In the thirteenth chapter of John’s Gospel, Jesus washed the feet of His disciples and then gave them a new commandment.
John 13:34-35 A new
commandment I give unto you, That you love one another; as I have loved you,
that you also love one another.
35 By this shall all men know that you are My disciples, if ye have love one to another.
The mark of discipleship is the love the disciples have for one another. And that mark is one way in which we will be able to recognize the disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ.
It is necessary to understand what this love is, how to receive it, and how to function in it. John, in his first epistle, says that God is love (I John 4:8,16). So when Jesus tells His disciples to love one another, He could just as easily tell them to "God one another." God is love. Therefore, to love someone is to minister God to them.
I John 4:19 We love Him, because He first loved us.
Christians will sometimes set their hearts and say, “I’m going to love. I’m going to be kind and thoughtful.” This usually fails, because the love God wants us to have for one another goes far beyond that. Loving one another is not something we can discipline ourselves to do. We have to appropriate it from Him. Human love is not sufficient to fulfill the commandment of the Lord.
So the apostle John tells us that we love Him because He first loved us. In other words, the Lord beams His love toward us, we receive it by faith, and we love Him back with the same love. This means we do not love the Lord with human love, but with the divine love we received from Him. It must be the same with one another. His love must flow through us. His love ministers. It is a love that brings freedom and liberty to serve the Lord. It is a love that creates the very nature of the Lord within us. It is a love that brings us into what He wants us to be. It ministers God to us, for He is love.
We must understand that we have the responsibility to love one another in a way that will create the results that God wants. In other words, we must know what our brother should be in the Lord. Once we have that revelation, then we must love him until he becomes that. So our love has a goal. It should bring forth a fulfillment.
Looking at verse 34 again, Jesus said, That you love one another, as I have loved you. How did the Lord love His disciples? The first verse of the chapter gives us the answer.
John 13:1 Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour was come that He should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them unto the end.
Notice that it says, “He loved them unto the end.” Now that doesn’t mean that He loved them only until His crucifixion, but He loved them unto the uttermost.
The Greek word translated here, as “the end” is telos. It means, “to set out for a definite point or goal.” Or, “the point aimed at as a limit.” It means “the conclusion of an act or a state.” In other words, when Jesus loved His disciples He had a goal in mind. He had a particular state of being He wanted for His disciples. He had a conclusion in mind.
Therefore He loved them until what He wanted to create within them was complete. His love brought them into something. And the love we’re to have for one another must also be a love that creates what God wants us to be. Consequently, there is a great responsibility that comes with this love.
If our love is lacking the divine nature of God, it is not the love God wants us to minister to one another. The love we receive from Him must be ministered in a way that imparts Christ to them. The most effective way to minister to anyone is to have a revelation of the Christ in them, and to minister to Him. Jesus points out this truth in His parable of the goats and sheep.
Matthew 25:31, 33 When the Son of man shall come in His glory, and all the holy angels
with Him, then shall He sit upon the throne of His glory:
33 And He shall set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left.
The sheep and goats have often been interpreted as Christians and non-Christians; the Christians on His right hand and the non-Christians on His left. Actually, the sheep and the goats are considered clean animals, both being acceptable in the sacrifices. Therefore, both of them represent Christians, only different types of Christians.
One difference between sheep and goats is that sheep do not seem to be aware of danger. They can easily be led to slaughter. Goats, on the other hand, seem to have an uncanny sense of danger and death. Any effort to lead a goat to slaughter, and you’ve got a fight on your hands.
A sheep-Christian, then, is one who does not recoil at the work of the cross. He willingly allows the Lord to bring death to his self-life in order that he may receive the life of Jesus. For Thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Romans 8:36. Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which life are always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. II Corinthians 4:10-11.
A goat-Christian, on the other hand, is one who accepts Jesus as Savior, but he recoils at the work of the cross. He calls Jesus Lord, but he doesn’t allow Him to be Lord over his life. He bucks and kicks at the smell of death and refuses to lose his life that he may find it (Matthew 16:25). There isn’t the willingness to deny self, to take up the cross, and follow Jesus (Matthew 16:24). Sadly, many Christians fall into that category.
Matthew 25:34-46 Then shall the King say unto them on His right hand, Come, you blessed
of My Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the
35 For I was hungry, and you gave Me meat: I was thirsty, and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger, and you took Me in:
36 Naked, and you clothed Me: I was sick, and you visited Me: I was in prison, and you came unto Me.
37 Then shall the righteous answer Him, saying, Lord, when saw we Thee hungry, and fed Thee? Or thirsty, and gave Thee drink?
38 When saw we Thee a stranger, and took Thee in? or naked , and clothed Thee?
39 Or when saw we Thee sick, or in prison, and came unto Thee?
40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily, I say unto you, inasmuch as you have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren, you have done it unto Me.
41 Then shall He say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from Me, you cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
42 For I was hungry, and you gave Me no meat: I was thirsty, and you gave Me no drink:
43 I was a stranger, and you took Me not in: naked, and you clothed Me not: sick, and in prison, and you visited Me not.
44 Then shall they also answer Him, saying, Lord, when saw we Thee hungry, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto Thee?
45 Then shall He answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, inasmuch as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to Me.
46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.
The only fault pointed out in this parable is the fact that the goats did not minister to Christ. They said, “When did we not minister unto Thee?” And Jesus said, “Inasmuch as you did it not to one of the least of these, ye did not unto Me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into life eternal.”
Christ is speaking practically the same thing in this parable as in the Gospel of John when He said, “That you love one another, as I have loved you.” It has to be a ministering love. Have you ever seen Christ in a brother, but the Christ in him had not been fed properly and was very weak? Then we must minister to him. We must “give him meat,” until the Christ in him is strengthened. Have you ever seen a brother, who was naked, not clothed in Christ as he should be? Then we must minister to him and clothe him in the Lord.
Yes, we should give food to the hungry and clothing to those in need, but the Lord is speaking of something here that is far more important than things on the natural realm. He is talking about a spiritual ministry. We must learn how to minister to the Christ in our brothers and sisters.
Are you able to discern Christ in your brethren? Do you minister to Him? Many do not. Just how important is it? Well, it was the only thing that the Lord judged those goat-Christians for. It wasn’t that they weren’t clean animals. It was simply because they didn’t minister to the Christ in their brethren.
We must realize our responsibility to minister the love of God. Why do we go to church each Sunday? Do we go to receive a blessing, something special from the Lord? That would seem to be a good reason. However, the proper motivation for going to church is not to receive a blessing, but to minister to the Lord. That means we should be givers. We must be a blessing to someone. At some time in our Christian life, there has to be a turning point – a place where we stop being receivers only and we become givers.
Our responsibility is to minister Christ. Yet how often do we go to church, sing a few hymns, listen to the deacons pray and the pastor preach, then go home and nothing was accomplished? We were goat-Christians. Being a disciple requires a revelation of our responsibility to minister the Lord in every situation.
A new commandment I give unto you, that you love one another; as I have loved you. How did the Lord love? He loved by giving of Himself. He loved His disciples by ministering to them, creating them into what He wanted them to be. The mark of a disciple is that he has learned how to love in the same way as the Lord.
Copyright © 2003 by Henry DuBose