In Matthew 22, the Sadducees had tried to trap Jesus with a question and failed. The Pharisees then decided to give it a try. They asked Him which one out of all the commandments was the greatest. In verses 37-40, Jesus replied, “‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments” (NLT). They agreed with Him on that answer. If you love others the way you love yourself, you won’t break any of the other ones.
During the Last Supper, Jesus got up from the table, put on an apron and washed the disciples’ feet. Of course Peter objected and was then corrected. Afterwards, in John 13:34 Jesus said, “So I give you now a new commandment: Love each other just as much as I have loved you” (TPT). I find it interesting that He gave a new commandment that was slightly different than the first one. Instead of loving others the way we love ourselves, we should love others the way He loves us. Jesus was saying His love for us was greater than our own love for ourselves. He was also pointing out how He demonstrated that love. In all three commandments mentioned here, the love produces behaviors in the individual.
Think of His behavior that night. Knowing that Judas was about to betray Him, Peter was about to deny Him and the others were going to run away in His darkest hour, His love for them still reached for a towel. More than that, His love gave Him the strength to endure a night of torture and ultimately dying for each of their sins. Even after the resurrection, He went to all of them with the purpose of restoring the relationship. Loving others the way Jesus loved us is definitely more than we love ourselves. It’s a love that fulfills your end of the relationship, pushes through in even the hardest time and reaches out to restore others. It’s when we demonstrate this kind of love, the one greater than self love, that others will know that we are truly His disciples.