The 11th Commandment


Devotional for Thursday of Holy Week (April 9)

John 13:34-35 (NLT)

“So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”

“Love each other.” Easy to say, but sometimes hard to do.

It helps to remember the context of Jesus’ words. It is the same as yesterday’s devotional. Jesus and the disciples gathered to share a meal, with Jesus clearly knowing he was headed for arrest, scourging and death on a cross.

Jesus looked around the room, and he also knew how his followers would fail at love over the next few days. He knew what everyone was going to do. He knew where Judas was headed. He knew Peter, brash and zealous early in their evening together, would deny him three times before morning broke, before the rooster crowed. He knew these supposedly loyal followers would run and hide as soon as the situation got scary.

Jesus knew how alone he was about to be, hanging on a cross naked and bleeding. And yet, he loved them. He washed their feet. He offered them words of grace. And for the time to come, the time when they would begin to regather and form a fledgling church, he gave them a new commandment.

Love each other. Love would show the world something very important about God and his followers. Their mutual love would mark them, making it easy for the world to identify them. Not a building with a steeple. Not a cross on a wall. Love.

So, here’s a simple question for us on this Holy Thursday. How are we doing at this “love each other” thing?

It’s tough right now, I know. We’re not sure if absence will actually make the heart grow fonder. We don’t know whether people are committed to the idea of living as a church regardless of their ability to gather in a building. We wonder how much our local church and the global church will change because of this crisis.

We may grow angry or frustrated as what was so familiar seems to change so much. We are a little like the disciples after they saw Jesus dragged away in chains, their Lord not forcing the situation to turn out the way they had imagined.

Loving each other in good times and bad is the solution. If we each meditate on this new commandment long enough, we each will figure out a response.

Lord, let love guide all our decisions. Amen.

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