31 When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. 32 If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and glorify him at once. 33 Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek me, and just as I said to the Jews, so now I also say to you, ‘Where I am going you cannot come.’ 34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” – John 13:31-35
One of my all-time favorite moments in television history happened on Seinfeld, when Elaine comes into Jerry’s apartment after just having another frustrating interaction with someone. I don’t remember if it was the “low talker” or the “sidler” or what, but she comes in flustered, declaring, “I hate people!” And without missing a beat, Jerry looks up from what he’s doing and says, “They’re the worst.”
This frustration is a universal human experience. The level of dislike I can generate toward someone who cuts me off in traffic is very disturbing to me. I may usually be Dr. Jekyll, but my inner Mr. Hyde is always lying in wait.
So Jesus’s “new command” (v. 34) is already starting to cause a problem for me. “Love one another.” Like, always? Even the clown in the Lexus convertible who didn’t even look before careening over into my lane? But then, Jesus isn’t finished. “As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (v. 34). So it’s not enough to love people in our self-satisfying, when-we-feel-like-it human way; we have to love as Jesus loves us! This is a reality check that Jesus is giving to the people He’s talking to.
Yet God’s Word is creative. Jesus continues, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (v. 35). Miraculously, you find yourself loving and being loved. Now, we might admit freely that we love because Jesus first loved us, but we don’t love because we owe it to Him or because He told us to. We love because love for us brings out love for one another. We are loved by the Jesus who loved the people who weren’t good enough. We are loved by the Jesus who loved the people who came up short. We are loved by the Jesus who planted His love in our hearts.
The good news of the gospel is that Jesus did not wait until we were loving before He loved us; He didn’t even wait till we asked Him to love us before He loved us—He loved us in our unloveliness. And His love for us births love in us, which bleeds love through us to those around us.
Tullian Tchividjian, It Is Finished: 365 Days of Good News