John 15:17 These things I command you, so that you may love one another.
What we are reading here in John 15, is a continuation of the dialogue that began in John 13, in the upper room at the last supper. Yeshua is speaking the truth urgently, because He is well aware that time is short. He has already dispatched Judas to do his evil. Very soon, Judas will appear with the soldiers and officers from the High Priest’s guard to arrest Yeshua. (But not until chapter 18.) After He is arrested, Yeshua will no longer be able to speak to His disciples. So for now, He persists in teaching, even all night long.
Our subject verse is a bit of a pause. Yeshua is explaining Himself. He mentions the “things” He has commanded us. Let’s study the context to better understand what are the “things” to which He is referring. John 15:12 This is My commandment, that you love one another just as I have loved you.
I want to bring forward a thought and see if you agree. “We cannot love God outside of community.” Clearly, Scripture teaches us we must love God. And God teaches us in order to love Him, we have to love people.
1 John 4:20-21 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar. For the one who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him: that the one who loves God should also love his brother.
So then, let me form that statement into a question, “Can we love people outside of community?” The term “community” is really a shortened version of the term “covenant community.” When we throw in that term “covenant,” it makes so much more sense. Loving outside of covenant is adultery. (I spoke that very thing in a sermon once. It got me in trouble with some of the people who were listening, but I stand by it. Apparently, they didn’t like being called adulterers. Are you offended? Ask yourself why.)
Everything in Yeshua’s kingdom has a purpose, and that purpose is to give Him glory. John 13:34-35 I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, so also you must love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. I like to call it, “Playing nice in the sandbox together.” When we do, God receives the glory and we are known as His disciples.
Think about the shalom described here … Isaiah 11:6 The wolf will dwell with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the kid, the calf and the young lion and the yearling together, and a little child will lead them. When the people of God, in covenant community, have loving fellowship, and hatred and bigotry are done away between Messianics and Arabs, Jews and Christians, Whites and Blacks, and so much more, that will be Yeshua’s testimony to the whole world. It will be the fulfillment of Isaiah 11.
We have received God’s commandments for a purpose, and that purpose is not to make you holy, as many believe, but to make us suitable vessels, (conduits) so that His love will be manifest to the whole world. Let me explain a little further. Holiness is not an end it itself, but a necessary step in manifesting God’s love. May God’s purposes be fulfilled in you and me. [...]