Jesus’ Two Commands

Jesus’ two commands are LOVE one another and GO make disciples.

  1. John 13:34-35: “I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another. By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
  2. John 15:12-14: “This is My command: Love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, that someone would lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you.”

What makes Jesus’ “love one another” a new command? Every Jew knew the two great love commandments: Love God and love your neighbor as you love yourself. What’s new about Jesus’ command?

How can love be commanded? Love is an action of free will. Love is freely offered self-sacrifice on behalf of another person. It cannot be commanded. I cannot command my wife to love me, especially after I do something to make her angry and she doesn’t feel in love with me. Jesus commands love because love is an action we can choose to do.  The feeling of love cannot be commanded, but the action of love can be. Love is an action verb. We can still do a loving action even when we don’t feel like it. My wife’s love language is acts of service. I can still love my wife by serving her even when I don’t feel in love.

What’s new about Jesus’ love command is its exclusiveness. Jesus gave this command to his disciples, not the world. In fact, he gave the command after Judas left to betray him. This command is exclusive to those who love Christ as Savior and Lord. We’re not commanded to sacrifice our lives for just anyone; only other brothers and sisters in Christ.

What’s new about Jesus’ love command is its example. The Old Testament commands, “Love God and love your neighbor,” are for all people (inclusive), but there was never a perfect example. Israel failed to love God and neighbor. There are imperfect examples of love your neighbor, like Jonathan loved David, Ruth loved her mother-in-law Naomi, but no perfect sacrificial example until Jesus Christ.

How did Jesus love his disciples? What perfect example did he give them?

Jesus taught and showed them how to love one another for three years. Jesus settled jealous rivalries between the disciples. When James and John asked to sit next to Christ on his throne, Jesus taught them about the cost of love. Jesus gave James and John the nickname “Sons of Thunder” because they were quick-tempered, judgemental, and selfish (Mark 3:17).  Read Mark 10:35-45. One of the Sons of Thunder, John, changed and wrote more about “love one another” than all the other disciples. Christ changed that Son of Thunder into a selfless servant.

Jesus washed the disciples’ feet as an example of how to love by serving (13:12-14).

Jesus’ final and perfect example of “love one another” was his sacrifice on the cross as a ransom payment to save us from our sinfulness and reconcile us to God. “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”

What’s new about Jesus’ love command is the power of its testimony. John 13:35: “By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” Our testimony to the world will be powerful if we have the kind of self-sacrificial love Christ has shown us for one another. I’ve served in a few churches and I know that loving one another takes patience, kindness, forgiveness, self-sacrifice, every quality described in 1 Corinthians 13. Love for one another is our most powerful testimony to the world about Christ. Muslims, Buddhists, and Hindus are recognized by their religious rituals. Christians must be recognized by their love for one another!

I remember when I was a teenager singing around a campfire, “And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love, yes they’ll know we are Christians by our love.”

GO command – next post.

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