A new commandment I give to you – love one another

Published 12:21 am Saturday, April 4, 2015

By the Rev. Mark Vincent

In John 13, at the last supper, after Jesus washed the feet of His disciples and predicted His betrayal, we are told one of His disciples left. We know this was Judas Iscariot, the disciple who betrayed Him. We are also told Jesus was troubled. Well, knowing that someone you have poured your life into for over three years is going to betray and set in a motion hours of excruciating pain, agony, and suffering is enough to trouble anyone, but this is not the only reason for our Lord’s concern. He was troubled by Judas’ treachery, but also by other things like the reality of leaving His closest friends and the prospect of the brutality of the cross that awaited Him.

After Judas departed to do Satan’s bidding Jesus spoke to them about His glorification. It would be easy to think to “be glorified” means crowns, thrones, and kneeling subjects and in time for our Jesus it would mean exactly that for we are told “every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father,” (Philippians 2:10).

But first would come the cross, and death, and burial, intense pain and suffering for our Lord and crushing disappointment for the disciples who finished the meal with Him. When Jesus spoke of His glorification He meant the whole journey from cross to His throne.

Yes, Jesus was troubled! During His time with them He had spoken many words and still He knew they did not understand much. So finally at the meal, He takes time again some well chosen words to prepare them for the future; short words, so they could be remembered. In reality, these are the “death-bed” words of our Lord to His disciples, and if the truth be known to us as well….

“I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35).

This is a call for all Christians to love and is of great importance to our Savior because of the context in which He spoke them. It is important to understand He was talking about the need for Christians to love other Christians. Do not get me wrong here. It also means to love everyone including those outside of “our local church” and the unchurched.

This is more than casual instruction from Jesus, they are matters of life and death. Jesus was telling them, and us, that everything depends on our ability to love one another. He knows the world is watching us, just as they watched Him and if we do love one another “the watching world” will have no choice but to witness it and be drawn to us, and ultimately be drawn to Him. On the other hand if we do not love one another the world will also see that, and reject us, and Him.


My prayer this Easter is that these words of our Lord become embedded in our spirits. Loving is not always easy, in fact much of the time it is downright hard. In our attempts to love we may be rebuffed, or we may fail, we might get discouraged, and sometimes we might even find ourselves angry when our attempts are met by unreceptive others, but it does not give us the right to stop obeying the words of our Lord Jesus.

Even our faithful attempts to love everyone will show that we are His disciples because we have love for one another.

He has risen indeed!

The Rev. Mark Vincent is pastor of St. Michael’s Anglican Church.