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In John 13:34, Jesus commands us:
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another...” (John 13:34, ESV)
Love. We're supposed to love one another. But this commandment has been around for a while. You find it in Leviticus 19:18. It was given by God thousands of years prior to the arrival of Jesus. What's so new about this?
Along this line of thinking, I began to ponder the Great Commandment which also speaks about love. We find this in the Gospel of Matthew:
“But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “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.” (Matthew 22:34-38, ESV)
This is a powerful law which demands our highest obedience. We are under the authority of our Lord, and as He speaks in agreement with the Scriptures He identifies this as the "Great Commandment." He goes a little further in his response to the Pharisees:
“And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:39, ESV)
In this passage, Jesus is actually quoting directly from Leviticus 19:18. But let's look a little more closely at the New Commandment:
“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.” (John 13:34, ESV)
What's the difference between what Christ says to His disciples in the Gospel of John as opposed to what He says to the Pharisees in the Gospel of Matthew when He quotes Leviticus 19:18?
When speaking to the Pharisees Jesus instructs them that they are to love others as they love themselves. That's the old commandment. When Jesus is speaking to the disciples He commands them to love others as Christ has loved them. This is the new commandment.
The difference is between how we love ourselves and how Christ loves us.
Yeah... there's a huge difference there.
There are new commandments given in the New Testament. As commandments they are not free to be disregarded or ignored. Jesus comes to all of us as more than a Lord. He is our savior, our friend, our closest companion. He is our treasure, even our very great reward and inheritance! Jesus comes to us as more than Lord with more than commands to follow and rules to obey, but He doesn't come with less. His will still commands our obedience. Let's start loving others the way He loves, and not necessarily how we would even love ourselves if it were left up to us.