My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other. (John 15:12-17)
Simple. Profound. Vital. Thanks to John we have an extended version of Jesus’ ‘last words.’ A third of his Gospel is Jesus’ words and actions from the Upper Room to the Ascension. John begins telling the story of Jesus with a wedding planner using the words “saved the best for last” and finishes it with Jesus saving his most important communications for the end. This Upper Room statement is Jesus at his ironic best. If I’m reading it right, Jesus is saying that if the disciples meet the condition of showing unconditional love, they get to be his friends. See that? They are to “love each other as I have loved you”: sacrificially; forgiving; and patiently. That is Jesus’ “command,” the fulfillment of which results in “you are my friends if…” “If” is such an important word for Jesus whenever he talks about being a disciple. Jesus is saying that “love each other” is the mission statement of the “master’s business” he came to reveal to us. I wonder what would happen if a million believers in Jesus got up this morning and just did this. But I only have control over what one believer in Jesus does — me. The language may seem a little harsh, for Jesus to “command” me to love. But if the ‘carrot’ is Jesus’ friendship, I welcome the ‘stick.’
Lord thank you for your offer of friendship. I don’t have to smart or beautiful or influential or talented to earn it. I just have to love people — not humanity in general, but actual folks on my path today. I accept your love-deal. Amen.