2 May 2010

John 13:31-35

"When he had gone out, Jesus said, 'Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him.'" (v.31)


The setting for this passage is a supper just before Passover, one of the holiest festivals in the Jewish calendar. Jesus and his disciples were gathered for a meal and Jesus got up to wash the disciples' feet. This was an act normally performed by the lowliest of household servants - the 1st century equivalent of cleaning the toilets. It was an act of humility, not an act of glory.

The "he" who had just left the room was Judas Iscariot, sent away by Jesus who told him "Do quickly what you are going to do" (verse 27). And so Judas left in order to hand Jesus over to the people who wanted to see him receive the most humiliating form of capital punishment of the time - crucifixion.

In the way the writer of the Gospel of John tells the story, Jesus knew that on this particular night he was going to be handed over to his enemies. Today's reading is viewed by some as the beginning of 'The Farewell Discourse', a four-chapter section unique to John's Gospel where Jesus says goodbye to the disciples and gives them his final teaching. A lot of this was difficult for the disciples to understand and it can be difficult for contemporary readers too.

Jesus knew that he was about to be handed over to the authorities for crucifixion and yet he is talking about being "glorified". But no glorious leader who had several hours' notice of a lynch-mob's arrival would have eaten tea, cleaned toilets and then walked willingly to his death. This kind of 'glory' makes no sense in the usual definition of the word.

To Ponder

If someone asked you "What is the glory of God?" what would your answer be?

What do you think Jesus meant when he said "Now the Son of Man has been glorified"? If you are a Christian, can you communicate your answer without using Christian 'jargon'?

How do you think it might be possible for a person to be glorified in death?

Bible notes author

The Revd Pam Garrud

Pam is an ordained minister in the Methodist Church in Britain. In August 2009, Pam and her London-born husband Trevor moved to Pam's native United States for family reasons.