In John 13:21-38, Judas takes off so that he may betray Jesus. After he’s gone, Jesus shares a new commandment with the remaining disciples.
Something that will serve as a marker, a characteristic, of his disciples. This commandment was to love one another. Yet, he didn’t mean to love with our imperfect love, but rather with his perfect, selfless love.
“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. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”John 13:34-35
But love isn’t new?
It may seem odd that Jesus’s new commandment was for the disciples to love one another since it wasn’t the first time he talked about loving others. In fact, in Matthew 22 we read that Jesus said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” Jesus said these words prior to giving this new commandment.
So why did Jesus say this was a new commandment? According to David Guzik, “The specific ancient Greek word used here for new here implies freshness, or the opposite of outworn, rather than recent or different. It isn’t that this commandment was just invented, but it will be presented in a new, fresh way.” Therefore, it was a new commandment because it was fresh. Jewish traditions and legalism had squashed out love and made it obsolete. Jesus was taking it and placing it back at the center with his new commandment.
How are you doing at loving your fellow believers? And not just the ones who look and think like you? Are you recognizable as a follower of Christ by your love?