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Loving As Jesus Loved

by Julius Hovan

(Transcribed from the Words of Life Radio Program)


It is with joy that we welcome you to Words of Life. What a difference when we can speak of life rather than death and we can speak of joy instead of sadness. We are glad you have tuned in to this broadcast. There are those who support this broadcast with their funds and make it possible for us to come into your home, into your life to share Words of Life.

I want to turn to one of the great gospels in the New Testament today, the gospel of John. If you are where you can get your Bible and turn with me there, we are going to begin in chapter one with one verse. And then were are going to go to chapter 13 and bring a lesson there from the person and life of our wonderful, wonderful Lord Jesus.

Let us pray. God, we do ask you today as these listen to your Word being spoken, that, first of all, you will help the speaker. Empower and motivate and give him clarity of words and understanding. And then, Lord, pierce the hearts of those who will listen. Help them to understand who Jesus is and what he means and what he has done for them. So bless this brief time together that you have given. Maybe somebody has tuned in by accident today. They just happened to fall in upon this radio broadcast. If that is the case, Lord, you have led them to hear and would they then follow that up with seeking to know how they can become a follower of Jesus Christ. We pray this prayer and ask for this blessing in His name. Amen.

In John chapter one the writer John is introducing us to this Jesus who came and he says He is the light of the world. In verse 5 it says the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. In verse 6 & 7 it says there was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. Thisman called John, born to an older couple, Zacharias and Elizabeth, was called John the baptizer. He was not a Baptist, but he was a baptizer. He speaks to us of the Lord coming and him being a spokesperson. John says that John the Baptist came as a spokesperson to share the message of the Lord Jesus. And so it is about this Lord Jesus and about his life and his love that we wish to talk to you today and we hope that you will stay tuned.

Chapter 13 of the gospel of John Jesus does some teaching here and he gives us some new teaching, in a sense, in chapter 13 verses 34 and 35. A new commandment give I unto you, that you love one another even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. Now how important is this? By this, that you love one another and you are obedient to this command, by this shall all men know that you are my disciples if you have love one to another. One of the sayings that the unbelievers had about the early church was this: See how these Christians love one another.

There is a popular song that says: What the world needs now is love. Who would doubt that? Here we have in this brief reading of verses 34 and 35 three things brought to our attention. We have a commandment. Love one another. And Jesus says it is a new commandment. Well, Jesus, don’t you know that back in the Old Testament God told his Old Testament people to love each other? Well, yes, I am sure Jesus knew that. He hasn’t missed that point. But listen to what he says. It is a new commandment in that we are to love as Jesus loved. And we are going to talk in this lesson this morning more specifically as to what that love is. A commandment. The example of Jesus and the result. All people will know who and what we are and who Jesus is. They will know that Christianity is real.

One of the reasons many do not become Christians is because they see people who call themselves Christian not acting like Christians. If you are a Christian today you have the responsibility to act like a child of God. If you are not a Christian it may be that you have said: Well, if that is being a Christian and you know somebody that says he is but doesn’t act like it, he is going to have to answer for that. And it does not relieve you of the possibility that you also need to become a Christian and a believer in and follower of Jesus. You will not escape God’s judgment because of some Christian’s bad example.

There is a survey that has taken place. It shows that we all need to be hugged for survival. And we even need more hugs just for the maintenance of every day life. And then if we are going to grow and mature and be productive people, we need an awful lot of hugging and love in our lives. Often times in orphanages in some countries where they take babies that are in need of a home, they just put them in a bed. There may be so many that there is no time but to feed them and care for them and no time for cuddling and hugging. Those babies inevitably become less mentally sharp. They become weaker. Their capacity to think is not what it ought to be. I am afraid we can have too many ‘Hi’ Christians. Hi there, how are you doing? And we just kind of pass each other in the dark like two ships. But Paul says regarding the love of God and the Holy Spirit: The love of God has been poured out into your hearts through that Holy Spirit.

And so when we talk about living like Christ and loving like Christ, it is because we have received the Holy Spirit. Those who became Christians upon hearing Peter’s message on Pentecost understood that fact, just as we understand, that the promise is that if we come to Christ and are baptized into him, we will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. He is the one who is love. He is the one who brings the gift of love and so God makes it possible for us to have his love in our hearts, to love the unlovable and the unlovely, the obnoxious. And certainly people need to be loved.

It doesn’t mean I have to go on vacation with everybody. I don’t have to have them all in my home around my table. But they need to know that I care for them and I am concerned for their situation, that I respect who they are, though they may be different from me in their faith and in their practice day by day, those of different religion, different lifestyles, from a different nation. We see that in the nation of America today we have those folks who have come from practically every nation of the world. We have to have a love for those people no matter who they are or from whence they have come. Nobody had to ask Jesus what does love mean here? Jesus showed them. He was the example of that great love.
Let’s look at that in context of the verses we read. Notice in chapter 13 of the gospel of John verse one.

Now before the feast of the passover, Jesus knowing that his hour was come that he should be departing out of this world unto the Father, that is, he knows the crucifixion is just a few hours away, and having loved his own in the world, he loved them unto the end. Here is selfless love, a love that takes him completely to the end, to endure whatever is necessary. The necessity of loving each other to the death.

I read just the other day of a couple who had been married over 70 years and both of them passed away on the very same day. Love for each other to the very end. Certainly a child who is sick, maybe even seriously sick, or a child who is developmentally disabled must be cared for by loving parents so long as there is the need.

When we were serving the Lord in Dallas, Texas we had a precious couple there who had a son who was in his 20s at that time and he was severely autistic and unable to function normally. They would love him to the end and they did. They brought him to church every time they came. They took care of him and loved him. I remember their example so very well. They had a selfless love.

And so Jesus has the same kind of love. But this selfless love now is exemplified in verse five. And what did Jesus do? He poured water into the basin and began to wash the disciples feet and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded. Can you imagine this? The Son of God, the creator of the heavens and the earth stooping to wash the feet of these stubborn, rebellious, sinful men. This was the work given to the very menial slave of that day. Not only did Jesus have a selfless love, but a serving love, stooping to serve even to the washing of feet.

I attended a service at a Mennonite church in our community just recently. There are a number of them who live around us. And I understand in their church they still practice this service of washing of feet. Well, I am not sure that Jesus gives this as an ordinance or a command that we are to always perform, but I think it certainly would be a humbling and life changing experience. Whether we believe that we ought to literally wash one    another’s feet, we know it teaches the necessity of a selfless, serving love.

Then the verses continue in verses six and seven. He came to Simon Peter. This is Jesus now coming to wash his feet. And he said, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” And Jesus answered and said, “What I do you do not now know, but you will understand it later.” Peter is under his tutelage, that of an unconditional love. You don’t have to understand it now, Peter. You just listen to what I say. You just allow me to do my work. You will understand this later on. This is not some iffy love. I will love you IF you do what I want you to do. I will love you IF you never make a mistake. I will love you IF you give or do or whatever suits me. Many problems there are in churches today due to a lack of this unconditional love. How many homes are broken? How many relationships between husbands and wives because of love that is not unconditional? I will stay with you if you do what I want you to do, if you will do my will, if you will follow me or whatever it might be. Or love for children that are abused, children that are not properly cared for by those parents who have been recipients of those precious lives. There is not the unconditional love of the Lord Jesus.


And so here is his love, a selfless love, a serving love, an unconditional love. And in verse eight. Peter said to him: You will never wash my feet. You can just imagine him saying that. We remember what a boisterous fellow he was. And Jesus said: If I do not wash your feet, you have no part with me.

It seems to me this verse destroys the idea: God, since you love me, regardless of that, I am going to do as I please, because you love me so much. And the more I sin, the more you are going to love me and the more your grace will be seen. This certainly destroys that. If you, Peter, are not willing to submit to me, you cannot enjoy my blessings. You cannot do as you please and serve God and please him and be Christ like. Rather Jesus is saying: I love you too much to let you get away with such as that. What tough love that is.

Our young people, our teenagers need that kind of tough love today to let them know what they need to do and must do. Just this morning as I went to my computer I learned of a young man 16 years of age who got drunk, piled a bunch of his friends in his pick up truck and driving erratically and entirely too fast, killed four people. Here was a young man who had never learned discipline, had never learned responsibility. And it is said that the judge did not give him any jail time because the young man… oh, it was so sad to read what they said. He was raised in a privileged life and he did not understand consequences from his actions. What a sad picture that is of the lack of proper love. The parents had given him everything but real love.

What about the young man that is away from the Lord, the young man who repents and returns to church, the one who gets off of drug addiction, the one who came to the Lord, but continued to live in an unmarried relationship with his girlfriend. Concerned Christians taught him the Word of God and told him he needed to clean up his act totally and he did. And today that young man and his wife are faithful servants of the Lord and they are happily married as children of God.

Our conclusion today is this. People see love, love like this. They don’t care much about programs or preaching. You have heard it said: I would rather see a sermon than hear one any day. Why do we withhold love? Fear. We are afraid we won’t be loved back. We might punish somebody by withholding love. Maybe it is anger that keeps us from loving or we never learned about that love very well because of the way we were raised.

Well, my friend, whatever your condition, Jesus can change all of that. Love must be visible and it must be audible among the people of God. It must be as it is described in the book of 1 Corinthians chapter 13. And we see there beginning in verse four: Love suffers long and is kind. Love envies not. Love vaunteth not itself. It is not puffed up, does not behave unseemly, does not seek its own, is not provoked, takes no account of evil, rejoices not in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth, bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. Where there is faith, hope and love, these three, but the greatest is love. And what greater love than that love of our Lord Jesus, responsible, unconditional, serving and selfless. It is the love he offers to you today by way of this radio broadcast.
Julius Hovan is minister of the Bohon Church of Christ, Bohon, KY.

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