Jesus, A New Commandment I Give You
I suppose there is not a more important teaching in all the New Testament given to us than this one. Jesus Himself said that love was part of the weightier matters of the law. Jesus said love for God and love for neighbor are our most important duties. What I want to do with this text is break it down into its several clauses and see the significance of each. First, look with me at….
1. The Command: “A new command I give you: Love one another.” Teachings. Disciples. Enemies. The Whole person.
In fact, you will not find the command to love one another in the Old Testament. You will find commands to love your neighbor as yourself. You will find a command to love those who are aliens (Deut. 10:19). But the command, “Love one another,” is not recorded in the Bible until you come to John 13:34. So it truly is a new command.
But why is this new command needed when God’s people already had the commands to love their neighbors as themselves?. The people were divided into Pharisees and Sadducees, students of Rabbi Hillel and Rabbi Shammai, Herodians and Zealots, and on and on. God’s people were greatly divided when Jesus gave this new command. They were not loving the aliens in their land, most hated the Romans. They did not love their neighbors as themselves, most Jews despised their neighbors to the north–the Samaritans. They were greatly divided over doctrinal matters such as whether or not there would be a resurrection and what the Law taught concerning divorce and remarriage. They did not even love one another.
Jesus gave us the command: Love one another. But Jesus did not stop there. He added a qualifying adverbial phrase to modify this new command:
2. The Qualification: “As I have loved you…”
The adverb kathos in this phrase means “just as” or “in the same manner.” Moms and Dads, when you provide an object lesson for your child, let’s say you are trying to show them how to tie their shoes, what do you do? You show them and then you say, “Now, you do it just like me.”
This is what Jesus is telling us. He says to us, “I have showed you how to love, now you love others the way that I do.” And when you look at Jesus’ love there are three adjectives that you can use to describe it.
a. Undeniable. In Jesus ministry…he loved.
To love like Jesus, we must love in such a way that it cannot be denied. By his bold teaching and actions, Jesus left no room for doubting his love; and neither can we.
b. Unselfish. Jesus’ love was completely unselfish.
Jesus taught us to give expecting nothing in return. He taught us to give without blowing a horn or even letting our right hand know what the left is doing. And Jesus practiced such love and giving. Paul sums up the ministry of Jesus in Phil. 2 by saying Jesus emptied himself and made himself no reputation. Jesus was not concerned about earthly wealth and fame. He just loved us with complete unselfishness. And speaking of the Apostle Paul, he learned this lesson from Jesus well. Listen to what he wrote to the Corinthians in his second letter to them: 2Cor 12:14 (NKJV)
All too often we put conditions on our love. We say, “I will love you…If you do thus and so.
But when you look at Jesus, you see a picture of unconditional love. while we were still sinners Christ died for the ungodly. As I meditated on the unconditional love of Jesus, these words came to me: