Summary: Year C. Fifth Sunday of Easter May 13th, 2001 John 13: 31-35
Year C. Fifth Sunday of Easter
May 13th, 2001 John 13: 31-35
Title: “Love one another”
At the Last Supper Jesus speaks of the process of his glorification as having already begun, as culminating in his death and departure from this world, and as continuing in the mutual love of his disciples.
Chapters one to twelve of John have been called “The Book of Signs,” wherein Jesus performs miracles which bring some to faith in him and others to rejection of him. Chapters thirteen to twenty have been called “The Book of Glory.” Chapters thirteen to seventeen take place at the Last Supper- a long farewell address discussing glorification, departure and fraternal love. Chapters eighteen to twenty describes the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus as his glorification whose ascension to the Father results in Jesus’ Father becoming his disciples’ Father also chapter twenty verse seventeen.
In chapter thirteen verses thirty-one to thirty-five the gospel reading for today, John gives a short introduction to Jesus’ Last Supper Discourse, the themes of which-glorification, departure and fraternal love- become the subjects of the following chapters, but in reverse order. These verses were probably composed by John and sandwiched into the otherwise “Synoptic-compatible” account of the Last Supper in order to introduce the long speech of Jesus peculiar to John. If these verses are not a part of the historical farewell speech of Jesus, but an introduction to them, then they were imported from his public ministry and so are authentic in that sense.
In verse thirty-one “When he, Judas, had left,” for John and Luke Judas is the instrument of Satan-devil-evil. Once he has exited into the dark outside, a symbol for evil, the light of Christ could shine without encumbrance. Jesus can now speak of “glory,” “glorify,” “glorification.” “Glory” and “light” go together.
Now is the Son of Man glorified: Jesus’ “hour,” his “time” in the sense of “timing,” opportune time, Greek kairos, has come. “Now” means that Jesus is between, or more correctly, simultaneously within, two worlds, earth and heaven. He is on the move. In verse twenty-one he said he was “troubled in spirit,” a parallel to the Synoptic “Father, let this cup pass…”. Now there is an air of triumph, even jubilation. This is parallel to the Synoptic “Not my will, but yours be done.” Jesus sees the whole process from the viewpoint of eternity, as though already accomplished. From the divine point of view his passion, death and resurrection have already happened. “Glory” means “hidden presence made manifest.” What was previously hidden to human experience is now revealed. “To glorify” it to make, cause, or otherwise do something so that that hidden presence is made visible, known, felt. It is God who is experienced in Jesus, who here calls himself “Son of Man,” a term connoting final glory when he judges the good and bad.
In verse thirty-two, “if God is glorified in him,” these words are missing from early manuscripts and were probably added by a copyist. They add nothing to the text and are usually put in parentheses in translations.
And will glorify him at once: “At once Greek euthus, a favorite term in Mark, has an imminent quality about it. It means “immediately” and thus, is “not yet, but as soon as possible, very soon.” The lines between time and eternity have become blurred. The verses are repetitive to express the mutuality between the Father and Son, their mutually shared glory and love. This glory-splendor-light will be seen, with faith eyes, in the very humiliation-ugliness-darkness of the crucifixion, a paradox possible only for those who see with two sets of eyes, physical and faith-filled. The ideas put so concisely here will be expanded in chapter seventeen.
In verse thirty-three, “where I go you cannot come,” the disciples will no longer enjoy normal human contact with Jesus. He is telling them that he will depart from the “scene,” from “being seen” only to remain with them in a new way. This new relationship will be experienced and expressed in their mutual love. Jesus must depart from the scene so that this mutual love can be seen, glory, as the new way he makes his presence felt and known. This will be the subject of the discourse in chapter sixteen.
In verse thirty-four, “I give you a new commandment,” since the disciples cannot “follow” Jesus, at least, not now, into the eternal realm they receive a command, which if “followed,” will keep his spirit alive among them as they continue to live in the world. This is not a “new” commandment as such. It is as old as Leviticus 19:18 which reads, “You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the LORD.” Rather, it is the foundational commandment or requirement or stipulation of the “new” covenant. Here John seems to be echoing the words of the institution of the Eucharist in the Synoptics “the blood of the new covenant”.