Summary: When Jesus told his disciples, "i have a new command for you, LOVE," it was an old command - from the beginning of time. What made this command new? How can we have a new love every day? Read and find out.
May 9, 2004 John 13:31-35
When he was gone, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will glorify the Son in himself, and will glorify him at once.
“My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
The writer of Ecclesiastes focuses on the fact that everything is “meaningless.” Why was that? All streams flow into the sea, yet the sea is never full. To the place the streams come from, there they return again. What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. (Ec 1:3-9). The reason why he considered everything meaningless was that life is an endless circle - a constant routine that never seems to end - with nothing new. Even though computers, planes, and cars are relatively new to the world - the basic concepts of life, eat, work, play, sleep - remain the same. Nothing remains new - it all gets old.
In today’s revelation, Judas had just left the upper room to betray Jesus. So Jesus then turns to his disciples - about to share some of the last moments with them prior to his crucifixion. What did Jesus have to say? What were his final instructions? A new command I give you: Love one another. This is a strange statement, because love is the oldest command there is - it’s as old as the heart of man. Mormons, Muslims, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Buddhists, and even atheists teach it. There’s nothing “new” about it. So the question we answer today is -
What’s So New About Love?
I. The primary motivation
When kids get bored with school - the same old routine - what do they do to freshen things up? They misbehave, right? When I was in the 7th or 8th grade we used to have an above average class in the area of naughtiness. Every day we’d have a red headed teacher of the 5th and 6th grade come in to teach spelling or English - I can’t remember exactly what it was. But what I do remember is that it was a dull routine. We didn’t sit around and plot how exactly to liven things up, but over time the class ended up having a competition as to how quickly we could get Mr. B to explode. His face would get redder and redder, and he’d slam his book down and yell, “now knock it off!” When this break in the routine happened, we were happy for the rest of the hour. The point I’m getting at is that as humans, we will go to great extremes to experience something new or to create at least a sense of excitement so that life won’t seem like such a long, predictable, and dull routine. We crave “new” things - and we’re willing to break the “rules” to get them.
One of the most tell tale signs of this is found in marriage. In marriage a man and a woman vow to live the rest of their lives together - to love one another “til death do us part.” For some couples they wish that death would get going and to it’s parting. Because it’s such a long time - it’s not an easy commitment. It’s not easy socially. It’s not easy sexually. It’s not easy materially. It can easily get boring. So married couples who are somewhat committed to each other constantly do things to spice up their lives. They have kids. They get new jobs. They move. They go to marriage classes together. They plan vacations. They argue. They party. They join sports leagues. They do everything they can to keep things “fresh” and “new”. If that doesn’t happen - if marriage doesn’t at least keep some newness in it - it often ends up in divorce because they don’t feel they “love” each other.
I can see this same thing happen in people’s pursuit of “religion.” A somewhat surprising thing was that after the attacks on the twin towers, many Americans - even many so called Christians - actually looked into the Muslim religion - not just to find out what it was about - but in an actual interest to join. What was it that attracted them to this religion? I think the main thing was in the fact that it was so different than Christianity. It seemed interesting to them that some people would be willing to kill themselves and thousands of innocent people for their religion. It was different to see this religion bowing down five times a day. It offered a sense of discipline and conviction that modern day American Christianity wasn’t giving them. So they sought it - as something new.