March 24, 2015

The Lord's New Commandment - John 13:34

The following is a short study on the Lord's New Commandment:

"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another:
just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another."
(John 13:34 ESV) 

I. What was the context of this new commandment?
  1. Jesus issued this commandment to his disciples on the night of his betrayal at his last supper before the Feast of Passover. (John 13:1-2)
  2. Before issuing the commandment, Jesus demonstrated his own service to his disciples by washing their feet. (John 13:3-10)
  3. During the meal, Jesus shared his bread with Judas Iscariot, who then left the room under Satan’s influence in order to betray Jesus. (John 13:11-30)
  4. Jesus spoke of his immediate glorification and God’s glorification through him, and he spoke of his departure and separation from his disciples, whom he denominated as his ‘little children.’ (John 13:31-33)
  5. Jesus told them that by keeping the commandment to love one another, all people would know that they were his disciples, if they have love for one another. (John 13:34-35) 
  6. Jesus carried over into the New Covenant an old commandment that was given in the Law of Moses (Leviticus 19:18, “You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.”). He also extended that commandment to follow his pattern of self-sacrificial and self-giving love.
  7. In light of all the other commands to love our neighbors, Jesus singled out this command as new, because of its uniqueness and special connection with his death for his people and Church.
II. What was the purpose of this new commandment?
  1. This commandment was given at the time when Jesus established the New Covenant in his blood (Luke 22:20), and so it is to be a ruling principle in the Kingdom of God.
  2. Jesus stated that the new commandment was to be carried out the same way in which he had demonstrated. “Just as I have loved you . . .” (John 13:34). This shows that imitating Jesus and his love is part of its purpose.
  3. Jesus said that people would know you are his disciples by keeping this commandment (John 13:35). In other words, we demonstrate that we are following Jesus by showing love to others who are following him.
  4. The Church, as the body of Christ, is to be built up into maturity through Christ-like love. (Ephesians 4:11-16) 
  5. The new commandment gives assurance of true faith and of eternal life to those who keep it. (1 John 2:1-8) 
III. How can we obey the new commandment?
  1. We can obey the new commandment by sharing with fellow Christians according to the need. (Acts 2:45)
  2. We can obey the new commandment by bearing the burdens of others. (Galatians 6:2) 
  3. What does that look like in real life?
  4. We can obey the new commandment by not doing wrong to others. (Romans 13:10)
  5. We can obey the new commandment by encouraging one another in the faith. (Acts 14:22; Hebrews 10:25)
  6. What are additional ways in which we can love as Jesus commanded? 
IV. What are challenges to obeying the new commandment?
  1. What are some challenges to fulfilling this commandment:
  • from the home
  • from the church
  • from the world
  • from the devil
  • from our own sin

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