“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” – John 13:34
Have you ever really thought about that statement made by Jesus? Have you ever been confused by it? I have. What is so new about that command? Time and time again, not only in the life of Jesus, but even all throughout the Old Testament, we are told to love, love, and love. So what is so new?
All of a sudden, we actually see Jesus claiming to be the gold standard for love. Doing for others what one hoped others would do in return was so . . . old school. Jesus, in that statement, now took it a step further and commanded His followers to do unto others as He had done unto them. In other words, He raised the bar and explained a whole ‘nother kind of love.
To dive deeper, when modern day readers of the Bible (including ourselves) read, “as I have loved you,” the cross always comes to mind. That, however, was not the case for those whom Jesus made this statement to. They thought back over the previous three years of intimate relationship with the person of Jesus. Perhaps, each person in the room was transported back to a particular moment in time when Jesus had loved them particularly well.
Personally, I believe the importance of what Jesus says next cannot be overstated. As circumcision was the distinguishing mark for a man included in the Old Covenant, so this new command, the new “as I have loved” type of love, would be the mark of anyone who chose to participate in the New Covenant. Jesus says, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Andy Stanley writes of this passage, “[Jesus’] primary concern was not that they believe something, but that they do something. They were to love as He loved. The men gathered together that night had an inkling of what that may look like . . . three days later it became amazingly clear.”
“In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being the very nature of God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross!” Philippians 2:5-8
Jesus did not leverage his equality with God to stir us to action. He leveraged his love. Let’s do the same!
– Brandon Evans, ABC Alum and Campus Pastor at ChangePoint MatSu