Summary: New commandment? I thought love was as old as Genesis. What’s new about Jesus’ commandment to love?
What’s Fresh about Love?
John 13:31-38 When therefore he had gone out, Jesus said, "Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in Him; if God is glorified in Him, God will also glorify Him in Himself, and will glorify Him immediately. "Little children, I am with you a little while longer. You shall seek Me; and as I said to the Jews, I now say to you also, ’Where I am going, you cannot come.’
"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."
Simon Peter said to Him, "Lord, where are You going?"
Jesus answered, "Where I go, you cannot follow now; but you shall follow later."
Peter said to Him, "Lord, why can I not follow You right now? I will lay down my life for You."
Jesus answered, "Will you lay down your life for Me? Truly, truly, I say to you, a cock shall not crow, until you deny Me three times.
A new commandment I give you…
It seems that there are two words in the New Testament that are translated ‘new.’ They are kainos and neos. Neos means new as in young or in brand new. Kainos means new as in fresh. There are times when these are used interchangeably.
Col. 3:10 and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him (Neos)
Eph 4: 24 and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth. (Kainos)
When 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.” Do you want to guess which word he uses? Not neos as in brand new, but kainos as in fresh. There is nothing new about the command to love. God has commanded us to love one another from the beginning. But there is a freshness in Jesus command that renews what it means to love each other. Jesus uses the word love 3 times in this one sentence. And he says it again in the next. "By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."
So what’s fresh about love here?
Jesus makes it fresh in at least four ways: authority, context, intensity and purpose. First in authority: It is no longer a command of the law. It is a command of the Savior. Jesus speaks this command to his disciples, refreshing and refilling it with his presence and his purposes. This command comes to us not from the heavens nor from Mount Sinai, but from the lips of the God’s Son in the flesh as he demonstrates what it means. The authority of Jesus Christ is absolute and supreme. Anything Jesus commands is absolute in authority because Jesus is universal King and Lord. Yet he chose to give us this command in this setting and accompanied with humble service.
And that leads immediately to number two, context: It is one thing to get a command from God as creator of the universe and holy deliverer of Israel. It is quite another to hear it from God when he just finished washing your feet and eating with you. Think about the context of this command with me. They are at a meal, Jesus has washed their feet and called their attention to his position and to his example. What a humble setting to make this command. This is not unusual for Jesus at all. Remember the woman caught in adultery. The leaders, trying to trap Jesus say, “Moses commanded us to stone her, what do you say?” Jesus demonstrated his authority and his gracious love. His words to the woman were, “Neither do I condemn you.” His command? “Go, and sin no more.”