May 2, 2011

The New Command, Part I

One of the things that really floors me in the Gospel of John is the underlying theme of the “New Commandment” that is stated in John’s Gospel. It is outlined and illustrated by example in Jesus' life. It is mentioned in the context of being promised the Holy Spirit.

In John 13:34-35 we see Jesus issue a new command (which really isn’t new):

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” ~John 13:34-35

We go on to later read...

If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.” ~John 14:15-21

If we look closely , there is a similarity between the greatest commandment (love God, love neighbor) and the new(est) commandment (above) from Jesus. These  two greatest commandments given by Jesus when asked, is to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. Jesus is quoting the Shema here and it is from Deuteronomy 6:4-5. Jesus then goes on to add from Leviticus 19 that the second greatest is like it: “Love your neighbor as yourself”. Again, we see Jesus provide the perfect example of this, especially in the way He treats and loves His disciples and shows compassion for others.  He also does a perfect job of showing the continuity between the Old and the New Testament embodied in Himself. His life is perfectly sinless and does not ask the disciples or us to do something that He hasn’t already done in their/our stead. In Him we see the emmbodiment of the Old Testament law / commandments and we also see the embodiment of His new command.

Jesus goes on in the Gospel of John to say, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. ~John 14:23-24

If you love me you will keep my commandments Jesus expects that the disciples who love Him will keep His commandments. Adherence to the words of Jesus (God) is a sign of love for Him and of being His disciple (John 14:15, 21, 23). The testimony of this love will be manifest in a mutual love between disciples. and others. By this people will know they are of Christ / in Christ (Pauline authorship) or related to Him (John 13:35). There is a joy that comes from knowing God through Jesus and experiencing His will in one's life as one serves Jesus and others --- and that is why are called to do it. To know and have the mind of Christ: It is righteous and it will bring you joy and completeness.
If we then jump to John 17 we begin to see a shift but it is still distinctly related to the new (old) commandment given by Jesus. It is in this prayer to the Father that Jesus says on behalf of His disciples that we see Jesus “practicing what He preached”. It is also not ironic that Jesus would again draw on the Shema (Deuteronomy 6:4-9).

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. ~Deuteronomy 6:4-9

Jesus changes gears from instructing the disciples to encouraging them and building them up in the shadow of His impending death. Jesus begins the prayer by looking to Heaven -which is His soon to be realized return destination.

"Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You, as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him. And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do. And now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was" ~John 17:1-5

Jesus asks His Father to glorify Him at this time so that the nations will see God's glory in the most gruesome of spectacles--now on Jesus’ doorstep. In John 17:6-19 we see an intense intercessory prayer for the disciples. He recalls what the Father has done and what He continues to do in the disciples lives (not unlike other prayers in the Bible: i.e.: Habakkuk).

First, Jesus has given God’s word to the people-Jesus has tried to put His Word on their hearts which is amazing but not ironically, the context of the Shema in Deuteronomy 6 when God delivered His people out of the bondage of Egypt just as Jesus will deliver sinners out of the bondage of sin. What context you ask? The context of: Deuteronomy 6:1-3...the lead in to the Shema...

These are the commands, decrees and laws the LORD your God directed me to teach you to observe in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the LORD your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life. Hear, Israel, and be careful to obey so that it may go well with you and that you may increase greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, just as the LORD, the God of your ancestors, promised you. ~Deuteronomy 6:1-3

The context was that they / we are to obey affords us a blessing...not because God wants to punish us. So that you may live long in the land, so that you may increase...

Any way, on to Jesus' intercesory prayer for His Disciples...

“I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one. While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled. “I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified. ~John 17:6-19

In the word "glory" we also see the reason why.

(Continued and completed in next post)

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...