John 13:35 (ESV) … “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
These are familiar words, yet strange ones. Love is nothing new; the Old Testament speaks often of love and reminds us to “love your neighbor as yourself.”
But on closer examination, there are several things here that are new. The Old Testament spoke of loving our neighbors: Jesus focused on loving “one another.” We who are Jesus’ disciples are still to love our neighbors. But we have been welcomed in Christ into a new, intimate relationship with other believers! In Christ, we have become brothers and sisters, members of a single family (see Eph. 2:19; 3:6). In Christ, our relationship with each other is suddenly more intimate than any human relationship has ever been! In the closeness of our new relationship with God and with each other, love takes on a new savor—and a new necessity.
There is also a new standard by which to measure love. Love of neighbor was to be “as you love yourself.” But here we are told to love each other “as I have loved you.” Love as Jesus did? Love with a love that gives self? Yes, this is new. My brother becomes more important to me than I am!
Finally, there is a new outcome. The Christlike love that permeates the new community of Christian brothers and sisters is a witness to the world that Jesus is real. Only Jesus’ living presence can explain such love for others.
In Christ & Friends Always,