March 4, 2020
The New Commandment
When he was gone, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man is glorified and God is glorified in him.
If God is glorified in him, God will glorify the Son in himself, and will glorify him at once.
“My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come. “A new command I give you:
Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.
By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:31-35).
Almost half of John’s gospel is a recollection of the last week of Christ’s life on earth. He knows that the time has come for him to finish the work for which he had come. How does he choose to spend his last day? He eats the Passover meal with those whom he has chosen and with whom he has shared his life these short years. These last hours of intimate fellowship are documented by John in no less than 5 chapters of his gospel.
Celebrating the Passover meal was a reminder of the deliverance of Israel from captivity in Egypt, but it was also looking forward to the prophetic fulfillment when the perfect sacrificial lamb would bring redemption for all mankind. And for us this meal would become our celebration of the Lord’s Supper, looking back at his death and resurrection and ahead to his return. But Jesus interrupts the course of the meal by getting up, kneeling down and washing the feet of his disciples. Here he shows his true character. The Master was a servant, taking on the role of a slave, and demonstrating his humility and love in a tangible manner – he touched his friends, wiped away the filth and sweat of the day, and would soon demonstrate that love by giving his life for them, the ultimate sacrifice.
And he leaves them with the singular injunction, quoted above, which he calls a “new commandment,” and is intended to lead this diverse group of people to a perfect unity.
Their discipleship should be reflected and proven by their love for one another, a love revealed and expressed in action and interaction with the believers, those who have been recipients of God’s Holy Spirit, the Spirit of love (Romans 5:5, 2Timothy 1:7).
In Switzerland we are proud of our organizational talents. And much time and energy are spent trying to become more efficient, to formulate a vision, to increase output. Our cities, schools, and companies strive to establish their individual “corporate identity.” This passage should be an encouragement to our church that our vision of “growing together and reaching out in Christ” is after God’s heart. We grow together by the heartfelt and hands-on love we sense and experience with one another. This love in our relationships, marriages, families, home groups and worship services should constitute our corporate identity as we seek to follow Christ.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, in our achievement-oriented world help us not to neglect your commandment to love your children as you love us, and may this love be sincere and identify us as your faithful followers.