A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. (vv. 34-35)
Jesus’ new commandment fell on the night of his betrayal, between the exit of Judas Iscariot from the dinner table and the revelation to a brash Peter that he would deny even knowing Jesus three times before morning. And there it was among the weeds—the commandment to love each other despite thorns and thistles, so the rest of the world would know there was something different about a disciple of Jesus.
I think about how closely that upper room resembles most of our houses of worship today. You sit among those who will betray and those who will deny, those who love deeply and those full of fear or anger or jealousy or greed; those who are clean and only need feet washed, and those whose hearts match dirty feet.
Scripture says that Jesus knew the contents of men’s hearts (John 2:24-25), but we don’t have that skill or luxury, and we’re also commanded not to judge because ours is the same measure by which we’ll be judged (Matt. 7:1-2). What we can do is love as Jesus loved. Compassionately. Extravagantly. Not counting the cost, the coins in a bag, or the risk to our reputation by sounding different than the rest of the crowd. —Amy Clemens
As you pray, consider Jesus’ commandment to love in the midst of an upper room filled with imperfect disciples.