In John’s gospel, Jesus identifies five unmistakable marks of being one of His disciples. We have already highlighted two of these in previous posts.
1. A disciple of Jesus abides in His Word
2. A disciple of Jesus surrenders to His Will
Today I want to deal with the third mark of being a disciple of Christ:
3. A disciple of Jesus loves as He loved
Notice what Jesus says in John 13:34, “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. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35 ESV)
Jesus commands His disciples to love one another in the same way that He loved. Notice what John says in his epistle.
“We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death.” (1 John 3:14 ESV)
A disciple is assured that he is an authentic Christ follower if he loves other believers. The word used here is agape. That word describes a sacrificial love that seeks other’s welfare. John clearly makes this evident in 1 John 4:7, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” (1 John 4: 7-11 ESV)
God is the One who takes the initiative to love sacrificially for our ultimate welfare. We are to imitate that kind of love.
Jesus also tells us that men can see the authenticity of our faith based upon our love for one another. In other words, those “on the outside” of the Church “looking in” can identify real Christ followers, depending on their love for one another!