“A new commandment”
The two chapters (13 & 14) we read today in John’s gospel are two of the most thought challenging chapters in the whole of the Bible. Jesus is giving his disciples an intense personal exhortation. These provide us with hours of study and meditation. John, the “disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 20:2; 21:7,20) is the only one to record it – and he does so in great detail – a wonderful example of chapter 14:26 being fulfilled.
My mind is attracted to particularly focus and meditate on verse 33 and 34 in chapter 13 where Jesus exhorts his disciples, calling them,
“Little children … A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another”.
What is “new” about this? I then notice the heart searching words that qualify this “new commandment”! He had said,
“just as I have loved you”.
This qualification calls for the deepest and most intense personal meditation that we are capable of in an effort to try to produce his quality of “love”. It will be “by this” quality of love that
“all people will know that you are my disciples”.
Jesus then adds,
“if you have love for one another” (verse 35).
Let us meditate on what love we have shown so far this month to “one another”!
I also reflected on the way Jesus answered Philip’s question! He had asked,
“Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us” (14:8).
What caused him to ask this? Jesus had said,
“If you had known me, you would have known my Father also” (verse 7).
He does not say, ‘seen’ but ‘known’! We perceive he means their recognition of the ‘oneness of mind’ that existed between him and his Father. We read in John 8 how Jesus said,
“my Father who glorifies me … you have not known him. I know him … . I do know him and I keep his word” (verses 55,56).
How challenging also are Jesus’ words in verse 19,
“Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live”.
What kind of living? Our minds reach out to try to understand this. Jesus then says,
“In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you” (verse 20).
In what day? Surely his meaning unfolded to their hearts after his resurrection, the reason for his crucifixion will have then been grasped by their minds – as the ultimate act of love – and they would remember – and respond to his words.
“If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words” (verse 24).
They were now ready, with a sense of full commitment in their hearts to put his “new commandment” into practice. The foundation for us, in doing the same, is to read and meditate on portions of his word every day – and more fully put into practice the “new commandment” and then make sure we build on that foundation.