Summary: Following Jesus in keeping the new commandment of love.

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John 13:31-14:11

The sixth significant “I am” saying of Jesus in John’s Gospel is “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no one comes to the Father but by me” (John 14:6). Before we come to look more closely at the content of this remarkable verse, let us first set it in its immediate context.

As the Lord’s “hour” drew near that He should depart out of this world, He turned His attention more and more to “His own” (John 13:1). Judas Iscariot left the room to betray his Master (John 13:30), and the inevitable process which would culminate in the self sacrifice of Jesus on our behalf was reaching its climax (John 13:31). Even with a full knowledge of what was going to come to pass and what it would cost Him, Jesus kept His composure and gave some final teaching to His inner circle (John 13:31-16:33).

We are struck with the tenderness of Jesus towards His remaining eleven disciples: He calls them His “little children” (John 13:33). That the Son is one with the Father He has never denied (John 5:17-19; John 10:30; John 14:7-11), and this perhaps explains the expression “Everlasting Father” in Isaiah 9:6 which can drop so easily from our lips, especially at Christmastime. Jesus is “Father” in that it is through Him we are brought to eternal life (John 14:6).

Jesus gently told His disciples of His impending departure from this earth (John 13:33), and in the following conversation reassured them that they would follow Him soon. In the meantime, His disciples were to be marked out in the keeping of the “new” commandment of love (John 13:34-35). The old commandment of love was to be made new in the sacrifice of Jesus (15:13-14).

Simon Peter interpreted the “going away” in terms of death, and heroically announced his loyalty. This brash bravado had to be corrected (John 13:36-38), and Peter would not fully follow until a later date (John 21:18-22).

However, Jesus was not only talking about going away from the eleven in death. He spoke of His “glorification” (John 13:31-32), which surely embraces His death, resurrection and ascension. It also anticipates His coming again, not only for them but for His whole church (John 14:3; Revelation 22:20).

In the midst of all this talk of betrayal, denial, and going away which so troubled the disciples, Jesus offered His reassurance (John 14:1; John 16:33). Jesus had also been troubled in spirit (John 13:21), so He knew what they were going through. He gives us all a key to break out of Castle Despair, and that key is faith: not only belief in God, but also faith in Jesus, our Lord and Saviour (John 14:1).

Jesus reassures us that those who put their trust in Him have a sure place in the Father’s house, which contains many “abodes” (John 14:2-3). Jesus has left us as the forerunner (Hebrews 6:20), to search out a resting place for us (Numbers 10:33). Heaven is the home to which we shall go when we die: it is also a state of being into which we are already entered (Ephesians 2:6).

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