Jesus said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another” (John 13:34). Did Jesus replace love’s clear definition in the Ten Commandments with a new religious principle, that love alone can guide our lives?
Does this new commandment supersede the Ten Commandments and replace all other biblical laws? Jesus clearly answered this fundamental question when He said, “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets” (Matthew 5:17).
Yet many people who believe in Christ as their Savior also believe this new commandment frees them from any obligation to obey God’s laws. They misunderstand what Jesus said and meant. The Holy Scriptures, in the Old and New Testaments, teach that we should love each other (Leviticus 19:18). Jesus did not introduce love as a new principle. That was already in the Bible and a fundamental part of God’s instruction to ancient Israel.
What, then, was new in Christ’s “new commandment”? Notice His wording. He said we are to “love one another; as I have loved you . . .”
What was new was His own example of love! The whole world has, in Jesus, a perfect model of the love of God in Christ’s perfect example of loving obedience. Christ loved us so much that He sacrificed His own life for us. He Himself explained, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:13).
Jesus came as the light of the world to illuminate the application and practice of the royal law of love. We no longer have an excuse for saying we don’t understand what to do or how to do it. Jesus demonstrated what loving obedience is all about: “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love” (John 15:10).
We comply with Jesus’ new commandment when we obey every commandment of God in a genuinely loving manner and are willing to risk our lives for the sake of others.