A New Commandment

KEY VERSE: “A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another.” —John 13:34

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: John 13:1-8, 12-17, 34, 35

JESUS was soon to leave his little band of faithful disciples. He knew that his impending crucifixion would greatly test their faith in the hope of being with him in his kingdom. At that time it was difficult for his followers to understand that without his death there would be no kingdom. Also, as prospective associates in Jesus’ reign, they were unable to appreciate that, with all of their eagerness to participate, they were not yet prepared for the unique service that would be required.

The Master had very dramatically pointed this out a little while earlier, as they were gathering in the upper room to keep the Passover. The usual custom of washing the feet of guests had been neglected, so Jesus, with a basin of water, performed that service, much to the chagrin of Peter and no doubt the other disciples also. Having finished, Jesus sat down and said to them: “Know ye what I have done to you? Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for I am. If I then your Lord and Master have washed your feet: ye also ought to wash one another’s feet, for I have given you an example.”—John 13:12-15

Jesus was explaining that what he had demonstrated was a very important standard the Heavenly Father has established for those upon whom he will bestow kingdom authority—that “whosoever … will be the chiefest shall be servant of all.” (Mark 10:44) And he further indicated that in a much larger sense than just the washing of their feet he would be the means of their entire and complete cleansing: “He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit.” (John 13:10) In order to accomplish this great service for mankind, he “who was rich” had taken the form of a servant and was about to die upon the cross.—II Cor. 8:9

“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13) Jesus was soon to demonstrate this kind of love. Greater still his death would be for the benefit of his worst enemies, even for those who would be the cruel instruments of his murder.

As the disciples that evening sat in sad and somber silence listening to these parting words of their Master, perhaps some might have recalled a former time when their new association with this popular man, acclaimed by thousands in Israel, had opened up such vistas of hope for them. How their hearts had burned within them that day as they gathered around Jesus on a mountainside and listened to him explain so much about the kingdom of heaven!

There they had learned that the kingdom would be inherited by those who would attain to a much higher appreciation of God’s laws than that to which they had been accustomed. He had said, “Ye have heard [in the Mosaic Law] that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you.”

Throughout his ministry Jesus had practiced these precepts. Now approaching the cross his concern was for his disciples, those whom he had called to share his kingdom. Had his teachings and his example been sufficiently impressed upon them so they would follow in his footsteps when he was no longer with them? Jesus told them he was giving them a new commandment. He had said earlier that the essence of the old commandment was, “Thou shalt love the Lord with all your heart, soul, and mind, … and thy neighbor as thyself.” Is there any greater love? Yes! Jesus had also said the highest love is expressed when a man will lay down his life for a friend.

The Master was now calling upon his beloved followers to do just that: “A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.” This is the lofty standard he exemplified and in turn set before all who aspire to a place of rulership in his kingdom—a kingdom that will require of its many rulers the ability to demonstrate these highest precepts of love, in directing a fallen world back to an understanding and appreciation of their Creator.

“By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”—John 13:35

Dawn Bible Students Association
|  Home Page  |  Table of Contents  |