"This is what I order you to do: Love one another as I have loved you." John 15:12
Jesus had so much focus on loving people, it's no surprise that He kept drilling it into his disciples. It was and still is such an important thing. He told us that the second greatest commandment was to love our neighbor as ourselves, but He is not just reiterating that again. He was reminding them of how much He loved them, and that they needed to follow his example.
I know that it is obvious, but then He goes on to say this...
"There is no greater love than to lay down one's life for one's friends." John 15:13
He has told them before that He was going to lay down His life, but this gives the disciples another glimpse into the mindset of their Master. He was showing them how much he loved them - that there couldn't be anyone who loved them more. That is a powerful image. I mean, Jesus wasn't the first one to die to save another person's life. Surely, there were thousands before Him.
But the thing that is astounding is this: He died for us all. For all of us - for me, for you. That's amazing. Sometimes, we have a hard time realizing this. I mean, we know that he died for us, but I was always taught that there was to be a degree of separation between leaders and the people that they lead. That they aren't supposed to be friends. Jesus throws out an entire principle of leadership.
"You're My friends if you do what I order you to do." John 15:14
Images of bossy girls from my elementary and high school years pop into my mind, but that's a little unfair. This is something that we have all done. How many times have we told someone how to do something, only to be ignored. Don't you get frustrated when a person has something bad happen to them, something that could have been avoided if they had just listened to you? Can you imagine how often we frustrate Jesus? I mean, He gave us a manual on how to live, and how often does it sit, unused, on a shelf?
But Jesus isn't like that girl on the playground years ago. He doesn't walk away from His friendship with us when we don't listen to Him. He gives us chance after chance after chance.
"I don't call you servants anymore, because a servants doesn't know what his master is doing. But I have called you friends because I've told you everything I heard from My Father." John 15:15
Jesus still wants to be our Friend. Regardless of whatever you have heard or experienced in the world, here is a Leader that loves us. That gave His life for us. That wants to be our Friend, despite our failings. He doesn't want to keep us in the dark, He tells us what is going to happen. He shows us in the Bible, and the Holy Spirit talks to us, if we listen.
He is so much better then any other leader that we have ever had to follow. And He wants us to follow Him! Now, I have been placed in a position of leadership in my job. There are some of the people under my authority that I wished weren't. Needy, uncooperative, disobedient... Sound familiar? It's a good thing that Jesus is Lord, not any one of us. Despite all the issues we have, will have, and will create, He still came for us.
"You didn't choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that doesn't pass away and to have the Father give you anything you ask Him in my name. This is what I order you to do: Love one another." John 15:16-17