In what ways did Jesus love the disciples? Several answers could be given to this question. One way in which Jesus showed he loved his disciples was by enjoying their company. And one way in which his disciples love one another is by delighting to meet together. This aspect points to the importance of Christian fellowship. It is not surprising that Christian influence has decreased in our society when one of the missing practices of the church today is fellowship.
Another way in which Jesus expressed his love to his people was by forgiving them their sins, not only the sins that they committed before they became his disciples but also the sins of which they were guilty as his disciples. And forgiveness is an essential expression of Christian love: ‘And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you’ (Eph. 4:32).
Jesus also loved his disciples by interceding for them. An example of his intercession is found in John 17. And his followers display love for one another by continuing in prayer for one another. Such prayers are specific and persistent.
Serving his people was another way in which Jesus showed love for his disciples. Already in the upper room he had given a practical expression of it when he washed his disciples’ feet. Mutual service is also a way for believers to reveal love, as Paul mentions in Galatians 5:13: ‘For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.’
The love of Jesus brings to us an obligation to love: ‘By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers’ (1 John 3:16). But this type of Christian living brings to us a sense of assurance: ‘We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death’ (1 John 3:14). And this type of Christian living also affects those who are not Christians, because they will see something not seen anywhere else.