A New CommandmentBy: Joseph H. Murray
“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen” (Matt. 28:19–20).
Just before leaving this earth, on His ascension back to heaven, Jesus commanded His disciples to go to Jerusalem and tarry there until they were endued with power from on high.
This is the place the Holy Ghost was to come to them; the promised Comforter of the Father, foretold by the mouth of Isaiah the prophet 525 years before Christ in these words: “For thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream: then shall ye suck, ye shall be borne upon her sides, and be dandled upon her knees. As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you; and ye shall be comforted in Jerusalem” (Isa. 66:12–13).
Jesus gave His followers a commandment that they could not obey without the Holy Ghost. He told them—“Little children, yet a little while I am with you. Ye shall seek me: and as I said unto the Jews, Whither I go, ye cannot come; so now I say to you. A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:33–35).
The first disciples or followers of Jesus had to be obedient to His instructions to go to Jerusalem and have their sins forgiven in order to fulfill this commandment to love as He had loved. For this is where forgiveness for repentance was first given to men as Luke wrote of in these words: “Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem” (Luke 24:46–47).
The love that He loved them with was first manifest in His forgiveness to them at Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost. And to this Peter said in Acts 5:32, “And we are His witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey Him.”
And those who obey in receiving the holy Ghost are able to follow Him in forgiving others their sins—and this hope “maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us” (Rom. 5:5).
This is the love wherewith He loved us, in that He forgave our sins. And it is by this same love that is shed abroad into our hearts that we are able to love one another. And, also, it is by the power of this love we are to do to others as He did to us, even to the forgiving others of their sins.
By this power, and by this power only, are we able to forgive one another. Those who do not have this power are unable to fulfill this new commandment because they have been disobedient in that they have not received it. And the sin of disobedience is a sin worse than witchcraft.
“Hereby perceive we the love of God, because He laid down His life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him” (1 John 3:16–19).
“We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the Spirit of truth, and the spirit of error. Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. Herein is love, not that we loved God but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another” (1 John 4:6–11).
“Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth Him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of Him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments: and His commandments are not grievous” (1 John 5:1–3).