The example of Jesus Christ is the quintessence of “the new commandment.”  Boiled down to its essence, it is no different from the levitical injunction for us to love our neighbors as ourselves.  After all, what was the life of Christ but a living demonstration of how that command is to be fulfilled?  He always spoke the truth to His neighbors, whether they appreciated it or not.  He showed kindness to the needy, pity to the poor, and never violated the rights of another.

But when we consider the command to “love one another” from the viewpoint of the example of Christ, it takes on an added luster.  The command is, as it were, embellished.  It is stated for us plainly in John 13:34: “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.”  There was nothing new per se about the command to love one another.  But the grounding of the commandment upon the love of Christ for us was new. This is why it can be considered a new commandment, though the authority of it stretches back long before the days of Jesus in the flesh.  This probably explains the statement, “The darkness is past, and the true light now shineth.”  The obscurity of the legal dispensation was past, and the full light of what God intends by commanding us to love our neighbor is demonstrated in the grace of Jesus Christ.  Or perhaps it may refer to the darkness of our unbelieving days being in the past, and that we as believers now love one another because we live in the light of the Gospel.  At any rate, John would have us know that love is one of the cardinal duties of the Christian life.  Thus, the duty of loving our brethren has its foundation upon two unshakeable structures: the command of God in His law, and the command and example of Christ.  So established, it should make the thought of disobedience horrible to us.

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