God is love. It is His nature and character. It is Who He is. As we come to know God, we come to know love. Agapé is the Greek word that is most often translated love in the New Testament. There are other Greek words that are translated love too. But agapé specifically refers to the everlasting, perfect love of God.
In Old Testament times, the Israelites related to God based on the Old Covenant. They were under the Law of Moses, which consisted of 613 commandments. It was a covenant that was dependent on their performance, works and efforts. They had a lot of rules to follow and many commandments to obey.
But now we are in New Testament times. We are not under the Law anymore. Hallelujah! We do not have to obey all of the commandments that were given in the Old Testament to have a relationship with God. We relate to God based on the New Covenant. Under this covenant, God is merciful to our unrighteousness and our sins and iniquities He remembers no more (Hebrews 8:12).
Jesus first mentioned this New Covenant while eating the Passover meal with His disciples the night before His crucifixion. It was a very appropriate time to introduce the transition from the old to the new. Passover was an Old Testament observance. It was first instituted when the Israelites were brought out of Egypt. Before God sent the last of the ten plagues on the Egyptians – which was the killing of every firstborn – He gave the Israelites instructions to follow so that they would be saved from this judgement.
They were to kill a lamb without blemish, roast it with fire and hastily eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs, having their loins girded, shoes on their feet and staffs in hand. Any leftovers they were to burn with fire. They were also to take the blood of the lamb and put it on the two side posts and upper post of the door of the house they were in. The Lord was going to pass through the land of Egypt and kill all the firstborns. But if He saw the blood, then He would pass over that house.
This became an annual feast for the Jews – which they were commanded to observe under the Law – in order to remember how they had been saved from the judgement of God, and how He had delivered them out of Egypt with a mighty hand. It was soon thereafter that they were given the Ten Commandments and the Old Covenant was instituted.
But the Passover was also a type and shadow of what was to come. 1 Corinthians 5:7 says that Christ is our Passover lamb and He was sacrificed for us. Jesus knew that He was the fulfilment of Passover. And so, while partaking of the Passover meal with His disciples, He introduced the New Covenant. He was transitioning them from the old to the new.
He took the cup of wine, gave thanks and passed it to His disciples, saying: “Drink all of it; for this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” Then He got up and washed His disciples’ feet, after which He said these game-changing words…
A new commandment I give unto you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one to another.
The New Covenant came with a new commandment. The Old Covenant had 613 commandments attached to it. The New Covenant has one. Only one! What a deal! And it is to first know that God loves you and then to love others as Jesus has loved you…
In His Love
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