KJV= King James Version
TEV= Today's English Version: Fourth Edition
American Bible Society; New York
The Lord's Table-Talk
"A new commandment I give unto you, That you love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one unto another" (John 13:34-35; KJV).
The disciples' last meal with Jesus in the upper room, before the crucifixion, had ended and Judas had left the group to betray his Master. Jesus, together with His eleven other disciples remained at the table, and began His final table-talk with them. His purpose in the talk was twofold: to prepare them for His departure and to encourage them.
"My children I shall not be with you much longer. You will look for me; but I tell you now what I told the Jewish authorities, 'You cannot go where I am going.' And now I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. If you have love for one another, then everyone will know that you are my disciples" (John 13:33-35; TEV).
Jesus also told them, "There are many rooms in my Father's house, and I am going to prepare a place for you . . . And after I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to myself, so that you will be where I am (John 14:2 - 4; TEV). He then puzzled His disciples by stating that they knew where he was going and also how get there.
This so perplexed Thomas that he exclaimed, "Lord we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way to get there?" (John 14:5; TEV)
Jesus responded, "I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one goes to the Father except by me" (John 14:6; TEV).
Before leaving the table, Jesus informed them, "I cannot talk with you much longer, because the ruler of this world is coming. He has no power over me, but the world must know that I love the Father; that is why I do everything as he [the Father] commands me. Come, let us leave this place (John 14:30-32; TEV).
The obedience of Jesus to His Father openly demonstrated His love for Him. Obedience to God should characterize all God's children, but sadly, such is not the case. At times Christians are like the little girl who threw her arms around her mother exclaiming "Oh, mommy, I love you so much I could die for you!"
To which her mother replied, "Now that's strange. I have a daughter who is
willing to die for me, but she didn't wash the dishes when I asked her to."
There is an immense gulf between love that emanates from a momentary emotion and love that is demonstrated as an act of our free will, especially when we know the love will cost us something. Most often there is no emotion involved with the latter kind of love. It is a disinterested love, freely given, sometimes at great cost to the giver. Such disinterested love for our fellow believers, flowing forth without reservation, marks those who are genuine followers of Christ.
It bears noting that Jesus did not designate the performance of mighty signs and wonders as the badge of discipleship; they can be counterfeited. Neither did the Lord authorize spiritual gifts as such a badge. As demonstrated by the Corinthian church, such gifts, exercised self-servingly and without being impelled by genuine love, amount to "no more than a noisy gong or a clanging bell" (1st Corinthians 13:1; TEV).
In 1st Corinthian 13, The Apostle Paul outlines what amounts to a negative formula regarding spiritual gifts.
Verse 1: "I may be able to speak the languages of men and even of angels, but if I have no love, my speech is no more than a noisy gong or a clanging bell" (TEV).
Negative Formula #1:
Tongues minus love = noise.
Verse 2: "Though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity [love,] I am nothing" (KJV).
Negative Formula #2:
Spiritual gifts minus love = personal insignificance.
Verse 3: "I may give away everything I have, and even give up my body to be burned - but if I have no love, this does me no good (TEV).
Negative Formula #3:
Philanthropy + martyrdom minus love = non-profitable.
In verses 4-8, the Apostle Paul next lists love's positive qualities:
Love is long-suffering. It endlessly endures all things.
Love is kind. It is benign, gracious and amicable.
Love is not envious. It never displays jealousy.
Love does not boast. It does not brag or parade itself.
Love in not puffed up. It is not arrogant, conceited or egotistical.
Love does not behave itself unseemly. It is not rude and ill-mannered.
Love is not self-seeking. It is unselfish; it does not insist upon its rights.
Love is not provoked or irritable. It does not grumble or complain.
Love does not think evil. It is happy with the truth.
Love does not rejoice in iniquity. It rejoices in good.
Love does not keep a record of wrongs.
Love is eternal.
Spiritual gifts shall pass away, but faith, hope and love abide eternally.
Ah... if we could all genuinely love one another, we would most certainly find that we'd be truly all walking in the will of the Most High. I pray this article reaches many, many. And I pray it moves hearts many times over. What a blessing to read!