John 13:34. 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.
“A new command?”
Wait a minute. Why is Jesus calling this a NEW command? Haven’t we been told to love in the Old Testament? “Love your neighbor as you love yourself,” right? Isn’t Jesus just repeating this same command? What makes what he says in our Fighter Verse new?
It’s the source and it’s the extent.
“Just as I have loved you.” Jesus is, first of all, reminding them that he has already loved them. “Love each other out of my love for you.” Jesus’ continuous unconditional love for us is the resource by which we can love each other. We can love because we have been loved, and are being loved without end. The Disciples are not being told to work up love from inside of themselves. No, they are being told to enjoy the love that they already have from Jesus (the source) and then let it flow out towards others (the goal).
Also, Jesus’ command is new because it reveals the extent of our love for one another. The love that we have for fellow disciples (the church) is to be a love that goes to the cross for each other. This is a suffering love. A love that is willing to esteem others as better than myself. A love that gets out of the way when needed, and guides when needed. A love that washes feet, and forgives. A love that is willing to give everything, because it knows that it can lose nothing.
It is interesting that Jesus tells us to aim this great love at other disciples, without here mentioning our enemies. I wonder if this is because sometimes it is much harder for us as Christians to love other Christians than it is for us to love our “enemies.” We tend to devour our own (Gal. 5:15). Could it also be that our love for each other is what will be the most attractive to the world?
John 13:35. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Our love for each other is the greatest mission strategy – Frederick Bruner