Thursday, April 2, 2015

A New Commandment (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.”” (John 13:31–35, ESV)

I have many favorite passages in Scripture, and two of the verses in today’s reading are near the top of the list. Jesus had said that He is the light of the world while He was in the world. He had also said that He was going to leave, and that they light would shine through us as cities on a hill whose light cannot be hidden (Matthew 5:14). After Satan entered Judas and Judas left on this last evening with His disciples, Jesus turned His attention from the betrayer to the finished work. His reason from coming was firmly established and the last piece of the puzzle was put in place. All that was left was for it to fully unfold.

Jesus was looking past these last events to the final result when He takes His life back up again and returns to the Father having done what He was sent to do. In His faithfulness as the Son of Man, the Son of God was going to return to the Father and be glorified by Him. And in doing perfectly what He was sent to do the Father was glorified in Him. The fullness of God was going to be fully glorified by the finished work of Christ, and this was going to happen immediately. There would be no delay.

Having said this to His disciples, Jesus then turned His attention to them and what they were to do after His leaving. First, He told them that they would look for Him, and just like He told the Jews they would not be able to find Him. In the beginning of Acts we read that they were to soon stand and watch Him ascend into the clouds returning to heaven. It was then that they were told by two men in white robes to not stand there and look, for He was gone for now. He would return in the same way, but not right now. Jesus told them that they would not find Him, and surely enough that time soon came when they could not find Him because He physically returned to the Father, resurrected body and all.

And when He left they could not go with Him. They would have to remain, each for his own prescribed time.  This meant that they then had to move forward from that point, and it is here that Jesus gives them the most basic instructions we could ever imagine. He took all of the Scriptures and boiled them down into one straightforward instruction. “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.”

In Matthew 5:16 Jesus, said, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16, ESV) Speaking of them as lights on a hill or lamps on a stand, Jesus told them to let their lights shine so that people might see Christ in them as they tangibly demonstrate His love resulting in God being glorified in them. From there He went on to say that He did not come to abolish the Law or the Prophets, but that every word would be fulfilled in Him. This moment in John is when Jesus is telling them that these things had been fulfilled. He was looking past the cross to the finished work on the other side, and looking at the work He truly would be able to say, “It is finished.”

Now, having brought all of these to completion He summarized how they were then supposed to live. They were to love one another just as He had loved them. How did He love them? He gave them everything. He laid down His life for them. He fed them of His bread even knowing that one of them would betray Him. And through His resurrection He gave them life. He told His disciples that in this way they were to love each other, and in loving them an amazing thing would happen. As the world looked on and saw the love they visibly demonstrated for each other they would know that they are His disciples.

As the world sees us live like Christ, the world is given an opportunity to see Christ in us. And when they world sees this we have a prime opportunity to tell them what it is that makes the difference. As Christians sharing Christ is more than speaking words or doing actions, it is combining them in such a way that people see, hear, understand, and respond. The real work is a work of the Spirit both in us as we live for Christ and in them as their eyes are opened. But God has chosen to make us an instrumental part of the process. We are these vessels with a great treasure inside that we are charged with giving to others.

No comments: