Bible Society of South Africa

Jesus – Day 14

Jesus: A New Commandment.

Bible text(s)

34And now I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35If you have love for one another, then everyone will know that you are my disciples.”

John 13:34-35GNBOpen in Bible reader

37“Lord, why can't I follow you now?” asked Peter. “I am ready to die for you!”

38Jesus answered, “Are you really ready to die for me? I am telling you the truth: before the cock crows you will say three times that you do not know me.

John 13:37-38GNBOpen in Bible reader

13The greatest love a person can have for his friends is to give his life for them.

John 15:13GNBOpen in Bible reader

34“My food,” Jesus said to them, “is to obey the will of the one who sent me and to finish the work he gave me to do.

We cannot help but be struck by the simplicity of the command that Jesus gives to His disciples. In fact, we could be justified in thinking that it probably went by unnoticed when we see that Peter responds, not to this, but to what Jesus had said just prior to this. We then realise why. Peter’s mind is riveted to the fact that Jesus has just said that He is not going to be with them much longer and that they cannot go with Him.

Ironically, when he asks Jesus, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you” (John 13:37), Peter’s words show that, where it concerns Jesus, his mind and heart are already in place to accept and obey the spirit of the new command, to love in the way Jesus means. He has lived with Him, watched Him performing miracles and absorbed His teaching: He knows just how vital Jesus is to him. But Jesus knows that Peter’s spirit does not yet have the capacity to accomplish his declaration, and says, “Will you really lay down your life for me? I tell you the truth, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!” (John 13:38) And this happens. Peter is afraid to be identified as a follower of Jesus when He is on trial. But after faithfully preaching the gospel for forty years, he further ends up proving his love for his Lord by dying for Him, tradition tells us, crucified upside down.

And perhaps this is where it starts for us weak human beings. Perhaps we, too, deny Jesus when we are afraid of the consequences. The kind of love that Jesus had spoken of consistently is sacrificial. “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13) Jesus’ whole life was sacrificial. We read nowhere of Jesus driving Himself for His own rewards that would make Him rich or famous. On the contrary, “My food,” said Jesus “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.” (John 4:34) He led by example in dying for the world and expects His followers to emulate His love and to do the same. Jesus calls His followers to the highest calling: to love in a way that is totally selfless, and sacrificial.

It has to begin with how we love Jesus. Then we will understand and be empowered, through Him, to truly love one another. It will be clear to others, too, that we are His disciples. Can we say, like Peter, “I will lay down my life for you?” How committed to Jesus are we?

How committed are you?

Bible Society of South Africav.4.20.15
Find us on