About Love by David Mansfield (Grace Abounding Books)

If you want to learn from Jesus’ most sustained and intimate teaching to his disciples, read this book.

Dave Mansfield wrote About Life (2001) on the first half of John’s Gospel (1-12). The long-awaited sequel covers the second half of this magnificent book (13-21).

You do not need to read the first book to appreciate the second. It could have been called About Life Together, because so much it deals with how we follow Jesus as a community. I’m convinced more than ever that this is John’s intention.

David Mansfield is a pastor, an evangelist, a Sydney Anglican, an international Christian, a husband, a father, a friend, a disciple of Jesus Christ and a passionate and skilled storyteller. David draws deeply on his connections with South Africa, his previous work as CEO of Anglican Aid and his friendship with John Chapman, among others. 

Reading About Love is like going on a journey with Jesus, as well as a journey with David – who has seen the hardest things and sees relatable illustrations everywhere. he has walked and swum in the text of John’s Gospel for many years and, in this book, it is the person of Jesus who shines most brightly. 

There are parts of the book I just had to read out to my wife because they were so hysterically funny; other parts were transformational. The chapter on the vine, the insight about “the royal treatment” of being hated like Jesus and the chapter on real peace were spectacular. 

My favourite parts of About Love are the teaching in the upper room, the high-priestly prayer of Jesus and the final chapter of Jesus on the beach (John 13-17,21). There is even an appendix with poems, soliloquies and dramas that link to some of the chapters of John.  

One chapter begins: “I have never met a follower of Jesus who doesn’t want to make a mark for their master. Nor have I met a Christian who feels that they have done all that they could for their king or that their life has been as fruitful as it could be”.

The thesis of the book is that we are “loved by Jesus, the king of community” and that God calls us to be “loving like Jesus, in the community of the King”. 

At 451 pages About Love is a large book, but when you get into it there is energy and life in each page. 

I think this book could be read as a daily devotion. It goes for 40 days. That’s almost biblical, isn’t it? Designed for less juggling and more reading, the verses of John’s gospel from the NIV are printed on the facing page of every chapter.  

At my church we’re preaching on John 13-21 right now. David Mansfield came and spoke to some of our leaders about this part of God’s word, and we encouraged them to purchase a copy themselves.

David Mansfield is a storyteller and, unlike some of us, he is very good at it. As a fellow-sufferer of great tragedy, I also read David’s book as a kindred spirit. But let me re-emphasise the main reason to grab About Love. This part of Jesus’ ministry is so deep and profound. Jesus’ teaching of his disciples is like an even more intimate version of the Sermon on the Mount, taking place on the edge of the cross. Jesus calls us to love one another and to do so in a profound way, as he has loved us.


The Rev Andrew Barry serves with Christ’s people at Menai Anglican Church.