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. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (Joh 13:34-35 ESV)
These are the words of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. He says that the way that you know Christians is by their love. And he tells us that we are to love as we have been loved by him.
This is seen in evidence throughout history. The article Christians Stood Out In Early Christianity For Their Love To All During Terrifying Epidemics While Others Fled points out that Julian wrote to the high priest of Galatia that others needed to be like the Christians who were known for their love and care of people. He cites this care as primary to the cause of the rise of Christianity.
Today Christians do continue to love and give in many ways from running soup kitchens and shelters to working on housing for the poor to working in clinics to aid the sick among us. And as individuals when we see someone in need and feel the conviction of the spirit we give to that person.
The basic law of Christianity, the first and greatest commandment is to love God
But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Mat 22:34-40 ESV)
These verses go on to say that the second greatest law is like the first: Love your neighbor as yourself. Our life is all about the love of God, loving God and others with that same love.
The title of this article starts with “agape” because there are four words for love in the English Bible but the subject of this article is agape love, also defined as the love of God. Look for another article to further expound on the different words translated love in the bible but briefly the others are phileo love or friendship, eros love or romantic – sexual love, and storge – familial love or affection. But back to the love of God – agape ( a-GOP-?).
Jesus lived that love on earth. The Gospels are full of examples of the love of God manifested by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Everywhere he went Jesus reached out and touched people. He healed people from diseases.
That evening they brought to him many who were oppressed by demons, and he cast out the spirits with a word and healed all who were sick. (Mat 8:16 ESV)
Jesus, aware of this, withdrew from there. And many followed him, and he healed them all (Mat 12:15 ESV)
Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a desolate place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick. (Mat 14:13-14 ESV)
In that last verse, Jesus was mourning the death of John the Baptist. He just wanted to be alone. But the crowd heard where he was, and walked on foot to find him. In spite of his grief, when Jesus saw the crowd he had compassion on them, and he healed the sick among them. What love!
Because of the love of God in Jesus multitudes were miraculously fed. The continuation of the verses above show just such a miracle:
Now when it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a desolate place, and the day is now over; send the crowds away to go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” But Jesus said, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” They said to him, “We have only five loaves here and two fish.” And he said, “Bring them here to me.” Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass, and taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing. Then he broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces left over. And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children. (Mat 14:15-21 ESV)
Another record of miraculous feeding illustrates the same thing.
Then Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion on the crowd because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. And I am unwilling to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way.” And the disciples said to him, “Where are we to get enough bread in such a desolate place to feed so great a crowd?” And Jesus said to them, “How many loaves do you have?” They said, “Seven, and a few small fish.” And directing the crowd to sit down on the ground, he took the seven loaves and the fish, and having given thanks he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up seven baskets full of the broken pieces left over. Those who ate were four thousand men, besides women and children. (Mat 15:32-38 ESV)
These were not mere displays of power, rather they were acts of love! This is the love of God to his people.
He healed the man born blind, something that had never been done.
As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” Having said these things, he spit on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man’s eyes with the mud and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing. (Joh 9:1-7 ESV)
He raised people from the dead.
Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.” When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.” (Joh 11:38-44 ESV)
And not only did Jesus do these things he loved and inspired people to be far greater than they thought possible.
And more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women, so that they even carried out the sick into the streets and laid them on cots and mats, that as Peter came by at least his shadow might fall on some of them. The people also gathered from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing the sick and those afflicted with unclean spirits, and they were all healed. (Act 5:14-16 ESV)
And God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, so that even handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were carried away to the sick, and their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them. (Act 19:11-12 ESV)
Our Lord Jesus told us that are defining mark is our love for God and for one for another.
By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (Joh 13:35 ESV)
Jesus told us how we love will be the main factor in him recognizing us eternally.
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” (Mat 7:21-27 ESV)
“Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. The one who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and the one who receives a righteous person because he is a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.” (Mat 10:40-42 ESV)
Love, people, Love, with the love of God.