Let’s start this interesting journey into the NT big ideas with one of the biggest ideas of all. In John chapter 13, Jesus is introducing the Lord’s Supper and the most profound teachings he gives to the disciples. In verse 34 Jesus states, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”
So what? Sure, we love one another, so what’s the big idea?
Let’s take a longer look and notice Jesus’ example. We find the same concepts in the Hebrew Bible, yet the Jews loved each other, and excluded other people groups. Even among fellow Jews, if someone had hurt you or offended you, you loved him by not killing him. You still would not deal with that person again, but ignore him.
Jesus called his teaching to the disciples “a new command.” What is new here? Jesus expected the disciples to love each other as “I have loved you.” Jesus loved mankind with all he had, his life, his blood, his pain, and suffering. Jesus loved us as if he owed us everything, yet he owed us nothing. There were no conditions to this love. No requirements or selfish agendas. No paybacks expected. He loved us all the way to death on the Roman cross. He loved us while we were still his enemies or complete unbelievers. There was no “but” to his love for us, no regret for his love, no demands to his love.
He didn’t know if two thousand years later we would respond or reject his love, he loved us with all his being, and expected nothing in return. Sure, he hoped we would respond, but he loved us even if it meant we might reject him. This is love on the Godhead level, not you scratch my back and I will scratch yours! This is a new love from a new command, and the backbone of the New Covenant found in the New Testament!
Anytime we love someone and place an expectation upon them to love us back, we have practiced a lower form of human love. Jesus is asking us, his disciples, to love each other sacrificially and with no strings attached. The price is high, yet powerful and life-changing. This is the love that saves lives, the knocks down strongholds, that bonds people together for life. This is the love for fellow mankind that is a statement of the love we have for Jesus. When we practice this love, we experience the freedom that is beyond understanding.
Love one another as I have loved you! That sentence from Jesus is all that Christianity is!
Kim Wenzel is a local Open Doors USA ministry representative who speaks in churches and groups about praying for the persecuted church. For more information, persons interested may contact Wenzel at firstname.lastname@example.org or 918-919-1490. He pastors Faith Church of Grove on East Highway 10.