The New Commandment

Imagine being in the room on that night when Jesus was sharing the Last Supper with his disciples.

It had been a bit of a whirlwind, to say the least.

In one evening Jesus washed his disciple’s feet, foretold his betrayal, instituted the Eucharist (what we call Communion), and dismissed Judas to complete his treachery.

Then to put the cherry on top, Jesus adds one more thing: “I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other.” (John 13:34a)
When you think about it, that doesn’t sound like anything new.

The Peanut Gallery yells: “Wait, what? That ain’t new. That’s just like the Old Testament law! “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Leviticus 19:34)
And that would be correct. It doesn’t much sound like anything new at all. Until you include the whole statement:

“I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” (John 13:34-35)

And the Peanut Gallery jeers: “Told ya so. ‘Love others’. Got it. Nothing to see here, folks. Same old churchy-love-stuff. Move along!”

And we miss it. Altogether, we miss it. Just like a bunch of disciples who were still arguing about which one of them was the greatest. 

And we forget about it. In spite of Jesus telling everyone to “Remember this”.

So it does nothing to change our lives. Much less our worship.

Let’s pause, just for a moment, and ask ourselves why Jesus would call this NEW.

“Just as I love you.”

Have you ever met someone who says one thing and does another? Hypocrites. That’s what we call them.

On the other hand, there are some people (very few, admittedly) who will tell you what they’re gonna do. And then follow through. In your grandpa’s day that was called being Hung By The Tongue. Where someone would actually speak their future reality into existence.

It takes a lot of cheese to declare something massive and then back it up with action. But this is Jesus we’re talking about. And that weekend he was about to put his own skin in the game to show us exactly what he meant.

See, me loving my neighbor as myself can be a crap shoot. Because I don’t always love myself.

If you really examine my life, sometimes I’m patient and kind with myself. Sometimes not so much. As for being demanding, or irritable, or keeping score—I can frequently be… a mess.

And if that’s the kind of “love” I’m going to treat the people around me with—then that won’t make me anybody’s hero.

But when I mirror Jesus’ love for me, and THAT’S how I treat the world around me?

Now that’s worship.

-Pastor Steve