Monday, May 21, 2012

John 13:31-35

Immediately after Judas left, Jesus honed in on his main message to the eleven:

When he was gone, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified and God is glorified in him.  If God is glorified in him, God will glorify the Son in himself, and will glorify him at once. 

“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. 

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:31-35)

When Jesus affirmed here that the hour for which he was born had finally come, I wonder if He was not also steeling Himself with the reminder of His purpose: to glorify the Father. His gaze was upward. He was completely focused on giving His Father glory. This needs to be our focus, as well, no matter what trials we face. Jesus knew that, even though He was facing extreme suffering on the Cross, He was also going to be glorified in the end and many would be saved - that was the “joy set before Him” (Hebrews 12:2). We are promised that when we see Him, we will be like Him. We, too, will receive glorified bodies. We know that God’s promises of heaven ahead of us are true, and if we will just keep our eyes on that prize, we will be able to endure whatever comes our way.

So in His final discourse in the Upper Room, what is it that Jesus wants His disciples to learn? What is the most important lesson that He can impart to them? That they must love one another! This was what would change the world: their love for one another would prove that they were His disciples. It was what would set them apart form all others. Jon Courson points out that in the Old Testament God had already commanded that we love our neighbor as ourself, and Jesus had reiterated the importance of that commandment, yet Jesus says this was a NEW commandment. How so? Well, he added that we are to love “as I have loved you.”

The love we are commanded to give is sacrificial. It requires that we die to ourselves. In order for there to be true reconciliation throughout the Old Testament, something had to die. A lamb or dove was sacrificed on the altar. So, just as Jesus was sacrificed for us to reconcile us to God, so we must sacrifice our own needs and pride to be reconciled to others. How does this work for us? If you have a strained relationship with someone (mother-in-law, co-worker, spouse, son...), the ONLY way that relationship will be healed is if someone dies! And it needs to be YOU! You will have to let go of the anger, resentment, hurt, or your need to be right in order to restore the relationship. God requires it of us! It is what will set you apart as one of His children!

When Jesus said, “all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another,” He was saying that this was going to be the single most important witness. Not how much tithe we pay, not how many good works we do, not the healings of the sick or other miraculous signs and wonders, not our church attendance, not our memorizing of scripture. It would be the way we demonstrated our love for each other that would be the evidence of our discipleship. This is a lesson the Church still needs to learn.

This morning, be asking God to show you how you can better demonstrate His love to those unlovable people in your life. Then pray for the courage to SHOW it - not feel it. Remember that the feelings always follow obedience! Ask God what you can do to show love to your spouse in a tangible way this week. What can you do or say to your mother-in-law that would be loving? How can you show love to that co-worker who bugs you the most?? Pray about it - then do it! Let us know what happens!  

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