Love permeates the Bible. The Psalms are full of love. Proverbs speaks of love. Isaiah and Jeremiah speak of the love God has for the people even after they have broken the covenant and of how that love will reestablish a newer, better covenant.
Paul said the faith, hope and love abide, and the greatest is love.
But there is no writer in the New Testament who prioritizes love as much as the one we know as John. John makes love the center of all things. God is love, John says, and those who abide in God abide in love. Jesus is the great example of love. No greater love has a person than to lay down one’s life for friends.
Jesus speaks of a new commandment, that we love one another as he has loved us. This commandment is the source of the name of Maundy Thursday, which we will observe on the evening of April 1. The world will know that we are Jesus’ disciples by the way in which we love one another.
This commandment is not about affection. It is about attitude. To love one another in the community is to set the needs and desires of others along side our own. To love one love another in community is to understand that we have different interests and tastes and ways of being in the world. To love one another in the community is to be aware of the ways in which we can honor one another and demonstrate the value we have for one another rather than simply taking what we can get for ourselves.
John presents us with a total picture of love, Gospel style. God is love. God’s love for us is unconditional for God so loved the world that he sent his only son so that the world might be saved through him. As God loved us, so should we love one another. The community that bears Jesus’ name must show the world that God’s love is real by the way in which they love one another. How crucial this is—that we learn how to value and respect each other and are willing to place another’s needs ahead of our own. What an inviting community that would be to those disgusted with the “me first” society. After having received God’s love and shared it within the community, we take it out into the world and share it with others. Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love me?” If so, feed my sheep.
God so loved the world that the gave his only son. Jesus so loved the world that he gave his own life. We so love one another and the world that we give the body and blood of Jesus to one another in remembrance not only of him, but of his love.