Sunday

19 May 2019

John 13:31-35

‘I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.’ (v. 34)

Psalm: Psalm 148

Background

Before this passage, Jesus had washed the feet of his disciples (John 13:1-20) and – during a meal with his disciples – prophesied that Judas would betray him (John 13:21-30). Following Judas’ departure from the tables, Jesus now declares, "the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him" (v. 32).

But how exactly does this take place? Where exactly is the glory? Jesus here looks to his imminent death, for which Judas’ betrayal prepares. As the Gospel as a whole emphasises, the glory of God is shown at the cross (John 12:27-28; 17:4-5). Indeed, the second half of John’s Gospel is often described as the ‘book of glory’ (John 13–20), focused as it does on Jesus’ death. In the death of Jesus, God’s love is revealed (John 3:16). Jesus’ use of the term "Son of Man" for himself is common in John’s Gospel (John 1:51; 3:13; 5:27), and probably alludes to Daniel 7:13-14 where God gives the "Son of Man" dominion and glory.

Jesus tells his disciples that he will soon depart, and neither they nor the Jewish leaders will be able to follow him (v. 33). But before he is to leave, Jesus leaves them with a "new commandment", the command to love one another (v. 34) While Jesus’ call to love one’s neighbour is found across the gospel traditions (Mark 12:31; Matthew 22:39; Luke 10:27), the emphasis here is on love within the community of the church. It’s as we love our brother or sister in Christ that we reflect the love of God (cf 1 John 4:19-21).

This commandment has never been easy and continues to challenge us today. Our relationship with other Christians should be characterised by the sacrificial love that Jesus showed us. As we grow in our knowledge of God’s love, so too we should grow in our love of others.

 

To Ponder:

  • What do you think of the idea that God’s glory is revealed in Jesus’ death?
  • What are ways in which we can grow more deeply in loving others?

Bible notes author

Ed Mackenzie

Dr Ed Mackenzie is the Discipleship Development Officer for the Methodist Church and an Associate Lecturer at Cliff College. He lives in Derbyshire with his wife Ali and their two sons.

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