Day 30: A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35)
This is a new Commandment I give unto you that you be loving and respectful towards one another in all ways that others will see and feel acceptance accordingly and will know that you are my disciples if you have the Love I have shone you and love one another wisely as I have you.
Ye shall aseek me: and as I said unto the Jews, Whither I go, ye cannot come; so now I say to you. 34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye alove one another; as I have loved you, that ye also blove one another. 35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have alove one to another.
What Does John 13:34 Mean? ►
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
The cross was drawing ever closer. Jesus had just washed the feet of His confused disciples, in an act of gracious love. The kingdom that seemed so promising a few short days earlier was fast fading into obscurity, as Christ talked of leaving them… of going away to a place where they could not follow – and then came the shocking realisation of His forthcoming death. It was at this time of intense sorrow and deep, deep passion that the little flock of Christ heard their Good Shepherd say: A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, so love you one another.
The Sermon on the Mount had catapulted the Law of Moses into the realms of moral idealism, but here was a command for divine perfection – LOVE as I have loved… The Son of Man Whom they now confessed as Son of God was full of grace and truth – and He was shortly to display a love so staggering, that it baffles the minds of men – a divine love that they themselves were being called upon to emulate.
They did not understand that in a few short days Christ would rise from the dead, and in so doing would break the power of death in the lives of ALL who believed on His name. They did not understand that in a few short weeks they would be indwelt by the holy Spirit, so that the life that they now lived in the flesh would be the new life of Christ living in and through them – a life they would receive by the power of the Spirit – for the life of Christ and the love of Christ was to be their eternal portion… and it is our eternal portion too.
No one can love as Christ loved in the power of their own sinful flesh – No one can love as Jesus loved by their own imperfect human effort, however hard they try, for the love of man is but a faint reflection of the glorious Sun of Righteousness. But all who trust in His name have been made a new creation in Christ and have the life of Christ living in us and through us – and only as we walk in spirit and truth – in submission to the leading of the Holy Spirit within, can we fulfil this beautiful command to love as I have loved you, until we can at last say with Paul, it is not I that lives but Christ that lives in me.
It is not I that LOVE but the love of Christ in me.
What Does John 13:35 Mean? ►
“By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
The love of Christ is a supernatural love, a divine love – a love that streams to us from the heart of God – for God is Love. The Lord Jesus was soon to demonstrate how deep that love was for all who receive Him as their redeeming sin sacrifice – for greater love has no one than this, that the Man Christ Jesus – God incarnate, would lay down His life for His friends.
And so, He gave us a new commandment – a command that sums up the perfect Law of God in one simple act – Love one another as I have loved You – for in so doing we perfectly fulfill the requirements of God’s law and the will of God’s heart for all His children – for what is impossible for man is possible with God. When we live our life in spirit and truth, and in submission to the Holy Spirit, the life of Christ lives in us and the love of Christ streams from us – and God is glorified by this.
And there is a legitimate reason that we are called upon to live godly in Christ Jesus – to walk in spirit and truth – to submit to the teaching and training of the Holy Spirit – to learn obedience through suffering – to love one another as Christ loved us… for by this all people will know that you are my disciples – and a disciple is one that LEARNS of Christ. No surprise that early in his ministry Christ said: Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, so that at the end of His life He could give a new commandment – that we love others as He loved us
When, in the power of the Holy Spirit Christians put to death the lust of the flesh, the things of the world and the pride of life and choose to walk in newness of life – we walk in love. Only as we allow Christ to live in us, will His love stream through us, so that by THIS will other people know that we are learning Christ – that we are His disciples.
Sam Freney | 12 July, 2012
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
There’s a story about John the apostle as an old man, recounted by Jerome.1 Whenever John’s disciples carried the frail apostle in to their meetings, he would say, “Little children, love one another”. Every. Time.
His disciples eventually got a bit cranky and bored with this repetition, and asked him, “Why do you always say this?” He replied, “Because it is the Lord’s commandment and if it alone be kept, it is sufficient”.
John certainly wrote a lot about what Jesus said concerning love. Famously, God so loved the world that he gave his own Son, Jesus (John 3:16). Jesus talks often about the love the Father has for him (3:35, 5:20, 10:17, 15:9, 17:23). Chapter 13 gives us a particularly intimate demonstration of the love Jesus had for his disciples. As he takes the position of a servant and washes his disciples’ feet, he gives them a demonstration of how they are to act (13:15). In imitating Jesus, it seems there’s nothing more like our Lord than to forget about any sense of entitlement you might have, or what you think you might deserve, and get on with looking after others.
So in these verses in chapter 13, as Jesus announces that he is going away and his disciples cannot follow him, he outlines his expectations for them in his absence. He expects them to love one another.
The ‘old commandment’ of the law stated that God’s people should love their neighbours as themselves (cf. Matt 22:37-40, Mark 12:29-31). Love for one another in this sense is not new, and Jesus’ “new commandment” does not do away with this concern for others. What Jesus is doing here is extending and deepening that command to treat others rightly, by providing a new basis for love: the extent of his own love for his people. In washing his disciples’ feet, Christ showed that he loved them “to the end” (13:1), pointing to the love that he would soon demonstrate on the cross.2
And so our love for others now is not because of social or national ties, or geographic ‘neighbourliness’; it’s perhaps least of all because we like the other person. “New commandment” love for other people is grounded in the fact that they are fellow sinners, redeemed by Jesus Christ in just the same way we were.
That is, rather than loving your brothers and sisters as yourself, we’re talking here about loving them as if they were better than yourself (cf. Philippians 2), and worth laying down your life for.
Why can I say that? Well, this theme of love is taken up and expanded in chapter 15, particularly verses 9-16. The kind of love for a friend that would lead you to lay down your life for them—that’s the kind of love that Jesus is commanding here:
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no-one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you.” (John 15:12-14)
How has Jesus loved us? He loved us by self-sacrificially dying for us. We too must be prepared to go to a similar extent for our brothers and sisters in Christ.
There are two things worth finishing on regarding this divine love, modelled on the relationship between God the Father and Jesus the Son (15:9). Loving one another like Jesus loved us is a commandment. Our submission and obedience to Jesus requires that we continue to do this.
Secondly, this commandment carries an element of evangelism, or at the very least a demonstration of who we are. There’s a link in these chapters between the disciples being caught up in Jesus’ love for them and being sent out into the world in mission (cf. 17:20-25, 20:21). Our loving service of others in seeking their good, in laying down our lives for them, in building them up in the word, is all service with a mission: so that “all people” will know the love of God that has transformed us. Our verbal witness about Jesus in testifying about him must be matched by a visual demonstration of his love. Our love for one another is a defining characteristic of our relationship with Jesus; through our demonstration of love, the world can come to know what we know.
My brothers and sisters: love one another. It is the Lord’s commandment!
1. St Jerome, Commentary on Galatians, trans. Andrew Cain, Catholic University of America Press, Washington DC, 2010, p. 260. ↩
2. “To the end” could also be translated “to the full extent”, like the NIV1984; I think either way it foreshadows the cross. ↩
What does John 13:34 mean?
There is some confusion over Jesus’ reference to this commandment as “new.” Earlier in His ministry, Jesus made it explicitly clear that love for others was a cornerstone of obedience to God (Matthew 22:36–40). The general instruction to love, then, is not being stated as if it’s the first time it’s being mentioned. The “newness” Jesus refers to here is in the sense of something refreshed, re-emphasized, or highlighted. The Greek term Jesus uses here, kainēn, leans heavily toward this version of “new.”
This re-issued commandment is being given in the context of Jesus’ washing of the disciples’ feet (John 13:2–5). Jesus explained that if the Master acts as a humble servant, so too should those who follow Him (John 13:12–17). Here, Jesus doubles down on that idea by setting His own love as the standard to which all believers should aspire. In the next verse, Jesus will further explain the importance of acting in Christian love. In no uncertain terms, love—especially between fellow believers—is meant to be the primary and most powerful sign of one’s Christian faith (John 13:35; 1 John 3:14).
John 13:31–35 contains one of the most powerful commands given to Christians: that love for others is the defining sign of faith for ”all people,” marking the life of a true believer. Jesus frames this as a new commandment, using His own example as the standard. In giving this charge, Jesus once again predicts His impending death and departure from earth.
Jesus meets with a smaller group, possibly only the twelve disciples, in a private setting. Before eating a meal, Jesus performs the work of a lowly servant, washing the feet of the disciples. He explains that this is an object lesson. Their Lord is willing to serve in humility, so they are obligated to do the same. Jesus also predicts His impending betrayal, subtly telling Judas to leave and complete His conspiracy. The disciples don’t realize what’s happened, however. Peter foolishly brags about his loyalty. Jesus responds with a cutting prediction: Peter will deny his relationship to Christ three times in the next few hours