A New Commandment That Was There All Along

Image © Stan Myers from GoodSalt.com

Image © Stan Myers from GoodSalt.com

There is a trick question I love to ask people. What was the tallest mountain in the world before Mount Everest was discovered? I get all kinds of answers, like “Mount McKinley “and so forth, but you know what the answer is? Mount Everest!

Mount Everest was the tallest mountain in the world (Now I know a lot of geography buffs are going to tell me there are even taller mountains in the depths of the ocean) even before it was discovered. Just like the Americas were here long before Columbus ever “discovered” them. But you know what? Columbus did indeed discover America.  And so has every person who has ever set foot on its soil!

But I digress. My point about the riddle about the tallest mountain is that Mount Everest was there before it was discovered.

Jesus tells the disciples He has a “new commandment” for them.

“So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.” John 13:34 NLT

Jesus did not mean that the commandment had just been originated. The commandment had been there all along.

“Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against a fellow Israelite, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.” Leviticus 19:18 NLT

So like Mount Everest this commandment had been around since the foundation of the world. When Jesus said, it was new, what He meant was, “It is new to you! You are to keep this old commandment in a new way – the way I have demonstrated it to you.” It was new to the disciples who just moments earlier, were sitting around arguing over who was the greatest and refusing to wash each others’ feet. America may have been new to Columbus when he discovered it, but fact is millions already knew it was there! It was just new to Columbus!

So it is today. While many pray for a revival and wish the church would get back on track with their pet doctrine or tradition, Jesus reminds His disciples that the number one proof of revival and Godliness is:

“Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” John 13:35 NLT

I have seen people defend their theology and denominational traditions in some very barbaric and unchristian ways! Seventh-day Adventists pride themselves in their theology, but it is important to note that the Jews prided themselves in their theology and traditions as they crucified Christ!

Do you remember when God had Moses set up a bronze pole with a serpent on it? It was to point people to the Messiah and His sacrifice. But it became a problem when people started worshiping the pole instead of the Messiah it was suppose to point them to! In the end, Hezekiah had to destroy it.

“He removed the pagan shrines, smashed the sacred pillars, and cut down the Asherah poles. He broke up the bronze serpent that Moses had made, because the people of Israel had been offering sacrifices to it. The bronze serpent was called Nehushtan.” 2 Kings 18:4 NLT

Somehow the pole had become more important than the event it represented. Love for God and humankind had been supplanted by this love for a pole. So in a revival Hezekiah destroyed the pole because people were worshipping it and loving it more than they were worshiping God and loving their neighbor.

Before we have a true revival in our time are there some poles you need to destroy? We know God’s law stands firm forever and will never be done away, but have we become so wrapped up in our laws and theology that we have forgotten Who the laws point to, just like those worshiping the pole forgot Who it pointed to?

There are many issues facing our church, but there is nothing wrong with our church that can’t be fixed by what is right with our church, as long as we love one another and don’t let our personal pet denominational traditions become so big to us that we forget about our love for God and our neighbor.



A New Commandment That Was There All Along — 12 Comments

  1. [Moderator's note: Please use your full name.]

    Love for one another should be expounded on as to what it really means.

  2. This is food for the spirit and if the spirit is revived the whole body is taken care of.The idea of taking things new showed that sometimes we got lost thinking that we are deffending God's church,the fact is God defends His own church ours is to keep the new commandment and be still and see what God will do.Yes i have been revived.

  3. William, I find interesting your article regarding John 13:34. I brought this subject up last week in our SS class, because the SS lesson only used John 13:35 as a reference text, I thought verse 34 should have been included. I assumed because Jesus made a point of informing the disciples that it was new commandment, and that it was a new addition to all the commandments that they were aware of. Jesus used the word commanded, in connection with himself in many places of the New Testament. My comment to the class was that this was a commandment not a request. Loving anyone as we love ourselves is not our natural inclination. That is why it seemed to me, the reason Jesus reinforced the point by making it a commandment.

  4. John13vs34 ends with "by this shall all men know that you are my disciples " loving one another means you are united. the first great commandment upon which hangs the first 4 commandments is to love the Lord your God with all your might. What is the result? The result is loving your neighbour. So what is there to prove that you love God? There's no more proof than loving your neighbour, so loving your neighbour is a seen result of your love for God. Unity which results from love is an essential part which proves that we are the disciples of Christ. So the commandment was not literally new but new as in the way it was to be exercised or understood. In other words in old testament it was just kept but now its fulfilled

    • Ruvimbo, I try to see the context, the atmosphere, the situation, the climate, of a chapter and verses. This was in the upper room, Judas had just left the room after he was aware that Jesus knew what he was about to do. My Bible identifies certain sections of scripture. It is an, It Is Written study edition. The NKJ version. The title of this section is called, THE New Commandment, and begins with verse 31. Jesus had made an announcement to the jews that He was going somewhere they could not go. This was surprising, and new information. If you read verse 36 Peter was really puzzled. Jesus then said, So now I give you a new commandment, or as I see it, something else new. Verse 35 is actually the one that says" By this"... By what? By what He said in verse 34. The Great commandment, is in Matt 22:35-40 and it says all the law, and the prophets. I would expect that includes all the ten commandments. I quote this quite often when the ten commandments are under discussion because it emphasizes how important love for God and our fellow man is.

  5. Because no one had ever loved like Jesus loved, the command, restated in John 15:12 "This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you", brought "love your neighbor as yourself" to a new level. Were they ready to obey it? Not until they were fully converted. That's why in 1 John 2:7-8, the "old commandment" becomes the "new commandment." When the light of God's Spirit fills our minds and hearts, that command which was to us dark and distasteful, becomes light and life.

  6. Thank you for all your comments. Jack raises a good question and I would be very interested to see the responses from everyone. For starters I believe the ten commandments define love for us. The first 4 tell us how to love God and put Him first. The next 6 tell us how to love our neighbor and family and put them first. Remember this "new" commandment does not replace the ten commandments but rather expounds upon them. I'm looking forward to reading what others have to say.

    • I might add the practical aspects of 1 Corinthians 13 and 1 John 3:16. Someone said love is a "principle of action" and, as such, it does not continue if it is not lived out.

  7. [Moderator's note: Please remember to use your full name.]

    The pastor of the Loma Linda church refers to this concept frequently. He is always reminding the congregation that the main thing is to love God with all of your being and to love your neighbor as yourself. In his words, "all the rest is commentary". Matthew 25:31-46 is very clear on how we are judged. NOT by how well we uphold some pet theological doctrine, but on how we respond to our fellow humans. One Bible version I've read puts it this way: "Whenever you have failed to help any of My people, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you have failed to help Me." It couldn't be any clearer, as far as I'm concerned. I know I've failed plenty at this, I pray that I do better.

  8. If you love you do not steal, lie, cheat... the "new" commandment is the basis for all 10, if you love someone you will not hurt them, nor judge them. Thank you for this amazing article!


Please leave a comment long enough to say something significant and considerably shorter than the original post. First and last name required.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *