“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
In today’s reading, Jesus continues His Farewell Discourse. He has already shown His disciples that following Him requires humble service for others, and now He gives another instruction. In John 13:34-35, Jesus says, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”
The command to “love one another” was nothing new for Jesus’ disciples. God had previously given a similar command to the Israelites: “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18). This was considered the second greatest commandment. The greatest commandment was very similar: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength” (Deuteronomy 6:5).
Though the command to “love one another” was familiar to Jesus’ disciples, the degree to which He was calling His disciples and us to love is far beyond anything that had previously been commanded. In Leviticus, God’s people were commanded to love their neighbors as much as they loved themselves or would want to be loved. Jesus, however, commands us to love others as much as Jesus has loved us. One could argue that this is technically impossible. We can’t truly love others as much as Jesus has loved us. John writes in another letter, “God is love . . . . This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 4:8-10). God provided the highest expression of love through Jesus. The best we can do is follow His example. But if we hold Jesus as our example of how to love one another, we can offer the watching world a glimpse of the gospel and God’s sacrificial love. As Jesus says, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35).
JESUS PREDICTS HIS BETRAYAL
18 “I am not referring to all of you; I know those I have chosen. But this is to fulfill this passage of Scripture: ‘He who shared my bread has turned against me.’
19 “I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I am who I am. 20 Very truly I tell you, whoever accepts anyone I send accepts me; and whoever accepts me accepts the one who sent me.”
21 After he had said this, Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, “Very truly I tell you, one of you is going to betray me.”
22 His disciples stared at one another, at a loss to know which of them he meant. 23 One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him. 24 Simon Peter motioned to this disciple and said, “Ask him which one he means.”
25 Leaning back against Jesus, he asked him, “Lord, who is it?”
26 Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.” Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. 27 As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him.
So Jesus told him, “What you are about to do, do quickly.” 28 But no one at the meal understood why Jesus said this to him. 29 Since Judas had charge of the money, some thought Jesus was telling him to buy what was needed for the festival, or to give something to the poor. 30 As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out. And it was night.
JESUS PREDICTS PETER’S DENIAL
31 When he was gone, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man is glorified and God is glorified in him. 32 If God is glorified in him, God will glorify the Son in himself, and will glorify him at once.
33 “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.
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.”
36 Simon Peter asked him, “Lord, where are you going?”
Jesus replied, “Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.”
37 Peter asked, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.”
38 Then Jesus answered, “Will you really lay down your life for me? Very truly I tell you, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!
14 JESUS COMFORTS HIS DISCIPLES
1 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. 2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going.”
JESUS THE WAY TO THE FATHER
5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”
8 Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”
9 Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. 11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. 12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.