The Way of Love
Lord, help me to fulfill Your new commandment to love others as You love me.
Read John 13:31–38
31 When he was gone, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man is glorified and God is glorified in him. 32 If God is glorified in him, God will glorify the Son in himself, and will glorify him at once.
33 “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.
34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
36 Simon Peter asked him, “Lord, where are you going?”
Jesus replied, “Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.”
37 Peter asked, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.”
38 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!
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities… and by his wounds we are healed” (Isa. 53:5). Praise God for the healing there is in Jesus.
With the door firmly closed behind Judas, Jesus begins his final intimate teaching with the remaining disciples. This “farewell discourse” starts here and continues to the end of chapter 16.
John’s Gospel offers a different perspective from the others: they see Jesus’ glory as coming after his humiliation and death, but John sees it in his sacrifice and suffering. The wonder of Jesus’ glory is not just that he triumphs over death but that in love he enters into it on our behalf.
Jesus tells the disciples the ways in which they can follow him and the ways they cannot, recalling his comments in 7:33 and 34. Although the revelation of God in Jesus stands in continuity with the Old Testament (the Hebrew Bible), it is also something radically new and unique. Whereas God commanded the sacrifice of the Passover lamb annually, Jesus offers himself as that same sacrifice once and for all. We cannot “follow” this with any additional act because we can do nothing to enhance what he has done, nor can anyone repeat it.
However, we can—and must—follow in the way of love. Just as we cannot come after him apart from the way of the cross in giving up our very lives (Mark 8:34), so we cannot claim to be his without loving the way he loved, even washing one another’s feet. In one sense this teaching is not new—we have already been commanded to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Lev. 19:18)—but it comes now with new quality and clarity, as we have Jesus’ own example to follow. The disciples cannot do this yet (36), because the Spirit has not yet been poured out into them, and so the Spirit becomes the next focus of Jesus’ teaching.
How far have you come in learning to love like Jesus? In what areas
should you ask for a fresh filling of the Spirit to form you more like him?
Lord, if I must someday lay down my life for You, I can do so only
in the strength of Your Spirit.