Every time I’ve read John 13:34, I’ve been puzzled by Jesus’ words: “I’m giving you a new commandment: love one another.” Since I’ve heard that longer than I can remember, this word of exhortation did not seem new to me. But when I looked up the phrase “love one another” on Bible Gateway, I found no earlier reference.
In the Hebrew Bible, however, God says, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might,” Deuteronomy 6:4-5. Bringing that love down to earth, Leviticus 19:18 says, “you shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
In Matthew 26:37-40, Jesus put those two commands together by saying, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment, and the second is like unto it, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
A problem arises, though, when people have trouble loving themselves, much less their neighbors! Nevertheless, God still wants this, and so the New Testament clarifies the concept of the true love to be found in Christ Jesus:
• He spoke healing words.
• He called people by name.
• He showed God’s love.
• He taught the kind attitudes we’re to have.
• He gave His life.
• He brought us life eternal.
• He called us to be brothers and sisters
• He empowered us to be children of God.
• He continues to pray for us now.
In the hours before His death, Jesus told His disciples: “I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I’ve loved you, so you also must love one another,” John 13:34.
Hopefully, we’ll love and appreciate ourselves and our neighbors. Regardless, we must love one another as conduits of Jesus Christ, Whose love flows in and through us. We can't do this by ourselves, but we can agree to it. We can give Jesus' command our amen.
May the Almighty God our Father help us to allow Christ’s love to pour forth profusely. Let it be! So be it. Amen.
Mary Harwell Sayler, © 2017, with scriptures from many of the translations on Bible Gateway