Summary: They will know we are Christians by our love.

How Shall They Know?

John 13:31-35


Everyone has an opinion about love. It has been the topic of many a poem, song, novel, and ordinary conversation. For example, a Beatle’s song of what now seems eons ago says: “Love, love, love, all you need is love”. Is this true? Is what John Lennon says about love the same as what Jesus says about it? The famous theologian Duke Ellington says that God is a three letter word for love and love a four letter word for God. John the Apostle says that God is love, but is love, God? Let’s see what we can learn about love from this morning’s text.

Exposition of the text

Last week, we saw the plot of Judas to betray Jesus put into action, with Jesus fully aware of what was about to happen. He was deeply grieved by this coming betrayal. As I mentioned, I think this was as much if not more for the eternal lostness of Judas who being full of Satan went out into the night, the eternal night.

In verse 31 of today’s text, the scene is set by noticing that the following discussion which continues through chapter 17 occurred after Jesus had left. This says that what he was about to say had no meaning for Judas. In fact, Judas’ departure freed Jesus to reveal Himself more fully to His disciples. Judas had forever forfeited his place. What Jesus has to say in this long farewell sermon is for the believer, first of all. The world, with its views on what glory and love were simply cannot understand this message, even to this day.

The first word that comes out of Jesus’ mouth is the word “now”. This puts extra emphasis on this marker of time. It has the idea of “now, and not later”. The literal translation of the Greek of this verse is “NOW, was glorified the Son of Man, and God was glorified in Him.” Note that the past tense is being used. This means that what Judas had meant for evil in his going out to betray Jesus resulted instead in the glorification of Jesus. Not only this, but the Triune God was glorified in this act. The emphasis is in the beginning of the passion of Christ, starting with the departure of Jesus, but it speaks for the whole process of betrayal, arrest, trial, beating, crucifixion, and death of Jesus.

From this, it is important to see that this glorification of God is in the suffering of Jesus Himself and not some future glorification in heaven. This would also glorify the Son as well, but this is not the emphasis of this verse. And even though we have the future tense “shall glorify” in verse 32, the emphasis is the immediate future not a return to the state of glory that the Son had with the Father before the world came into being. This is emphasized by the word “immediately”.

Verse 33 begins with a term of endearment, “little children”. They were not mature yet, but they would be later. However, Jesus is affirming His love for them, even though they were about to miserably fail Him in the upcoming test. They were about to become scattered and terribly confused about the upcoming events.

Jesus warns them of the immediate danger by telling them that He would only be with them for a very short time. In the immediate context, this refers to that evening up to the time of His arrest in the garden. It also refers to the fact that after 40 days following the resurrection, Jesus would return to heaven from where He came. In that time, they would long for Him. This longing was different from that of the Jews. Earlier in an encounter with the Jews, He had taunted them with the words that where He was going, they could not go. They were thrown into confusion over these words. Jesus added that they would seek Him, but not find Him. Jesus reminds the disciples of this here but contrasts the way they would seek Jesus as compared to the Jews. The Jews sought Jesus with the intention of harm. But the disciples would seek Him in love. The implication is that those who seek with the wrong motives will forever seek and not find. But for those who seek as a disciple, there will be a time when the separation will end.

There is an irony in this statement, of course. The Jews were at that moment seeking for Jesus. And they would find Him that very night. They would arrest, try, and beat Him. They would hand Him over (betray) him to Pilate for judgment. The sought and found. Yet they did not find Jesus the way he meant to be found.

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