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A New Command

A New Command
Words of Faith 1-23-17
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2017
Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL
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John 13
[34] "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. [35] By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."
[36] Simon Peter asked him, "Lord, where are you going?"
Jesus replied, "Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later."
[37] Peter asked, "Lord, why can't I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you."
[38] Then Jesus answered, "Will you really lay down your life for me? I tell you the truth, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!

“The dye was cast” as they say. Judas was conniving now against Jesus. An arrest was not long off. Some might have viewed this moment as one of ending. Jesus saw it as a point to talk about a new beginning.
He gave an instruction to the Eleven, which he called the “new command”. "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." The word "new" (kainen) means more than just "recent" or "different." The word implies freshness, or the opposite of "outworn".
Jesus was well aware of the bickering that had gone on among the disciples regarding who would be the greatest in the Kingdom to come. This in no way represented the Kingdom that He was ushering in. Tough times were ahead. A spirit of rivalry would disrupt their fellowship and dissemble their efforts before they could accomplish anything. This is why the “new command” was so critical.
Jesus commanded love that would be the uniting bond and a convincing demonstration of the power of God. As the song goes, “They will know we are Christians by our love.” He had loved them without reservation and without limit (13:1-5) and now expected them to do the same.
The problem was that this was a command they were not yet equipped to obey. Why? Because such love is not something we can do in our flesh. It is a fruit of God’s Holy Spirit in us (Galatians 5:22-23). The command was a good one but the power would come later with the giving of the Holy Spirit.
Peter provides a good example of how we often respond in our flesh. He was ready to go at it in his own strength, ready to lay down his life. Yet Jesus had to point out that in his flesh Peter was as cowardly as anyone, and would, in fact, deny Jesus three times. The problem was not the command or the willingness, it was the power needed to obey the new love command.
We know what that is like. At one time or another we have all come to the end of our ability to love. We have all sought with the best of intentions to serve as Jesus served only to run out of steam. Our great blessing is that we live on this side of Pentecost. We have the new command and the new power, the power of the Holy Spirit.
Our task is not to try harder in love. Our task is simply to invite the power of God into a situation and surrender to it. In our flesh we are no more capable of loving those around us than Peter was of following Jesus through the trial. Only in His Spirit are we empowered to love as Jesus loved and serve as He served.
Have you surrendered to that power? Have you invited the Holy Spirit to love the people around you through you? Have you surrendered the difficult places of service to Him, so that He can serve with your hands and heart?

Lord, I hear Your command to love others as I have been loved by You. That is impossible on my own. I need You today. I surrender to Your Holy Spirit. Love those that have been difficult for me to love. Serve through my hands and heart to the honor and glory of Your name. Amen.

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© Jeffrey D. Hoy 2002, 2017
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy - Faith Fellowship Church (EFCA)
2820 Business Center Blvd.
Melbourne, Florida 32940 (321)-259-7200
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The Words of Faith devotion is published five days a week by E-mail excluding Federal holidays. Please feel free to forward this devotion to a friend who might be blessed by this devotion. Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture is quoted from the New International Version (R) of The Holy Bible. Copyright (c) 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved. Words of Faith (c) 1997, 2010 Jeffrey D. Hoy. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to forward this copyrighted material or use portions of it with appropriate notation of the source for non-profit purposes.