John 13:34-35 – The New Commandment
By Blesson Selvanesan
34 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. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (ESV)
Religious people live by their rules and regulations. Religious Jews lived in accordance to the Mosaic law and many other laws and regulations that were passed down as traditions, during the time of Jesus. Even though many did not understand the spirit of these laws, they blindly followed them to an extent that it became a handicap, and many fell short. Those who were able to, at least outwardly, became very legalistic and judgmental towards others.
Although the Ten commandments were followed, its spirit was lost. Jesus reduced the Ten commandment into a single new commandment and gave it to his disciples and told them to love one another. He told them to show ‘Agape’ love, which is the ultimate form of sacrificial love. This is very significant as Jesus told this just the night before he was to be crucified. In a sense, this was like his parting advice to his disciples.
Jesus led by example. He told his folks to love one another just as he loved them. Or, love one another with a divine self-sacrificial love, the agape love. Jesus reduced the Ten commandments to two in Matthew by stating, “Love the Lord and Love thy neighbor”, then he further reduced it to one. “Love one another!” Every other teaching by Christ hinges on this one attribute of God, which is Love! God is Love. Paul states that the greatest of all virtues is love, as true agape love never fails. Even worship is a form of intense love.
Interestingly, love is the most confusing and abused word. It is understandable how the enemy will manipulate the word for his own purposes. True love as Jesus personified is the highest of all virtue and we are commanded to emulate Him. He says that the expression of this love is the hallmark of his disciples. All eleven of his immediate circle loved him with enough intensity to suffer and die for him. Although they had failures, they persevered to love in the face of hatred. How are we doing?
It is hard to love. Do we take time to follow this command of Jesus? Do we have that sacrificial love in us? If we don’t, its time to introspect and ask God to pour His love into us so that we can pour love to others. Jesus did not just love his friends, but even his enemies. Where do we stand?
Our testimony hinges on our ability to share this love. Love demands action and sacrifice, are we willing? Forgiveness is a powerful form of love, do we forgive? Are we willing to give up and forgive? Let’s love God and fellow men and women with the pure agape love that Christ had. Let the world know who we are by our love for one another and for all creation. Let’s follow God by loving one another.
Heavenly Father, help us to be like you. Help us to love one another just as you showed us and commanded us to do. We fail miserably everyday but help us to learn from you. You showed us that ‘agape’ love so that we can show to one another. Help us to be gentle, kind, merciful and loving to all around us today. Let me show your love today. In Jesus’ Name. Amen