Love: An Old Truth with a New Lesson Plan

August 17, 2012 § Leave a comment

As schools fire up again, I’m reminded of a note I once wrote to a neighbor, who is now a teacher, about a new lesson plan that Jesus taught.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (John 13:34)

John 13:34 has Jesus giving a “new command,” but doesn’t the Old Testament show that loving your neighbor is a very old command?

 “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.” (Lev. 19:18)

 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife. You shall not set your desire on your neighbor’s house or land, his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” (Deut. 5:21)

According to Jesus and later affirmed by Paul, loving God and neighbor was a summary of the Law.

“And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matt. 22:39-40)

“The commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ ‘You shall not murder,’ ‘You shall not steal,’ ‘You shall not covet,’ and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” (Rom. 13:9-10)

Why did Jesus call this a “new command”? What was new was not the principal but the example. His example, never before fully realized before Christ came to live with and die for us. “As I have loved you…“. Jesus didn’t come to change or eliminate the Law, but to fulfill it (Matt. 5:17), which He did by providing a living example of how we should love our neighbor. I guess you could say that it was the same lesson, but a new lesson plan. Want to know what loving your neighbor is all about? Take a good look at what Jesus taught and lived in front of His neighbors.

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