Love One Another, John 13:18-38, 12 May 2013

Big Idea: Love one another!


We’re in the middle of a series studying the Gospel of John, a biography of Jesus written by one of His best friends, John.

After twelve chapters chronicling the public ministry of Jesus, we began chapter thirteen last Sunday, the events leading up to the cross.

We saw Jesus in the Upper Room washing the feet of His disciples, demonstrating what it means to truly serve. In addition to audacious Peter, Judas Iscariot was both present and a recipient of Jesus’ love and service.

Jesus is in the midst of a tradition known as a farewell. It became a literary genre. We have the farewells of Moses, Solomon, and many others, either actual or possible.

All Jewish farewells had four parts:

  1. A plea to obedience (Deut. 32:46)
  2. A plea to study the Word of God
  3. A promise that God’s Spirit will remain (Deut. 34)
  4. A promise/blessing of comfort (Deut. 33)

Our culture does not usually contain farewells. I have experienced two, both from Alzheimer’s victims (my dad and Darrell Prichard).

If you had a week to live, what would you tell your family and friends? Would you talk about the new Leonard DiCaprio movie or the next iPhone?

Jesus knows He’s about to die, and though He wants to avoid the agony of it, He faces death itself with confidence, knowing it is the Father’s will.

Jesus has washed the feet of the disciples, perhaps the most humbling act possible, and now they engage in the traditional Passover meal. Verse 18 begins by Jesus saying

“I am not referring to all of you; I know those I have chosen. But this is to fulfill the scripture: ‘He who shares my bread has lifted up his heel against me.’ (18)

He quotes Psalm 41:9, referring to Judas Iscariot. It’s incredible to imagine Jesus washing the feet of the one who will betray Him moments later.

“I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I am He. I tell you the truth, whoever accepts anyone I send accepts me; and whoever accepts me accepts the one who sent me.” (19-20)

After he had said this, Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, “I tell you the truth, one of you is going to betray me.” (21)

His disciples stared at one another, at a loss to know which of them he meant. One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him. Simon Peter motioned to this disciple and said, “Ask him which one he means.” (22-24)

Nobody had a clue as to who it would be.

Who is the disciple that Jesus loved? John, almost certainly.

Leaning back against Jesus, he asked him, “Lord, who is it?” (25)

Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.” Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, son of Simon. As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him. (26-27a)

This is Judas’ last chance, though He knew what Judas would do.

J. Vernon McGee says that God ratifies human decisions. We choose and God seconds the motion.

“What you are about to do, do quickly,” Jesus told him, but no one at the meal understood why Jesus said this to him. Since Judas had charge of the money, some thought Jesus was telling him to buy what was needed for the Feast, or to give something to the poor. As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out. And it was night. (27b-30)

Do it quickly. The religious leaders didn’t want to crucify Jesus during the feast.

The disciples were clueless (again!). It was night, devil’s night. Judas leaves.

Night was both a description and a symbol that the end of Jesus’ life is coming. The grand farewell begins at verse 31.

When he was gone, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man 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. (31-32)

Jesus is preparing to be glorified in His death…and resurrection.

“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. (33)

Why does He call them children? This is the only time John uses this Greek word,
teknion, an endearing term used between parents and their children. It’s an intimate expression.

He’s about to leave them.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (34-35)

What’s new about it?

Leviticus 19 says to love your neighbor as yourself, something Jesus often quoted. This love is more descriptive—a dramatic, sacrificing love as He demonstrated. “As I have loved you.”

Jesus is concerned that His followers would love one another. This is His

What is the hallmark of followers of Jesus? Our theology? Our church attendance? Bible-reading? Mission trips? Charitable donations? The world will know we follow Jesus if we love one another.

Tertullian, a Roman historian who lived in the late second to early third centuries (AD 155-220), wrote that even those who opposed Christianity knew that the mutual love of those who followed Christ was unique. “Our care for the derelict and our active love have become our distinctive sign before the enemy … See, they say, how they love one another and how ready they are to die for each other.” (Apology 39)

We have failed and the world has noticed.

This clearly impacted John, who later wrote

We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother. (1 John 4:19)

Dr. Gary Burge has observed three things about the love Jesus describes.

Love is connected to obedience. It’s not merely a feeling but an action. (14:31)
Love is about sacrifice. Feet washing and the crucifixion are two examples. (15:31)
We know John 3:16. but 1 John 3:16 is also notable.

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? (1 John 3:16-17)

Love is connected to witness. Our greatest testimony is not our words but our life together. (15:35)

You can’t force yourself to love someone. We can’t just try harder to love an lovable person. Instead we need divine intervention. We love because He first loved us. Only by knowing God and experiencing His love can we become like Jesus and love others.

Simon Peter asked him, “Lord, where are you going?” (36a)

Children ask this frequently? Where are you going? Can I come with you?

Jesus replied, “Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.” (36b)

Where is Jesus going? He is going to die.

Peter asked, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” (37)

He doesn’t want to wait. He wants to be with Jesus.

Then Jesus answered, “Will you really lay down your life for me? I tell you the truth, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times! (38)


I pray that we would be known by our love for one another.


Some ideas taken from Dr. Gary Burge, Willow Creek Midweek podcast, 4/12/12

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