A New Command

John 13:18-38

The scene continues from last time, it is the last supper in the upper room.  Jesus and His disciples are reclining at the table as Jesus continues his remarks after washing their feet. He has just said that if they follow the example that he set when he washed their feet, they would be blessed.  Now he modifies that by saying that one of them would not be blessed; He will send Judas on his way shortly…

Jesus is concerned that His coming betrayal and death not be understood as His mission being thwarted.  Instead he attempts to convey that everything is proceeding according to God’s amazing, if counter-intuitive plan.  In short, creating the community of believers, the church, was the whole point of Jesus’ ministry and not an accident or a “fall back” position.

The time for Jesus to leave subtle hints and illusions has passed; He tells them plainly that one of them will betray Him; they are shocked.  It would appear that Peter asked John to find out from Jesus who the traitor was and John’s question and Jesus’ answer was in a whisper.  He indicated Judas who was next to Him on the other side from John… (vv. 21-26)

Jesus gives the bread to Judas, who accepts it.  It is hard to imagine that Judas has not heard what has passed between John and Jesus… and he accepts the bread when he could have repented.  So completely did Satan win out in Judas’ life that John refers to it as satanic possession.  Judas leaves the room immediately; it would seem that nobody other than John understands what has happened, and John keeps quiet. John ends this with a chilling sentence: “And it was night.”  This has much more meaning than simply noting the time of day, for Jesus has spoken of the coming night before.  It was literally the beginning of the most beastly occurrence in human history, when Satan had stolen away a disciple of the Son of God to bring about the murder of the Son of God to silence the truth and darken the light once and for all.  Paul noted in 1 Cor. 2:8 that if the rulers of that time and place had understood what was going on, they would never have put Jesus on that cross!

Verses 31-32 are a little confusing for their use of “glorify” so many times in quick succession together with the indefinite pronoun “him” and it requires a little sorting out.  Here’s a paraphrase:  The time has come for the Son of Man to be glorified (recall that Jesus has been using this term to describe his crucifixion all through John) So then, we would say, starting over: “The time has come for the Son to be crucified and God will be glorified in him (By completing His plan for redemption). If God is glorified in the Son by what He accomplished on the cross, then God will glorify the Son by the Son’s resurrection and ascension to glory (as King of kings and Lord of lords).  What comes next is inconvenient for certain end of the world theorists: “and will glorify him (the Son) at once”. That is to say not at a time which has still not come.

Jesus repeats here what He has previously told the Jews, that they cannot come where He is going, referring to the right hand of the Father in heaven.  This is a statement that establishes His authority, and is followed by a new commandment: Love one another.  As you might expect, the Greek word used here is agape which is a godly, unselfish love.  It is a commitment to serve and value one another with no expectation whatsoever of anything in return.  It is just what the unbelieving world will notice, for it is seldom if ever found amongst them.  By this sign all will recognize the difference between the Christian and everyone else. This is the most important lesson from today’s text: We must love one another.  Imagine what the reaction of the rest of the world would be if they saw this kind of powerful love at work in the lives of millions of Christians: Would you like to ‘change the world’?  Love one another!

Peter doesn’t seem to soak up the new commandment and wants to go with Jesus.  The exchange leads directly to Jesus’ prediction of Peter’s denial of Him. I guess there’s a little bit of Peter in all of us.

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About Don Merritt

A long time teacher and writer, Don hopes to share his varied life's experiences in a different way with a Christian perspective.
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6 Responses to A New Command

  1. Pingback: A New Command | A disciple's study

  2. dwmartens says:

    Reading verse 20 in the NIV, “will believe that I am who I am,” reminded me of God telling Moses in Exodus 3:14 “I am who I am.” Thinking this was probably one of Jesus’ “I Am” statements, I checked my Interlinear NT which translates the Greek, “will believe that I AM.” Again Jesus tells his disciples that he is the I AM that Moses talked with!

  3. pipermac5 says:

    Christ had already summarized the Law in the two Great Commandments; “Love God above all else”, and “Love your neighbor as yourself”. His “New Command”, raised the bar for believers; “Love one another as I have loved you”, which requires that we love our Brothers and Sisters on a totally-different plane, self-giving, and even sacrificially. Only the indwelling of the Holy Spirit can enable us to love on that level.

    Blessings,

    Steve

  4. Pingback: A New Command | The Life Project | franciscansonthemountains

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