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A New Commandment About Love

A recent post focused on Jesus washing his disciples feet. (John 13:2-17). John is the only gospel to record this event as part of the Last Supper.

John is also the only gospel that records something that Jesus said during the Supper: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

What’s new about that? In Matthew 22 and and Mark 12, when Jesus was asked to state the the greatest commandment, he said the greatest is to love the Lord your God, and the second is to love your neighbor. Those commandments are found in Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18. Don’t these commandments cover this new command Jesus gives his disciples?

Perhaps the greatest and the second greatest commands on love form a foundation for Jesus’s new command, but it seems to me that the new command is really new. The language is new. “As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Jesus had expressed love for his disciples in many ways while he lived, but at this point, he was coming to the end. His love would be shown through his death.

Jesus repeated this new command in John 15:12: “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” He then explained what he meant in verse 13: “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

That was Jesus’s ultimate act of love. We would almost never be called upon to show love for others in this manner (although a world away, the Coptic Christians in Egypt were recently required to show that kind of love). Jesus made clear that this new kind of love required action. That’s the kind of love he expected his disciples to show (and some of his disciples suffered the same death Jesus did), and that’s the kind of love he expects us to show. What kinds of action do we perform to show our love? What are they?

As we remember Jesus’s ultimate act of love, let us ponder the actions we take, should take, or can take to show our love for others.

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