Wednesday, November 13, 2013

A New Commandment

Today is the third day in our 45th week, reading the Bible through in a year.  Our scriptures today are:  Ezekiel 37-39; John 13; Psalm 87.

For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread,  and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said,“This is my body which is for[e] you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”  For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.
(1 Corinthians 11:23-26 ESV)

Most Christians hear these words often--nearly every time they share in the Lord's Supper (aka Communion or Eucharist).  Some believers call it a sacrament, while others say it's an ordinance.  We find the story of the Lord's Supper in all three synoptic Gospels (Mark 14:22-25; Matthew 26:26-29; Luke 22:13-20).  But it's left out of John.  Isn't it curious that something so important would be left out of the fourth Gospel?

In a way, you could say that John makes reference to the Lord's Supper in his sixth chapter, where He feeds the five thousand and then says that He is the bread of life who has come down from Heaven--that anyone who eats of Him will never be hungry.  John foreshadows the Eucharist, yet He never actually tells the story.  Why?

Possibly because the other three evangelists had already written about it.  It was an established fact--something that they already took for granted.  And John was less about ritual and more about relationship, anyway.  So John remembers something that the others do not--how Jesus washed the disciples' feet.  For John, that was Communion.  Jesus said He did this out of love, and wanted his friends to do the same, out of love.

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.  By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another (John 13:34-35 ESV).”
Whether we call the Lord's Supper an ordinance or a sacrament, John remembered Jesus using the word "commandment" in reference to love.  For John, love was the key.  For John (and, we find that Paul also understood this in 1 Corinthians 11), love was the key to Communion.  True communion with God and with others can only be done in love.

And this means washing one another's feet.  Whether you feel like it or not.  Whether you like them or not--love them, anyway.  Love isn't a feeling--it's a commandment.  A new commandment.  A renewable commandment.  

As you read John 6, notice that Jesus washed the feet of a disciple who argued with Him.  He washed the feet of a disciple who would betray Him.  He washed the feet of a whole group of disciples who were content to let their Master do the servant work.  Doesn't sound very appealing, does it?  But He did it anyway--because God is love.

If we call ourselves His disciples, we must love.  This means loving your neighbor.  It means loving your enemy.  It means loving your spouse that you've been fighting with--whether you feel like it or not.  It means loving that coworker who bugs the snot out of you at the office.  Communion with God means communion with one another.  It means love.  And it's not a suggestion.  It's a command.

 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.  Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.  In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.  Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another (1 John 4:7-11).

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