Love is a component of the Christmas story. Jesus loved us so much that He was willing to come to earth as a baby, live a sinless life, and take the sins of the world upon Himself to pay the penalty of death for us. That is the epitome of love. Today we are focusing on love. Jesus commanded us to love. “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35 NASB 1995)
Jesus’ command to love one another as He loved us seems like something that would be so difficult for us. How many of us would be willing to go through what Jesus did for someone else? I’m not sure I’d be able to do that. I’m just being honest here. I don’t think I could endure all He did even though I loved those for whom I would be suffering. And yet, we are commanded to love others as He did. What does that mean? My first thought is, we are to love others as Christ loved us by putting others before ourselves. This can be done by showing loving-kindness to those who need someone to come alongside them and help them through whatever situation in which they find themselves. A prime example is Zacchaeus. (Luke 19:3-5) He was a tax collector, and like today, I’m sure there weren’t many who were too fond of him. But Jesus took notice of him, and spent time with him, eating a meal together, and offered His love to Zacchaeus, so much so that Zacchaeus repented, gave His life to Jesus, and paid back what he had stolen through overtaxing, even more than he owed.
Another avenue for us to love like Jesus is by service. This can be done in so many ways. What I find interesting is that we don’t hear much of this kind of love being shown until Thanksgiving and Christmas. However, we are to show our love in this manner all year long. Jesus’ example is shown in the Bible when He washed the disciples’ feet. He took a servant’s role and humbled Himself to wash the dirty feet of those who followed Him. (John 13:12-14) Peter took exception to have Jesus wash his feet, but Jesus explained to him that without fully surrendering to Christ, Peter wouldn’t be fully clean before God. Once Peter understood, in typical Peter fashion, He asked for a full bath! Jesus showed us through His example that we are to put ourselves in humble positions to show His love to others. We are to serve others rather than expect to be served.
This next area, I think, is the most important. We are to forgive. Just as Jesus forgave us of our sins, we are to forgive others when they do wrong toward us. As Jesus was hanging on the cross, in agony, dying for us, He prayed to God, the Father, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34a KJV) We are to extend that kind of forgiveness to others. We may find it difficult, but the forgiveness we give is not necessarily for the benefit of the other person, it is for us in that it frees our hearts from attitudes that could lead to sinning in our own lives.
Just as Jesus loves us to the full extent of His life, we are to endeavor to be like Him. We are not perfect like He is, but we are to love to the best of our ability, asking Him to help us love others. When we do this, it speaks volumes to those around us and shines the light of Jesus toward others.