Summary: True success is found in loving as Jesus loves.


John 13:31-38

S: Love and Failure

Pr: True success is found in loving as Jesus loves.

Type: Inductive, Narrative

PA: How is the change to be observed?

• See God’s glory.

• Love one another.

• Reach others by pointing to Jesus.

Version: ESV

RMBC 20 February 05 AM


ILL Failure: grocery shopping

In the frozen foods department of a local grocery store, a man was shopping with his son.

As he was walking by, he checked something off his list, and he was overheard whispering conspiratorially to the child, "You know, if we really mess this up, we’ll never have to do it again."

ILL Failure: Edison

Thomas Edison invented the microphone, the phonograph, the incandescent light, the storage battery, talking movies, and more than 1000 other things.

In December 1914, he had come to the point he had worked for 10 years on a storage battery. This had greatly strained his finances. On one particular evening, spontaneous combustion had broken out in the film room. Within minutes all the packing compounds, celluloid for records and film, and other flammable goods were in flames.

Fire companies from eight surrounding towns arrived, but the heat was so intense and the water pressure so low that the attempt to douse the flames was futile. Everything was destroyed.

Edison was 67. The damage exceeded two million dollars, but the buildings were only insured for $238,000 because they were made of concrete and thought to be fireproof. With all his assets going up in a whoosh, would his spirit be broken?

The inventor’s 24-year-old son, Charles, searched frantically for his father. He finally found him, calmly watching the fire, his face glowing in the reflection, his white hair blowing in the wind.

"My heart ached for him," said Charles. "He was 67 — no longer a young man – and everything was going up in flames. When he saw me, he shouted, ’Charles, where’s your mother?’ When I told him I didn’t know, he said, ’Find her. Bring her here. She will never see anything like this as long as she lives.’"

The next morning, Edison looked at the ruins and said, "There is great value in disaster. All our mistakes are burned up. Thank God we can start anew."

Three weeks after the fire, Edison managed to deliver the first phonograph.

Swindoll, Hand Me Another Brick, Thomas Nelson, 1978, pp. 82-3,

and Bits and Pieces, November, 1989, p. 12.

Has failure ever stopped you?

It is very hard, I think, when you have really failed.

It is so disconcerting.

It is difficult to keep going.

No one likes to be branded a failure.

We prefer to be successful.

But even as Edison shows, so often, success comes from what appears as failure.

As we come to today’s text, remember that the setting is the Upper Room.

Jesus and the disciples have been having a Passover meal, and it is during this time that He has instituted the sacrament of communion (a practice that evangelical churches, including ours, continue to this day).

It was also during this time that Jesus washed the feet of the disciples.

Someone else had the responsibility to do it, probably Peter and John, since they were the designated hosts of the meal, but they had failed to do so.

So Jesus washed their feet.

It was an act of service and love so profound that it would make an eternal impact on their lives.

It was after this that Jesus revealed his betrayer to John, but not to the rest of the band.

In a final act of friendship, Jesus offered the betrayer, Judas, an opportunity to confess and repent.

Judas, however, remained silent, and according to the instructions of Jesus, he left.

It is at this point that we begin today…


(31) When he [Judas] had gone out, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. (32) If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and glorify him at once. (33) Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek me, and just as I said to the Jews, so now I also say to you, ‘Where I am going you cannot come.’ (34) A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. (35) By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

The text doesn’t say this directly, but I think there is a change in Jesus when Judas departs.

1. A sense of relief comes to Jesus when Judas leaves.

When Jesus announced that there was a betrayer in their midst, it certainly caused a swirl of confusion.

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