The Gospel of John now moves to the early ministry of Jesus, both in demonstrating his authority as from God, and reaching out to all beyond Israel alone. The message of Jesus has gone out from now from multiple witnesses, not just Jesus. From John the Baptist, following on the predictions and words of the Old Testament and of Moses. And even so: I know you do not have the love of God in your hearts (5:42), how are you going to believe what I say (5:47). And the challenge has been: No fence sitting now about the person of Jesus. The miraculous signs of John’s gospels now speak to the identity and authority of Jesus as the Son of God:
- Changing water into wine at the wedding at Cana (Jn 2:1-11);
- Healing the royal official’s son (Jn 4:46-54);
- Healing the paralyzed man at the pool of Bethesda in Jerusalem (Jn 5:1-15);
- Feeding the 5,000 (Jn 6:5-14);
- Walking on water (Jn 6:16-21);
- Healing the man born blind (Jn 9:1-7); and
- Raising Lazarus from the dead (Jn 11:1-45).
It is Tuesday of Jesus’ final week, with the crucifixion to happen on Thursday. 48 hours. To anyone who has heard Jesus message, or the revelation of God in nature, a certain duty follows. No more fence sitting. The results with be light or darkness – no middle ground.
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,[a] 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! John 13:31-38.
1. Jesus Predicts His Soon-Death and Resurrection. At least six times in the gospels, as well as multiple times in the Old Testament, Jesus’ death and resurrection is predicted. Here it is coupled with His glorification and his soon-leaving, to a place the disciples cannot follow. He will provide more details in John 14 – I go to prepare a place for you…and I will come back and take you with me. Just as the truth of the cross and the tomb were fulfilled, just as surely Jesus’ return in His second coming will occur. This was to comfort the disciples in their confusion.
2. What to Do After Jesus’ Departure? Jesus answers this straightforwardly – A New Commandment – Love One Another. This is the sequel to the first great commandment – to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind, and to love your neighbor as yourself. This became a spiritual command and a test – that the disciples would have their identity confirmed by how they loved one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples.
3. Spiritual Tests and Failure. In the Bible faith and doubt, and even failure, are common bedfellows. The man with the demon-possessed son – Lord I believe. Help me in my unbelief. Mark 9. Now Peter’s denial of knowing Jesus – disowning him – 3 times even before the cross. Despite Peter’s protestations, it was predicted and did happen. Despite this prediction and these denials, Jesus met Peter in compassion and confidence. Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” Luke 22:31-32.
The main point remains the main point – a life committed to Jesus results in followers who Love God, and who love each other. They are marked out as different, as men and women of faith, who in the mix of doubt and failure, get up, get back on the pilgrim’s path, and press on in perseverance and faith. Blessings to you this week. The instruction on the promises of heaven next week.