John 13: 31-35

When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and glorify him at once. Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek me, and just as I said to the Jews, so now I also say to you, ‘Where I am going you cannot come.’ A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this, all people will know that you are my disciples if you have love for one another.”

Understanding And Applying the Text

We may think how odd. Judas has left to betray Christ. And Christ says now He is glorified. In our was of thinking this seems strange. Jesus is about to die and this is His glorification?

The cross glorifies The Son of Man i.e. Jesus and God the Father. How can this be? It seems paradoxical. The cross was a shameful death. Good people were not crucified. But what men considered shameful God used to glorify Himself. God’s glory shines brighter nowhere else than the cross. It was at the cross God changed history. The God blotted out sin at the cross. God restored salvation to men at the cross. God made the whole world new, at the cross. God restored everything to good order, at the cross.

At the cross, Christ glorified His Father. Glorifying His Father was His sole purpose. Because Christ glorified the Father, the Father glorified Christ. If we are sincere and promote the glory of God, we can be sure God will glorify us. The resurrection, which followed the cross, demonstrated the power of God. By the cross, He created a new people for Himself.

Jesus calls the disciples little children and tells them he will not be with them much longer. He gives them an early warning of His departure. Why does Jesus call them little children? This is a term of endearment. It lets them know His reason for leaving is not because He does not care about them. Jesus’ tenderness demonstrates His love for them.

Jesus reminds them what He told the Jews. He reiterates it to them. Where He was going they cannot come. But He did not exclude them from the Kingdom of God in perpetuity as He had the Jews. He only tells them to be patient and wait for Him.

Jesus then gives a new command. Some think this is strange. The idea of loving one another was not new. The Law contained the command to love our neighbor. So why would Christ say, “A new commandment I give to you?” Some claim the old commandment was an external comment. Now Christ is writing it on the heart. They argue the manner of publishing made it new. I do not think that was it.

Others say ceremonies and rituals inhibited the command to love one another. For example, Jews could not associate with Gentiles. This limited their ability to love one another. They claim Christ uncoupled us from the rituals and ceremonies so we may show love to each other.

That is better but I do not think that is right either. It is simpler than that. We know we are more careful to follow a command when it is first issued. But the longer a command is around the more we consider it irrelevant or unimportant. Christ is giving a new command, not in the sense of not being issued before. But Christ is renewing a command. He does so to impress its importance to His disciples.

Loving one another is hard. Because it is so hard, we give up. We lay it aside and find other ways to worship God. Satan is more than willing to suggest many ways to fill our time other than loving each other. It is not called new because this is the first time it is issued. Christ called it new because it must be renewed every day.

Jesus said we are to love as He has loved us. Now that is a high standard. It is the highest level of love, to love as Christ loves. It is not that we can meet such a level, but that is the standard. We are to set that before us as the ideal to strive.

We know we are Christ disciples by our love. Others know we are Christ’s disciples by our love. We can profess all we want but our love proves our discipleship.

As a general rule, we have no problem loving. We love ourselves a lot. So knowing how to love is not the problem. We are to love our neighbor. Loving our neighbor and loving ourselves are as compatible as fire and water.

How do we turn off self-love and start loving our neighbor? The answer is we cannot. It is the work of the Holy Spirit. Pray that God sanctifies you. Pray God is glorified by your love of your neighbor. This is the mark of a true disciple of Christ, glorifying God by loving our neighbor.

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