He makes all things New
This is how all will know that you are my disciples,
if you have love for one another.
“I give you a new commandment: love one another.” Many agree that this is not a new commandment. We find a similar commandment in Leviticus: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD” (19:18). Many people rightfully point out that in saying this, Jesus expresses himself as an equal to Yahweh. At the same time, the mistake we see over and over in the Gospel is when people think they understand. Here’s a hint: when someone says “I know” in the Gospel of John, you can rather safely bet that they really don’t know, at least not in that moment. Likewise, we should never assume we fully understand Jesus’ words, especially if we only consider them at the surface level. Let us return to Jesus’ words with the utmost sobriety. “Love one another.” How is this a new commandment?
In the beginning of the Gospel, John gives us the key to understanding the whole of the Gospel. Instead of keeping the readers in the dark, and allowing them to wrongly interpret Jesus’ words and deeds along with all the other characters in the narrative who think they know, and building to the big reveal at the climax of the narrative, John gives us the secret in the beginning that brings us into crisis. If it were a movie, it would be the spoiler of all spoilers, but instead of it ruining the plot, it simply changes the dynamic of how we interact with the narrative.
In the prologue, John tells us that Jesus is the “Word made flesh” who “dwelt among us.” Armed with this information, we must judge if we believe, or if we are to side with the characters who think they know. If we believe that Jesus is the Word made flesh, not only is what Jesus says of utmost importance, but also everything that he does as well as the manner in which he goes about doing it is of equal importance. Perhaps we should hold this in our heart as we keep reading, “As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.” Jesus’ command is not simply to love our neighbor in the same manner that has been revealed to us in the Old Covenant; rather, Jesus’ new commandment is to love particularly in the manner in which he himself loves us. This is what will be the mark of discipleship: loving in the manner in which Jesus loves. If we sit at Jesus’ feet and not only listen to the words he says, but also observe and live the word that he is, we will be known for the fruit we bear as disciples. It is only then that we are able to proclaim the good news effectively, and only then that we will make “a considerable number of disciples,” (Acts 14:21), and only then that we will see clearly how our Lord “makes all things new” (Rev 21:5A).
Sean Bryan is most known for being the "Papal Ninja," a top competitor on American Ninja Warrior, but his primary ministry is directing a ministry called the Lay Mission Project, a groundbreaking comprehensive formation for laypeople. Sean received his Bachelor’s of Arts at UC Berkeley ('08), where he studied physics and was on the men’s gymnastics team. In 2015 Sean completed his MA in Theology at the Dominican School of Philosophy & Theology. The practical implications of his research involve the animation of the faithful in the Church’s mission, which led to the development of the Lay Mission Project. You can find out more about him HERE.