A New Kind of Love
Jesus said, “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.” (John 13:34, ESV) What is it that makes Jesus’ command to “love one another” so new? The command to love others was given long before Jesus to the people of Israel: "You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD...You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God." (Leviticus 19:18, 34, ESV) It is also known in many other religious traditions and faiths. What makes it so new as Jesus’ says it? We notices several ways it is new:
· A new connection: Jesus connects our love for God with our love for others. We can not say we have love for God if we are not loving to others.
· A new way: Jesus lays out a new way to love others that is sacrificial. Love is not a careful measuring out for others out of our excess, but a laying down of our lives for others. “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.” (1 John 3:16, ESV)
· A new family: Jesus redefines our family and the first recipients of our love. Our brothers and sisters are no longer just our biological family, but those who share faith in Jesus as Lord. Our love is first to be expressed to them, even more so than our biological family. “Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling.” (1 John 2:9–10, ESV)
· A new example: Jesus lived out all he was teaching with his own life. He lived out this life in word and deed. We can see in him the way to live out this love even as he is calling us to do it.
· A new source of power to love: Ultimately, and most importantly, the new thing about Jesus’ command to love others is new because he bases it on His love for us. “Love others as I have loved you.” In fact, it is impossible to love this love command, with its new connection, new way, new family, and new example, without first having His love flowing in us and through us.
When you and I receive the fullness of God’s love for us, it frees us and empowers us to love others in the same way. Mark Fee writes: “Jesus loved people the way he had been loved by God the Father, which was uniquely with words and actions. Jesus, having been loved so well, loved his people this way. Over the course of three years the disciples of Jesus were personally loved, witnessed Jesus loving others, or joined with Jesus in loving others - for a totally of nearly 11,000 hours of loving and being loved! It was after all of these experiences with them that Jesus told his friends that this was the only way to remain in God’s love and it has the added bonus of producing full and complete joy.”