Summary: A New Commandment. (Powerpoint slides to accompany this talk are available on request – email:

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• A desire to glorify God (vs 31)

• A love for one another (vs 34)

• A submission to Jesus (vs 36-38)



• The New Testament word used for “disciple” is the Greek word ‘mathetes’;

• And it means ‘learner’.

• In other words, a follower of Jesus (i.e. A Christian);

• Is someone who is always wearing their ‘L’ plates;

• Quote the late great Alan Redpath:

• "The conversion of a soul is the miracle of a moment,

• But the manufacture of a saint is the task of a lifetime."

• Discipleship is ‘the task of a lifetime’ – and is what every Christian is called to;

• Disciples are people who LEARN to be like Jesus in character;

• And learn to behave like Jesus in their conduct.


• A little boy constantly fell out of bed.

• No matter what his parents did, the boy couldn’t sleep without rolling out of bed.

• An uncle came to visit and in the middle of the night the usual thump and cry was heard.

• In the morning the uncle teased the boy and asked him why he fell out so often.

• The little fellow thought for a moment and then said,

• “I don’t know, unless it’s because I stay too close to the place where I get in.”

Well, discipleship is moving on from the place we got in:

• It is growing up in our faith and not just growing older;

• It is learning to be like Jesus in our character;

• And learning to behave like Jesus in our conduct.


• “It's been said, 'A student learns what his teacher knows,

• But a disciple becomes what his master is.”


• One great writer on discipleship put it this way:

• “Discipleship is the process of becoming who Jesus would be if he were you”.

• In John chapter 13 Jesus provides us with the marks of true discipleship,

• He gives to us a measuring stick;

• A practical example to follow to gage how well we are doing spiritually.

Now remember the backdrop to these verses:

• It is the last evening Jesus will have with his disciples before his crucifixion.

• Before he will be brutally and violently killed.

• They are all gathered together in the upper room.

• And before they start to eat,

• Jesus does the unthinkable, he behaves like a servant to them;

• And he begins to wash their feet,

• He gives them a visual, a practical illustration that teaches them humility.

• That was shocking behaviour,

• And Jesus goes on to shock them again – this time verbally.

• As they were eating Jesus drops a bombshell by telling them:

• That one of them – one of the twelve – his very own disciples - will betray him.

• That statement results in questions & turmoil,

• During which Judas the betrayer quietly leaves and slips away.

• And in verse 31 of John chapter 13:

• We read; “When Judas was gone”.

• The previous verse symbolically tells us; “That it was night”.


• I am told by those in the know;

• That when sheep are taken off to be killed,

• They know instinctively that the slaughterhouse is a bad place.

• They can smell or sense something which warns them of danger.

• When the lorry carrying the sheep stops and the gangplank is put down;

• The sheep refuse to move.

• Over the years the slaughterhouse operators;

• Have devised a way of getting round the problem.

• They keep a sheep on the premises;

• One who acclimatises to the place and doesn’t mind it anymore.

• They then take this sheep up the plank onto the lorry;

• And then they walk it down again quite happily.

• The other sheep see one of their own leading the way;

• And they being sheep will follow!

• The slaughterhouse workers have a name for their resident sheep;

• It is called ‘The Judas Sheep’.

I wonder if when Judas left it was as if there is a breath of fresh air in that upper room.

• With the counterfeit disciple now gone,

• Jesus begins to talk to his true followers – the eleven disciples;

• About what it means to be his followers, his disciple.

• Ill: Word ‘disciple’ comes from the word ‘discipline’.

• A disciple is someone who means business with God;

• And what Jesus will share with them (recorded in the next three chapters of this gospel);

• Is not for the faint-hearted!

• And in our passage – 8 verses;

• Jesus begins by sharing 3 marks, 3 signs, 3 qualities of what it takes to follow Him.

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