Yesterday we finished with the thought that thanking God for my brothers and sisters helps to transform my thinking about each one and increases my love for them. Every time our love and understanding of each other increases it is a fulfilment of Jesus’ prayer of John 17, and we can be sure therefore that we are making Him very happy. John, the only gospel writer who recorded this prayer of Jesus’, clearly felt that he had heard the heart of God on this whole matter of love and unity, which is interesting since, as a young disciple, he had quite a lot to learn.
It was John who wanted Jesus to stop people using His name to cast out demons because they didn’t belong to the inner circle like John and the twelve. This happened even after they had all been arguing over who among them would be the greatest, and had been taught about true greatness by Jesus showing them a little child. Luke 9:46-50
It was John, along with brother James, who let their mother push for them to be seated on the right and left of Jesus, in order to be important and help Him to rule when He came into His Kingdom. We know they were there at the time because we are told Jesus looked into their eyes and asked them if they were ready for the suffering that it could involve, to which they boldly said ‘Yes we are able’ Matthew 20:20-22. They were clearly very competitive and may be a little arrogant.
When they had to leave a village that wouldn’t let Jesus in to preach and teach, it was the two brothers James and John who were again, right ‘out there’ with their proposed solution to the problem. ‘Let’s call down fire on them like Elijah did and destroy them all’. (My paraphrase) Luke 9:54. And Jesus again takes the opportunity to do some training, “You do not know what kind of spirit you are of, the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them” Luke 9:54,55.
However tough John appeared, it became apparent that, during the three years of discipleship, he was magnetically drawn by Jesus’ love into an understanding of the supreme value that love was going to have in the Kingdom. It would appear that he couldn’t get close enough to Jesus and by the time we get to the last supper John is right there leaning against Jesus, and now he describes himself as the disciple Jesus loved. John 14:22-25.
Jesus also sees that this man has changed and asks him to look after Mary His mother after His death, John 19:26. What an honour! And so this John, one of the sons of thunder, or ‘easily angered ones’, Mark 3:17, writes to the early church ‘Dear friends let us love one another, for love comes from God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love……… . Dear friends since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God. ’ 1 John 4:7,11,16
In his second letter he again says, ‘I am not writing a new command but one that we have had from the beginning. I ask that we love one another…… His command is that you walk in love.’ 2 John 5. His logic is simple if God is living in us and God is love, then we will love. We will ‘walk in love’, and that love will be sacrificial just as Jesus love was sacrificial. And so he writes ‘this is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us.’ 1 John 3:16.
As John got very close to Jesus he lost his competitiveness and became a father figure in the early church, who encouraged love among the believers. It seems that the picture of the wheel is a good one here. I think it’s a bit like the spokes of a wheel. The closer the spokes get to the hub the closer they get to each other, and where the spokes are actually fixed into the hub they get the closest they can be to each other.
I think that for us too the closer we can get to Jesus, and the more we can drink in His love the easier it will be to love our brothers and sisters in the way that He loves us. So today let us remind ourselves how much Jesus loved us as we thank Him again for the cross. And as we thank Him, let us ask the Holy Spirit once again to give us that spirit of revelation that will open our eyes to the height, length, depth and breadth of His love, so that we can love each other ‘as He has loved us’.