“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” (John 13:34 NKJV).

 

A call to be a disciple of Jesus Christ is essentially a call to receive, experience, and demonstrate or walk in God’s kind of love (agape) just as the Lord Jesus Christ did while He was physically in the world.

Ephesians 5:

 1 Therefore be imitators of God as dear children.

 2 And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma. (NKJV).

The commandment to love is apparently not strange to the Jewish people. It is actually the summary of all the Mosaic Law.

Romans 13:

 9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is  any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (NKJV).

Why then did the Lord Jesus Christ give His disciples a new commandment of love in John 13:34?

John 13:

34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. (NKJV).

John 15:

12 This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. (NKJV).

What is “new” in the Lord’s commandment of love given to His disciples?

How is it different from that of the old commandment?

The only way to find out the differences between the new and the old commandment of love is to contrast the old commandment of love with the Lord’s new commandment of love!

First, while there is discrimination in the old commandment of love, there is no discrimination in the Lord’s new commandment of love.

The saints of old were permitted under the Mosaic Law to discriminate in loving people. They were only bound, commanded, and expected by the Law to love their families, friends or neighbours, but not their enemies or those who hated them.

The Law states in Leviticus 19:

18 You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD. (NKJV).

But, in relation to their enemies, the Law states in Deuteronomy 23:

 6 “You shall not seek their peace nor their prosperity all your days forever. (NKJV).

On the contrary, the Lord Jesus’ new commandment of love prohibits any form of discrimination in loving people. You are expected to love all people, whether friends or enemies, or whether they deserve it or not.

This is what is new in Jesus’ commandment of love!

The Lord Jesus reveals this in Matthew 5:

 43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’

 44 “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,

 45 “that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. (NKJV).

This is the new commandment of love for the New Creation in Christ!

Second, while the old commandment of love allows, accommodates or tolerates vengeance, reprisal or retaliation, the new commandment of love prohibits it.

The Law states in Leviticus 24:

 19 ‘If a man causes disfigurement of his neighbor, as he has done, so shall it be done to him-

 20 ‘fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth; as he has caused disfigurement of a man, so shall it be done to him. (NKJV).

Deuteronomy 19:

 21 “Your eye shall not pity: life shall be for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot. (NKJV).

On the contrary, Jesus’ new commandment of love forbids the New Testament saints to entertain, pursue or seek to have any form of vengeance, reprisal or retaliation against those who hate, hurt, betray or persecute them.

The Lord Jesus queries His disciples in Matthew 5:

 46 “For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?

 47 “And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? (NKJV).

The Lord Jesus further affirms this truth in Matthew 5:

 38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’

 39 “But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.

 40 “If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also.

 41 “And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. (NKJV).

Apostle Paul also admonishes the believers in Romans 12:

 19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.

 20 Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”

 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (NKJV).

Lastly, the old commandment of love differs entirely from Jesus’ new commandment of love in the standard, measure, or depth of love.

The standard of love for the Old Testament saints is “Self.”

The Law simply commands, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Lev. 19:18 NKJV).

So, the measure, depth or height of love expected under the Law is your love for yourself!

On the contrary, the standard or measure of love expected of the New Testament saints is infinitely higher than that required of the saints of old. It is expected of you to love, esteem and care for others much more than you love, esteem and care for yourself.

This is what is new in Jesus’ commandment of love in comparison with the old commandment of love!

Philippians 2:

 3 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.

 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.

 5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus. (NKJV).

It is not enough for you as a New Testament saint, who is a partaker of the divine, holy and loving nature of God, to simply seek to love and esteem others as you love and esteem yourself; you are expected to love and esteem others above yourself, just as Christ did.

That is what Jesus did!

Paul writes, “Let no one seek his own, but each one the other’s well -being.” (1 Cor. 10:24 NKJV).

The love of Jesus Christ is the standard, measure, height or depth of love that every born-again believer is expected to adopt, apply, or demonstrate in his relationships or dealings with people.

The Lord Jesus commands and demands that you love people as He has loved you!

John 13:

34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. (NKJV).

John 15:

12 This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. (NKJV).

How did Jesus love you?

He loves you sacrificially, unconditionally, infinitely, completely, constantly, and eternally!

Jesus’ love for you is not based on your character, attitude, performance, response, action or inaction (John 13:1, 15:13, Rom. 5:8).

Jesus’ love for you does not fluctuate, vacillate, waver or diminish. Jesus loved you before you were born, before you ever did anything good or bad!

By asking you to love others as the Lord Jesus Christ has loved you, God is certainly not asking you to do what He has not divinely equipped or furnished you to do. God will never demand that you give or do what He has not equipped, empowered or prepared you to give or do (1 John 5:3).

Beloved, you are well equipped, furnished and empowered by God to love others as Christ has loved you. The Holy Spirit has poured forth God’s love into your heart at the new birth (Rom. 5:5).

Your new nature as a new creation in Christ is essentially the nature of love (2 Pet. 1:4, 1 John 3:9, 4:7-8). Therefore, you can walk in love just as Jesus Christ did, for you share the same loving nature and spirit with Him.

Why then do many born-again still struggle to love others as Jesus Christ has loved them?

Find out in the second part of this piece!

 

Prayer: My Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for divinely furnishing and empowering me to love people just as the Lord Jesus Christ has loved me. Dear Holy Spirit, teach me daily how to appropriate what God has given me to keep this new commandment of love, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

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