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Now That Judas is Gone, Can We Talk?

The text this week is John 13:31-35.  This is the end of the text of the Last Supper.  It has Jesus giving the boys his final comments.  Judas has just left, and it would seem an opportune time to talk about the one everyone knew at some level was a dirtball.  That’s what we would do anyway.  This is not the way of Jesus, as we well know.  Jesus instead turns the conversation to what he is about to endure.  Jesus discusses that he, The Son of Man, has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. 

Jesus then calls them little children, as he often did, the faith of children being so pure.  He tells them that they cannot go where he is going.  This talk of glorification is clearly referring to Jesus on the Cross and the empty tomb beyond.  This is echoed in John 3:14, and John 12: 23-28.  It serves to underscore that we cannot do what Jesus does.  We can only believe in the one who did it.

The New Way of Thinking

Jesus then delivers the famous New Commandment; to love one another the way that Jesus (God) loves us.  This is similar, yet much more radical than the Golden Rule.  That rule was about treating one another the way we would want them to treat us.  This is certainly more radical than most human notions of reciprocity because it is a unilateral command.  Yet, it is still treating one another in a human way, at a human level.

Now, Jesus cranks it up a few notches.  It is still unilateral love, unconditional love, but elevated.  Now we are to love one another the way God loves us.  That is stunningly radical.  We seek to achieve this because of our faith in the one who told this to us.

It is notable that these are the last instructions Jesus leaves with his followers before his Passion.  The other thing we should note is that some will get confused into thinking that Jesus is talking about only his followers when he says, “love one another”.  There is a mountain of evidence throughout the New Testament that tells us that Jesus means everyone.  He proved this conclusively when, from the Cross, he forgives those who crucified him.

The final thing Jesus leaves us with in this passage is that people will know who we are by the love we exhibit.  I can hear the old 70s tune now…” they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love…”  This for us becomes an 8th Commandment issue.  We are to bear true witness to our Lord and Savior.  We are to boldly go forward because of his saving Grace and proclaim our love in thought word and deed to the entire world.  It is a tangible command from Jesus to believe and obey.

Praise Be to God

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