34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
He describes it as a new commandment. Love, of course, is essential in many parts of the Old Testament. The book Leviticus commanded the Israelites to love their neighbors as themselves. But the newness isn’t so much a matter of never having heard words like this before. It’s a matter of the mold of this love, the depth and type of this love: love one another in the same way that I have loved you.
It has been hard for the disciples up to this point even to appreciate what Jesus has been doing on their behalf; now he’s telling to copy him! As with the footwashing, they are to look back at his whole life, his whole way and manner of life, and find in it a pattern, an example, a power. To wash someone else’s feet, you have to think of yourself as only a slave. That, as we saw, can feed all the wrong kind of thinking: it can produce a sort of inverted pride, a pride at one’s own humility. But with love there’s no danger of that. Love is all about the other person. It overflows into service, not in order to show off how hard-working it is, but because that is its natural form. This is the badge that the Christian community wears before the watching world. [N.T Wright, John for Everyone, p.56]
Today, let’s pray for the harvest that is always before us, as you listen and worship with the song Mission’s Flame (click here) by Matt Redman.