John 13:33-37 (The Message)
"Children, I am with you for only a short time longer. You are going to look high and low for me. But just as I told the Jews, I'm telling you: 'Where I go, you are not able to come.' 34 "Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. 35 This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples - when they see the love you have for each other." 36 Simon Peter asked, "Master, just where are you going?" Jesus answered, "You can't now follow me where I'm going. You will follow later." 37 "Master," said Peter, "why can't I follow now? I'll lay down my life for you!"
I love this.
The deal has been made. Judas sold him out.
Jesus is really just hours from the end of his natural life.
Jesus has some very important information to impart.
Something new. (Remember, "new." Okay?)
Something Jesus has basically been waiting his whole life (not just the thirty or so he's been on earth…but the eternity before "earth" was even ever spoken) to lay out his plan and share it with humanity.
Jesus said, "Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another."
"Let me give you a new command."
Jesus said "new."
But not new like the marketing department's ploy to make you think their product has been made better (but actually contains the same product, now just in a sexier package) when they post on the package "New Look…Same Product." (This is what I call "deceptive honesty." Um…yeah…okay...)
Not that kind of new.
But the kind of new synonomous with words like unprecedented, uncommon…wait, try this one…unheard of. Remember when I said to remember "new"?
Well, it seems to me, Jesus is talking to the Disciples, with this kind of wide-eyed, hold-on-to-your-seats, this-is-going-to-blow-you-away and shake-up-what-you-believe kind of new theology (doesn't "theology" sound completely inadequate?)
But that's exactly what this word "new" meant.
Jesus is about to be arrested, endure the most brutal, multiple beatings, falsely accused, wrongly convicted, and shamefully executed…and is trying to impart the most important thing he's ever said, and set forth the command for the church…and the identity obeying the command would confer.
Here's what he said, again.
"Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples - when they see the love you have for each other."
Two words: Earth Shattering!
Can you imagine?
You've spent your whole life trying desperately to follow an impossible to remember list of laws and commands.
Then you spent about the last three years with the man who claims to be the one who gave Moses those laws and commandments and those commands you had to obey to make sure you obeyed the other commands.
Commands on top of commands, on top of commands.
And Jesus comes along and says he's got a new command.
And not only that, but this.
If you obey this command, people will know you're learning from me.
People will know you're my disciple…
…Not because the robe you wear.
…Not because the tassels on your robe.
…Not because of any other thing…
…But showing love.
This was, even compared to all the crazy things they had ever heard from the mouth of the Messiah, in redundancy: earth shattering.
But you know what gets me?
In over 2000 years, the Church really hasn't changed that much.
Jesus says I'm outta here, 'kay? You won't be able to find me when I leave...and before I go and leave you to finish, you need this important order: love.
And what did Peter do/say?
Peter completely ignored Jesus' command and started freaking out about Jesus leaving.
"I wanna go with you!!"
"I promise I'll be good!"
Peter completely disregarded Jesus' command.
Peter was looking for something else in the Messiah…and sometimes it seems that's all he could see.
Peter was looking for a position. (That's what I used to look for.)
Peter was looking for prosperity. (That's what I used to look for.)
Peter was looking for power. (That's what I used to look for.)
But Peter wasn't looking in the mirror. (Me either.)
Peter was looking for something new, but Peter wasn't looking at Jesus "new command."
Dear Church…are we?