John 13:31-38

When he was gone, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man is 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 everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Simon Peter asked him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus replied, “Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.” Peter asked, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” Then Jesus answered, “Will you really lay down your life for me? Very truly I tell you, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!

Reflection – Wes Jeffcoat

This passage follows Jesus prediction of his betrayal by Judas.  In this passage we often focus on Jesus’ prediction of Peter’s denial before the rooster crows three times, which deserves some attention.  However, we sometimes might miss what is between those two stories.  This passage begins after Judas goes out and it is night, a dark time.  Even though Jesus is aware of Judas’ plan to betray him, Jesus treats him as an equal to the other disciples who are there with him.  He does likewise to Peter, who he knows will deny ever knowing him. 

At this time one might expect Jesus to speak about how evil Judas is and the circumstances of his evil or how unreliable Peter will become.  Yet, Jesus speaks of being glorified and glorifying God.  He continues to instruct and prepare his disciples for what is to come.  Even when Jesus is in this “dark” space, he is still full of love and gentleness when he refers to his disciples as “my children,” who he loves and not as the enemy that has and will turn against him.

In verse 34, Jesus gives a new command, “love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this all men will know you are my disciples, if you love one another.” It is easy for me to love some people, but Jesus wants us to love as he loved us.  When we look at who and how Jesus loved we see a Jesus who would stoop down as a lowly servant and wash the feet of others, even the one who would betray him.  We see Jesus doing great heroic acts with great risk, even to the point of giving his life. He calls us to love like him, from things that are simple and mundane to self giving acts and everything in between—at all times.  Jesus declares that “all people will know you are my disciples if you love one another.” This is how we glorify God.

In this passage Jesus demonstrates what love looks like when he washes the feet of Judas who will betray him and of Peter who will deny knowing him.  Jesus demonstrates that his love for us is not based on merit, cannot be earned, and he commands us to love likewise. Jesus made it clear that there is only one thing needed for everyone to know that we are followers of Christ, and that is to love one another as Jesus loved us.