Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Saturday, June 11, 2022

A New Commandment

"I give you a new commandment: love one another." -- John 13:34

It seems strange for Jesus to label this a new commandment, since elsewhere he points out that many people already love each other: parents giving their children good things; the pagans who love those who love them. In fact, Jesus's greatest parable, The Prodigal Son, involves not enemies learning to love each other, but a natural love, the extravagant love of father for son.

What is new is not the love but the commandment, the permission. What Jesus is describing in The Prodigal Son is striking not because is something unprecedented, but because it is familiar to all his listeners: the parent who loves to the point of looking weak and foolish; the father who forgives when the world allows that he has a right to hold back. Jesus tells a story about human behavior since the beginning. The Old Testament provides plenty of examples. David and Absalom. Hosea and his unfaithful wife. Isaac, who protects Jacob from Esau's wrath even after Jacob has stolen the birthright. The slave girl who tells her master Naaman how to find healing from his leprosy. It's not that no one ever loved and forgave before Jesus came. It's that such love was seen as weak and shameful and unworthy. And so people continued to show mercy, and to feel conflicted about that mercy.

Jesus comes with a new commandment: the love that seems weak and pathetic is the love he commands. The father who seems like a chump actually loves as God loves. He is not breaking the old commandment, but following the new. And that love marks him, no matter his place in human history, as an exemplar who points the way to Jesus.

1 comment:

Nate Winchester said...

He said to him, “What is written in the law? How do you understand it?” The expert answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.” 28 Jesus said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.” -Luke 10:26-28

This sums up the law of the prophets. It's not even new.