A New Commandment

This poem was a response to the following Bible passage:

John 13:31-35 (CEB)

31 When Judas was gone, Jesus said, “Now the Human One has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. 32 If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify the Human One in himself and will glorify him immediately. 33 Little children, I’m with you for a little while longer. You will look for me—but, just as I told the Jewish leaders, I also tell you now—‘Where I’m going, you can’t come.’

34 “I give you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, so you also must love each other. 35 This is how everyone will know that you are my disciples, when you love each other.”

A New Commandment

“Love each other”, Jesus told us
First I thought, that’s not so hard
Just look at us: a band of brothers
Sisters too! United by
Our love for him…and for each other
What could ever break us up?

All this despite our differences
We’re fishermen and tax collectors
Benefactresses and zealots
Even several heathen gentiles!
All of us of one accord
(I wonder where good Judas went?)

But just now I’m reminded, when
That teacher of the law asked Jesus
“What’s the most important precept?”
Jesus answered, “Love your God,
And also: love your neighbor as
Yourself. This is the greatest law.”

Now granted, that was in a different
Gospel, so it may not be
Quite kosher to invoke it; still
It seems to me that loving every
Neighbor is a higher bar than
Loving just this Jesus-tribe

And then there was that time he said
We had to love our enemies
(A bunch of us laughed nervously –
We thought he must be poking fun)
But no, turns out he meant it, and
That’s definitely much, much harder

So I wonder why he’s saying
“Love each other” now, as if
He hadn’t given us much stricter
Orders many times before
He says it’s how they’ll know we’re his
That it will be our brand and trademark

Maybe in the end (Is this
The end? He’s said some things that worry…)
Maybe now he’s thinking that
Those other laws were just too tough
Or else he’s just observing that
They’re practiced both by us and “them”

And either way, he seems concerned
For us, his friends. He says he’s leaving
And that we can’t hope to follow
In his eyes, such tender care
I guess…he thinks we’ll need each other
Guys, we’re going to need each other…

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