A new commandment I give you...
John 13:31-14:14 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
Therefore when he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in Him; 32 if God is glorified in Him, God will also glorify Him in Himself, and will glorify Him immediately. 33 Little children, I am with you a little while longer. You will seek Me; and as I said to the Jews, now I also say to you, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.’ 34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
36 Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, where are You going?” Jesus answered, “Where I go, you cannot follow Me now; but you will follow later.” 37 Peter said to Him, “Lord, why can I not follow You right now? I will lay down my life for You.” 38 Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for Me? Truly, truly, I say to you, a rooster will not crow until you deny Me three times.
14 “Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. 3 If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. 4 And you know the way where I am going.” 5 Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.
7 If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.”
8 Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” 9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works. 11 Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; otherwise believe because of the works themselves. 12 Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father. 13 Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.
There is a joke which has been around for some time, which speaks to the division within the church. It goes like this: I was walking across a bridge one day, and I saw a man standing on the edge, about to jump off. I immediately ran over and said "Stop! Don't do it!" "Why shouldn't I?" he said. I said, "Well, there's so much to live for!" "Like what?" "Well ... are you religious or atheist?" "Religious." "Me too! Are you Christian or Jewish?" "Christian." "Me too! Are you Catholic or Protestant?" "Protestant." "Me too! Are you Episcopalian or Baptist?" "Baptist." "Wow! Me too! Are you Baptist Church of God or Baptist Church of the Lord?" "Baptist Church of God." "Me too! Are you Original Baptist Church of God, or are you Reformed Baptist Church of God?" "Reformed Baptist Church of God." "Me too! Are you Reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1879, or Reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1915?" "Reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1915!" To which I said, "Die, heretic scum!" and pushed him off. ~Emo Philips
It’s good for us to be able to laugh at ourselves, recognizing our shortcomings and weaknesses. Unfortunately, while very true and accurate, the division which exists within the church, over doctrines, traditions and preferences, is not a laughing matter. It is something which I am sure grieves the Lord deeply. In today’s text Jesus says: “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.” The one another Jesus is speaking of here are fellow believers, other disciples of Christ. This is not, as Jesus also taught, about loving others, the poor, the needy, the outcasts of society and even our enemies. Jesus said that it was vital that believers love other believers. It is the love they have for one another, which Jesus says will identify to the world that they are disciples of Christ. Again, while it is important that believers love the world, Jesus says that it is the love they have for one another which will identify them to the world as His disciples.
In Acts 1:8 Jesus says: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” As witnesses for Christ we are to testify about Him, to the world. There are many today who believe that the testimony of the church is lacking because it no longer embraces the power of the Holy Spirit. Certainly the power of the Holy Spirit is vital to confirm our testimony. In Mark 16:15-18, when Jesus commissioned the disciples and us to preach the gospel He says: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned. These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” Surely if more of the power of the Holy Spirit were present and active in the church today, more people would believe the testimony of the gospel. Yet the role of, the present power and action of the Holy Spirit, the evidence of that power in the lives of believers, is one of the most divisive doctrinal issues in the church today. Could it be that we lack power and authority to be effective witnesses for Christ because we fail in the new commandment Jesus gives: That we love one another? Why would the world believe that we love them, why would they believe that God loves them, when they see that so much division and strife exists within the church?
1 John 4:19-21 says: We love, because He first loved us. If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also. This speaks again of love for other believers, brothers and sisters in the Lord. If we don’t love others in whom Christ resides, how can we say that we love Christ Himself? If we don’t love others in whom the Spirit of Christ resides, how can we ourselves walk in His power? Today’s text ends with this interchange and Jesus words about unity: “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.” Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; otherwise believe because of the works themselves. In John 17:9-11, Jesus final prayer on behalf of His disciples, Jesus says: “ I ask on their behalf; I do not ask on behalf of the world, but of those whom You have given Me; for they are Yours; and all things that are Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine; and I have been glorified in them. I am no longer in the world; and yet they themselves are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep them in Your name, the name which You have given Me, that they may be one even as We are.” In John 15:13-17 Jesus says: “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you. 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. This I command you, that you love one another.” Jesus calls us His friends, the ones that He laid down His life for. Jesus says He chose and appointed us to bear fruit, that what we ask the Father in His name, He will do. In today’s text Jesus says: “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father. Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.” Jesus says: “This I command you, that you love one another.”
Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit thank You for the perfect illustration of unity, God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Thank You that because of the cross, I too can be one with You. Forgive me for allowing my testimony of You and of Your love to be diminished because I have not loved others in whom You also reside. I desire and I choose to heed Your commandment to love others. Empower me to be a good witness, testifying to the world of Your love, demonstrated in the cross, in that You laid down Your life. Amen.