In Pastor Jeff's Blog

As soon as Judas left the room, Jesus said, “The time has come for the Son of Man to enter into his glory, and God will be glorified because of him. And since God receives glory because of the Son, he will give his own glory to the Son, and he will do so at once. Dear children, I will be with you only a little longer. And as I told the Jewish leaders, you will search for me, but you can’t come where I am going. So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” – John 13:31-35
What is all this talk about glory?

Sometimes glory means praise and honor, but it can also mean “to make visible”. Consider what that means in this passage. Jesus has just washed his disciples’ feet (John 13:1-17) and he is looking ahead to the cross. And then he says that he is glorifying God. In other words, God is revealed in selfless service and sacrifice. Think about that. The heart of God is not anger and wrath. It is love and self-sacrifice. On the cross, Jesus gives God glory. Put another way, the cross is Jesus’ witness to who God is. Let that blow your mind!

In the same way the passage says that Jesus is most clearly known as the Messiah on the cross. He is not a king enthroned on a golden seat, but on a cross of wood. That is the King of God’s Kingdom. That’s our King.

And that’s what makes Jesus’ command new. The command to love one’s neighbor was not new in and of itself. What makes it new is the shape of this love: self-giving and sacrificial. And it is that kind of the love, expressed toward all people, that marks Jesus’ disciples. In the same way that Jesus glorifies God on the cross, we glorify Jesus when we love others by laying down our lives for our friends and our enemies. Put another way, Jesus-shaped love is our greatest witness to Jesus.

But that love is not naturally within us. It is supernatural. Our only hope of bearing witness to Jesus with that kind of love is to “abide” in the vine (John 15)…to stay radically connected to Jesus through worship, prayer, dwelling in the word and most importantly in deep trust. As John put it, “We love because he first loved us.”

Questions for Reflection
• When has someone loved you sacrificially? What impact did it have on you? Did it point you to Jesus? Why or why not?
• When have you sensed the Spirit empower you with love beyond yourself…enabling you to love someone else sacrificially?
• What practices keep you rooted in Jesus’ love for you?

Jeff Marian serves as lead pastor at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Burnsville, MN

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