38: Following Jesus

“Lesson 38: Following Jesus”

John 13:31-38

 

So when he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man is glorified and God is glorified in Him. (32) If God is glorified in Him, God will also glorify Him in Himself, and glorify Him immediately (33) “Little children, I shall be with you a little while longer. You will seek Me, and as I said to the Jews, “Where I am going you cannot come, ‘so now I say to you (34) A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, as I have loved you, that you love one another, that (35) “By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another (36) Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, where are you going? Jesus answered Him. “Where I am going you cannot follow me now? I will lay down my life for your Sake.” Jesus answered him, “Will you lay down your life for my sake? Most assuredly, I say to you, the rooster shall not crow till you have denied Me three times.”

 

The most important word in the last paragraph of John chapter 13 is the opening word “So.” Of course, this links what has gone before with what will come after in the narrative. What came before this this was the revelation Judas as the betrayer of Christ. And what comes after it is the last address of Jesus to His disciples – “the famous last words,” if you will. – which goes all the way through the end of chapter 17.

 

When Judas closed the door in verses 30 and 31 and went out into the dark night of eternity to do his evil deed surely Jesus must have felt some sense of relief, even in the midst of His grief over Judas. At least now He would not have to contend with that contentious core of opposition right in the middle of the group. And it is significant that after Judas was gone Jesus and the other disciples had some of their deepest and most intimate conversations. This demonstrates the importance of unity in the Spirit – even one unbeliever, or one believer who is out of fellowship can hold back the fullness of fellowship that God desires for His children.

 

Remember the overview of chapter 13:

 

In verses 1 through 17 we have An Example of Humility (where Jesus washed the disciples’ feet)

 

Then in verses 18 through 30 we have An Exposure of Hatred (where Jesus revealed Judas’ duplicity)

 

And in verses 31 through 38 we have An Exposition of Heavenly Principles (where Jesus begins to prepare the disciples for His death) 

 

Now having looked at the first two sections of the chapter, let’s begin looking at the exposition of heavenly principles in this last paragraph of the chapter. And the first thing we see is the principle of glorification in verses 31 and 32

 

So when he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man is glorified and God is glorified in Him. (32) If God is glorified in Him, God will also glorify Him in Himself, and glorify Him immediately

 

Although the actions of Judas were going to trigger the humiliation of Jesus’ betrayal, trial, and, ultimately, His crucifixion, it would also result in the ultimate glorification of Jesus. And He wanted the disciples to understand this as a part of their preparation for the pain of their separation. From Him. When Jesus had washed their feet, he had shattered the false human glory that had filled the hearts as they disputed over who would be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven as they came in.

 

Judas had left because he saw that all of his hopes for a human, political Messiah would never be fulfilled. So now that he is gone, Jesus begins to show the disciples what true glory is all about. He wanted them to see that the seeming disaster of the cross was going to be His greatest glorification. Notice the phrase “now the Son of Man is glorified” at the beginning of the verse. This term is used only this once by Jesus Himself, and once by Stephen in Acts 7:56 – the disciples themselves never used the term. When Jesus used the term it was to reveal Himself as the “universal man.”

 

Jesus, in His life and personality and actions, fulfilled all that God meant man to be when He created man in His own image. He spent His human life on earth expressing human devotion to God and obedience to Him. And the ultimate example of this was at the cross, when Jesus obeyed His father even unto death. And His victory over Satan was completed. Then verse 32 continues “the principle of glorification” by saying that “it will be “immediately.” The Greek word translated “immediately” is not a word that denotes time, but “sequence.” In other words, once the crucifixion began, Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection would continue in unbroken succession. Peter later alluded to this succession when he said in first Peter 1:11 that the prophets wrote about the sufferings of Christ and the glory that should follow. God saw it all as one process.

 

Having given them that “principle of glorification” in verses 31 and 32 Jesus makes His pronouncement of going away

 

little children, I shall be with you a little while longer. You will seek me, and as I said to the Jews, “You cannot come, so I say to you

 

Although the time was almost there for Jesus’ greatest glorification, Jesus also knew that it would be the time of greatest darkness, bewilderment, and even despair for the disciples.

 

The two on the road to Emmaus in Luke 24 are an example for that – Jesus said to them in verse 17,

 

What kind of conversation is this that you have with one another as you walk and are sad? 

 

Notice that He uses the term “little children” in verse 33. This is the only time He used this term, although John was going to use it six times in his first letter as an Apostle. But Jesus uses it here as His way of communicating to them His deep affection and concern for them. Even though He knows that they can’t understand at that point, He wants them to at least be forewarned.

 

Remember that in this section of the chapter is “an exposition of heavenly principles.” The first principle is “the principle of glorification.” The second one is the principle of His “going away.” So now the third one is “the priority of giving love.” In verses 34 and 35

 

A new commandment I give you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.(35) By this shall all men know that

 

As Jesus prepared them for His separation from them, He gave them this commandment, which would also be the source of their greatest comfort while He was physically absent from them (even though spiritually He is with us to this day.) Notice that the command was for them to love each other and show each other and to show that that love in the same way that He had demonstrated while He was with them. In this age we can’t feel his hand on our shoulder or see the love in His eyes, but we can sense that love in the ways in which He loves us through our love for each other. Those instances in which Christians genuinely love each other are something supernatural, aren’t they?” But in the next line He carries it a step further – He says that this love that we have for each other is to be the distinguishing characteristic of Christians. It is easy to overlook the attraction that warmth and love would demonstrate to the outside world. But many lonely people have been drawn to Christ because they felt the love and warmth of a group of Christians.

 

The fourth “heavenly principle” that Jesus teaches in this section of the chapter is the principle of gaining strength in verses 36 through 38.

 

 Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, where are You going?” Jesus answered him, “Where I am going you cannot follow me now, but you shall follow me afterward. (37) Peter said to Him, “Lord, why can I not follow you? I will lay down my life for your sake.”

 

When Jesus explained to the disciples that he would soon be leaving them and that they could not come where He was going, impulsive Peter felt compelled to interrupt. And the interruption shows both His self-will and self confidence. Peter seemed to sense that he had natural qualities of leadership. And maybe he thought that these were all that were necessary. After all, think of all the places he had gone with Jesus. All of the miracles, even the transfiguration. So why not now? Wherever it was that Jesus was going? Of course this just demonstrates that in reality Peter didn’t know his own weakness. And so in verse 38  we find Jesus questioning of that confidence.

 

Jesus answered him, will you lay down your life for My sake? Most assuredly I say to you, the rooster will not crow until you have denied me three times.

 

This must have been an unbelievable rebuke to Peter! In fact, he was so stung that he didn’t speak again throughout this incident. And of course the prophecy came true within just a few hours. John often refers to himself as “the disciple whom Jesus loved,” but this incident demonstrates that Jesus loved Peter deeply too. In fact He loved him enough to point our this near-fatal weakness. And apparently Jesus knew that the only way Peter was going to about it was to go through obvious, shattering failure.

 

Luke’s account of this same incident in chapter 22 brings out some important points: First, Jesus demonstrated His confidence in Peter’s faith in verses 31 and 32.

 

And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, Indeed, Satan has asked for you that he may sift you as wheat. (32) But I have prayed for you that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to me, strengthen you brethren.”

 

He knew that Peter had faith, and He prayed that faith would not fail in verse 32. Then, notice too that, He knew in advance that Peter would return to Him after he had failed. Second, Jesus knew that Peter lived Him and had faith in Him, even though it looked like neither thing was true! Don’t be disturbed when you are judged by others for failure. Instead, hold on to what Jesus knows about you and His faithfulness to you.

 

Micah, chapter 7 gives a beautiful statement of this truth:

 

Do not rejoice over me, O mine enemy; When I fall, I will arise.; when I sit in I will darkness, the Lord will be a light to me. (9)I will bear indignation of the LORD because I have sinned against Him, Until He pleads my case and executes justice for me, He will bring me forth to the light; I will see His righteousness.

 

What a comfort to know that even though god know our weakness, He also knows our faith and love for Him. And He knows what He can make of us if we repent and come back to Him.

 

-end-

 

The purpose of these studies is to help people come to know Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. Romans 3:23 says that “All of us have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” “And Romans 6:23 says that “the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life.” And John 3:16 says that “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life. If you will sincerely ask Him to forgive your sins and give you eternal life He will readily do so. Having trusted Him as your savior it is my hope that the lessons will help you grow in grace and bring others to know Him as well. If you would like more information you may contact me at “janicetemple@yahoo.com

 

 

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