Friday, June 14, 2019

2019.06.14 Hopewell @Home ▫ John 13:31-35

Questions for Littles: What has Judas just done at the beginning of John 13:31? What does Jesus say is now happening to Him? What does He say is done unto God through Him? Since God is glorified in Christ, what will God do for Christ (John 13:32)? When? What does Jesus call them in John 13:33? What does He tell them will only be happening for a little while longer? What had Jesus told the Jews? To whom does He now say it? In John 13:34, what does His imminent departure become the occasion for commanding? What will people know when they see the apostles keeping this commandment (John 13:35)
It’s difficult to be left behind, even when you know that your dear one is only gone temporarily and only for a great reason. We’ve just celebrated the 75th anniversary of D-Day. Wives who waited for husbands to return longed to receive that embrace, to return that eagerly planted kiss. As they did so, everyone at the port would know that was her husband, and she is his wife.

There’s something similar going on here between Christ and His disciples. He’s about to leave for the best of reasons. The most God-glorifying event in history—redemption of sinners through the blood-atonement and wrath-enduring of Jesus—is about to take place. “Now the Son of Man is glorified, and God is glorified in Him.”

And then God is about to respond by seating a Man on the very throne of heaven. “If God is glorified in Him, God will also glorify Him in Himself, and glorify Him immediately.”

There will not be centuries and millennia of waiting before Jesus sits on the throne. There will, however, be millennia of waiting before the disciples can throw their arms around Him—before they can publicly and physically reciprocate His love. People won’t be able to observe them with (for instance) head placed upon His chest to say, “Aha! This one is His disciple!”

To be sure, there is a very close love between them. That’s what He means when He calls them “little children”—something that John later picks up in addressing those whom he pastors in his letters. But these dear ones won’t be able to be with Jesus to display their affection. “Where I am going, you cannot come.”

So Jesus gives them the New Commandment. The commandment that this particular apostle will later call “the new commandment that is not really new, but that we [the New Testament church] have had from the beginning [the night Jesus was betrayed!]” (cf. 1 John 2:1-11). “Love one another as I have loved you.”

Note the form of this “new” commandment is not so much in the form of the Ten Commandments as it is in the form of the two greatest commandments. Love the Lord Your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. Love your neighbor as yourself. Love one another as I have loved you. In the context, we can see Whom it is that we are really loving when we do so. Christ Himself.

During the time of His absence, the Lord Jesus receives as personally done unto Him whatever is done to His church. “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting ME?” (Acts 9:4, Acts 22:7). So, when we take an affectionate interest in one another, sacrificially serve one another, warmly greet one another, etc., we are making public displays of affection. For Christ. And all can see Whom it is that we love. Whom it is that we follow. “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

More importantly to us, Christ knows it. Christ receives it personally. Whatever you do to the least of these His brethren (Matthew 25:40), He receives as done unto Him. One day, we will have glorified bodies in which to wait upon, serve, and dote upon our Redeemer. Until then, we may focus upon loving Him in our loving of one another.
What opportunities do you currently have in your own congregation to show love to Jesus?
Suggested songs: ARP197 “Christian Unity” or TPH409 “Blest Be the Tie That Binds”

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