A Blogged Bible Study entry for John 13:
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Love as a commandment. In the Old Testament the ten commandments were the written covenant between Israel and God. These commandments were the stipulations of the covenant. By speaking of love as a new commandment Jesus is using covenant terminology. If we are in covenant with Jesus then we have been commanded to love.
Who is in covenant with Jesus? All those He came to save.
Now before the Feast of the Passover, Jesus knowing that His hour had come that He would depart out of this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end. ~John 13:1
You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you. ~John 15:16
Love is the distinguishing mark for the believer:
“By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” ~John 13:35
What does this love look like? Jesus explained, “Just as I have loved you.” How did He love us? He came to die for us. We are not asked to die for the sins of the world. Only He could make that sacrifice and secure our eternal life.
But we can follow His example of loving to the very end (13:1):
We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. ~1 John 3:16
We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. ~1 John 4:16
And we can follow the example He gave of washing the disciples’ feet — to be servants of one another — not lording anything, any position, over another. God washed man’s feet. How can we, as mankind, refuse to serve another man?
So when He had washed their feet, and taken His garments and reclined at the table again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.”
As His servants we are to serve to the very end.
This is a new commandment, as a covenant partner, to love one another just as Jesus loved you . . .
. . . sacrificially serving and laying down our lives for each other.
Have we followed His commandment to love?