Beloved, I am not writing a new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning; the old commandment is the word which you have heard.1 John 2:7(NASB)
Jesus proclaimed a new commandment to His disciples. The new instruction He implemented was to love one another, in the same way that Christ loved us, and gave Himself for us. The love we have for one another should mirror the love that the Lord Jesus demonstrated towards us - in that while we were yet sinners, at enmity with God and without hope in the world, Christ set aside His heavenly glory to be clothed in mortal flesh - and died, to save us from sin, Satan, slavery, death, and hell.
The love of Christ is a godly love, which is far greater than the human love we attempt to show to parents, spouses, children, friends, and others. Such love can only be manifested in the life of a believer, who is walking in spirit and truth. However, it would be through this freely-given, supernaturally imputed love, that all men would know that we are His disciples.
The old command was to love our neighbour as ourselves, but the new command of Christ eclipses the glory of the former, by raising the standard of godly love into impossible heights. The beautiful, spiritual fruit of godly love, can only be manifested in our lives when imputed to us by God Himself - as we walk in humble obedience and total dependence before Him.
John, who is so often referred to as 'the apostle of love', wrote at the sunset of his life, "Beloved, I am not writing a new commandment to you, but an old commandment, which you have had from the beginning; the old commandment is the word which you have heard." (through the ministry of Jesus Christ our Lord.)
The 'old commandment' to which John refers is the 'new commandment' that Christ gave to His disciples, as He prepared to face the cruel nails and crown of thorns... and the full force of God's righteous wrath, poured upon Him, as He was made sin for us and took on His sinless shoulders the sin of the world. Christ did this in love, so that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
John was not introducing a new and different commandment. He was simply emphasising a teaching that had been his life mission, since he watched in awe and wonder, as Jesus was taken up into heaven, with the instruction to, "go into all the world, and to preach the glad tidings of the gospel of Christ, to all the people."
John not only taught others to love as Christ loved, but he became a living example of what it meant to love in this way. He was not writing a new commandment in this epistle, but reinforcing the need to love others as Christ loved us.
John was reiterating the same, old, wonderful commandment, that he had heard with his own ears from the voice of his Master, so many years before. It was the same commandment that he had taught to sinner and saint alike, from the beginning of his post-Cross ministry. "Beloved, I am not writing a new commandment to you," he wrote, "but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning; the old commandment is the Word which you have heard."
Jesus is that Word. Christ Jesus is the Word made flesh. He is God incarnate, Who came to earth to show us the love of God and to demonstrate His love for mankind, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. John understood the importance of obeying Christ's new commandment - which was the same old commandment that had been taught from the very start of Christ's ministry - a love that started before the foundation of the world and can be traced throughout the entire Word of God. A love that stretches from eternity past into the ages to come, and resides in the heart of God.
The love of God is a multi-dimensional love. The breadth of God's love embraces all who are saved by grace through faith, and embraces Jew and Gentile, young and old, male and female – all people, climes, and tongues.
The length of God’s love spans from the foundation of the world and reaches into eternity. He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight - in love, so that in the ages to come, He might show the surpassing riches of His love and grace in kindness toward us in Christ.
The depth of God’s love and grace delivers whosoever will believe, from the depravity of evil and the most sordid sin. The depth of His gracious love excludes no-one who calls on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ – for the love of God stoops to the pit of death to encompass all who trust in His only begotten Son.
The height of God’s love reaches into heaven itself, where we are seated with Christ in heavenly places. It is found in Christ Jesus our heavenly Lord and King - for God, being rich in mercy and love, has raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in heavenly places, in Christ Jesus.
It is only those that walk in spirit and truth, daily abide in Him, hold fast that which is good, and remain in fellowship with the Father, through humility and obedience to the Word of truth, that are enabled, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to demonstrate the same supernatural love of Christ, in a world of sin and shame.
Heavenly Father, thank You for this new commandment which Jesus gave to His disciples, and has become such a well-loved old instruction which has been passed down through generations of believers to me. I desire to love others as Christ loved me, and to live my life as He lived, in ongoing and unbreakable fellowship with You. Thank You for the length, and breadth, and depth, and height, of His supernatural and never-ending, never-failing, love for me. Keep me low at the Cross and broken before You. May I quickly restore any fractured fellowship with You, through the immediate confession of my sin, and give me the grace to love others as Christ loved me, and gave Himself for me. This I pray in Jesus' name, AMEN.