“Now the Son of Man Is Glorified”
(John 13:31-35 – Easter 5 – May 19, 2019)
John 13:31-35 – So, when he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man is glorified, and God is glorified in Him. If God is glorified in Him, God will also glorify Him in Himself, and glorify Him immediately. 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. A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Dear Redeemed in the name of our risen Savior, Jesus Christ:
“Little children, I shall be with you a little while longer.” Jesus’ words remind me of a tender moment when a father is on his deathbed with his children gathered around him. As he prepares to leave this world, he speaks his last words. With a heart full of love, he tells his children what he most wants them to know. He gives them words of hope for the future. He encourages them to love each other. He assures them that this is not “goodbye,” but “until we meet again.”
The time for Jesus’ departure has come near. He is in the upper room with His disciples, the night before His death. Judas has just gone out to betray Him. Jesus’ death looms large before His eyes – His painful death on the cross. Yet, His words are not filled with fear and sorrow, but with anticipation and joy. “Now the Son of Man Is Glorified,” He tells His disciples. The hour was near in which all that He had come into this world to accomplish would reach its fulfillment. So Jesus gives His disciples words of hope for the future. For He would be glorified 1) In His loving work of redemption. And He also encourages them to love each other. For by this too He would be glorified, 2) In the love shared by His disciples – through whom the world would come to know His redeeming work.
1) In His loving work of redemption
Jesus says: “Now the Son of Man is glorified, and God is glorified in Him. If God is glorified in Him, God will also glorify Him in Himself, and glorify Him immediately.” When Jesus is glorified, God is glorified. Jesus came into the world for one purpose: to bring glory to His Father through His loving work of redeeming sinners to God.
For this reason, the Son of God became the Son of Man. He who shared the divine nature with His Father from eternity, took on our human flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14). Already in the Incarnation of His Son, God was glorified as the Savior of sinners. The Father’s loving purpose was made clear from the conception of His Son in the womb of the Virgin Mary, when He was named as the Savior: “You shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).
Then God had glorified His Son through His ministry in many ways. At Jesus’ Baptism, God the Father publicly anointed Him with the Holy Spirit, declaring Him to be His Son whom He loved, with whom He is well pleased as the Savior of the world (Matthew 3:17). Then through Jesus’ teaching and miracles, He brought glory to God by doing the work His Father had sent Him to do – proclaiming the forgiveness and salvation He was bringing sinners, performing signs to prove His saving power.
Yet all of Jesus’ ministry was building up to His ultimate moment of glorification, as the Redeemer who would give His life on the cross to ransom sinners back to God. Even in Jesus’ Transfiguration, as He appeared in heavenly glory with Moses and Elijah, He spoke with them about His death (Luke 9:30-31). His whole life and ministry was leading to the cross, where He would take away the sins of the world. In John 12:23-28, Jesus had prepared His disciples for His death with these words: “The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified. Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain… Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour. Father, glorify Your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, saying, “I have both glorified it and will glorify it again.”
Truly, God is glorified in the sacrifice of His Son on the cross for our sins. He is glorified as the God who so loves the world of fallen sinners, that He gave His only begotten Son to pay the price to redeem us from sin, Satan, and eternal death; so that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16).
Therefore, here again Jesus prepares His disciples for His imminent departure, saying: “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.”
Previously, speaking to unbelieving Jews, Jesus had used these words as a warning. Though they would condemn and crucify Him, it would be all they could do by the will of His Father. After that, they could not touch Him. Jesus had warned them: “I am going away, and you will seek Me, and will die in your sin. Where I go you cannot come” (John 8:21). If they persisted in unbelief, they would forfeit the salvation and eternal life He came to win for sinners.
But here, speaking to His believing disciples, Jesus describes only a temporary departure. For God is glorified, not only in the death of His Son on the cross, but also in His resurrection. In raising Jesus to life, God powerfully showed that in His name, we have forgiveness of sins and salvation. Again, the disciples would witness the risen Savior glorified in His ascension to the right hand of His Father. Now in that position of all authority, the Son of God and Son of Man rules over all things in love for the good of His Church (John 17:1-5; Ephesians 1:20-23).
So God is glorified in our crucified, risen, and ascended Savior. And now, as the children of God through faith in His Son, He lets us share in His glory. Even when temporal death parts us, no more do we have to say “goodbye” to loved ones in Christ; but rather, “until we meet again.” For our glorified Lord promises to bring us home one day to live forever in His heavenly glory.
2) In the love shared by His disciples
So here, as a father speaks in love to his children, Jesus prepares His disciples for His death, giving them words of hope in His glorification as their Savior. Not only this, His words tell us that He is glorified also in the love shared by His disciples. For it is through the loving witness of His disciples that the world comes to know His salvation and share in His eternal glory.
Jesus says: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
It is not as if the commandment to love was new. Once when Jesus spoke to a lawyer who was well versed Old Testament Scripture, He quoted the Moral Law of God, the law of love that is required of all people. “Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’ “ (Matthew 22:37-39).
But who has kept that Law in perfect love? Our sinful nature is selfish. How often we put our desires before the needs of others. How often we show a self-serving attitude that says: “Me first!” Under motivation of Law, we cannot love rightly. We can only come to know how we ought to live and love, but have not. The Law can only show us our sin; it cannot justify us (Romans 3:20). If all we knew was God’s Law, we could only know Him as our righteous Judge who must condemn us. Such fear would not produce in us true love for God or our neighbor.
But Jesus gives us “a new commandment” in the sense that He gives us a new reason to love. That motivation is His Gospel, which declares us to be set free from all condemnation. Romans 5:8-10 says: “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.”
Here Jesus speaks to His disciples, He speaks to you and me, as those who know His glory as our loving Savior. He speaks to us as those who have been set free to live in His forgiveness and new life, through the faith given by the Holy Spirit. He speaks to us as those who can say with 1 John 4:19: “We love Him because He first loved us.”
This love is a fruit growing out of faith in Christ, as He says: “as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” The more we focus on the amazing grace of God by which He saved us, the more of that grace we will be moved to share with one another. The more we take to heart the forgiveness God has given us in Christ, the more we will be moved to share that forgiveness with one another. The more we recognize the riches of God’s Kingdom that He has lavished on us in Christ, the more of those riches we will be moved to share with one another. Surely this love will show in our Christian stewardship as we use the generous time, abilities, and resources God has given us to serve to His glory and for the good of our neighbor.
The Son of Man is glorified by this love. As He says: “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” But here we must distinguish between the love of Christ and the love of the world. There is a popular push today among churches to proclaim love in Christ at the expense of His truth. It shows in churches that put more emphasis on a social gospel and filling the temporal needs of people in this world, instead of preaching the Gospel of the crucified and risen Christ who forgives our sins and fills our spiritual and eternal needs. It also shows in churches that push for joining together in outward unity without actual unity in the faith. Many feel their faith is more real if they do not get so caught up in biblical doctrines, but rather emphasize love and acceptance of just about any teaching or lifestyle.
But you cannot bring glory to the Savior by compromising either His truth or His love. As we see in the life and ministry of Jesus Himself, truth and love always go together. In love, He cared for the needs of people. In love, He faithfully taught all the truth His Father sent Him to, though it brought Him the scorn of the world and the cross. But in this, He glorified His Father.
The love Jesus speaks of is the love that knows the riches of His salvation and wants to share it. It was the love expressed by the early disciples. Often the book of Acts describes the believers meeting together “with one accord”; they “were of one heart and soul.” They shared true love and unity in Christ. Not only did this mean that they shared their possessions and cared for one another’s needs (Acts 1:14; 2:1, 46; 4:24, 32; 5:12). But at the same time, “They continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2:42). That is, they gathered together regularly in Christian worship, truly united in faithfulness to the doctrines of Scripture, in the breaking of bread in the Lord’s Supper, and in prayers. Through their faithful and loving witness to God’s Word and the saving Gospel of Jesus we are told: “The Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:46).
Likewise today, the world will know that we are Jesus’ disciples as we share His love, hand in hand with His truth. It is just as He has loved us. It is love that shares His salvation with our fellow sinners, just as we have received it. Even if faithfulness to His Word brings the scorn of the world and a cross, yet in this He is glorified as our Savior. For the truth alone saves sinners, the truth alone makes true disciples, setting us free from sin, Satan, and death (John 8:31-32).
“Now the Son of Man is glorified.” He is glorified in His loving work of redemption, by giving His life on the cross to win our salvation. He is glorified as our risen and ascended Savior, who forgives our sins and gives us eternal life. Also He is glorified in the love shared by His disciples, as we witness His saving truth. And at last, as “little children” of God in Christ, He is glorified among us even in the hour of death. For even then, our glorified Savior gives us His never-ending love and hope to share, as those who will meet again in His heavenly glory.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be. Amen.