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Love: A New Command

May 20, 2019

Scripture John 13:31-35

“I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

John 21:34-35 NRSV

In this critical time with the disciples in the Upper Room, Jesus tells us about God’s love for us. And, it goes further. We must love one another. Simply stated, Jesus puts a lot of meaning into just a few words. Couldn’t we simply follow the rules like the Ten Commandments and earn God’s favor, building up a stack of “good things” and heavenly good will? Won’t the good that we’ve done counteract the many times in which we “slip up”?

Jesus is saying, “No.” There is a lot more to this. Keeping rules is well and good. But, abiding by a set of rules is far less likely to change us significantly in the way we act and think. Jesus is telling us that this the power of love. He is talking about the love of agape: a different type of love than we generally consider or discuss. So, if we pay attention this instruction to love comes across as a command. In one sense, it is a choice in that you can decide to do it, or not. But, Jesus is informing us that this is not the starting point of a debate or even a roundtable discussion: It is the new law.

Jesus gives this command at the height of the tension in the Upper Room prior to his betrayal and arrest. It seems that most of the message is lost on the disciples, even as Jesus proclaimed it. But, these words provide guidance to the disciples and the early church in a process of informing and affirming that seems continuous in the Gospel of John. And so, with all this “heavy business” going on, Jesus placed one of the most enduring commands before us all: Love one another.

Where do we see this in our personal lives? Do we demonstrate love in what we do? Do we see this kind of live at work in the community around us? How do we apply it to our living: all that we do today, and every day, as the body of Christ?

Stan Reid


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