There are two sermons and the sermonblog thoughts on this page...
Year C : Easter 5 John 13:31-35
John 13:31 When he was gone, Jesus said, "Now is the Son of Man glorified and God is glorified in him. 32 If God is glorified in him, God will glorify the Son in himself, and will glorify him at once. 33 "My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come.34 "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."
We live in a world where advertisers try to sell us things as new and improved. Today's gospel is about new and improved things...
A New Command.
Moses said, "Love your neighbour as yourself" (see Lev. 19:18). Parable of good samaritan Jesus taught that everyone is our neighbour. New command did not replace the old because Jesus referred to this old commandment when he gave the summary of the law ( Mark 12:30 ).
New - based on new covenant. Superior,
Founded on Jesus' love - new example
New commitment - Involved a new standard, "as I have loved you". Sacrificial, even to martyrdom.
A New Trademark.
What would you say if you were asked what showed that someone was a Christian?
Doing good? Going to church? Being English? Being religious? Reading the Bible? Praying? Telling others about Jesus?
Although all of these things are important the mark of a true Christian, Jesus says, is love for fellow believers. Jesus told the parable of the sheep and goats to illustrate that practical love for fellow believers is a sign of being a true disciple.
The sacrificial love that led Jesus to the cross the next day should result in believers having sacrificial love for fellow believers. This is a simultaneous demonstration of obedience to God and of a true appreciation of Jesus' costly love to us.
Words have to be backed up by actions, as Simon Peter was soon to discover, verses 36-38. 37 Peter asked, "Lord, why can't I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you." 38 Then Jesus answered, "Will you really lay down your life for me? I tell you the truth, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!
Peter was trying to follow Jesus in his own strength and would fail. If we try to love fellow believers sacrificially in our own strength we will fail. We need...
A New Power.
Jesus commands us to love, and He gives us the power to obey. Romans 5:5 "And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us."
We have a source of love, God's love, within us. We have to rely upon God's Spirit to demonstrate this love practically.
In what practical ways can we show love to other Christians: In our workplace? in our family? in Knebworth? in the world?
From the sermonblog...
The night before his crucifixion, soon after Judas had left to betray him, Jesus tells his followers that the glory of God will be seen on the cross. We probably wouldn't think an instrument of humiliation and tortuous death could be "glorious". But glory would be given to God the Father through the obedience of God the Son. Jesus' death, inspired by love, is the means through which God restores people to a right relationship with Him. This, certainly IS glorious!
The glory and witness of believers is found in sacrificial love for other believers. Love that imitates the sacrificial love of Jesus. This is a simultaneous demonstration of obedience to God, of true discipleship and of a true appreciation of Jesus' costly love to us. Words have to be backed up by actions, as Simon Peter was soon to discover, verses 36-38.
Bing Crosby, Hollywood comedian, singer and actor collapsed and died after a friendly eighteen holes of golf as his local club. His last words were, 'That was a great game of golf, fellers.'
I suppose none of us want to die, but I don't know if you have ever considered how you might prefer to die. Perhaps a peacefuI death in our sleep or surrounded by friends and family ? I am sure that none of us would want a long, humiliating tortuous death, goaded by our enemies. But it was in such a death that Jesus and God was glorified.
We will now look at this passage using three questions : A Glorious Death ? A New Command ? and Die or Deny ?
A Glorious Death ?
31 When he was gone, Jesus said, "Now is the Son of Man glorified and God is glorified in him. 32 If God is glorified in him, God will glorify the Son in himself, and will glorify him at once. 33 "My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come.
Jesus refers to himself as Son of Man, his most common title for himself, used 81 times in the Gospels and never used by anyone but Jesus. In Daniel 7:13-14 the Son of Man is pictured as a heavenly figure who in the end times is entrusted by God with authority, glory and sovereign power. When we think of the word 'glory' this may bring to mind images of an Olympian receiving a gold medal and waving to the crowd as the National Anthem is played.
In the Bible the word 'glory' refers to the visible self-disclosure of God. Here the idea of glory is a reference to Jesus' sacrificial death on the cross and the glorious salvation that would result. God is glorified in him. The glory of the Father is closely linked to that of the Son. This closeness has already resulted in Jesus declaring that 'I do what my Father does', 10:37. This unity comes from the love that the Father and the Son have for one another. A unity and love that the disciples are commanded to repeat.
Judas had just gone and Jesus was giving last-minute instructions to his disciples before his arrest, trial and death. These were important words, especially when you consider that the disciples had little idea of what was going to happen. We see this from Peter's question in verse 36, "Lord, where are you going?".
Verse 33, 'Where I am going, you cannot come.' Jesus was not only referring to his death but also to the forty days after his resurrection, when he only occasionally appeared, and to his ascension when he left earth until his return.
In John 7:33ff Jesus had told the Jewish leaders about his departure,
but they thought he was talking about leaving Israel to go to another
country. They responded in unbelief and sent guards to arrest
him. They would never be able to follow Jesus.
The disciples would be able to follow him to be with God. This should involve them in loving one another, and would involve some of them in following Jesus to a martyr's death.
This leads us onto our next heading...
A New Command ?
34"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."
This wasn't new in one sense. Leviticus 19:18 'Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself.'
This was one of many commands given to Moses by God after the Israelites had been delivered by God's undeserved favour from the slavery of Egypt. However, the final acts that secured deliverance involved the power of God in killing the firstborn sons and drowning the Egyptian army.
The act that secured deliverance for Jesus' followers is a demonstration of sacrificial love. Jesus had already shown his humility earlier that evening when he had taken upon himself the role of the most junior slave to wash his disciples feet. The next day he would demonstrate the depth of his love by dying for sinful humanity of the cross.
Newspaper columnist and minister George Crane tells of a wife who came into his office full of hatred toward her husband. "I do not only want to get rid of him, I want to get even. Before I divorce him, I want to hurt him as much as he has me."
Dr. Crane suggested an ingenious plan "Go home and act as if you really love your husband. Tell him how much he means to you. Praise him for every decent trait. Go out of your way to be as kind, considerate, and generous as possible. Spare no efforts to please him, to enjoy him. Make him believe you love him. After you've convinced him of your undying love and that you cannot live without him, then drop the bomb. Tell him that your're getting a divorce. That will really hurt him."
With revenge in her eyes, she smiled and exclaimed, "Beautiful, beautiful. Will he ever be surprised!" And she did it with enthusiasm. Acting "as if." For two months she showed love, kindness, listening, giving, reinforcing, sharing. When she didn't return, Crane called. "Are you ready now to go through with the divorce?"
"Divorce?" she exclaimed. "Never! I discovered I really
do love him." Her actions had changed her feelings. Motion resulted
in emotion. The ability to love is established not so much by emotion
or fervent promise but by often repeated deeds.
Jesus instruction to love on another in verse 34 is a command. It is not primarily a matter of feeling or liking or talking. It has to do with the will. If love is commanded, then to love our fellow believers or our neighbour or even our enemy is not something which is up for negotiation. If it is commanded then it is possible with God's help.
But, when we compare our love to that of Jesus we will feel inadequate. But the Bible stresses that our love for our fellows is in the way of a response. It is a response to the love of Jesus; we love because he first loved us. It is a response to the Spirit within us: he sheds the love of God abroad in our hearts. It is a response to our being united to Christ as branches are connected to the stem of a vine. Love is his fruit.
This is also a new command because it comes from the new covenant that Jesus brought in. He had referred to this when he shared the bread and wine with his disciples that evening.
Jesus said love is the mark of his disciples and, therefore, the church. It is to be a witness to the world. The world is to know the disciples of Jesus not by their zeal or doctrinal purity or code of living but by the love they have for one another. Love has to be lived out. There is always a specific person, here in front of us in a concrete situation. Love is the greatest of gifts. Love is a matter of action. It shows itself in a thousand different forms - in hospitality, in greeting, in not being snobbish, in not keeping a score of wrongs, in weeping with those who weep, in encouraging, in giving up your `rights', in speaking out, in working together, in seeking reconciliation. It is the `more excellent way', as Paul describes in 1 Corinthians 13.
By the fourth century, the churches in Rome were feeding an estimated 20,000 poor people each week. The church at that time presented to the world a visible alternative to the prevailing social order.
The fruit of the Spirit begins with love. There are nine graces spoken of, and of these nine Paul puts love top of the list; love is the first thing, the first in that precious cluster of fruit. Dwight L. Moody wrote that all the other eight can be put in terms of love.
Joy is love exulting.
Peace is love in repose.
Longsuffering is love on trial.
Gentleness is love in society.
Goodness is love in action.
Faith is love on the battlefield.
Meekness is love at school.
Temperance is love in training.
Copyright 1999 Gibson Productions
A Glorious Death ? A New Command ? and ...
Die or Deny ?
36 Simon Peter asked him, "Lord, where are you going?" Jesus replied, "Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later." 37 Peter asked, "Lord, why can't I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you." 38 Then Jesus answered, "Will you really lay down your life for me? I tell you the truth, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!
Peter's typical impetuous and impatient question, where are you going? ignored Jesus' words about love and was more concerned about the immediate, where Jesus was going. Thomas exhibited a similar concern in 14:5. Jesus' reply to Simon Peter of "you" in verse 36 is singular and thus personal to Peter, whereas in v. 33 the word is plural.
Peter is characteristically brash declaring I will lay down my life for you, verse 37. These words were similar to those of Jesus when he declared that he was the good shepherd in 10:11. There is an irony in the situation. Peter in the warm, comfortable surroundings of a meal with friends suddenly declares that he will die for his master. In fact he would not lay down his life at this time. Indeed he could not even tell the truth and admit that he was follower of Jesus when confronted in the courtyard of the high priest ( 18:15ff ).
In contrast to Peter's impetuous words Jesus had been deliberately
and carefully telling his disciples for a long time that he would die.
In the next few hours that choice would be seen in the way that he would
refuse the opportunity to escape from his destiny. The glory of the
Jesus tells Peter, verse 38, you will disown me three times. A rooster would crow three times between midnight and three a.m. Peter's denial is prophesied in all four Gospels (Mt 26:33-35; Mk 14:29-31; Lk 22:31-34). When he is outside in the cold surrounded by people who were hostile to Jesus Peter didn't have the courage he proclaimed earlier. Peter's time to stand up for his Lord and, eventually to die for him would have to wait. To wait for the forgiveness and commissioning of Peter after the miraculous catch of fish in John 21. Peter would also have to wait with the other disciples for the empowering of the Holy Spirit to become a fearless follower of Jesus.
Dwight A. Moody was playing a homemade version of the game "Pictionary"
with his family. It was Christmas. They were thinking up
phrases and themes from the Christmas story which they could represent
in drawings. Their nine-year-old daughter, Sarah, drew the difficult
phrase, "Glory to God in the highest." According to
her father, Sarah had difficulty representing "glory" and
"highest," but not God.
"Without a moment's hesitation she drew a human form -- with face, arms, legs and then large hands... with nail prints. It was Jesus she had drawn to convey to us God."
That, of course, was why Jesus came. It's one thing to talk about love - it is another to show that love by nail prints in your hands. Being loved this much can make a difference in our lives. We can remember the One who loves us and then, be different because of it.
you have taught us through the words and example of your Son
to love one another
grant that we may obey His command
and in so doing may be a witness to your great redeeming love
through Jesus Christ our Lord, in the power of the Holy Spirit, to the glory of your name.
Often the behaviour of believers mimics the hostility of the world rather than the love of Jesus.
Do I need to behave in a more loving way to fellow believers?
Is there any person(s) I need to be reconciled to/with?
"I love Thee, I love Thee
and that Thou doest know;
But how much I love Thee,
my actions will show."