” (Read the words that he actually used in John 13:34.)
Don’t get me wrong. They loved each other, and Jesus knew that. You may fall out with your brother now and then, but you’ll always love him. Here’s the thing, though – loving somebody and having it out with them in a very open and public way doesn’t cut it in light of this new commandment.
The post-John 13:34, old, easy, comfortable, excusing way to love each other doesn’t measure up. It comes up miles short.
We better bring our A-game. When Jesus gave his disciples that new commandment, which in effect was a whole new level to an old commandment, he promoted them to the big leagues. Prime time.
Your best effort, everyday.
You better step it up. Right now. Bring your A-game. Right now.
That weak stuff, that lip-service love “dutt’n” cut it.
You used to could get by with loving your neighbor as yourself. In the Old Testament. Before the cross. Not anymore.
Now, we’re commanded to love each other a little more. Our love’s got to be a little purer. It’s got to be a little more selfless. It’s got to have a whole lot more humility. It’s got to be a little less concerned with standing and appearance.
It’s got to be a Jesus love. It’s got to be an “abandon myself and my wishes and will” sort of love.
Here’s why: If you love like the disciples used to love, arguing and complaining and trying to always climb the ladder and get ahead, you know who’ll know that you belong to Jesus?
You know who’ll know that you are his follower.
Not one person. He said it like this:
“By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”
Being Jesus’s disciple means loving like he loved. Following Him means loving like He loved. It means giving everything in exchange for nothing. It means loving even if the one you love doesn’t respond in love…even if they don’t respond at all. It means not holding anything back, knowing that somewhere along the way, you’re going to hurt.
If you haven’t been doing that, it’s time to start bringing your A-game. It’s time to step it up.