True Love – John 13:31-38
By Pastor Lee Hemen
September 13, 2015
Recently those who study such things declared that Facebook can be detrimental to a relationship or a marriage and in fact more and more divorces are being done because of Facebook. Some suggest that a Facebook relationship status for some is the equivalent of a high school promise ring! Left over photos of old relationships is another problem. Also a photo that you may think as completely harmless, may make her cringe, cry or call it quits. Not constantly posting every wonderful little detail of your last date might bring her wrath as well. Plus, if you get too many nice comments from old flames, she may feel threatened and throw your ring at you. And it is worse when her old flames keep telling her how sexy she looks. Then there is the number of friends, if for some reason she has half the metro area befriended you may struggle where her interest really lies. Face it; Facebook is not the best place to try to nurture your relationship. Love is deeper than your posting.
True love is found in Jesus and we discover here in John’s gospel the true extent of his love for us. During the last Passover meal he shared with his disciples we discover what that love looked like and how Jesus described it as well. Let’s begin to look at what true love looks like…
It is comes as no surprise that most of us realize that we live in a “me first” era. This myopic attitude has crept into the church as well. Some have forgotten that worship, church, and our lives in Christ are not about us. Like Paul would declare, “For in him we live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17:28 NIV) The reason is obvious and here in John’s gospel we discover that…
I. True love glorifies God! (Vv. 31-32)
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.
1. In our day and age we have forgotten what it means to glorify God. I believe that many think it simply means to feel good about or to have nice feelings towards God. Then there are those who think if they give God some credit for the good things happening in their life, then God will bless them even more! Neither of these is true. Here we discover Jesus wanting God to be glorified. However it takes on a whole new meaning when we fully understand that it is Jesus who is the one who desires to glorify God. After Judas slithered away to do Satan’s will, Jesus prays out loud, “Now is the Son of Man glorified and God is glorified in him.” The words glorified and glorify occur five times in these two verses. Jesus’ humility and His righteousness were also made known when he came to earth as a baby, grew to be a man, and humbled himself in his death, burial, and in the victory of his resurrection! The Father was also glorified in Jesus’ death because it displayed his sacrificial and gracious love. The culmination of Jesus’ life purpose was about to occur, so, “If God is glorified in him, God will glorify the Son in himself, and will glorify him at once.” Whatever was about to occur the disciples did not need to worry or be concerned, it was all part of the glory of God. What we often forget is the fact that this is true for our lives as well. If we live for Jesus we are glorifying God with our lives and he is pleased. Like Jesus we are to live our lives for God because true love glorifies God!
EXAMPLE: One of the most poignant moments in the New Testament is when facing his own death Paul writes his friend Timothy, “For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:6-7 NIV) Hudson Taylor, the wonderful English missionary to China said that, “I am no longer anxious about anything, as I realize the Lord is able to carry out His will, and His will is mine. It makes no matter where He places me, or how. That is rather for Him to consider than for me; for in the easiest positions He must give me His grace, and in the most difficult, His grace is sufficient.” True love glorifies God!
II. True love loves fellow Christians! (Vv. 33-35)
“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. 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.”
1. Jesus, knowing what was about to happen, tells his disciples, “My children, I will be with you only a little longer.” It is an endearing term of someone who has spent time, effort, and a lot of sweat daily training and working intimately with his disciples. He knew they were still immature, like little children, in their spiritual understanding. He knew they would be devastated when he was illegally tried, convicted, and murdered. Jesus deeply cared for the men he had trained for three and a half years to be the foundation of his church. So he reminds them of what he had been telling them all along, “You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come.” Jesus was going to be in the hands of those who would kill him and he would die. Their time for martyrdom had not come. However, Jesus leaves them with a new focus for their lives. He tells them, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” This is not the limp-wristed hurtsy feelie kind of mushy love that many exhibit in our day. It is the down in the trenches getting dirty kind of love that is willing to sacrifice one’s time, talent, or treasure to see the lost won to Jesus. Christians are to love one another in spite of their many foibles failures or disappointments. Jesus knew Peter. He knew the rest of his followers just as he knows us now. Jesus loved us through his sacrificial death and we are to sacrifice ourselves for one another as well! It is his command and not a suggestion. And yet it is often far easier for some believers to love the lost more than they care for their fellow Christians. The truth remains, Jesus tells them, that “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” True love loves fellow Christians!
EXAMPLE: There was a movie out not too long ago called The Bucket List. The main plot follows two terminally ill men (portrayed by Nicholson and Freeman) on their road trip with a wish list of things to do before they “kick the bucket.” What if Christians realized that their lives were not their own and that they needed a “bucket list” of gracious things they would do for fellow believers? Paul relates, “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.” (Romans 12:10 NIV) Jesus tells us, “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.” True love loves fellow Christians!
III. Sometimes we fail at true love! (Vv. 36-38)
Simon Peter asked him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus replied, “Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.” Peter asked, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” 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!”
1. We do not like to discuss it or face it in our own lives, how would we explain it in the life of one of Jesus’ disciples? Especially when it comes to Peter who is supposed to be one of the giants of the New Testament? Yet we see for ourselves Jesus telling him that despite his confessed love for his Master, he would fail him during his greatest need. Clueless Peter asks Jesus, “Lord, where are you going?” Like the rest of his disciples Peter is still thinking of the moment. His focus is not on what Jesus is going to do or even where he is going to go but rather on how it will affect his own life! Peter’s love for Jesus was such he wanted to be with his rabbi. Jesus replied, “Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.” Jesus’ words are prophetic in that Peter would be martyred later for his faith just as Jesus would soon die for them, but not now. Impulsive Peter like many in our day and age, who are quick to speak their devotion for Jesus but are unwilling to understand the consequences of their choice, naively speaks up, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” Peter does not fully understand what his impulsive statement means. Jesus response is chilling, “Will you really lay down your life for me? I tell you the truth, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!” Peter does not understand that mere words of devotion are sometimes simply not enough. Actions speak louder than words and his actions would soon speak louder than his hasty words! Sometimes we fail at true love!
EXAMPLE: The old saying, “There but for the grace of God go I” could be used for those who want to live for Jesus but sometimes find it difficult to do. Even Paul lamented that “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” (Romans 7:15 NIV) I don’t know about you but that describes me all too often. The wonderful truth is that even when we fail in showing our love for Jesus, we can dust ourselves off and decide to live for him anew. John would later write, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9 NIV) Like Peter, we sometimes we fail at true love!
True love glorifies God, loves fellow Christians, and sometimes we fail at it!
This article is copyrighted © 2015 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.