Leviticus 19:18 says, “...as yourself”; Jesus says, “...in the same way that I have loved you”
Jesus commands a new way of living - to Love One Another, His way. Jesus never sets us up to fail, therefore the life of a follower of Jesus means that God's way of loving can be ours. Humanly this is impossible. But Jesus gives us a new nature, a new spirit - a new expectation of christian living...
The 'love' Jesus speaks of what we know to be "agape" love – a love that demands nothing, requires nothing, just is and does – (see more on agape here). This notion of love is more than our humanity can offer – we need Jesus. We need to pray for His help, and then we need to follow Him. The life of a follower of Jesus is radical...radical in love, and the actions of love.
Within this framework of love, Jesus calls Christians not to be known by distinctions of exclusivity, wealth or learning, they were not to aspire to earthly honours; they were not to adopt any special style of dress or titles, but they were to be distinguished by tender and constant attachment to one other.
Think about Acts 2 recording how disciples of Jesus actually lived:
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
After the ascension of Jesus, the command to Love One Another was radically put into action - these new Christians, followers of Jesus were not just feel, but actually lived on the 'same level', that they had common wants, were redeemed by the same sacred blood, and were all experiencing heaven invading earth. They were to befriend each other in trials; be careful of each other's feelings and reputation; and deny themselves to promote each other's welfare.
This command of Jesus is repeated across the below scriptures, showing us that this new commandment of Christ is central to living and following Jesus.
"As I have loved you, love one another."
Jesus' love was strong, ongoing, unremitting, and He proved this love through His own death on the cross. 1 John 3:23; 1 Thess 4:9; 1 Peter 1:22; 2 Thess 1:3; Gal 6:2; 2 Peter 1:7.
John 15:13 says:
"Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends."
1 John 3:16 says:
"This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters."
This command enhanced our need to experience this new expression of love; and it showed the strength of attachment which we ought to have for for one another, and how ready we should be to endure hardships, to encounter dangers, and to practice self-denial, to benefit others. The command is new in that it is a special love based on the sacrificial love of Jesus. Christians' love and support for one another enable us to thrive in an often hostile world.
So let us live a life worthy and dedicated to a higher calling. The command to love one another will keep us humble and keep our lives real - worthy of being a disciple of Jesus. And as Jesus was the embodiment of God's love, now we should embody Christ's love. This love is a sign to the world as well as to every believer.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35