You are currently browsing the daily archive for May 14, 2022.

The Fifth Sunday of Easter is on May 15, 2022.

Readings for Year C can be found here.

The Gospel reading is as follows (emphases mine):

John 13:31-35

13:31 When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him.

13:32 If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once.

13:33 Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.’

13:34 I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.

13:35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Commentary comes from Matthew Henry and John MacArthur.

John’s Gospel has a beautiful and lengthy discourse from Jesus following the Last Supper.

It runs from the end of John 13 through John 17.

Jesus had just dismissed Judas to his sin and treachery; then He said that He has been glorified and God the Father has been glorified in Him (verse 31).

Jesus meant that God’s plan was now in place. Judas would complete his betrayal, Jesus would be crucified for our sins, rise again on the third day and ascend to heaven 40 days later.

Matthew Henry’s commentary on these verses is exceptional.

Henry gives us the following analysis of verse 31, beginning with the Crucifixion:

(1.) That he should himself be glorified in them. Now the Son of man is to be exposed to the greatest ignominy and disgrace, to be despitefully used to the last degree, and dishonoured both by the cowardice of his friends and the insolence of his enemies; yet now he is glorified; For, [1.] Now he is to obtain a glorious victory over Satan and all the powers of darkness, to spoil them, and triumph over them. He is now girding on the harness, to take the field against these adversaries of God and man, with as great an assurance as if he had put it off. [2.] Now he is to work out a glorious deliverance for his people, by his death to reconcile them to God, and bring in an everlasting righteousness and happiness for them; to shed that blood which is to be an inexhaustible fountain of joys and blessings to all believers. [3.] Now he is to give a glorious example of self-denial and patience under the cross, courage and contempt of the world, zeal for the glory of God, and love to the souls of men, such as will make him to be for ever admired and had in honour. Christ had been glorified in many miracles he had wrought, and yet he speaks of his being glorified now in his sufferings, as if that were more than all his other glories in his humble state.

God the Father was glorified in the Crucifixion because it meant redemption, our reconciliation with Him:

(2.) That God the Father should be glorified in them. The sufferings of Christ were, [1.] The satisfaction of God’s justice, and so God was glorified in them. Reparation was thereby made with great advantage for the wrong done him in his honour by the sin of man. The ends of the law were abundantly answered, and the glory of his government effectually asserted and maintained. [2.] They were the manifestation of his holiness and mercy. The attributes of God shine brightly in creation and providence, but much more in the work of redemption; see 1 Corinthians 1:24; 2 Corinthians 4:6. God is love, and herein he hath commended his love.

Then Jesus spoke in the third person. He said that if God is glorified in Him, God will also glorify Him in Himself and will glorify Him at once (verse 32).

John MacArthur says:

Our Lord knew.  Judas is gone.  The events are in place.  By tomorrow, I will be glorified on the cross.  By Sunday, I will be out of the grave.  40 days later, I will ascend into heaven.  And that’s the immediately that brings His glory to its culmination

Henry says that verse 32 expands on verse 31:

Observe how he enlarges upon it. [1.] He is sure that God will glorify him; and those whom God glorifies are glorious indeed. Hell and earth set themselves to vilify Christ, but God resolved to glorify him, and he did it. He glorified him in his sufferings by the amazing signs and wonders, both in heaven and earth, which attended them, and extorted even from his crucifiers an acknowledgment that he was the Son of God. But especially after his sufferings he glorified him, when he set him at his own right hand, gave him a name above every name. [2.] That he will glorify him in himselfen heauto. Either, First, In Christ himself. He will glorify him in his own person, and not only in his kingdom among men. This supposes his speedy resurrection. A common person may be honoured after his death, in his memory or posterity, but Christ was honoured in himself. Or, secondly, in God himself. God will glorify him with himself, as it is explained, John 17:5; John 17:5. He shall sit down with the Father upon his throne, Revelation 3:21. This is true glory. [3.] That he will glorify him straightway. He looked upon the joy and glory set before him, not only as great, but as near; and his sorrows and sufferings short and soon over. Good services done to earthly princes often remain long unrewarded; but Christ had his preferments presently. It was but forty hours (or not so much) from his death to his resurrection, and forty days thence to his ascension, so that it might well be said that he was straightway glorified, Psalms 16:10. [4.] All this in consideration of God’s being glorified in and by his sufferings: Seeing God is glorified in him, and receives honour from his sufferings, God shall in like manner glorify him in himself, and give honour to him. Note, first, In the exaltation of Christ there was a regard had to his humiliation, and a reward given for it. Because he humbled himself, therefore God highly exalted him. If the Father be so great a gainer in his glory by the death of Christ, we may be sure that the Son shall be no loser in his. See the covenant between them, Isaiah 53:12. Secondly, Those who mind the business of glorifying God no doubt shall have the happiness of being glorified with him.

Jesus addressed the Apostles as ‘little children’, telling them He would be with them only for a little while longer; He told them what He told the Jews: they could not go where He was going (verse 33).

Calling the Apostles little children is a sign of our Lord’s affection for them, even though they were childish in being preoccupied by who would be first.

Henry has more:

Little children. This compellation does not bespeak so much their weakness as his tenderness and compassion; he speaks to them with the affection of a father, now that he is about to leave them, and to leave blessings with them. Know this, then, that yet a little while I am with you. Whether we understand this as referring to his death or his ascension it comes much to one; he had but a little time to spend with them, and therefore, [1.] Let them improve the advantage they now had. If they had any good question to ask, if they would have any advice, instruction, or comfort, let them speak quickly; for yet a little while I am with you. We must make the best of the helps we have for our souls while we have them, because we shall not have them long; they will be taken from us, or we from them. [2.] Let them not doat upon his bodily presence, as if their happiness and comfort were bound up in that; no, they must think of living without it; not be always little children, but go alone, without their nurses. Ways and means are appointed but for a little while, and are not to be rested in, but pressed through to our rest, to which they have a reference.

Their lack of understanding comes up again in John 16, as MacArthur explains:

A little later, down in verse 36, He says: you will follow after But for now, you cannot come There’s so much affection in this.  Little childrenRare for Jesus to use that phrase talking to His disciples There’s so much pathos in this They don’t want Him to go.  They’re trying to stand in the way.  They’re trying to bar the events that He keeps talking about They don’t like the idea.  They don’t mind the fact that He said to the Jews in chapter 7:34 and 8:21 and 24, “You’re not going to be able to come where I go.”  When they hear this for themselves, this pushes them over the edge

By His death, He will leave.  His time with them is over.  They can’t stand that thought.  They’ve got all their hope in Him, all their trust in Him.  Everything is tied up with Him.  They are sad.  They are lonely.  They are troubled.  Peter even asks in verse 37, “Lord, why can’t I follow You right now?”  Right now.  If I have to, I’ll die. 

The thought that He would leave them?  Too much for them to bear.  Over in chapter 16 verse 2, He says, “You too have grief now, but I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice and no one will take your joy from you.”

What does He want them to know?  You’ve got to be committed to My glory, no matter how it affects you You’ve got to be committed to My glory.  I’ve been telling you I have to go.  It is My time to be glorified Glorified at the cross, glorified through the open tomb, glorified by ascending into heaven, glorified by Him being seated at the right hand of the Father It’s time for My glory.  Time for My glory. 

This was so hard for them, ‘cause they were all caught up in this kingdom concept that this was all leading to their glory, their elevation, their fulfillment of ambition A true disciple, a true believer is completely consumed with the Lord’s glory, the Lord’s glory Whatever happens to me, whether I live or whether I die, whatever happens to me, may Christ be glorified.  The passionate, consuming love for His glory – just wasn’t in their thinking Do they love Him?  Sure.  Did they believe in Him?  Of course.  But they were not consumed with His glory.

Jesus gave the Apostles a new commandment: to love one another as He has loved them (verse 34).

This is much more than loving one’s neighbour, because we are asked to love each other the way Jesus loves us. That is a ‘big ask’, so to speak.

Henry has an excellent interpretation of this commandment:

1. The command of their Master (John 13:34; John 13:34): A new commandment I give unto you. He not only commends it as amiable and pleasant, not only counsels it as excellent and profitable, but commands it, and makes it one of the fundamental laws of his kingdom; it goes a-breast with the command of believing in Christ, 1 John 3:23; 1 Peter 1:22. It is the command of our ruler, who has a right to give law to us; it is the command of our Redeemer, who gives us this law in order to the curing of our spiritual diseases and the preparing of us for our eternal bliss. It is a new commandment; that is, (1.) It is a renewed commandment; it was a commandment from the beginning (1 John 2:7), as old as the law of nature, it was the second great commandment of the law of Moses; yet, because it is also one of the great commandments of the New Testament, of Christ the new Lawgiver, it is called a new commandment; it is like an old book in a new edition corrected and enlarged. This commandment has been so corrupted by the traditions of the Jewish church that when Christ revived it, and set it in a true light, it might well be called a new commandment. Laws of revenge and retaliation were so much in vogue, and self-love had so much the ascendant, that the law of brotherly love was forgotten as obsolete and out of date; so that as it came from Christ new, it was new to the people. (2.) It is an excellent command, as a new song is an excellent song, that has an uncommon gratefulness in it. (3.) It is an everlasting command; so strangely new as to be always so; as the new covenant, which shall never decay (Hebrews 8:13); it shall be new to eternity, when faith and hope are antiquated. (4.) As Christ gives it, it is new. Before it was, Thou shalt love thy neighbour; now it is, You shall love one another; it is pressed in a more winning way when it is thus pressed as mutual duty owing to one another.

2. The example of their Saviour is another argument for brotherly love: As I have loved you. It is this that makes it a new commandment–that this rule and reason of love (as I have loved you) is perfectly new, and such as had been hidden from ages and generations. Understand this, (1.) Of all the instances of Christ’s love to his disciples, which they had already experienced during the time he went in and out among them. He spoke kindly to them, concerned himself heartily for them, and for their welfare, instructed, counselled, and comforted them, prayed with them and for them, vindicated them when they were accused, took their part when they were run down, and publicly owned them to be dearer to him that his mother, or sister, or brother. He reproved them for what was amiss, and yet compassionately bore with their failings, excused them, made the best of them, and passed by many an oversight. Thus he had loved them, and just now washed their feet; and thus they must love one another, and love to the end. Or, (2.) It may be understood of the special instance of love to all his disciples which he was now about to give, in laying down his life for them. Greater love hath no man than this, John 15:13; John 15:13. Has he thus loved us all? Justly may he expect that we should be loving to one another. Not that we are capable of doing any thing of the same nature for each other (Psalms 49:7), but we must love one another in some respects after the same manner; we must set this before us as our copy, and take directions from it. Our love to one another must be free and ready, laborious and expensive, constant and persevering; it must be love to the souls one of another. We must also love one another from this motive, and upon this consideration–because Christ has loved us. See Romans 15:1; Romans 15:3; Ephesians 5:2; Ephesians 5:25; Philippians 2:1-5.

MacArthur echoes Henry in saying that the Jews in that era had fallen far away from loving their neighbour:

This is really critical.  Now, notice this new commandment.  That’s how it starts.  A new commandment.  You say, wait a minute.  New?  To love people?  That’s not new.  Isn’t that in the Old Testament?  Yeah, Leviticus, the law of Moses.  Leviticus 19:18.  Love your neighbor as yourself.  And lots of things about love in the Old Testament.  God’s love, love for people, love for strangers, love for family.  Yeah, this isn’t new.  Deuteronomy 6.  Love the Lord with your heart and your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.  And then, love your neighbor as yourself.  That’s the law and the prophet’s first and second great commandment. 

So why is it new?  Well, let me tell you why it’s new It’s new, first of all, because they haven’t figured it out yet.  It’s got to be new to them because tall they’re doing is arguing with each other about who’s going to sit in the primary place in the kingdom So, I’ve got to teach you something new, something that as of now, you don’t demonstrate that you know.  It was new to them.  They were always quibbling about their positions and prominence.  That is exactly why none of them would wash the feet of the rest in the earlier passage. 

Secondly, to the Jews, it was new, ‘cause Judaism was filled with animosity, bitterness, strife, conflict, separationsThere were all kinds of factions within factions.  The Pharisees, who set the course for the dominant religion looked down on anybody who wasn’t a Pharisee, wouldn’t interact with anybody who wasn’t a Pharisee, had nothing but scorn for anybody who was an outsider or an outcast or a sinner.  But for the Jews, this is new.  If you’re Jewish, this is new.  And even if you’re a disciple, this is new. 

Judaism was loveless.  They loved only those that they chose to love because they saw them as equals It was new also because they had seen an example of it that was new.  Love had come to another level with Jesus.  It was new because rabbis didn’t wash feet And the Son of God washing feet took love to another level And now, He’s on the brink of offering His life as sacrifice for sin, and that’s love at the pinnacle.  Greater love has no one than this, than a man lay down His life for His friend.  So it was new to them in their argumentative attitudes, self-promoting desires, it was new to the Jewish culture because they had no place for love, and it was new in the level that had been set and would be set by Christ.  And it was also new because now, for the first time, they had a new capacity to love Because the love of God is shed abroad in your hearts, Romans 5:5, right?  Now you have a new capacity to love.  Now you can love in a way that only you can love, and only believers can love.  Walk in love, Ephesians 5:2.  Be imitators of God, His beloved children.  Walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, a sacrificial, selfless, self-giving love.  That’s how you love.  That’s how you walk in love.

Jesus said that obeying the new commandment would mark the Apostles out as His followers (verse 35).

MacArthur explains:

First John 3:11.  This is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.  That’s what marks us.  And by this love, all men will know that you are My disciples.  And I say it again: we’re known by our love.  The extent of this love, how far does it go?  Love one another.  The example of this love?  Christ, as I have loved you, sacrificially, humbly.  The effect of this love?  All men will know that you’re My disciples if you have love for one another And in order to love, you have to humble yourself Only humble people love.  Only humble people love.  The disciples weren’t humble.  This was all new to them.

MacArthur has an interesting insight into this from Matthew 18, an instruction from our Lord for the Church which did not exist at that time, having come into being later at the first Pentecost:

We love enough to serve and we love enough to sanctify What does that mean?  Go to Matthew 18.  In Matthew 16 we have the first time in the New Testament where the word “church” is used, Matthew 16Chapter 18, we have the first time there’s instruction given to the church, down in verses 15 and following The church is mentioned.  “Tell it to the church,” verse 17So, the Lord is now talking to His people The church doesn’t start until the Day of Pentecost This is preliminary instruction for the church.  This in chapter 18 is the first instruction given to the church before the church came into existence This is a sub-floor, if you will.  This is footings for life in the church.  Before the foundation is laid at Pentecost, the rest of the apostles’ doctrine is established

What is the point of Matthew 18?  The disciples come to Jesus They’re arguing again about who is the greatest in the kingdom “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”  They all wanted to be the greatest.  “Can we sit on your right and left hand?” John and his brother asked with their mother helping them, to kind of illustrate that.  So Jesus is going to give them a lesson on life in the kingdom, okay?  So He calls a little baby to Himself Some think this was actually Peter’s house and one of Peter’s relatives had a little baby, but whatever.  Jesus has a little baby in His arms as an illustration.  He sets the little child before them, and then He begins to speak to them, and what He has to say is so very important.

Remember now, these are the footings for the church.  This is the first instruction given to the church “Unless you are converted,” verse 3, “and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom.”  That’s the humility, the lowliness, the abject recognition of having accomplished nothing, achieved nothing, produced nothing.  You come empty-handed, bankrupt into the kingdom You come like a child Children have accomplished nothing They have to be cared for.  They can’t even care for themselves.  They can’t achieve anything.  They don’t have any history of accomplishments.  That’s how you come in.  You come in with nothing You come in bankrupt.  You enter the kingdom.  “You humble yourself,” verse 4You humble yourself to come in the kingdom Then in the kingdom, you’re all the greatest, right? 

... Greatness is just being in the kingdom, and it’s not relative.  It’s absolute.  It’s absolute. 

I shall close with MacArthur’s insight on being a pastor:

“Whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me.”  Wow.  When you open up your heart, open up your life, open yourself up to fellowship with another believer, you are receiving Christ Christ comes to you in that believer You got that?  That’s the foundation.  That’s the footings of life in the church.  Every true believer is literally Christ coming into your life That has a lot to do with how I think about how I’m going to treat everybody That’s a pervasive reality as a pastor

When I look out at you, I can honestly say I don’t – I’ve known a lot of people, and I guess it says in there I’ve been here 46 years.  I’ve known a lot of people.  I don’t have some kind of relative scale in my mind.  Everybody is Christ to me.  Everybody is Christ to me.  You are Christs, and when you come to me, Christ comes to me When I minister to you, I minister to one in whom Christ lives, for whom He died, whom He called, and with whom He will live forever in glory This just changes everything about human relationships for believers

Amazing.

I wish Church of England bishops had that same outlook on pastoral care. That, however, is another subject for another day, coming soon.

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