“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” – John 13:34-35
In John 13:34-35, Jesus imparts a profound teaching—a new commandment to love one another, just as He has loved us. This commandment stands in contrast to the Old Testament law, represented by Exodus 21:23-25, which focuses on retribution and compensation for wrongdoing.
Exodus 21:23-25 says, “But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.” What is the Old Testament? It is condemning the sin and getting paid for the sin committed.
Here, however, Jesus introduces a paradigm shift from condemnation to redemption.
The essence of love, as expounded by John in 1 John 1:1, is not an abstract concept but a tangible reality demonstrated through Christ’s sacrificial act on the cross. Jesus willingly bore the weight of the cross, a symbol of suffering and rejection, displaying true leadership and shepherding. He embraced a path that others sought to avoid, exemplifying genuine love in action. We have already heard, seen, looked at and touched this love.
In our endeavor to love, we encounter challenges. The biblical account of Cain and Abel illustrates the depths of the original sin. Overcoming such animosity requires a shift in perspective—to love those whom the Lord loves, and in doing so, find the capacity to love even the seemingly unlovable. This shift enables us to bear one another’s burdens, adopting a posture of compassion rather than condemnation.
John 13:36 offers a poignant reminder from Jesus to Peter: though understanding may elude us in the present moment, clarity often dawns in due course. Peter, despite his initial bravado, later experienced a transformation. This highlights a vital truth: the path of the cross transcends mere human reasoning and courage. It calls for a profound recognition of the glory of the cross and the promise of resurrection.
As we reflect on these teachings, we are reminded of the nature of Christ’s love and the transformative power it holds. May we, like Peter, come to grasp the depth of this love, and in doing so, find the courage to walk the path of the cross, embracing both its challenges and its ultimate promise of redemption and resurrection.