Written by: Tim Wood
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 ESV)
Jesus spoke these words after he had finished washing the disciples’ feet. What a graphic picture of serving. All of this is taking place in the upper room the night before Jesus goes to the cross. Jesus is making sure we understand that serving others is a priority in His kingdom. After he models servanthood by washing their feet, he instructs them, and us, about what it means to love others.
First, he makes it quite clear that loving one another is not a suggestion, but a new commandment to men from God. This love we are to have for one another is not optional, but a required mark of the Christian.
Second, this love is to be modeled after Christ’s love for us. Jesus said, “Love one another just as I have loved you”. This should be a deeply held conviction by followers of Christ. I am not to compare myself with others, but with Christ. When we do this, there is only one possible response, repentance and humility.
Third, Jesus gave “all men” (or all people) the authority to judge our Christianity by the love we have for one another. Regarding this verse Francis Schaeffer aptly commented, “Upon His authority He gives the world the right to judge whether you and I are born-again Christians on the basis of our observable love toward all Christians. That’s pretty frightening.”
This is a high calling, but it will be to the world’s good and our joy to pursue it in Christian community.