Scripture Reading: John 13:31-35
“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. By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35)
I have struggled to understand why Jesus called loving one another “a new commandment.” Certainly the Mosaic law clearly taught that we are to love God with all our strength and we are to love our neighbor as we love ourselves (Leviticus 19:18; Mark 12:28-33). So what makes Jesus’ instruction to love others new?
The answer lies in Jesus’ own love and teachings about love. What Jesus says about love deepens and transforms the Old Testament’s commands about love. The key is in Jesus’ words, “just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” We are to love others just as Jesus loves us!
Jesus’ love for us is unconditional and sacrificial. He loves us in spite of all our failures, all our unfaithfulness, and all our sinfulness. His love is not conditioned on anything we do or do not do. He simply loves us regardless. And He loves us sacrificially: “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lays down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). Jesus loves us so much that He took our rightful place on the cross and died for us. Now He tells us that we are to love others just as He loved us.
Jesus even tells us to love our enemies! “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:43-44). Loving as Jesus loves us takes us to new depths of love. Loving others in this manner is only possible when the love of Jesus flows through us into the lives of other people, especially the unlovable ones!
When people see us loving others with Jesus’ love, they will know we are disciples of Jesus, “By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (v. 35). When we are willing to love others sacrificially and unconditionally, then we know that Jesus loves controls us. Loving others as Jesus loves us is a sure sign that we are true disciples.
Lord Jesus, I cannot love others as You love me in my own strength. I know that I must love others by Your power and by Your presence in my life. Enable me to love even those who mistreat me and those who are unlovable. This is only possible if Your love flows through me to them.
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