Sunday 3 May 2015

John 13:31-38 - Denied

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There's a great deal to absorb in these eight verses. Jesus deals with three topics, and Peter has questions about  one of them.

Glory - The first topic is glory; he doesn't begin talking about this until Judas has left. Jesus tells them that the Son is glorified and the Almighty is glorified in him. And he explains that if this is so, the Almighty will glorify the Son in himself and will do so immediately. Do you see the symmetry here? The Father is glorified in the Son, and the Son is glorified in the Father - at the same time.

Can anyone, even Jesus, share the glory of the Father? Yes! The passage becomes clearer if we read some related material as well. Check out John 17:4-5, John 17:9-11 and John 17:20-23. Do you see how his disciples then and his disciples now (you and me!) all share in his glory? The glory of the Father is in and upon you! This is a mystery, incomprehensible to most of the Jewish religious leaders, yet it is what Jesus explicitly tells us.

Going - Jesus is soon going to leave them behind (John 13:33). He tells them this simply and plainly. They probably didn't like what they heard, but nor did they really understand what he meant. And Jesus isn't fazed by this. His followers still don't understand why he has come, his mission seems to teeter on the edge of failure. But he has done everything his Father said to do and he knows that is enough. Now that is faith!

A command - The third and final word he has for them is 'love'. They are to love one another in the same way that he has loved them. This will be the evidence that they are his followers.

Peter's question - It's always Peter! He's not afraid to say what he thinks at times when others are inclined to wonder silently. Peter wants to know where exactly Jesus is planning to go. And Jesus' answer, that Peter can't follow him now, is as perplexing as the knowledge that he is going. This provokes Peter into a further question, 'Why can't I?' And he claims that he will even die for Jesus.

But of course, it is Jesus who must die for Peter, and for all of us. Jesus tells Peter that instead he will disown him three times before the first hint of morning twilight. Jesus goes on immediately to tell them not to be anxious, but this is easily overlooked because of the unfortunate placement of the chapter heading. They are anxious at the tone of this conversation; they need reassurance and Jesus reassures them right away.

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