New! Don’t you just love the sound of that word? New songs, new homes, new seasons, new beginnings. Each kind of new carries its own special magic. New erases the past. It comes without baggage or wear and tear. New seems so…easy. At first. Then, reality sets in. New must be maintained. And invariably, it becomes worn. Because new cannot last.
“A new commandment, I give you;” Jesus says to His disciples (John 13:34). Can you imagine how they perked up their ears? They had seen Him do amazing things….and now, He had something new for them. A new commandment. Wonder what it was? Would it promise power, or glory, or greatness? The word for new in this passage is kainos, which means “new, novel, fresh, unused.” It can indicate previously unknown, something unprecedented; never before known to exist.”
So just what was this new command? Jesus followed with these words. “Love one anther.” What? Is that it? Any good Jew knew that love was commanded. Loving God. Loving your neighbor. There was nothing new or novel about this idea.
Or so they thought. Remember that Jesus had just given them a hands on lesson about servanthood by washing their feet–a rather shocking object lesson since that was a task reserved for the lowliest servant–probably akin to scrubbing toilets. The King of Kings stooped that low. Why?
The Key Word Study Bible (my wonderful Big Fat Greek Bible) explains it this way: “While the commandment to love was not new (See Lev. 19:18-34), to love in terms demonstrated by the self-sacrifice of Jesus was certainly unprecedented.”
Wow. Self-sacrifice. Laying down one’s life for another. Serving another in a way that costs us something. Becoming “less than” so someone else can be greater. This kind of love is new. Novel. It’s the latest and greatest “word” Jesus has to give to us. And it never changes. Never gets old. Never fails.
I’ve been pondering all morning. Jesus is giving me a new commandment. “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John 13:34). This “watchword” arrests me. Not sure I can grasp the full weight of what it means, but I know it’s costly. Serving in secret so that someone else can shine. Sacrificing my “want to” for the sake of another.
This much I do know. It starts at home. With my husband and children. If I can’t live out this new command where no one is watching, nothing else matters. Jesus tells us (verse 17) that as we do these things, we will be “blessed.” But even greater is His promise that when we dare to love in this new way, “all men will know that you are my disciples…”
Friends, this is your witness today…your testimony. Your willingness to follow this new command. Would you dare to love one another? Let’s begin at home. There’s a hurting and broken world out there that’s watching.