Be Like Christ
Do you remember the Gatorade commercial that originally aired in 1992 featuring Michael Jordan? Michael was probably at the height of his career. He was unstoppable on the court. He and the Bulls had won two consecutive NBA titles and Michael had won two consecutive MVP awards. In the 1992-1993 season, the Bulls won their third consecutive NBA title and Michael won his third consecutive MVP award.
Gatorade capitalized on Michael Jordan’s fame and put together a marketing campaign that featured him. They even had a jingle written to go along with the commercial. Most of us, from that time, can at least remember part of it.
The lyrics go like this:
“Sometimes I dream
That he is me
You've got to see that's how I dream to be
I dream I move, I dream I groove
If I could Be Like Mike
Oh, if I could Be Like Mike
Be Like Mike, Be Like Mike
Again I try
Just need to fly
For just one day if I could
Be that way
I dream I move
I dream I groove
If I could Be Like Mike
I wanna be, I wanna be
Oh, if I could Be Like Mike.”
I don’t know if Gatorade’s sales went up or not. What I do remember is everyone wanting Air Jordan sneakers, his jersey, and posters of him.
What I was thinking about in 1992
Judy and I were already married
We graduated from college in May of 1992
I wasn’t thinking about being like Mike
In fact, I wasn’t even sure what I was going to do with the Business Management and Economics degrees I had
We were preparing to move to Florida, where Judy had gotten a Kindergarten teaching position with a Christian school
In August of 1992 I wasn’t thinking about anything except Hurricane Andrew
Being like my father
As I matured and grew I knew that God was calling me into pastoral ministry
When I finally submitted to that calling, I knew that I wanted to be like my father
He had pastored for many years at this point
I know the kind of godly man he is and the passion he has for preaching the Word of God
I have wanted to be like him for a long time
I’m still striving to be like him
Be like . . .
Perhaps there’s someone you want to be like
Maybe it’s a parent or grandparent
It could be a teacher, a friend, a friend’s parent, a pastor, a boss, an athlete, a musician, a movie star, etc.
When we want to be like someone, we do the same things they do, we say the same things they say, we act the same way they act
In the John 13:31-38 we see that Jesus gives His disciples a “new command,” about love. The command to love God and our neighbor wasn’t new, but the command to love like He loved was new. John wants us to understand that . . .
BIG IDEA – Being a Christ follower means loving like Christ.
GOD (John 13:31-38)
Lauding (vv. 31-32)
When he was gone
Review by reading John 13:26-30
John is speaking about after Judas left
We see then that Jesus has some important things to say to the remaining eleven disciples
Glorification of Jesus and God
In these two verses, John uses glorified three times
All three are in the aorist tense, which, in the Greek, normally refers to the past
God’s glory had already been revealed through Jesus
“Throughout Jesus’ life of perfect obedience, God has been honored. God’s power has also been made visible through the many signs of Jesus’ ministry . . . Jesus’ glory thus occurs when God’s glory radiates through him.” [Burge, The NIV Application Commentary, John, 375]
In verse 33, John uses glorify two times
These two uses are in the future tense
Since God has been glorified through Jesus’ life, God will glorify Jesus at once
The full glorification of Jesus has not yet taken place, because it’s still in the future
It’s not, however, an eschatological (end times) future, but rather, a very near future (within days)
Jesus is telling His disciples that through His death, burial, and resurrection, He and God will be glorified
This really sets the stage for Jesus’ next statement
Leaving (v. 33)
This reminds me of the beginning of John’s Gospel when he writes, Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. (John 1:12-13)
The Greek word for children means actual small children and not necessarily offspring [Michaels, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, The Gospel of John, 757]
Jewish teachers and Rabbis would affectionately address their students as children
It’s also important to remember the setting where Jesus is talking to His disciples
They have been celebrating the Passover Feast together
Within family units, the head of the family would address the entire family
As Jesus is talking with them, He is “fulfilling the paschal role of head of the family.” [Carson, The Pillar New Testament Commentary, The Gospel According to John, 483]
That is another important reason why He addresses them as “my children” or “dear children.”
Jesus’ next statement is self-explanatory for us
I will be with you only a little longer
PRINCIPLE #1 – Jesus is all-knowing (omniscient)
He knew what was about to happen
He knew that He would be crucified on a cross, buried, raise to life again, and ascend to the Father
It makes perfect sense to us, because we have the rest of the story – Jesus is going to be arrested that very evening, eventually falsely convicted, and then put to death
For the disciples this scene was unfolding right in front of them – they have no idea what’s coming
You will look for me and where I’m going, you cannot come
This is the third time that Jesus used the same words
The first two times He was talking to the Jewish religious leaders
John 7:33-34, Jesus said, “I am with you for only a short time, and then I go to the one who sent me. You will look for me, but you will not find me; and where I am, you cannot come.”
John 8:21, Once more Jesus said to them, “I am going away, and you will look for me, and you will die in your sin. Where I go, you cannot come.”
When Jesus is talking to the Jewish religious leaders, He is saying to them that when they are ready to look for Him, they won’t be able to find Him, because He has returned to the Father – they’ll have missed their opportunity to be with Him
The sad reality for the Jewish religious leaders is that they will die in their sin and be separated from God and Jesus for all eternity
When Jesus uses the same words, with His disciples, He’s not saying the same thing as He did to the Jewish religious leaders
They’re going to look for Him at the empty tomb, but not find Him there
They’re going look for Him in the clouds, after His ascension, but not find Him there either (although He will return in the same way the disciples saw Him leave)
They cannot come to the place where He is going
The first place He is going, where they cannot come, is to the cross
Jesus had to fulfill His purpose on earth by dying on a cross to take our punishment for sin
He was the only One who could fulfill that purpose, because He was perfect, without sin (the disciples were human and imperfect, so they couldn’t go to the cross with Him, to die for the sins of humanity)
All have sinned (Rom. 3:23)
1 John 1:8, 10, If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us . . . If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.
Just 5 of the 10 Commandments proves that we are all sinners (lie, steal, blaspheme, hate, lust)
James 2:10 – keeps the whole law, stumbles at just one, guilty of breaking all of it
Punishment for sin (Rom. 6:23)
God’s perfect plan (read Rom. 5:6-8)
1 Peter 3:18, For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit.
Romans 10:9-10, That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.
My Next Step Today Is To: Be saved by confessing with my mouth that “Jesus is Lord,” and believing in my heart that God raised him from the dead.
There was a second place that the disciples could not come to
The second place they could not come was to the Father – that would happen eventually, though
So, Jesus had some important things to do that the disciples could not help Him with
But, there was a new command that they could help Him with
Loving (vv. 34-35)
New command – love one another
You may be thinking, “Wait a minute, loving others isn’t a new command, it’s in the Old and New Testaments!”
Leviticus 19:18, ‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.’
Read Mathew 5:43-48
“Perhaps you read the story about a woman and her husband who came to a pastor and said, ‘We're going to get a divorce, but we want to come to make sure that you approve of it.’ There are people who come to the pastor hoping that when they say there is no feeling left in their marriage, the pastor will say, ‘Well, if there's no feeling left, then, the only thing you can do is split.’
Instead, the pastor says to the husband, ‘The Bible says you're to love your wife as Jesus Christ loved the church.’
He says, ‘Oh, I can't do that.’
The pastor says, ‘If you can't begin at that level, then begin on a lower level. You're supposed to love your neighbor as you love yourself. Can you at least love her as you would love a neighbor?’
The husband says, ‘No. That's still too high a level.’
The pastor says, ‘The Bible says, Love your enemies. Begin there.’
Erwin Lutzer, "Learning to Love," Preaching Today, Tape No. 99.
What made the command new, was that they were to love as Jesus had loved them
Perhaps the most recent act of love that Jesus demonstrated for the disciples was washing their feet, which He then instructed them to do for each other
This was an act of servitude
He had humbled Himself and encouraged them to do the same
The next act of love that Jesus would demonstrate for them would be dying on a cross for their sins
It was a selfless act
“This rule of self-sacrificial, self-giving, selfless love, a unique quality of love inspired by Jesus’ own love for the disciples, will serve as the foundational ethic for the new messianic community.” [Köstenberger, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, John, 423-24]
PRINCIPLE #2 – God is pleased when His people show Christ-like love for each other.
I have to admit that I have struggled with this in the past and sometimes still struggle with loving other Christians like Jesus loves them
When someone hurts us, it’s difficult to love them
When someone says unkind things about us, it’s difficult to love them
When someone falsely accuses us, it’s difficult to love them
When someone criticizes us and blames us for how things are going, it’s difficult to love them
When this happens within the church, it’s perhaps even more difficult
“The measure in which Christian people fail in love to each other is the measure in which the world does not believe in them, or their Christianity. It is the final test of discipleship, according to Jesus.” [Morgan cited by Gangel, Holman New Testament Commentary, John, 255]
All of us can probably think of someone in the church, who we don’t particularly love like Christ loves – we may not even like them, but we tolerate them
In fact, we may feel like we’ll never be able to love them like Christ does, because we want to be upset with them and hold a grudge against them, instead of letting those feelings go and loving like Christ
The truth is that we can’t love them correctly on our own
“Recently I was sent a picture of a jug into which water was being poured. The idea was that love, or whatever we need, is poured into us like that. I don't think of it so at all. I think of the love of God as a great river, pouring through us as the waters pour through our ravine in flood-time. Nothing can keep this love from pouring through us, except of course our own blocking of the water. Do you sometimes feel that you have got to the end of your love for someone who refuses and repulses you? Such a thought is folly, for one cannot come to the end of what one has not got. We have no store of love at all. We are not jugs, we are riverbeds.”
Amy Carmichael in Whispers of His Power. Christianity Today, Vol. 34, no. 14.
The capacity to love like Christ, doesn’t come from within us, it comes through us as we remove the barriers of anger, hatred, dislike, dissension, disunity, and bitterness
That’s when God’s love can be poured out through us to one another, meaning that we are being obedient to Jesus’ new command
Paul tells us what love looks like (Read 1 Cor. 13:4-7)
I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of not following this new command in my own heart and mind
God has been working on me over the past several weeks and especially this past week as I’ve been preparing this message
We all love each other, but at times, we are guilty of not loving like Christ loves us
Join me this morning is confessing to the Lord that we have allowed anger, hatred, dislike, dissension, disunity, and beitterness to block God’s love from flowing through us to one another
I’m going to kneel before the Lord this morning is complete and total submission to Him as I confess this before Him
I encourage you to do the same wherever you are this morning (if you can’t physically kneel, then kneel in your heart)
I’m committing today, with God’s help through His Holy Spirit, to strive to love every one of you with Christ-like love
I would appreciate your prayers as I endeavor to do this
One way that Judy and I express love is through hospitality, so don’t be surprised when we start contacting you and asking you to join us for a meal in our home (of course it will have to wait until we are able to gather together again)
Hopefully you’ll see other ways in which I am striving to love you like Christ loves me
Will you join me in making the same commitment?
My Next Step Today Is To: Be obedient to Jesus’ new command, by striving to love every one with Christ-like love.
Being a Christ follower means loving like Christ.
When we love each other, like Christ loves us, something amazing will happen
Known as disciples of Jesus
Those in our community will see that we are truly disciples of Jesus Christ
The transformation that takes place within us will be evident to those around us
We will see more and more people coming to Christ for salvation
We will experience revitalization as a church and revival within our communities
This is what we have been praying for
I wish we could stop the message here, but there’s one final point
Lying (vv. 36-38)
Simon Peter asks Jesus’ two questions
Where are you going?
Jesus doesn’t answer Peter directly
Jesus just restates what He already said
Peter can’t follow Him to the cross, now
Jesus goes on to say that Peter will follow Him later
We know from church history that Peter did follow Jesus to the cross
He would not let them crucify him in the same way they crucified Jesus, so he was hung upside down on a cross
Peter is still trying to understand what Jesus is saying, so he asks a follow-up question
Why can’t I follow you now?
It seems as though Peter may have understood that Jesus was talking about dying on a cross, when he says that he will lay down his life for Jesus
PRINCIPLE #3 – God knows the extent of our commitment to Him.
We see this in Jesus’ response to Peter’s bold statement
“Will you really lay down your life for me?”
How many times have we made bold statements to the Lord, especially in a time of trial or difficulty, only to break that commitment when things get better?
Pastors hear these kinds of statements frequently
“I really need to get back to church.”
“I’ll see you on Sunday.”
“We’re going to start coming to church again.”
Many times those statements are empty, because the person or family never comes
Perhaps we’ve all made statements to the Lord about spiritual disciplines
“Lord, I promise to read Your Word every day.”
“Lord, I going to spend ___ minutes in prayer each morning.”
“God, I’m going to begin tithing 10% to the church.”
“Lord, I’m going to sign up to volunteer at church this year.”
It’s tough to change our habits and routines – it takes an act of our will and self-discipline
When we make these statements, God already knows the extent of our commitment and whether or not we will truly follow through with them
My Next Step Today Is To: Only make commitments to the Lord that I am ready and willing to maintain.
Peter had good intentions and probably wanted to be as bold as his statement, but Jesus knew what was going to happen, even that night
Jesus predicts Peter’s denial
Jesus tells Peter that while his intentions are good, the reality is that he would disown Jesus three times before the rooster crows
We know the story because it’s recorded in all four Gospels (Matt. 26:69-75; Mark 14:66-72; Luke 22:54-65; John 18:25-27)
Jesus is arrested that very night in the Garden
The disciples all abandon Him and run away
Peter and John follow Jesus to the high priest’s home
As Peter is warming himself by the fire, he denies knowing Jesus, or being His disciple, three times
When faced with reality, Peter wasn’t really willing to lay down his life for Jesus, at least at this time
He eventually dies for the Gospel of Jesus Christ
Are you loving those in the body of Christ like Jesus loves you?
What changes do you need to make in order to love like Jesus does? [Be Like Christ]
How can you begin that process today?
Are you making commitments to the Lord that you are ready and willing to maintain?
This is a challenge to every one of us as followers of Jesus Christ
Being a Christ follower means loving like Christ
“Ever feel overwhelmed by the Bible's command to love unconditionally? When people ask me, ‘How can I ever start to love everyone like I should?’ I give the same answer I give those who ask how they can start jogging: Start slow, and then get slower! For the first week, the goal is ‘just to keep moving.’ Too many people buy new shoes and a fancy running suit and sprint out the door, eagerly chugging as hard as they can for about three blocks. Then their stomachs begin to ache, their muscles cramp, and their lungs burn. They wind up hitchhiking home exhausted, and gasp, ‘I will never do that again.’ That's called anaerobic (without oxygen) running. It's caused by a body using up more oxygen than it takes in. Many people try to run that way, and many people try to love that way. They love with great fervor and self-sacrifice, giving 100 percent but without the resources to continue for a lifetime. Down the road they find themselves in pain, gasping and cramped, saying, ‘I will never do that again.’ Love, like running, must be aerobic. Our output must be matched by our intake. Running requires oxygen. An enduring love requires God's word, his consolation, his presence. As we love aerobically, we'll build up our capacity to do more and more. And pretty soon we won't be huffing and puffing for half a mile; we'll be running marathons.
Roger Thompson, Leadership, Vol. 4, no. 1.
Where do you need to start loving today?