Verse of the Day Devotion: John 13:35
“By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” – John 13:35
Just as God is revealed to mankind by what He does, so are we as His people. This is the idea of our focus verse, “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:35. Look at what God did for us. He sent His only begotten Son to die a horrible death so that we can be forgiven. We could not have been redeemed in any other way. Paul puts it this way. “But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:22-23. And the death referred to here is what is called the ‘second death’. “But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” Revelation 21:8. Since we could never pay the penalty for our sins since it is impossible for us to be perfect. “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” Romans:3:23.
So, we see how God manifested His love for us. And it is only because He first loved us that we can ourselves love. “We love because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:19. In other words, the only reason we can truly love is because He gave His love to us. Another way to say this is found in I. Howard Marshall’s commentary on this verse where he says, “But the main instrument which God uses to bring us back to a true relationship of love is not fear of His judgement but the fact of His love. Our love for God is based on God’s prior love for us and is thus the response of gratitude. The more we realize how much God loved us, the more we realize our obligation to love Him in return.” Then, looking at the next two verses we read the result of our loving God. “If someone 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 love his brother also.” 1 John 4:20-21. The sense here is that no man, whoever they are or whatever they do, can have any true love of God if he does not love his brethren. By brethren, I believe John is speaking of fellow Christians along with all others who are yet to give their lives to Christ. And he completes this thought with the following truth, that if we love God, we should love everyone else.
So, back to our focus verse, when we love one another fervently with a pure heart, then it shall fully appear that we are truly His disciples, especially if it leads to death. “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13. The greatest love we can have is the same type of love Christ had for us; having the willingness to give our life for another, just as Christ did for all mankind of all time periods both future and past. Our lives are the most valuable thing we have, and therefore shows the deepest and truest form of love. This is the type that Christ exhibited to His disciples, that we would be willing to and actually did do the same. Not that we will, but that we would if called for. If this is the type of love we exhibit, then people will see us and the reality of our love. And many times, this may be what strengthens the faith of our fellow Christians and opens the hearts of those who currently do not believe. Tertullian, a Christian theologian and apologist in the second century, who taught primarily to gentiles, shows this by stating what some of those who heard him said, “See, said they, how they love one another, and are ready to lay down their lives for each other.” This is just one example of how many Christians have been seen in the same way. Let us focus on how we can show the world this kind of love to God and our fellow man.
William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.