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 has loved you.

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 Lord’s new commandment of love with the old 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.

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).

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!

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:

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 prohibits His disciples from seeking for vengeance or reprisal.

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).

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).

Apostle Paul also admonishes the believers to seek to overcome evil with good.

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.

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).

Can you love people as Jesus Christ has loved you?

Yes you can if you are a new creation in Christ!

How then can you begin to walk in love as Jesus Christ did and demand that you should do? Consider the following instructions!

First, you must acknowledge, admit or recognize that the Holy Spirit has poured out God’s kind of love in your heart at the point of the New Birth:

If you are born-again, you now have the spiritual capacity to love people as God loves them because you are now a partaker of the divine and loving nature of God (2 Pet. 1:4, 1 John 3:9, 4:7-8).

As a new creation in Christ you now share the same nature and spirit of love with Christ Jesus, for “he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.” (1 Cor. 6:17 NKJV).

“And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” (Gal. 4:6 NKJV).

At the New Birth, the Holy Spirit poured out into and filled your heart with God’s love (agape). So, you have been divinely and completely furnished and empowered by God to love people unconditionally, selflessly, unwavering, and completely as Jesus Christ has loved you.

You cannot walk in divine love if you don’t first acknowledge and believe that you have divine love in your regenerated heart.

Romans 5:

5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. (NKJV).

1 John 4:

7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. (NKJV). 

Second, you must seek to have and grow increasingly in your understanding, revelation or experiential knowledge of God’s love for you:

Many born-again believers today, who have God’s love shed abroad in their hearts, are not manifesting this agape love because they don’t know, understand, believe, or relish the love God has for them and has demonstrated towards them through the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ on the cross (1 John 3:16, 4:9-10).

You cannot love people as Christ has loved you if you don’t first seek to know or understand the love that Christ has for you!

It is very vital for you to acknowledge, know, understand, and believe the truth that God the Father loves you unconditionally, unwaveringly, steadfastly, sacrificially, absolutely, completely, infinitely, and eternally, even as He loves His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ.

In the Lord’s prayers for His disciples before His death and resurrection, He revealed that God loved them just as He has loved Him.

John 17:

 23 “I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me. (NKJV).

Understanding, believing and living by this truth is very crucial to you demonstrating or walking in God’s kind of love!

If you are not rooted and grounded in God’s love, you cannot effectively demonstrate or manifest it to others. Until God’s love takes root in your heart, it cannot bear or manifest its fruit in and through you.

This is why Paul admonishes you to seek “to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height– to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” (Eph. 3:17-19 NKJV).

Many believers today are totally ignorant of how much God loves them. Consequently, they are always striving hard to earn God’s love through their performance and good works. How mistaken they are!

God’s love can never be merited, earned or bought. God loves you because He has chosen to love you. It is God’s nature to love, for God is love (1 John 4:8).

Third, you must seek to constantly renew your mind according to the truths of God’s Word:

Your mindsets determine, influence, control and direct your emotions and actions. Therefore, if you don’t possess the same mindsets as Jesus Christ, you cannot love people as Jesus Christ has commanded you to love them.

This is why Paul admonishes to “Let the same disposition be in you which was in Christ Jesus.” (Philip. 2:5 WNT).

How do you have or possess the mindset or disposition of Jesus Christ?

By renewing your mind constantly with the words, teaching or doctrine of Jesus Christ!

It is as you imbibe and abide in the teaching of Christ that your natural or carnal mind will be progressively renewed, sanctified and reset to allow you demonstrate or walk in love as Jesus Christ did.

The carnal or unrenewed mind is naturally set on loving, pleasing and indulging self. This is why many believers today are still selfish, hateful and vengeful. The carnal mind will continually hinder you from loving, esteeming and caring for others above yourself (1 Cor. 10:24).

You cannot love, pray and bless those who hate, hurt, abuse, or persecute you with a carnal or unrenewed mind!

You cannot ignore yourself to seek for other’s well-being if your mind is not renewed to think like Christ, who though He was God yet He emptied Himself and took the form of a bondservant and humbled Himself to be crucified on the cross as a mere criminal for our sins (Phil. 2:5-10).

Lastly, commit yourself to learning from Jesus and walking in Jesus’ footsteps:

The Lord Jesus Christ is your ultimate standard and perfect example of walking in love. He is the embodiment and revelation of God’s love to mankind. You cannot walk in love as Jesus did if you are not committed to looking unto, learning from, following after, and walking in the footsteps of Jesus Christ (Matt. 11:28-30, 1 Pet. 2:21).

The Lord Jesus points out this truth to His disciples.

John 13:

 13 “You call me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am.

 14 “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.

 15 “For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. (NKJV).

Beloved, “Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. 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.” (Eph. 5:1-2 NKJV).

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