I give you a new law. That law is, “Love each other.” As I have loved you, so you also love each other. This is how all people will know that you are my disciples.’
A command to love might not necessarily seem new to us. After all, God is the embodiment of love and cannot act outside of it [1 John 4:16]. Why, then, does Jesus state that this command to love is a new one? The answer lies in the words Jesus uses to describe the love of which He speaks. We, his disciples, are to love each other as He has loved us. Ponder those words spoken by Jesus at that particular time. To understand this command, we must unpack the characteristics of this particular brand of love.
Jesus spoke these words on earth, in the flesh, on the journey that would lead to his sacrifice for the sake of saving mankind from sin and death. When Jesus says “as I have loved you”, He is talking about the love that brought him to earth to display the fullness of his desire to be with us. He loves us so much that He gave up his heavenly thrown and came to earth to live as a man and suffer what no one else could have borne. Wrapped up in this selfless act are kindness, goodness, patience, forgiveness, grace, mercy and a host of other godly qualities that He asks us to emulate as we love one another. This is a new command to love because it is based on something new that Jesus was doing. Although planned since before the foundations of the earth, Jesus did something new when He came to earth to save us.
Our call is to love as Jesus loved, selflessly for the purposes of his kingdom, supporting the brethren faithfully. As we do so, the world will see and know that we are his. Jesus does not seek obedience of this command for the sake of obedience but for the sake of providing the world a testimony of himself through his people. Let us be eager participants in that testimony. Father, stir in us a love that emulates that of your Son, selfless and faithful, desiring to care for his bride until his return.