Fifth Sunday of Easter
A New Old Commandment
The Gospel passage from John (13:31–35) places us amid the Passover feast. Jesus has just given the piece of bread to Judas. The scene is probably very peaceful in the eyes of the disciples; they notice nothing out of the ordinary except Judas’s leaving quickly. However, Jesus knows that his hour approaches. He acknowledges this to his disciples and gives them a new, old commandment. Jesus states, “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another” (John 13:34).
Of course, Jesus is not giving them a new commandment that they have not heard before. His disciples should know this commandment. Yet these are special words for his disciples in this intimate moment at the table.
Jesus provides no lofty explanation following this commandment. Jesus is not speaking to a large crowd. He is speaking to his friends. His new commandment defines his followers and his relationship to them. He is placing a qualifier on being a disciple of Jesus. Followers of Jesus do not hate each other. Followers of Jesus do not judge each other. Followers of Jesus do not reject each other. Followers of Jesus love one another.
Who wants to be a follower of Jesus if his disciples are at odds with each other? Who wants to become a part of a church community if its members are always fighting and arguing about insignificant matters or judging each other? Jesus’ command is clear for his disciples, and for Jesus’ followers today: “You also should love one another.” There are no conditions on this love, only that we love another as Jesus loves us.
Scott Rainey, pastor, Unity Moravian Church
Lewisville, North Carolina