Painting by Arthur John Elsley (1860-1952),
Painted in 1914,
Oil on canvas
© Alamy

Painting by Arthur John Elsley (1860-1952),
Painted in 1914,
Oil on canvas
© Alamy

Gospel of 20 May 2022

Love one another, as I have loved you

John 15:12-17

Jesus said to his disciples:

‘This is my commandment: love one another, as I have loved you.

A man can have no greater love than to lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends, if you do what I command you. I shall not call you servants any more, because a servant does not know his master’s business;

I call you friends, because I have made known to you everything I have learnt from my Father. You did not choose me: no, I chose you; and I commissioned you to go out and to bear fruit, fruit that will last; and then the Father will give you anything you ask him in my name. What I command you is to love one another.’

Reflection on the painting

When we look at some of the expressions we use regularly regarding our own human efforts, we say things like ‘there is no such thing as a free lunch’ or ‘you get in life what you deserve’ or ‘if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is’ or even ‘there’s no pain without gain’. All these expression convey the idea that if you work hard you will reap the rewards; success is entirely dependent on our own efforts. The problem with this line of thinking is when we apply it to God, we get into an almost transactionary relationship with God: if I do this for you, then surely you must reward me some way.

Jesus in our Gospel reading teaches us otherwise. Following on directly from yesterday’s reading where Jesus spoke of love and joy, today he talks about friendships. Friendships are important. Just as with our faith, friendships require effort. True friends share with one another, make time to see each other and make a point of spending time together. God has taken the initiative to befriend all of us. He has demonstrated his friendship for us by having sent his son into the world. So if want this friendship to blossom, we need to do our part and respond.

Our painting is a charming illustration of youthful friendships. The little dog, the badminton racket and the happy expression on the children’s faces illustrate the power of friendship. When only eleven years old, the painter, Arthur John Elsley, was turning out proficient animal studies made during frequent visits to the London Zoo in Regent's Park. At the age of fourteen, he enrolled in the South Kensington School of Art (later the Royal College of Art). Around this time his eyesight became permanently damaged by a bout of measles, but he continued painting these charming scenes, often featuring playful children… depicting the gift of friendship we all can give to each other.

Share this Gospel Reading

Did you like this Gospel reading and art reflection?

Join in the discussion about this artwork & Gospel reading

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Graham Barsby
Graham Barsby(@barsbee)
8 months ago

Lovely painting and great commentary. Thank you.

Patricia O'Brien
Patricia O'Brien(@marispiper)
8 months ago

I’d much rather see children playing like this, than clamped to a screen (even though I am ?)

Charles Marriott
Charles Marriott(@chazbo)
8 months ago

‘Love one another’. Just about the most widely quoted of Jesus’ exhortations and the most ignored I would think? Early morning musing…

Readings related to John 15:12-17

18 May 2020

John 15:26-16:4

You also are to testify

14 May 2021

John 15:9-17

You are my friends if you do what I command you

2 May 2021

John 15:1-8

I am the vine, you are the branches.

19 May 2022

John 15:9-11

I have told you this so that my own joy may be ...

Join our community

In addition to receiving our Daily Gospel Reading and Art Reflection, signing up for a free membership allows you to: 

The mission of Christian Art is to offer a daily Gospel Reading paired with a related work of art and a short reflection. Our goal is to help people grow closer to God through the magnificent pairing of art and the Christian faith.


Join over 40,000 people who receive our daily Gospel Reading and Art Reflection

Skip to content