After explaining that He was the vine from which His followers gained strength enough to obey His commands, Jesus further explained that the evidence of a true disciple was that he was a fruit-bearing disciple. But what about those who came to every gathering in Jerusalem? What about those who watched the miracles of Jesus in Bethany and beyond? What about those who were the family members of Jesus? Jesus explained that all of these things could be true, but fruitless followers were not true disciples. The true disciples were the ones that obeyed the commandments of Jesus. (John 14:15)
The teaching of the delineation between true disciples and false disciples came on the night that one of the closest disciples to Jesus, Judas, would betray Him. Jesus was not oblivious to this, but instead, had been planning for the betrayal by Judas all along. Now, before the other disciples would learn of the treachery of Judas, Jesus explained that there was a distinction between true and false disciples.
What is the difference? Jesus explained that primarily, true disciples evidence their discipleship by bearing fruit. Jesus further explained that another major evidence of true discipleship is the relationship that the disciples have between each other. A true disciple loves the other disciples. There is no ill-will or defrauding, no, there is only love. A true follower of Jesus loves all other followers of Jesus.
I am certain that in a room with twelve people, there were strong personalities. I think of Peter and the boldness with which he often spoke. I recall the words of John and James, the sons of Thunder; Thomas with His impetuous questioning; and what about the disciples who never said anything? There were certainly differing personalities in the group, but difference was not reason enough, according to Jesus, for any of them to not love the others. Rather in spite of their diversity, they should love one another. According to Jesus, this is the mark of a true disciple, an unbridled compassion for all other disciples.
But why should we love all other believers this way? Didn’t Jesus know that there were going to be some difficult people who would become believers? Jesus gives two major reasons why we should unhinderingly love other followers of Jesus.
First, He chose them. If they had come to faith on their own, we could resent them sinfully wishing they had never become followers of Jesus. But according to Jesus, the only reason that they became followers of Jesus was the grace of God alone. How then can we pass judgment on those God has chosen to extend grace to? Second, not only did He choose them, but Jesus further explained that we should love others because He too loves them. If we are truly followers of Jesus, then we would seek to do everything that He does. We would speak as He speaks, work as He works, and love as He loves. He is our great example, and there is not one believer whom He does not love. Therefore, it is our pattern to extend love to everyone whom Jesus loves, regardless of our sinful disposition or past experience. The pattern of life for a true disciple is an unwavering love for all other disciples.
Food For Thought: What two reasons does Jesus give for why we should love the other followers of Jesus?