A Command of Love
John 13:34 I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.
This new commandment is given to the disciples in the midst of the last supper. Jesus has demonstrated his love for his disciples at the beginning of the evening by washing their feet. This becomes a new commandment because the love is initiated on the part of Jesus Christ. It is the fulfillment of the old command to love the Lord and your neighbor. Jesus reached out in love to his disciples, humbling himself before them so that they could experience his love in action. As this love flow from Jesus, so it flows into his disciples, those who have been adopted into the family of God. From that incredible love flows a love for one another. It is a mutual love which is demonstrated in service to one another and to the world. The command is to love, and that loves comes from the wellspring of holy love found by fellowshipping with God.
The act of foot washing becomes the sign of Jesus’ love for his disciples and now, they must struggle with following in his footsteps. It was very contrary to their human nature, for that very evening none of them had wanted to wash feet, and by now Judas had left the room with his devious plans. Jesus knew that he was asking them to do something radical and against their natural instincts. We are also asked to go beyond our natural instincts and to be drawn into fellowship with God where we can experience holy love. This is a love that will transcend all that divides us in this world and that is why Jesus brought it to them as a new command.
Throughout life there will be plenty of things on which God’s people may not agree. However, it’s in the disagreeing that we must learn to reflect love found in Christ. There is nothing that our enemy would like more than to divide the people of God and then cheer them on to throw stones at one another. How all the more powerful will people of the kingdom be when they are bound together by the holy love found in Christ! We must be wholeheartedly committed to loving Jesus, abiding in his presence, and serving his kingdom. Living out the passions and desires found in the heart of God are counter-cultural in most ways. God’s passions are not found in party lines, but in kingdom service. Suddenly we find ourselves following the example of Jesus, humbling ourselves in service to others and reflecting Christ’s love to our sisters and brothers, and to the world.
This was a new commandment because it was not to come from simple devotion to God, but in response to Jesus’ love. The love of Jesus is compelling us today to draw nearer to him, which will result in a deep love for one another.
Lord, thank you for the way in which you love us. Please, help me to live in and share that love. Amen.