This is my commandment, That you love one another, as I have loved you.…
Human friendship is both beautiful to perceive and precious to enjoy. If affection and sympathy were thrust out of life, and if interest alone bound men together, how uninteresting and dismal would this world of humanity become! Every instance of friendship has its charm. The young, who share their pursuits and confidences; the middle-aged, who are guided by the same tastes, or principles, or occupations; the old, who interchange their recollections of bygone years; - all furnish examples of the power and the beauty of friendship even amongst faulty and imperfect beings. Who is not grateful for friends? Who would be without them? Who has not found friendship a charm, a stimulus, a power, in life? But whether earthly friends are few or many, faithful or unkind, there is a Divine, a heavenly Friend, whose love is declared to us by his own language, and proved by his own acts and sufferings. Christ deigns to call his disciples friends!
I. CHRIST'S FRIENDSHIP TOWARDS HIS PEOPLE IS A WONDERFUL FACT, DECLARED BY HIMSELF. The wonder is apparent when we consider who we are; when we reflect that we are poor, sinful, and helpless beings, who could not, apart from his assurances, venture to claim or to hope for the friendship of Christ. For who is he? Jesus is not merely the best of beings; he is the Son of God. It is hard for us to realize that "God is Love." But in the Person of Christ the eternal and supreme Lord comes down to our level, walks our way, dwells on our earth, reveals to us his love. He is the friend, the Well-wisher, of sinners; he is the Friend, in a fuller sense, of those who know and love him. If this is a wonderful truth, it is also a delightful truth.
II. CHRIST'S FRIENDSHIP IS PROVED BY HIS INTIMACY AND HIS CONVERSATIONS. Men's talk with one another often indicates their relationship. There is conversation which is ordinary and casual, and there is conversation which is confidential and intimate. There is the speech of acquaintances, upon common subjects; there is the speech of the master to the servant, conveying orders; there is the speech which is distinctive of close and affectionate friendship, upon matters of personal interest and concern. Now, the intimacy between the Divine Father and the Divine Son is of the most confidential and unreserved nature. The Son is "in the bosom" of the Father, i.e. is in possession of the counsels and feelings of his mind; he is "one" with the Father. it is very observable that, according to our Lord's own declaration, he, having perfect knowledge of the Father's thoughts, communicates those thoughts to his people. As the Father has no secrets from the Son, so the Son has no secrets from his disciples. This is a conclusive proof of our Lord's friendship for us. He makes known to us "all things" which the Father purposes that bear upon our salvation and eternal life. This accounts for the unexampled power of our Lord's language, its sublimity, its tenderness, fits authority. The words of the Redeemer are the communications of his friendship, the tokens of his brotherly love. To the unspiritual and unsympathetic, Christ's words are now, as they were when they were first spoken, uninteresting and without value. But the true friends of Jesus feel their sweetness and their might; applied by the Spirit of God, they are the lessons, the counsels, the promises, of a Divine and faithful Friend. How could he better prove his friendship than by revealing to us in his words the thoughts and the purposes of the Father's heart? There is one way even more effective, and this our Lord describes.
III. CHRIST'S FRIENDSHIP IS FURTHER PROVED BY HIS SELF-SACRIFICING BENEVOLENCE. Self-denial is a recognized element in true love and friendship. Men are found willing to give up money, time, rank, etc., for the benefit of their friends. But it is the highest proof of love when one is found ready to resign life to secure the life of a friend. "Peradventure for a good man one would even dare to die." This is the proof of self-sacrificing friendship which the Lord Jesus was resolved to give. He laid down his life for the sheep. "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." Jesus not only gave us knowledge by his teaching; he gave us salvation by his death. This willing sacrifice was in order to win our hearts, to make us his friends indeed, to bring to bear upon our nature a spiritual, principle and power, to bind us to himself for ever by the chains of gratitude and devotion.
IV. CHRIST'S FRIENDSHIP IS PROVED BY HIS WHOLE DEMEANOR AND HIS WHOLE TREATMENT OF US NOW THAT HE HAS ASCENDED. In his ministry he taught us, by his death he saved us, in his mediatorial life he blesses us. He is a sympathizing Friend, touched with a feeling of our infirmities. He is a forbearing and patient Friend, who is not repelled by the imperfect response he meets with on our part. He is a practical and helpful Friend, who expresses his friendship in deeds and spiritual ministrations. He is an unchanging and eternal Friend. "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?" - T.
Parallel VersesKJV: This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.
WEB: "This is my commandment, that you love one another, even as I have loved you.