Fifth Sunday of Easter | May 19, 2019
31 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. 32 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. 33 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. 34 So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. 35 Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”
John 13:31-35 New Living Translation (NLT)
During this season of Easter, we return to a passage that we normally read during Holy Week. It is this passage that gives us the word Maundy, which comes from the word mandate or commandment.
Jesus has gathered with his disciples just before his crucifixion. Jesus has already told the disciples that one of them will betray him and another would deny him. John tells us that Jesus spoke these works after Judas left the room. The disciples are – I believe – fearful of the events to come. It is over the next few chapters that John records Jesus speaking words of comfort to his disciples. Pam asked this question during a sermon during Lent: “If you had only an hour with your closest friends before you died, what would you tell them?”
Interesting at this point, Jesus says, “I am giving you a new commandment.” The disciples would have been quite aware of the Jewish commandments – very familiar with what we call the ten commandments – very familiar with what we call the great commandment – “You shall love the Lord your God with all of your heart, all your mind, all your soul, and all your strength AND you should love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus even added, “This commandment sums up the law and the prophets. Everything that was contained in the Old Testament can be summed up with these few words. It is ironic then that Jesus says, “I am giving you a new commandment.” It’s really not much more different than the greatest command that they already know. Jesus tells his disciples to love one another because through their love the world will know that they are disciples of Jesus.
Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”Jesus
I want you to read that again…Let it sink in. How do we prove that we are disciples of Jesus? We might argue that if we have the right doctrine…if we have the right worship style…if we give the right amount of money to the church…we will prove to the world that we are Jesus’ disciples. But Jesus tells us that we should love one another. To me it seems like many Christians – brothers and sisters in Christ, are angry at each other. We even see that in churches. We have all heard of churches that have split because of all kinds of ridiculous reasons. Is this really showing the love of Christ to each other and to the world? I don’t think so. Even today I was reminded how churches can chew someone up and spit them out.
Paul reminds us:
If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing.1 Corinthians 13:1-2
We are commanded by Jesus to love one another – even those who are hard to love – and by our love for one another we will prove to the world that we are his disciples.