Anglican Morning Devotion for 29 November 2021 Anno Domini
A ministry of the Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide
“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. 35By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” (John 13:34-35; all scripture quoted is from the King James Version)
A serious Bible scholar could not help observing a subtle shift in perspective in the Gospels and Epistles of the Apostle John from the three previous Gospels. All that John records of the life of Christ is directly associated with the compelling power of LOVE. In John’s Gospel we find the most powerful and Messianic verse in all the Bible – “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) It is for this reason that John is referred to as the Apostle of LOVE by most commentators. This does not detract from the love of all the other apostles, it is simply that John was the youngest of the twelve and most impressionable with the love and compassion embodied by the Lord toward the sick, lame, and sinners.
It was John whose head lay upon the breast of our Lord at the Last Supper. “Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved.” (John 13:23) Even though John is the writer of this Gospel, he never mentions his own name; however, we know for a fact that this verse refers to the youthful John. The Lord did not love the others less, but He doubtless held a particular love for John as a Father for His child.
I have heard ministers teach that Jesus gave a new commandment when He was asked the greatest of the Commandments at which Jesus responded, “Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38This is the first and great commandment. 39And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-40); but these two are not new Commandments, but are found in the Old Testament the first of which may be found at Deuteronomy 6:5, 10:12, & 30:6. The Second may be found at Leviticus 19:18 in addition to many other parts of the New Testament. So, what is the New Commandment? It is given in the introductory verse.
This is the most powerful of all the Commandments and the most often violated. How much should the Christian love his brother Christian? He should love him/her as much as Christ loved us and gave His life for us. What does this give evidence of? It proclaims that we are true disciples of Christ! In actually, even this Commandment is not new. It was understood from the Law and Prophets of old, but Christ renders the Commandment in clear command for us to obey.
One can scarcely make a decision to love another with no reason or cause. The reason and cause come from the Holy Spirit working in our inward parts and ameliorating ill will and contempt for others that may reside there. Seasoned by the Word of God, and watered plentifully by our Love for Him, we cannot help but become an overflowing fountain of love for our fellow believers – even unto death. St. Valentine gave himself up to the lions at the Colosseum in order to spare the lives of his fellow disciples. The history of the Church is replete with such examples.
In his Epistle, John writes: “Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which ye have heard from the beginning. 8Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in him and in you: because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth. 9He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now. 10He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him. 11But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes.” (1 JOHN 2:7-11)
Love gives us the ability to obey God and His Commandments without strict compulsion but rather out of a heart-felt desire to please Him in all things. Love is the most important aspect of the Bible for it points directly to the Creator – “God is love” (1 John 4:8) The only love we can give others comes from God who gave to us. “We love him, because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19) When we love others, we become lovable. So be it!