“So, when he had gone out, Jesus said, ‘Now the Son of Man is glorified, and God is glorified in Him. If God is glorified in Him, God will also glorify Him in Himself, and glorify Him immediately.’” John 13:31-32
Do any of you remember the beautiful song that Dionne Warwick made famous in the 1960’s? “What the world needs now, is love, sweet love, it’s the only thing there is just too little of.” Fifty years later I don’t think anything has changed. In this hate-filled world of terrorism, social unrest, and fear, a little love would go a long way. And it’s not just the world and nations that need love. I believe more than ever that Christians need love today – lots of love.
It has been said, “You cannot give what you do not have.” Most of us grew up in homes where we talked about love. A few of us grew up in homes where we experienced true, deep, unconditional love. As we’ve grown up, what many of us are finding is that it is really difficult to love if we have never received love. One of the great problems of our world is that many people are walking around these days trying to give and receive something they have never experienced for themselves.
In the last several articles in our study of the gospel of John, we observed Jesus with His disciples at the Last Supper before His death (John 13:1-30). The disciples were arguing about who was the greatest (Luke 22:24). Jesus showed them greatness when He humbly served His disciples by washing their dirty feet (John 13:1-17). When Christ announced that one of His disciples would betray Him, He was troubled over it and the disciples wanted to know the identity of Jesus’ betrayer (John 13:18-29). Judas then went out into the night to carry out his betrayal (John 13:30). From the verses that follow (John 13:31-38), we will learn how we can impact our hate-filled world for Christ.
First, we must COMPREHEND GOD’S LOVE (John 13:31-33; cf. I John 4:9-10). Jesus’ upcoming death is not to be viewed as a humiliating defeat, but as a glorious triumph!Death was not part of God’s original design. Adam and Eve chose death (Genesis 3). God became a Man without ceasing to be God to conquer death. 1 “So, when he had gone out, Jesus said, ‘Now the Son of Man is glorified, and God is glorified in Him.’ ” (John 13:31). Judas’ departure was very significant. Now that Judas was gone, there would be less tension for our Lord as Satan in Judas was not present with Jesus and the Eleven. Christ could instruct them about how to carry on His mission. Now that the betrayal was underway, the events leading to Jesus’ death could “quickly” (John 13:27) unfold.
Since the betrayal was already in progress, the glorification of the Son and the Father could take place. Five times the words “glorified” (edoxasthē) and “glorify” (doxázō) are used in John 13:31-32. The first three occurrences refer to the manifestation of God’s character through Jesus’ death. Christ’s death will magnify the love of God the Father and God the Son. All three uses are in the past tense. Jesus’ glorification through His death is so certain it is viewed as already being complete. Christ’s crucifixion will reveal His glory as the Lamb of God and it will glorify His Father because it makes His love known to humankind. The cross displays the loving heart of both God the Father and God the Son.
Later in his first epistle, John writes, “9 In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”(I John 4:9-10). These verses tell us what God’s love is like.
1. GOD’S LOVE IS SELFLESS. His love gives without expecting anything in return. Often times we give to get. That is not God’s love. If Jesus had been selfish He would never have left heaven or if He had come to earth, He would have packed His bags and left at the first sign of rejection. But He didn’t. He endured incredible suffering because He came to give, not to get. If God’s love is controlling our lives, we will be givers, not takers.
2. GOD’S LOVE IS SACRIFICIAL. He not only gives, but He gives sacrificially. He “sent His only begotten Son into the world.” Most of you are probably familiar with the mass shooting in Las Vegas, Nevada, on October 1, 2017. A gunman opened fire on over 22,000 people at a music festival on the Las Vegas Strip, leaving sixty people dead and four hundred eleven wounded. The shooter, sixty-four-year-old Stephen Paddock, fired thousands of rounds into the crowd from his hotel suite on the thirty-second floor before he took his own life. 2
Suppose that Paddock had not killed himself, but, instead, had fled the crime scene and later was captured, tried for his crime, and sentenced to die for it. If it were possible, would you sacrifice your only child so that Paddock could live? “No way!” Nor would I. But that’s exactly what God did when He sent His Perfect Son to die for undeserving sinners like you and me. Who else would die for you except someone who loves you that much!
3. GOD’S LOVE IS UNCONDITIONAL – “not that we loved God, but that He loved us.” God’s love was not a response to our love. He loved us even if we never loved Him. God loves you when your walk of faith is weak or when it is strong. He sticks with you in the good times and the bad. Nothing about us makes God love us. He loves us because it is His nature to love. If God waited for us to love Him first, He would still be waiting. Thank God that He loved you and me first. His love does not require that you love Him back. The more we comprehend and experience God’s love for us through Jesus, the more we will be able to share that love with others.
Jesus said, “If God is glorified in Him, God will also glorify Him in Himself, and glorify Him immediately.” (John 13:32). In this verse John also uses the word “glorify” (doxasei) in the future tense. This points beyond the cross to the eternal glory of the Father which His Son will share in heaven. The word “glorify”means “to honor, magnify, or clothe in splendor.” 3 God the Father would restore His Son to a state of glory and splendor in heaven without delay (“immediately”).From God’s perspective, Jesus’ sufferings and death were not a tragedy, but a triumph. They would result in the glorification of God’s Son.
That Jesus’ glorification in verse 32 refers to His glory in heaven is alluded to in verse 33 as He speaks of His departure. “Little children, I shall be with you a little while longer. You will seek Me; and as I said to the Jews, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come,’ so now I say to you.” (John 13:33). Jesus refers to the Eleven disciples as “little children” (teknia) which literally means “little born ones.” 4 This word is always used by John of children of God. This is the only time John uses this word in his gospel, however, he does employ its use several times in his epistle (cf. I John 2:1, 12, 28; 3:7, 18; 4:4; 5:21). Why does Jesus wait until after Judas departs before He addresses His disciples as “little children?” Because Judas had not believed in Jesus for everlasting life, and therefore, was not born of God (cf. John 6:64, 70-71; 13:10-11; 17:12).
Christ knew that His teaching would be difficult to hear for His believing disciples, so He wants them to be certain of His tender loving concern for them. His departure does not mean that He no longer loves them. But in “a little while,” He would leave them and it would not be possible for them to “come” with Him both in His death and ascension to heaven after His resurrection. He must go alone.
Do you ever long to go to heaven to escape your problems here on earth? As I get older and experience more pains in my body, I tend to think more about heaven where there will be no more pain (Revelation 21:4). Jesus explains to His disciples, whom He greatly loves, that they “cannot come with” Him to heaven just yet because their work on earth is not done. While it is wonderful to eagerly anticipate the soon return of Jesus at any moment (cf. I Thessalonians 4:13-5:11), we must also cherish the great privilege we have of fulfilling God’s call in our lives to serve Him here on earth by serving others.
Christ’s announcement of His departure may have overwhelmed the disciples at this time. During the last three and a half years, they had come to trust Christ for every need in their lives. He had been like a father to them – providing, protecting, guiding, and instructing them as “children.” They had developed intimate fellowship with Jesus. They must have asked themselves, “What will we do while He is gone?” We will discover what Jesus tells them in our next article.
Prayer: Father God, one of the biggest challenges we face in the world today is the amount of hatred that exists between people. What the world truly needs more than anything is Your love which You demonstrated when You sent Your only begotten Son into the world to die for all our sins so we may have everlasting life through faith in Him. Your love is not a feeling. It is an action that seeks the best for others. I pray you will use me to glorify Your name and Jesus’ name as You manifest Your love to others through my life. In the matchless name of Jesus Christ I pray. Amen.
1. Wilkin, Robert; Bond, J.; Derickson, Gary; Doskocil, Brad; Hodges, Zane; Hunt, Dwight; Leach, Shawn. The Grace New Testament Commentary: Revised Edition (pg. 524). Grace Evangelical Society. Kindle Edition.
3. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, compiled by Walter Bauer, trans. and adapted by William F. Arndt and F. Wilbur Gingrich, 2nd ed., rev. and augmented by F. Wilbur Gingrich and Frederick W. Danker (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1979), pg. 204.
4. Jody C. Dillow, The Reign of the Servant Kings: A Study of Eternal Security and the Final Significance of Man, (Hayesville: Schoettle Publishing Co., 1992), pp. 378-379.