Posted by: mikenicholsblog | November 9, 2014

the new command

Walk with me through a brief story of our family and see if you can place your circumstances into the story line. It was over fourteen years ago when we dropped our daughter off at college. It was her first extended journey from home, and not something that either of her parents was looking forward too. As we arrived at the college on Friday and started preparing her dorm room, there was an ominous cloud hanging over my wife and me. This was it, and it would never be the same again. Can you relate?  I expected my wife to be weepy … but not me!  By Saturday afternoon, our daughter politely proclaimed that it was time for us to go and we grudgingly drove home teary-eyed, knowing that a new and different season of our lives was upon us.  Separation from those we love is deeply emotional, and I have been trying to wrap my arms around what it must have been like for the disciples when Jesus discussed leaving them.

Think of what it must have been like for the disciples in John 13:33 when Jesus said, “Children, I am with you for only a short time longer.”  He was their mentor, counselor, friend and the only person in their lives that had always given them perfect advice, spot-on wisdom and unfiltered love.  They had never seen Him sin, mislead them, deceive them or selfishly seek His own way — and now He’s leaving! Do you think there could have been some palpable emotion weighing on the men as they contemplated His words?  A new season of life was quickly approaching.

In John 13:34-35, in the midst of this emotionally charged scene, Jesus instructs the disciples with words that were powerful for them and instructive for all true believers today.  It is interesting that John 13 starts with Jesus showing love to the disciples and ends with a command for them to love.  As you read His words of instruction, take a moment to think of the depth of meaning found in them.  “Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.” (MSG)

What kind of love had the Savior loved them with?  And could they possibly love one another in the same way? If so, the results would show that they were His disciples.  Christ used the words new command, but wasn’t “loving others” found elsewhere in Scripture? Without going into too much detail, I believe the new command was tied to the new covenant that Jesus would ratify with His own blood.  These men had seen His love for them (most recently by washing their feet), but they would understand it far more deeply through the Cross. Think about Christ telling His disciples (and ultimately all Christ-followers) to love as He had loved them.

I believe the love Christ wanted modeled was a self-sacrificing, others-focused love for fellow believers.  The result: This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.”  There is definitely a model of love that Christ wanted His followers to live out — and He would never ask for the unattainable!  Sure, no one but the Savior loved perfectly, but all Christ-followers can love in a self-sacrificing, others-focused way.  This kind of love distinguishes who we are.

It would be easy to discuss the failure of love within churches and communities of faith. But let me be personal with you for a moment.  If you are in Christ, you can love others with the kind of love mentioned above.  Will you simply give your life to His kind of love today?

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