It’s an interesting scene in an ancient text. The supporting actors, and I say actors because they are all men, have been previously described in bits and pieces, and the entire story continues to revolve around one person: Jesus. He’s having dinner with his closest friends for one last time before something big is about to happen. By “big,” I mean life-changing and eternity-altering. However, only Jesus seems to know the whole plan. He’s alluded to it, given some hints and perhaps hopes that his buddies can connect the dots with all he’s told them and all that they would have known from Scripture about what would unfold before them, but these men, his disciples, had clearly unclear expectations and a list of questions.
It’s at this meal that the famous words of the “new command” are shared with them. Verses 34 and 35 of chapter 13 in the book of John records this, straight from Jesus’ mouth.
“‘A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.’”
It’s new. It’s different. It’s a command. It should have gotten their attention because people didn’t go around giving new commands like that all the time. They didn’t have the authority, and as far as these guys knew, it was hundreds of years before this that God last spoke so directly into humanity.
Alas, they were probably used to Jesus saying things like this that baffled them. Things that they didn’t realize were a big deal because they didn’t have the Holy Spirit and not all the puzzle pieces were put in place. There were some holes and questions that wouldn’t have been answered until Jesus went to do what he said he was going to do. And that’s OK.
Immediately following this should-be-stop-you-in-your-mental-tracks command is a list of questions. Not about the command.
“We don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
Jesus had just told them what would make them famous and how their words and actions would matter to all men. Like change-the-world all men. Their questions, though, focused more on their own little group and what the next steps will be for them.
It’s easy to quickly judges those 11 men (Judas had exited stage left by this point in the story) and say that they were a little slow. They missed the main point of what Jesus was trying to say and completely ignored this “new command.”
Nonetheless, don’t we all seem to miss the point when it comes to what God is doing because we get caught up in what doesn’t make sense, what doesn’t seem logical and what doesn’t seem like something we can figure out, predict or fully understand? God gave us [brilliant] minds to think and process, but sometimes, probably more often than not, he might just be up to something that is beyond what we could ever imagine, and if instead of worrying about how it’ll happen, we could choose to trust that he is the God of the universe and probably has steps-A-though-a-billion already under control. How might this lead to truly resting in his grace and love instead of being trapped in the frustrating cycle of wandering and wondering?