A New Commandment

March 30, 2022

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). 

How is this a new commandment? The Jews had been given this commandment centuries earlier in the 10 Commandments (Exodus 20:3-17; Deuteronomy 5:6-21). Commandments 1-4 express love for God, while Commandment 5-10 express love for one another. Leviticus 19:18 makes this clear, You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the LORD. Jesus repeated this ancient standard in Mark 12:29-31. Even though they had been given this instruction long ago, they had not practiced it consistently or sincerely. 

This new commandment Jesus gave them was to be a sign of personal, spiritual discipleship by which they would be known as His followers, and by which they would be distinguished from all other religious groups. Jesus called it ‘new’ not because there was no such commandment given to them before, for as stated above, love one for another was expressed by the Law of God through Moses. It was ‘new’ because it had never before been the standard by which any group of people had been known or distinguished. 

The Jews were known by their external rites, rituals, ceremonies, standards of dress, dietary laws, etc., just as the Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, etc. In none of these has love for each other been the distinguishing mark by which they were known. But the follower of Jesus Christ is not to be known by such distinctions. Christians don’t seek worldly honors, nor do they adopt standards of dress, grooming, diet, etc. Christians are to be distinguished by their sincere and consistent love for each other. This negates all distinction with regard to nationality, color, rank, office, sect, etc. 

True believers in Jesus Christ realize the ground around the cross is level, that they share common needs, are redeemed by the same sacred blood, have the same heavenly Father, Lord and Savior, and Holy Spirit, and are going to the same eternal home in heaven. They befriend each other in trials, bear one another’s burdens, are careful of each other’s feelings and reputation, deny themselves in order to promote the welfare of each other (Galatians 6:2; 1 Thessalonians 4:9; 2 Thessalonians 1:3; 1 Peter 1:22; 2 Peter 1:7; 1 John 3:23). In these texts and others this commandment of Jesus is repeated or referred to, showing that the first disciples considered this the special Law of Christ - the Royal Law (James 2:8). 

This command was new to the extent that love for each other is to parallel our Lord’s love for us, even as I have loved you. His love for us is unconditional, unrestricted, and unlimited, even to the point that a man lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13), and for the brethren (1 John 3:16). Amen.


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