Family Discipleship and the New Commandment
Family Discipleship and the New Commandment
In the July, 2015 Newsletter referenced below, I wrote about how being a father led me to Deuteronomy 6. When I began asking God to help me love him, God revealed how much He loved me. The more I comprehended His love, the more I loved Him. I was surprised by how my prayers were answered, until I remembered 1 John 4:19, “We love because He first loved us.” Through songs, sermons, and scripture God made me know in a new way, how much He cares for me.
One of the primary verses that the Spirit of God used to convince my heart and mind of His divine affection was John 15:9. Jesus is teaching His disciples when He says, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.” When I read these words my heart was touched and my eyes became wet as I contemplated what a great love this was. Just as much as the Father loved His only Son, the same way I am loved. It was, and is, hard to comprehend.
Then a few verses later, Jesus directs us to love others as He has loved us. In John 13:34 He refers to this command as the ‘new commandment’, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you.” He reiterates this command in John 15:12.
When I put John 15:9 together with John 15:12, here is what emerges.
Jesus says, “As the Father loves me, so have I loved you.”
He then tells his disciples, “As I have loved you, love one another.”
This new command is different than the second commandment spoken of in Matthew 22, when Jesus said to ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’ In the new commandment, Jesus is asking us to not love like we want to be loved, but to love as He has loved us. As I pondered the implications of these words, I examined some specific ways the Father loved the Son, as well as how the Son loved us.
I used to read quickly over the phrase, “As the Father has loved me.” Now I see that these words reveal a wonderful relationship between the Father and the Son. In the gospels I have found over one hundred references describing the relationship between the Father and the Son. Here are a few scriptures to give you a taste of their sacred fellowship.
Matthew 3:16 “When Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; 17 and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”
John 5:19 “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. 20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing.”
John 8:28 “So Jesus said to them, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me.”
John 11:41 “Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me,”
Jesus was perfectly loved by His Father. I never gave much though to the first thirty years of the life of Jesus, but now I believe these were formative years preparing Him for his short, but anointed, earthly ministry. During this time, God the Father revealed His care and heart of love, to His Son.
While living in the home of His earthly parents, first in Egypt and then in Galilee, I am sure Jesus was wonderfully parented and nurtured by Joseph and Mary. This was a foretaste of the divine tenderness of His Heavenly Abba that was being revealed at the same time. Perhaps while working with Joseph, or walking through the hills, or sitting on a boat in Galilee, the Son was developing a personal relationship with His Dad and receiving eternal love.
After Jesus had been loved perfectly by His Dad, He was uniquely equipped to love us perfectly. As the Father had loved Him, He loved us. What He received from His Dad, He passed on to us. Here are a sampling of the many ways that Jesus has loved us. I am sure you can add many more examples to this list.
2 Corinthians 8:9 “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.”
Philippians 2:8 “Being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
Romans 8:34 “Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.”
Hebrews 13:5 “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
With the knowledge of how we have been loved, Jesus then commands us to love others the same way. And even though we are called to love ‘others’, I believe we learn to apply this concept by loving those who are closest to us, the members of our family. For it is within the home that our faith is practiced and applied. How then can I apply the new commandment to my wife and children?
As a husband, I frequently recall Ephesians 5:25,”Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church,” Paul is simply applying the new commandment to my relationship with my wife, for I am to love her, as Christ loved me.”
In light of these four scriptures of how Jesus loved me I can readily see four applications. I am to put her interests ahead of my own, lay my life down for her, pray for her, and never leave nor forsake her.
Earlier I referred to four ways the Father loved the Son. He showed up at His son’s baptism and affirmed Him. The Father showed Jesus all things that he was doing, taught him, and always listened to him when He prayed.
From those passages, I learn that I can love my children as God loved His Son. I can be present at important events in my their life and encourage them. I can include them in my work, teach them, and value them by listening to what they have to say.
The ‘New Commandment’ has been an impetus to how my Heavenly Father loved His Son, and then how the Son transferred that same love to us. By studying the ideal, I have found many practical powerful ways to love my family.
But the best part is finding God. As I fix my gaze heavenward, I am not only learning more of God’s ways, but more of God Himself. This is what Moses prayed in Exodus 33:13, “Show me now your ways, that I may know you.”
Looking to God,
PS If you would like to receive my lists of scriptures of ‘How the Father loved the Son’ and ‘How the Son loves us’, request them from me. These are by no means exhaustive and I welcome your suggestions or additions. Please feel free to send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you haven’t read the July, 2015 newsletter, Home Education and the Great Commandment, I commend it to you. These two articles address the two most important commands, and can be viewed as parts 1 and 2 of a vision for the Christian Home. You may access it at the bottom of this page under ‘Recent Newsletters.’
Labor Day Challenge
I have begun to receive emails from the families who were a part of our challenge. I am always impressed with these folks who are seeking to establish the rhythm of reading God’s word together in their home. Kudos to all who are meeting as a family to seek God. If you haven’t sent in your tallies yet, please do.