Text–31 When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. 32 If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and glorify him at once. 33 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.’ 34 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. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:31-35 ESV)
Summary–Up to this point in the upper room, Jesus’ teachings to his disciples had been veiled and somewhat guarded. Not all of those who were present with him were of the same spirit. Judas was about to give Jesus over to his enemies. As long as Judas was there, Christ seemed to hold back his teaching until the traitor departed. With Judas gone, the die was cast and the atmosphere was cleared. Jesus could tell them more clearly what was about to happen in his coming glory and what that would mean for them. Christ was going to be cruxified, and they would not be able to follow him. But as we shall read, the pattern of self-sacrificial love will be set for his disciples to follow in a way previously not asked of them. They would receive a “new commandment” to love one another as Christ loved them to the glory of the father through the Christ the son.
Insight–So much confusion surrounds the idea of love. What does it really mean anyway? Is it mutual affection between two parties? Our government would define love in these terms as it walks down the path to destruction on defining marriage. Who cares who the parties are in the marriage bond, so long as they love each other. Do you love him or her or them or it, then go right ahead and marry them. But this is where they get it all wrong. Love is not about being able to do whatever you feel like so long as it makes you happy. Jesus is love and defines it for us here in this text. John calls this a new commandment which really isn’t new at all. The summary of the Old Testament law is to love God with everything we have and love our neighbor as ourselves. So what is so new about this commandment? The answer in large measure comes from John’s first epistle. He tells us in 1 Jn 3:16-18, “This is how we know what love is; Jesus laid down his life for us. And we out to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity for him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and truth.” By Jesus coming into this world and taking on our nature, and dying on the cross, his example is a new commandment. Up to this point, all was shadow and pointed to a future understanding of love. This is what makes it new. Here is the new pattern; we love sacrificially and by our actions will we show ourselves truly to be Christ’s disciples. God grant that we stop loving ourselves and start loving according to Christ’s new commandment.
Catechism–(Q) How does the world know you are a Christian? (A) That you love one another.
Discussion–What ways can you love those around you as Christ loved his disciples? Do you have to die for your neighbor in order to love him like Christ describes in this text?
Prayer–Father God how amazing it is to realize how much you loved us by sending your own son to leave the majesty of heaven to save us from your wrath. Lord God give us new hearts to love what we previously hated. Awaken us to love you by loving our neighbors as Christ loved his church. Let the world glorify you in seeing how we love one another. Father it is in your name that we pray through the mediator of your Son by the power of the Spirit. Amen.
Contributed by Michael Fenimore