"This is my command: Love each other." (John 15:17)

Why is Jesus telling them this?

Jesus states this to his closest disciples in the midst of his instructions to them after the last supper.

The Greek word ἀλλήλων (allēlōn) is being translated here to "each other," but its meaning according to the lexicon is "one another, reciprocally, mutually."

This means that Jesus was specifically asking his disciples to care for and love each other. Why is this important within his lecture at that moment?

Because of the tendency of people in the physical world to squabble with each other. Even among followers, we sometimes find competition and hassling when it comes to who is in charge and who is the better follower. Jesus was trying to prevent his followers from fighting with each other and competing for power and authority.

What does love mean?

Is "I love you" between couples or family members like a marker? Are we obligated to say, "I love you" every time we leave or return to the house? Do we have to end every call with our family members with "I love you"? Is that what love is?

That kind of "love" is not real love. It is conditional. A person who is saying "I love you" in order to put down a marker in the relationship is expecting something in return. That person may be offering their words as long as they are returned, but those same words will be withdrawn if not returned.

What if, for example, we said "I love you" in all those situations to our spouse or family members and they never said it back to us? Would we feel a little cheated? Would we feel that they weren't returning our love? If so, that love we expressed wasn't real love. It was conditional. 

The love Jesus spoke of - ἀγαπάω (agapaō) - is not a marker or currency of exchange. It is not something to be traded or swapped to establish fairness.

Jesus is speaking of a love that only comes from a place of real love: the Supreme Being.

Real love can only be connected with the Supreme Being. Why? Because real love is a spiritual emotion. It does not come from the mind. It comes from the spirit-person. And the spiritual person is of the spiritual realm - separate from the physical body and the physical realm.

The spiritual person is connected with the Supreme Being. The spiritual person cannot exist without their relationship with the Supreme Being. The spiritual person may be a separate entity, but the spiritual person must have and embrace their relationship with the Supreme Person in order to embrace their own identity.

We might compare this to a baby. The baby cannot survive alone. The baby must be taken care of by the mother and father - or someone in those roles. The baby can't just go out and harvest their own food and build a house. A baby is by nature dependent.

Are we all dependent?

Each of us - our spiritual self or soul - is also dependent. But we are dependent upon the Supreme Being, and we are dependent upon love. We cannot exist without love. We might feel independent from God now as we falsely identify ourselves with these temporary physical bodies - but these bodies are not ourselves. They are temporary shells. They are like our cars. We have sat down in the car of this body and we are driving it around for a while.

And even though we might feel independent in these bodies, they are each dependent as well. They are dependent upon the environment around them. Our bodies are dependent upon food, water, air and so on. If they are not taken care of, they will die. Therefore, these bodies are not independent.

Our true self is also not independent. But instead of needing physical food, water and air, our true self is dependent upon love. We each need love.

This is why each of us is constantly seeking love as we travel through these lifetimes. We seek love in the form of the approval of others. We seek love in the form of our family relationships. We seek love as we execute our jobs, our hobbies, our sports, our activities. This is why so many seek fame. We so badly want others to love us because this is what our spiritual selves need to survive.

But the love of other people in this physical world is typically conditional. As long as we "love" them back they express their so-called love for us. Or as long as we do our job. Or as long as we excel in the activity they appreciate. All these forms of love do not satisfy us because they are conditional, and this is why we continue to seek love even though we may have people in our lives who say they love us.

Even famous movie stars or rock stars - who are constantly surrounded by people who say they love them - continue to look for real love. They are looking for authentic love. So they find a mate and marry them, thinking this is real love. Then they find out later that this love was also conditional - and the relationship ends up in divorce, only to have that previous spouse who announced their "love" now announce they hate the ex.

Why do we all look for unconditional love?

We seek unconditional love from others, but we rarely find it, because this type of love comes from the Supreme Being - our Best Friend and Companion. Though we continue to ignore Him, the Supreme Being loves us regardless of who we are or where we've been. The Supreme Being loves us regardless of whether we love Him back or even if we ignore Him or deny His existence. He loves and cares for us regardless of whether we do "good" things or "bad" things.

And it is only when we are embracing His unconditional love, and living within that relationship of love, do we have the ability to reflect that love onto others. The only way we can really love others is when we don't need them to love us back. The only way we can really love others is when we don't need their approval. The only way we can really love others is when we are fulfilled by the Supreme Being's love for us.

This is why Jesus connected loving others with loving the Supreme Being. His connective statement has been translated to "like unto that" or "like it" among the different versions of the New Testament:
"'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'" (Matt. 22:37-38)
The operator in Greek is ὅμοιος (homoios), which means "like, similar, resembling" according to the lexicon. This means that loving others is connected to loving the Supreme Being. Loving others is reflecting that love for the Supreme Being.

A person who loves the Supreme Being will automatically love others because loving God means knowing who God is, and knowing who God means knowing how much He loves us all, and each of us is dependent upon Him. Each of us is His children, and He loves each of us. So to love the Supreme Being yet not love His children would be impossible. The two are inseparable because of the unconditional love the Supreme Being has for each of us.

This is the kind of love that Jesus wanted his disciples to have for each other. He wanted them to embrace each other within their relationship with him the Supreme Being.

Jesus may have been speaking directly to his disciples, but we can all apply this instruction. We can see each other not as members of different religious groups, different races or different countries. We can see each other as brothers and sisters - all loved unconditionally by our Best Friend and Eternal Companion, the Supreme Being.