This was a new commandment in that the love was not because they all belonged to the same nation or all looked like each other, but because they belonged to Christ. This love was to be the expression of the love of Christ, which the disciples had seen in His life and would see also in death.
Jesus Christ came to earth as the supreme expression of God’s love for humankind.
John 3:16 ESV "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
Jesus condensed and concentrated all of the real requirements of God into one great requirement —love.
Matthew 22:34-40 ESV But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?" And he said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets."
Matthew 5:43-45 ESV "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
What kind of love is He talking about?
There are three major kinds of love identified by three Greek words; eros, phileo, and agape.
We are most familiar with eros love, or romantic love.
As its name indicates, eros is passionate or sexual love (eros is the source of the English word erotic). While eros is important within a marriage relationship and is created by God, it can also be abused. God created our sexuality which makes it a good thing, but we need to recognize that Jesus was commanding something other than this particular form of love.
The second major kind of love is phileo the Greek word for friendship love.
Philio refers to brotherly love and is most often exhibited in a close friendship. Best friends will display this generous and affectionate love for each other as each seeks to make the other happy.
The third major kind of love is agape. Agape is a self-denying love.
Agape is the most powerful, noblest type of love: sacrificial love. Agape love is more than a feeling—it is an act of the will. This is the kind of love that can be commanded and controlled or directed by the mind and will of the person who chooses to love.
This is the love that God has for His people and that prompted the sacrifice of His only Son, Jesus, for our sins.
Since phileo love involves feelings of warmth and affection toward another person, we do not have phileo love toward our enemies. However, God commands us to have agape love toward everyone. This includes those whose personalities clash with ours, those who hurt us and treat us badly, and even those who are hostile toward our faith. In time, as we follow God’s example of agape love for our enemies, we may even begin to experience phileo love for some of them as we start to see them through God’s eyes
This is the kind of love that Jesus said that His disciples should have.
Agape love is never an accident, nor is it automatic. It is made possible by the love of God revealed in Jesus Christ for each of us. As God’s gift to us, love is the first fruit of the Spirit in the hearts of believers. It grows to maturity as we nourish it.
Love Is a Choice
By Rick Warren
Too many people have bought into the myth that love is uncontrollable, that it’s something that just happens to us. In fact, even the language we use implies the uncontrollability of love. We say, “I fell in love,” as if love were some kind of a ditch. I’m walking along one day and—bam!—I fell in love. I couldn’t help myself.
But here’s the truth: That’s not love. Love doesn’t just happen to you. Love is a choice, and it represents a commitment.
There’s no doubt that attraction is uncontrollable and arousal is uncontrollable. But attraction and arousal are not love. They can lead to love, but they are not love. Love is a choice.
You must choose to love God; he won’t force you to love him.
You can thumb your nose at God and go a totally different way. You can destroy your life if you choose to do that. God still won’t force you to love him, because he knows love can’t be forced.
Deuteronomy 30:19-20 ESV I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days, that you may dwell in the land that the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them."
This same principle is true about your relationships: You can choose to love others, but God won’t force you to love anyone.