Little children, yet a little while I am with you. Ye shall seek Me: and as I said unto the Jews, Whither I go, ye cannot come; so now I say to you.
A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.
By this shall all men know that ye are My disciples, if ye have love one to another.
Jesus is about to endure the most horrific hours of His life, yet His concern was not for Himself, but for His disciples. The words He spoke to them in this passage are full of His love for them, his concern for their loneliness for Him as they continue their earthly journey.
He addresses them, with great affection, as “Little children.” In doing so, He was not being patronizing or condescending. Rather, He was acknowledging that they still had some difficult paths to travel, and what they had learned from Him would continue to grow in their hearts into full maturity.
Then, He spoke to them of His imminent departure. In my own words, “I’ll be here with you for just a little while longer. After that, I will leave, and you cannot follow Me. So I want to tell you that you need to care for each other, and for others you will meet on your earthly journey. You need to love each other the way I have loved each of you. All other people will know you are My disciples by the way in which you love each other.”
It has always impressed me that, while facing hours of torment, Jesus’ concern was for His disciples. He wanted them to show each other the same love He had shown them. Instead of complaining about what He had to go through, he encouraged them to love each other, stand for each other, show the world around them what they had learned from Him, and be examples of Christian love.