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Jesus Christ: Body Builder III: Disciples Love One Another
a. This series of messages is about the church. Eventually we are going to get to the purpose of the church and the mission of the church and structure of the church and all that. But it is important that we consider the makeup of the church. The church is made up of disciples, and only disciples, of Jesus Christ. We are beginning by talking about what Jesus said about disciples because the church is made up of disciples.
b. The Great Commission tells us to “make disciples”.
i. Well, what are we to make? So far we have seen that we are to make people who know who Jesus is – fully man (the Christ), and fully God (the Son of the living God) and they are those who take up their cross daily and follow Christ. This is what disciples are. They are those who know Christ and follow Him by surrendering up their lives.
c. In the piece of Scripture we are in today, Jesus has instituted the Lord’s Supper (That is not recorded by John. Chronologically it would appear after John 13:38. John 13:2 means during supper, not after supper and it means that Jesus washed the disciples feet and after Judas left instituted the Lord’s Supper), and has washed the disciples’ (including Judas)feet (13:1-20) and then He announced that one of the twelve is going to betray Him (13:21-30). Beginning in 13:31 we have what is normally called The Farewell Discourse of Jesus, which begins with the departure of Judas (13:31) from the group which had assembled on this occasion to observe the Passover and ends with the great high priestly prayer of Jesus for Himself, His disciples and all who would ever believe in Him (chapetr17) and Jesus going to the garden of Gethsemane to be arrested (18:1).
d. The context of these words of Jesus –
i. Outline of John 13:1-35
(1) Foot washing – 13:1-20
(2) Prediction of Judas’ Betrayal – 13:21-30
(3) Beginning of Farewell Discourse – 13:31-35
(4) Institution of Lord’s Supper – Synoptics
ii. So, Judas goes and when he does Jesus says: You are my disciples. You – those who do not betray me. Those who remain faithful to me. Those for whom the bread is broken and the wine is spilled. You are my followers. And this will be the mark of my disciples – you will be like me. You will love each other like I have loved you.
II Love One Another – A Work of the Holy Spirit
1. This commandment by Jesus is the beginning of a lengthy discourse by Jesus that goes all the way to the end of chapter 16. I want to draw your attention to what Jesus says in a part of chapter 14.
a. See 14:15 – Keep the commandments. And note here that He says this is a mark of love for Jesus and then note very carefully that it is here that He tells them that He will give them the Holy Spirit. Well, the words “Holy Spirit” do not appear . Jesus calls Him the “Helper”. Some versions say “Comforter”. The word is paraclete. It means one who comes along side. And what will the Holy Spirit do when He comes alongside of us? What’s the Holy Spirit got to do with this? Everything. Without the Holy Spirit we cannot keep a single jot or tittle of the commandments of God to us. Keep the commandments? Ha!! No one can do that! “I know”, says Jesus “so I am giving you the Holy Spirit”. With Him in you, you can and you will. By the power of the Holy Spirit you will be able to love each other. He will help you.
(1) Dear people of TBC. I know that there are some who say that the Holy Spirit is not emphasized enough in this church. I know that some say the Holy Spirit is not believed in at all. But I want you to see this. The most powerful work of the Holy Spirit in a fellowship of His people is not a miracle of healing or of prophecy or of speaking in unknown languages. It is loving like Jesus does. Look at I Corinthians 13
(a) I Cor. 13
(i) First of all, note the context. I Cor. 13 comes between I Cor. 12 and I Cor. 14. I Cor. 12 is about the use of gifts in the church for the good of the church. Some in Corinth were making a big deal out of the fact that they could speak in unknown languages by the power of the H.S. In chapter 14 Paul gets right down to brass tacks and says that the ability to prophesy is better than the ability to speak in tongues. And wedged right I between those two chapters is chapter 13. The very best thing of all is to love each other. To love your fellow believer is more important than speaking in Tongues. To love your fellow believer is more important than being able to prophesy. Chapter 12 – we have gifts by the work of the Holy Spirit. Chapter 14 – Prophecy, which is greater than tongues is a work of the Holy Spirit. Chapter 13 – to love like this is a work of the Holy Spirit.
(ii) 13:1 – If I speak … . But dear ones know this. You may never do that. But if you are a real disciple of Jesus Christ you can do something greater. You will. Because that is what disciples do.
(iii) 13:2 – If I have prophetic powers … . You may never do such things. But you can do something greater.
(iv)Dear one – do you want to do something greater than cast mountains into the sea? Then, by the power of the Holy Spirit – show some patience to the person sitting in the row ahead of you. Demonstrate some kindness. Don’t get angry when they get a job and you don’t. Don’t brag about your accomplishments and make those around you feel small and make yourself look big. Stop being rude. Let your wife or your wife or your brother or sister or workmate have his/her way instead of insisting on yours. Don’t be cranky and hard to get along with … . Don’t rejoice when wrong is done – even when it was done to that Christian whose views you don’t agree with or the one who opposed you or the one you didn’t vote for. Rejoice when the truth is spoken and lived out and promoted and defended – even when it is being done by those you oppose and who oppose you … .
(v) This is the power of the Holy Spirit. This is one of the things the Holy Spirit was sent to help us do. This is greater than whatever gifts He has given you to use. This is loving like Jesus. And this is how the world will know that we are the disciples of Jesus.
(vi) Another example of the work of the Holy Spirit helping us to love like Jesus. Eph. 5:18-21. Be filled with the Spirit and you will – a) speak to one another …, b) be thankful… and c) submit to one another. Oh, you mean like Jesus did on the nigh He was betrayed when He washed the disciples feet? Yes, just like that. That is what it means to be filled with the Spirit. Love like Jesus – for that is what the Holy Spirit came to enable you to do.
ii. Just one more thing about the Holy Spirit and our loving like Jesus does.
(1) This loving one another is not possible without His power in us by the Holy Spirit. To love like Jesus does is far, far, too high a goal for us to reach. This is why Jesus sent the Holy Spirit (among other things). We can’t do this without Him.
b. Verse 21 – the mark of love for Jesus is to keep the commandments.
c. Verse 23 – the mark of love for Jesus is obedience to the commandments.
d. Are we getting the message? Love for Jesus is marked by obedience to the commandments of Jesus. And the most natural thing in the world is to ask “Well, then – what are your commandments? We say we love you and you say prove it through obedience. What do you want us to obey?”
i. And at this point many Christians drift off into a list of rules as long as your arm. There are rules, make no mistake. But what does Jesus say here that His commandments are? What does Jesus say – 15:12 – love one another as I have loved you.
ii. Keep my commandments, Keep my commandments, Keep my commandments, Keep my commandments. “This is my commandment – Love each other like I have loved you”.
See 13:34- love one another as I have loved you. This is not a commandment for us to try harder. It is a commandment to find out how much Jesus loves us.
III Love Like Jesus Does
1. The key to understanding this command is “as I have loved you”. How did Jesus love them? We are drawn immediately to the cross. But that is not what Jesus is first of all referring to here.
a. See verse 12-17 – Disciples are those who will show the world that followers of Jesus follow Jesus’ example in this act of servitude; this act of lowliness; this act of willing submission to the place of a common, uneducated, unpaid, household slave. They love each other like that. The first place we need to go to see the love that Jesus had for His disciples is the event that has just happened. He has washed the disciples feet.
i. Servanthood – He did the work of a servant, a household slave. He made Himself lower than the others. He made Himself lower than Himself. Dear ones – as long as you look at this command and then look around at the people God calls you to love you are going to fail. The issue here is not – how can I love such people? The issue is – “How can I do what Jesus did?” Consider whose feet Jesus is washing. They are a sorry lot. You are to look to Christ. You do not ask “How can I love that Christian” You ask “How can I be more like Jesus toward that person?”
ii. Proactive/willing/voluntary – Jesus was not forced into doing this. He did not wait for someone else to serve Him. He took the initiative and served. Which of the disciples came to Jesus and said “Well, aren’t you going to wash our feet?” Not one. They would never have thought such a thing. Jesus didn’t say “Well somebody’s got to do it”. This is how we are to love dear ones. We do not wait to be asked to do the loving thing. We do not try to avoid it. We look for it. We seek it out – not because we think no one can do it as well as we can; not because people will congratulate us; not because it will benefit us later. But because 1) we want to do as He did and 2) we care for people.
b. Search the Scriptures and see how much Jesus loved you and remember that this is our calling.
i. Romans 5:8 – He gave His life for us when we were yet sinners – not when we were good. And are we called to love to the point of giving up our lives? Well, yes, we are – I John 3:16. The church gives itself for the sake of its members.
ii. Matthew 9:36 – compassion
iii. Mark 9:41 – give a cup of water
iv. Mark 9:42 – never be the cause of a fellow believer to sin.
v. Matthew 15:32 – compassion
vi. Mt. 18:12-14 – Chase after wandering sheep. This is talking about sheep. A sheep. A saved one has gone wandering. Galatians 6:1-2
vii. Mt. 18:6 – Do not be an offence to believers
viii. Mk. 9:30-37 – See no believer as below you. Remember Phil. 2. Remember the manger, the turtle doves, … … .
ix. Lk. 22:31f – pray for them – even in their weakness and sin; because of their weakness and sin. Dear one, how do you react to believers who are tempted to sin? And how do you react to them when they fall? See Jesus restoring Peter in John 21
x. Mt. 16:15-18 – Give people opportunities to change/repent … . See the conversion of the Apostle Paul – Stopped by Jesus on the road. What does Paul deserve? He deserves to be struck dead and sent to hell at that precise moment – and no doubt Paul was thinking that was what was about to happen to Him.
xi. Jn. 11:35 – have a heart/ cry for them – Cry when they hurt. Cry when they sin. Cry when they don’t get it. Cry when they run away. Cry when they turn on you. …
xii. John 18:8 – Seek the safety of the saints even at your own risk of danger. This is how Jesus loved them and this is how we are to love. This is the love of disciples. This is what this church is called to make.
IV The Witness of Love
1. By this will all ….
a. What does the world know of the church? The church’s bad reputation is not always the fault of the church. The world needs to know about the good that happens in its midst. How will it find out? It will not be in the news. We tell them. We tell them about little acts of kindness, forgiveness, compassion … .
b. This does not say “by this will the world come to faith …” This is about showing the world what Christianity is. This is about demonstrating to the world what it means to follow Jesus. This is about providing an opportunity to say “see how Christ has changed us…”. This is obedience to I Pete 3:15.
c. The issue here is this – what do we want the world to see? Our good fellowship? That we care for them?
d. All those things are fine – but they are not the first thing. The first thing is “We want them to see Jesus”. Everything God does He does for His glory and therefore the greatest thing God ever did was the cross event because we cannot glorify God unless we are saved by Jesus through His death and resurrection. We are saved for God’s glory (Eph. 1:3-14).
e. That is why we are saved. Why hasn’t God taken you home yet? Why hasn’t He sent death your way so that you could wake up in heaven and sing the praises of God unhindered by sin? Why does TBC still exist? Why hasn’t it closed down yet? Because He has a mission for us here. To sing God’s praises while you are yet hindered by sin. And the Bible is very clear that we are here to live a life of worship to the triune God (We exist …). And it is equally clear that there are many ways that we can worship God in this world. And the chiefest among them? Love one another.
f. How are we going to show Jesus Christ to a godless, cynical, tired, broken, hurting … … … world? Go to church every Sunday and sing some hymns? No that isn’t it. Get involved in the community and help the poor and widows and …. … … ? No that isn’t it either.
g. Love other believers. In all that love is we will exhibit it to our fellow believers. And we will show it to the world.
Dear ones, TBC is to be a church of disciples who make disciples. Our discipleship is to be marked by a love for one another that mimics the love that Christ has for us. Let us show the world that we are truly His disciples.
Who has not failed in this? Who has been as loving as he/she should have been? What will we do about that? We will repent. Go to that one you have hurt or ignored and make it right. Say you sorry if you have done wrong. Forgive when people say “I’m sorry”. Don’t hold a grudge. Serve the Christians you know here. Overcome evil with good. Study I Cor. 13:4-7 and do it.