John 13:31-38 Devotional Commentary

Search me! Devotional Commentary for March 28-April 3

John 13:31-38 (NASB)

This is the Word of God. May the Spirit of Truth give us wisdom and insight to receive what has been conveyed through His Word by His Inspiration.

13:31-35
31Therefore when he had gone out, Jesus said, "Now is the Son of Man Glorified, and God is Glorified in Him;
32if God is Glorified in Him, God will also glorify Him in Himself, and will glorify Him immediately.
33"Little children, I am with you a little while longer. You will seek Me; and as I said to the Jews, 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, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
35"By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."

After His ministry to Nicodemus and many more that followed, the time came when Jesus had to face the ultimate reason for which He was sent to earth by His Father. Peter and the Disciples did not appreciate the truth when Jesus broke the news of His imminent crucifixion. Nevertheless, everything was ready and in place for Jesus to face the Cross. The Lord finished the final Passover meal with His Disciples and the process of His crucifixion was initiated in earnest.

The time was at hand and the appointed agent of wickedness was ready. Judas left the gathering at the prompting of Jesus to finalize his deal to facilitate the capture of His Master by the High Priest and the Jewish authorities. Judas did that after having his feet washed by Jesus, after listening to Jesus' lesson on humbleness and service, and after observing the Passover feast with his companions and his Master. Once identified as the traitor and given the cue to proceed, Judas moved swiftly by satan's propelling influence to satisfy his end of the wicked bargain he secured, to have Jesus arrested.

Jesus was now alone with the Eleven whom He chose to commission and empower to carry the message of the Gospel to the world. These are the faithful ones, the ones through whom the Spirit would spread the Gospel in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the uttermost part of the world. Jesus began to speak to His Disciples about His Suffering in its heavenly context, its sacred meaning, and utmost significance. His Words clearly implied that they should face the approaching realities about His Suffering with consecrated understanding and hallowed wisdom.

Jesus told His Disciples, His Crucifixion is the moment of His Glorification and Exaltation, because God's eternal Will and Purpose are perfectly fulfilled through the Suffering of the Lamb of God on the Cross at Calvary. Glory in suffering? Indeed! The suffering of the Lamb of God is the Glory of the Son of God because His position as the sacrificial Lamb aligns His obedience with the Will of His Father. Jesus Christ, the beloved Son of God pleased His Father through His unreserved willingness and unqualified obedience. Therefore, both Father and Son are glorified, and glorified in each other, because God's purposed and planned redemption of the lost was accomplished by and through the obedience of the Son. This is not a matter of endorsing, magnifying, or championing suffering for its own sake. The Cross of Jesus is the eternal Altar where God's Grace and Justice were executed, accomplished, and revealed.

Jesus was fully aware that His Disciples were facing moments of personal crises due to His impending sudden departure. He spoke to them as a compassionate father of little children who felt crushed by some difficult news. But tell them, He must! They needed to know what was coming up. They needed to understand that it would be alright because everything was purposed and planned by the Father. It was not unexpected. Jesus came to earth for this Purpose.

It was necessary for the Disciples to know that the time of Jesus' physical departure had come. After all, the Purpose for which He came must be fulfilled, and now was the time. So He told them that He would be with them just for a little while and then He must leave them, after His Suffering, to return to His Father. They could not follow Him to the Cross. He must go through that valley alone. He was under God's Judgment for sin.

After telling them what was imminent, Jesus encouraged His Disciples with a new commandment which would be the source of comfort, strength, and unity. He issued a new commandment teaching them to love one another even as He loved each one of them individually. That is, let the Love of Christ flow out of each one and bless the rest.

Jesus exhorted His Disciples to follow His example in His love even as He asked them to emulate Him in serving one another. He taught them to love one another even as He loved them so that the Love of Christ in each one would overcome their own self-serving inhibitions, causing each one to accept others with the Love of Christ into the Love of Christ. Jesus' exhortation is not given in a vacuum. If one is loved by Jesus and understands the Love of Christ, then, one can love others by the enabling influences of the Love of Christ. Therefore, instead of collapsing under the weight of worries and anxieties about Jesus' future, the Lord urged His Disciples to rejoice in the unity and security they have in the Love of Christ. Then they will be united as one, become strong in the Power of Christ, and serve as the living witnesses of Jesus the Christ, bearing in their words and actions the testimony of their relationship to God.

13:36-38
36Simon Peter said to Him, "Lord, where are You going?" Jesus answered, "Where I go, you cannot follow Me now; but you will follow later."
37Peter said to Him, "Lord, why can I not follow You right now? I will lay down my life for You."
38Jesus answered, "Will you lay down your life for Me? Truly, truly, I say to you, a rooster will not crow until you deny Me three times.

It seemed that Peter was preoccupied with the unanswered question of the conversation. Jesus' admonition about love, service, and humbleness did not seem to catch much of his attention. He was more anxious to know why Jesus was leaving them, where He was going, and why he cannot follow Him to where He was going. Peter was not content to sit still and wait. He wanted to know now.

Jesus told Peter that he could not follow Him to where He had to go. But he would certainly follow Him later. Peter did not understand what all this meant. He just did not want to be separated from His Lord. He vowed that he would lay down his life for his Lord if necessary.

Peter meant every word he said to Jesus. He was convinced that nothing or no one could separate him from his Lord and Teacher. Life without his Master was unthinkable to this fisherman from Galilee. Peter's love and loyalty are admirable, howbeit without much understanding. They were inspired by his own instinctual impulses. They flowed out of his tender sentiments. They were not in line with God's Will and Purpose.

Jesus, Who knew all things, showed Peter the reality of who Peter was: a flawed man at best. Despite all of his protestations, Peter would deny his Lord three times before dawn on the day of the Lord's trial and crucifixion.

While Peter was dealing with his confusion, Jesus taught His Disciples, to love Him is: to obey Him, to be humble before Him, to serve Him and others for His sake, and to be real in Christ, resisting the carnal attempts of the flesh to take matters into its own ungodly hands. Jesus said love one another even as I have loved you. Be humble and serve one another. He served them. He loved them to the end. He loved them to death on the Cross. Even so, He loves us just as much.

Notes/Applications

After Judas left the gathering to meet with his partners in crime, Jesus and His Disciples continued with their suppertime fellowship. Following His lessons on humbleness and service, Jesus inspired His Disciples to face the approaching realities of His Suffering with courage, confidence, hope, and faith in Him.

In teaching them to love and serve one another in His Love, Jesus expressed His most tender concerns for these men because loving another for the sake of Christ requires self-denial and surrender to the Power of God's Love. Peter’s loud exclamations of devotion are struck-down by Jesus’ warnings of denial. Being human as we are, is there any hope for them, then? Is there any hope for us? Most certainly indeed, even though like Peter, our bold exteriors are filled with very fine cracks, which expose us to the reality that we are primarily fragile beings.

Love?! What do we know about love? We only know that we watch out for ourselves protecting the image we carefully sculpted, ensuring that we would maintain our self-assigned positions in the marketplace, in our families, and yes, even in our churches. What we really know is self-preservation reasoned with self-reliance and self-sufficiency apart from God. But the freedom we have been given through our salvation comes to us packaged in Love—Divine Love—the Love of our Savior toward underserving sinners. Within that sacred package comes the command, we should follow the example set for us by our loving Savior.

Love?! What do we know about love? We know the Love of God is shed abroad in our hearts, melting the façade we put up to guard the self we refuse to deny. This gift of Love and the ability to love is not the act of man. It is the Gift of God instilled in our redeemed hearts by the Holy Spirit as the Fruit of the Spirit.

Peter loved his Lord so dearly that he strongly felt he could die for Him. But Peter's sentiments were just that: an uninspired empty feeling contrary to God's Will and Purpose. Jesus had to go to the Cross to heal the broken spirit of one of His little children. Unbeknownst to him, Peter attempted to stand in the way. But Christ moved him out of God's Way and laid down His own life for Peter's deliverance. Jesus loved him. Jesus loves us.

To love God is to be humble. To love Christ is to serve. To love the Holy Spirit is to be real. To love God is to obey God and love others as He loved us. But we often find ourselves standing in the way believing we have what it takes. That is the time when we should take our cue from the Psalmist and pray:

Search me oh God and try my heart and see. Create in me a clean heart and restore an upright spirit within me. Destroy every ungodly inclination from within me by the Power of your Love. Cleanse me, search me, oh God my Father. Search my heart and make me worthy in Christ to be the means of Your Love. Search me oh God.

Here at Practical Christianity Foundation we believe that God has mercifully extended His Grace toward us and has given us His living and Holy Word to guide us in our journey in this world. We count it privilege to come alongside you and minister to you through prayer and the sharing of God's living and holy Word. Please contact us if you have any questions concerning your faith and journey as a Christian.

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John 13:31-38
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