LOVE'S NEW COMMAND
“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 13:34-35
I often tell people that before I came to NYC to plant a church, I believed in God, but now that I have witnessed what has happened over the last two years, I really believe in God. When you witness His love with your own eyes, there is no denying it; something totally new is revealed by witnessing it firsthand. This is kind of what Jesus is getting at in John 13.
Jesus had just done something completely radical: He had done the job of a servant by washing the feet of His disciples. The disciples didn’t get it, because teachers were meant to be served, yet here was Jesus serving His students. It was all upside down and was tripping His disciples out; they were being loved in such a radical way that it was difficult to receive this love.
For Jesus to say, “a new command I give you: Love one another” seemed kind of strange at face value. Loving others was not a new thing. The disciples would likely have been a little baffled, because God had already given this command via Moses. However, Jesus was giving a new command, one that had never ever been given in this way – He commanded us to love one another as Jesus was loving His disciples. They were witnessing firsthand a new commandment, not just in words but in action. He was loving them in such an extreme way that it challenged their willingness to receive it.
Here’s the thing – this crazy agape love will never flow out of our lives until we first receive it. If you are like me, you may believe in this love in theory, but until you receive it, there is no way we will be able to love others the way He commands. Receiving His love is the only way to receive the power to fulfill His command.
We must stop running on our own strength, sit down and let Jesus wash our feet. For the disciples, this was awkward and went against every cultural norm and their very nature – and so it is with us when Jesus pours out His grace upon us; we want to reverse the role and try and wash the feet of God. But let’s remember why He washed their feet: He was preparing them to feast with Him. Jesus is inviting us to dine with Him. Could there be a greater reason to let Him wash us with His grace?! Jesus says sit, let me pour out my grace upon you. Then He gives us a new command: to love one another because we have first received a new kind of love that is not from this world. This how people will know we are His disciples.
Love one another from this place of being totally loved by love Him; His name is Jesus. You are loved so that you may love one another. Remember when we are serving one another, we are preparing ourselves to dine together, to enjoy life together, to reveal the head of the table, the main host: Jesus Christ.
// Pastor Josh Kelsey