Just as Jesus is preparing for the completion of his mission, he announces to his disciples: A new commandment I give you: LOVE ONE ANOTHER AS I HAVE LOVED YOU!
It was here, more than anywhere else in the gospels, that Jesus provided his own life as the blueprint for the life of any and all would-be disciples. In another place Jesus tells his friend, Martha, that he is “The way, the truth, and the life.” But that was a proclamation to her and obviously for our benefit. What we have in today’s gospel passage is nothing short of a commandment.
Commandments are not to be taken lightly. Certainly those in our country who have fought for the right to display “The Ten Commandments” would agree. Then there are “The Two Great Commandments: Love of God and Love of Neighbor.” Remember that those who tried to “trip Jesus up” by asking for the greatest commandment were subsequently sent away scratching their heads because Jesus gave them two, the one being “like” the other or “equal” to it. The Benedictines beautifully capture Jesus’ two-commandment teaching when they live that part of their rule which says, “Treat the guest as Christ.”
At any rate, Jesus’ new commandment trumps both the ten and the two. If we love one another as he loved us, “keeping” the ten commandments is “a piece of cake,” as they say, and loving God and neighbor is just…well…automatic. As Jesus lived, laid down, and took up his life for us again, did he not count his heavenly Father above all things? Did he not honor his Father’s name? Keep holy all the Sabbaths, honor his father and mother, bear true witness, and mind his own business when it came to other peoples wives and property? All God’s commandments meet in Jesus Christ; no commandment is eliminated and all are fulfilled. Would you even be tempted to argue the fact?
Frankly I worry about Christians who want to put a monument of the Ten Commandments in their front yard without the rest of the “Good News”; without Jesus those commandments are so incomplete and unfulfilled. It’s almost as if the New Testament didn’t happen. No, if someone were to approach me about putting up a commandment monument—in order “to make a statement”—it would definitely be Jesus’ commandment:
The New Commandment
“Love One Another As I Have Loved You!”
Jesus Christ, ca 30 AD (or CE)
Practically speaking, you would get “a lot more bang for your buck,” if people read it and followed it, and it would probably take up a lot less space on the front lawn.