Read John 13:31-38
Judas Iscariot has exited the very private dinner. While Jesus was able to see what was going on clearly, the Eleven disciples seemed to be confused. The title of this post focuses on the last two verses of chapter 13, but we shouldn’t miss the greater emphasis on God’s glorification and a new command that includes the four-letter word love. Don’t overlook this part. It includes another cause-effect phrase with the dreaded “if” word in between.
The concept of giving glory to someone is not new, however, the terminology here is not something that shows up in everyday conversation. What does it me to say someone is glorified? Jesus uses this moment as a significant segue in John’s gospel account.
31 When he was gone, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man is glorified and God is glorified in him. 32 If God is glorified in him, God will glorify the Son in himself, and will glorify him at once. 33 “My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come. John 13:31-33
It’s interesting to note that this statement follows Judas’ departure. “Now” something significant is about to happen. In chapter 12, the Greeks arrived on the scene and Jesus said “the hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified” (John 12:23). Now is the time.
All eyes are focused on Jesus. The close relationship between Father and Son in this passage set the stage for what will happen in just a matter of hours. The signs and wonders Jesus has performed as recorded by John are all for our benefit, to recognize that Jesus is the fulfillment of prophecies. His glory is now revealed to the Eleven and is about to be put on display for the entire world to see. We’ll dig deeper into glory in chapter 17, the most significant prayer recorded in the Bible (in my humble opinion).
Without missing a beat, Jesus provides a new command.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35
“If you love one another” is a consistent theme throughout the New Testament. John writes about love extensively, so does Paul. In meeting with a prominent non-profit organization leader yesterday we couldn’t help but conclude that most of the problems we face would be mitigated if we simply loved people.
When those of us on this side of town begin to love those on the other side of town, our neighbors, lives will be changed. We will be known as disciples of Jesus, not members of a particular church. Don’t get me wrong, we need to be part of a supportive group of people commonly referred to as a church, but the goal is not membership, the goal is revealing Christ’s glory to the world. We don’t have to be fabulous preachers to accomplish this mission, we just need to love one another. This isn’t my idea!
It’s interesting to see that Peter is still stuck on the previous phrase which leads us to the close of the chapter. He has to ask, “where are you going?” I’m not saying Peter didn’t hear the discussion about loving one another, but it’s funny how John reconstructs the scene. In yesterday’s post, Peter the not-so-brave asked John to ask Jesus a question. Peter’s not quite himself in this episode, but Jesus is kind, for the moment, and tries to console him, “…but you will follow later.”
Peter asked, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” Then Jesus answered, “Will you really lay down your life for me? Very truly I tell you, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times! John 13:37-38
Peter is back to his true character, bold and brash, he asserts that he would die for Jesus. I’m sure he really means it, no doubt he is serious. Jesus’ response causes my mind to spin. How did He say the words in verse 38? The NIV (and a few other translations) ends with an exclamation point. I don’t think Jesus spoke with a sarcastic tone, the mood is far too serious for that.
In my imagination I see a room full of completely devoted, sanctified, loving disciples focused on Jesus. Peter asked the question they all wanted to ask and they’re not surprised to hear Peter’s response. All attention is focused on these two men. I wish I could paint the picture in my mind. Jesus looks deeply into Peter’s eyes and prophesizes the unbelievable: Peter will disown Jesus time after time after time.
I’m so thankful that God allowed John to paint this picture for us. In my greatest weakness, I can see where I have disowned Jesus, even though I have said this could never happen. I’m thankful because I know the rest of the story, the love that Jesus demonstrates at the end of John 21. Jesus doesn’t merely command that we love one another, He shows us what that means.
Lord Jesus, help us to love the way you taught and demonstrated in person while you walked around in skin and bones. We long for the day when we will follow later, but we have much to do before that day. Give us strength and courage to boldly proclaim the glory that was revealed in You!