The Greatest Command

Memory Verse:  “A new command I give you: Love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”  John 13:34-35

 Many of us grew up learning the Big 10 – The 10 Commandments.  Lots of “thou shall nots.”  I remember early in life thinking there is no way I could keep 10 Commandments.  The original intent was that these “laws” would guide people in how to live in a way that reflected values that were important to God.  When the Hebrew people come out of Egypt, they were used to being told how to live their lives.  They were used to the influence of Egyptian culture and the god’s or faith of the Egyptian people.  God wanted the Hebrew people, and others, to know that the expectations for living God’s way was different; thus the 10 Commandments.

Those 10 Commandments were expanded upon in the pages of the Old Testament, or the Torah, as our Jewish friends would reference their “Holy Book.”  In fact, they consider there to be 613 laws in the Old Testament, or again, in the Torah.  Years ago, I remember thinking that 10 was a lot of rules to follow.  Yikes, 613 would be way worse. Can you imagine trying to keep that many laws straight in your head and in your life?  I certainly would have trouble with it. 

 Then along comes Jesus, and as he often does, he turns things up-side-down.  As Jesus is preparing the disciples for life and ministry without his physical presence with them, he gives them an “update” on what they need to know.  Jesus doesn’t expand the current 613 laws the faithful are striving to follow, he shrinks it significantly…to just one!  “A new command I give you…”  

 This new command is one simple statement, “Love one another.”  Three simple words… “Love-one-another.”  Jesus even gives them an example or pattern to follow, “As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”  This isn’t an impersonal directive, Jesus has led the way.  Jesus has set the example.  These aren’t just words, Jesus has set the tone for the kind of love he means.  In fact, in just a matter of hours from when Jesus speaks these words, he demonstrates ultimate love through the cross. 

 Jesus brings further light to the reason for this new command in that he says this one word, “love,” will become an identifier.  It’s how people will know who you are, or more importantly, who you follow.  “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” 

 Jesus brilliantly and challengingly focuses our attention with three little words, Love one another.  It seems so simple, yet the reality is it takes so much thought and intention to live out this one command; Love one another.  This is a great memory verse for this week since our “Unafraid” theme has been “the fear of others.”  Not living in fear of others begins with Jesus new command, Love one another.   To make this new command personal, Adam Hamilton, in the book Unafraid, asks this question; “In the situation I find myself in, what is the most loving thing I can do?”  This command of Jesus is beautifully simple…and yet so challenging at the same time.  Let’s touch our world and let people know who we are …through Love.  “

 Serving Together,

Pastor Keith

P.S.  For further growth understanding this kind of Love Jesus is talking about, read Matthew, Mark, Luke and John in the Bible.  (John has 39 references to love) Also read and study I Corinthians 13.