REDISCOVERING THE ANCIENT PATH—Week of February 28, 2021
Love One Another: Jn. 13:34
We are in Week 4 of our examination of Benedict of Nursia’s rules for Christian formation. This week we will continue our journey down this ancient path by examining Rule 4.2: Love One Another.
To understand this command, it is important to examine the context in which Christ gave it. Jesus is with his disciples at the Last Supper. Jesus has just identified Judas as His betrayer, and Judas has left the room to finish making arrangements for the capture of Jesus later that night. As Jesus looks around the room at his closest companions, I am sure His heart is filled with both sadness and compassion, for He knows His time with them is short. He first tells them that He is going away to a place they cannot follow. He follows this with the command we are examining this week—to love one another.
Interestingly, Jesus called this a new command. But this command had been a part of the Jewish religious culture since the time of Moses (Lev. 19:18). Why did Jesus say it was a new command? The word translated “new” in this passage was not referring to new in time. When Jesus said it was a “new” command, He was using a word that meant “fresh” or “new in experience.” Jesus was telling His disciples that they were about to receive both a fresh understanding of what it meant to love on another and the power to make such a love a reality. They would soon witness the depth of love to which Jesus was calling them as they would watch Him die upon the cross (Rom. 5:6-8). And they would soon be equipped to show that kind of love as they themselves would experience the love of God poured out in their hearts through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 5:5).
Jesus knew these men were about to have their worlds turned upside down. Not only would they witness the death of their Friend and Rabbi, but also each of them but John would experience a violent, martyr’s death for following Christ. Though they would have the Holy Spirit to teach and empower them, Jesus knew they would also need their love for one another to sustain them through the difficulties they would face. Their love for Jesus and for one another would become their distinctive—the thing that set them apart from the myriad other religious movements of the day. In fact, according to the early Church leader and historian Tertullian (155-220 A.D.), pagans were quoted as saying of the early Christians, “See how they love one another?”
We live in a broken, hurting world. And the modern Church is struggling to find the best way to relate to that world and impact it for Christ. How do we make a difference? How do we show our culture there is a better way, and that way is Christ? Jesus gave us the answer: love one another. In this pandemic, where isolation is normal (if uncomfortable), it is easy for this command to become an ideal instead of a practice. But now, more than ever, it is imperative for us to strive to find new and creative ways to express love for one another. While these times push our communities further and further apart, let us be drawn closer through our love for one another.
- Take a moment to imagine you are one of the 11 remaining disciples at the Last Supper. What goes through your mind when you hear what Jesus says in John 13:34? How does your understanding of that command change once you watch Jesus die? When you see the resurrected Christ?
- Read Romans 5:5-8. How does understanding what Christ did on the cross change your understanding of what it means to love one another?
- What would need to change in your life for your unsaved friends to say of you, “See how they love one another?”
- How can Redeemer Church grow in our love for one another? What can you do to help make that happen?