Verse of the Day Devotion: John 13:34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
This verse starts out with an interesting phrase. “A new commandment I give to you.” In Leviticus, we see a similar phrase used, however, with a slight difference. “You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the LORD.” Leviticus 19:18. Notice the difference. In this verse, God told them to ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’ In our focus verse, it says to ‘love one another, even as I loved you.’
Now, in both the Old and New Testaments, there are verses about loving our enemies. In the book of Romans we read, “To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Romans 12:20. And there is a remarkably close verse found in Proverbs. “If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat, and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink,” Proverbs 25:21. There is no difference here between the two Testaments.
But when speaking regarding the brethren, Jesus gives His disciples a new example to follow. He tells them not to just love each other, but to love them as He loved them. He gave this to them as He was about to leave and go back to His Father. And as we see above, it was a new commandment because it referred to the love we as creatures have, remember Leviticus 19:18 above. It is because of the depth in which this love was to be exhibited. They were to be willing to sacrifice all they had, including their very lives, for the sake of each other. This is a depth of love hardly seen in the ranks of mankind. This is much different than what is mentioned in the Mosaic law. However, Jesus went far beyond the requirements listed in the law. He did not just love them ‘AS’ He loved Himself, but far more than that. For He came to earth knowing that He would die a horrible death, and one that would pay the penalty for the sins of mankind so they could be forgiven and spend eternity in the presence of Himself and the Father. He paid the penalty of our sins because we were incapable of doing so. This is love in its deepest and purist form.
And this is the type of love He says we should have for each other. And this is a far cry from a suggestion, it is a command, one that He requires of us. And He has not required us to do anything He was not willing to do Himself. This is a hard saying, but we also must be willing to sacrifice all, just as Jesus did. Is this the love we have for our brothers and sisters? We may not know until the sacrifice is required of us. However, we should work to develop this love so that if the moment happens, we can be ready. Let us pray and ask Him to make us more like Him. As Peter so clearly said, “For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.” 1 Peter 2:21
William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.
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