John 13:31-38

Henry Mahan

(Vs. 31) Judas had gone out to do what Satan led him to do, what his wicked heart designed to do, and what God determined before to be done (Psalm 41:9; Psalm 109:8; Acts 1:20; John 6:70-71). Christ, now being alone with His true disciples, talked more freely with them about His sufferings, death, and ascension and instructs them about their future conduct and behavior. "Now is the Son of man glorified;" that is, the time has come that the Son shall immediately be glorified by accomplishing the work, which the Father gave Him to do (John 17:1-4). By dying for His people, rising from the tomb, and ascending to heaven, He is declared to be the Son of God with all power and great glory (Psalm 24:7-10). "And God is glorified in Him." The glory of God is more greatly revealed in redemption by Christ than anywhere else (Exod. 33:18-19); for hereby His wisdom and power, His truth and faithfulness, His justice and holiness, as well as His love, grace, and mercy are glorified (Rom. 3:26; Psalm 85:10).

(Vs. 32) If God be so greatly glorified in the Lord Jesus Christ and His redemptive work (and this is an indisputable fact), as all the attributes of God are so clearly manifested and exalted in Christ, then the Father shall glorify the Son IN Himself and WITH Himself. He shall raise Him from the grave, set Him at His own right hand (Heb. 1:6, 8, 13), give Him all authority in heaven and earth (Matt. 28:18), and give him a name above every name (Phil. 2:9-11). This the Father will do straightway or in a short time (John 6:61-62). Jesus Christ is NOW King of kings and Lord of lords. His glory does not await the end of the world, but He is glorified and has all preeminence.

(Vs. 33) The disciples did not fully understand what the Lord was teaching them, but they would later. He showed them that His sufferings and shameful death were for the glory of God and to accomplish His own eternal glory and purpose. He expresses His affection and concern for them, as well as Ills understanding of their weakness and failure to cope with His departure, by calling them "little children." He would be with them only a few days more; and they would seek Him as those in distress and confusion, not knowing what to do nor where to go. He said to the Jews, "Where I go you cannot come (John 7:34); the difference being that the unbelieving Jews, who died in unbelief, could NEVER come where He went. The disciples, though they could not come now, would later come (John 14:2-3).

(Vs. 34) This is certainly no new commandment in the sense that it is only recently revealed, for we find it in the law of Moses (Lev. 19:18); and John said we had it from the beginning (II John 5). It is called new in that it is always new in the excellence of it. It is more clearly explained than before, being set forth in the gospel in a new manner. It is set forth in a new argument and example – the love of our Lord Jesus Christ for us. "Love one another as I have loved you." Love as brethren in the same family, children of the same Father, forgiving and forbearing one another, preferring one another, and love freely notwithstanding weaknesses and imperfections. Christ loves all of His own whether rich or poor, old or young, weak or strong, greater or lesser, not in word only but in deed and truth.

(Vs. 35) Not only by God's grace and love shed abroad in your hearts shall you know that God has done a work of grace in you, but by this new heart, new nature, new attitude, and new conduct toward others shall all men (even the world) know that you are disciples of Christ. The distinguishing mark of a believer is not an outward garb, nor peculiar talk, nor "holier-than-thou" claims (as the Pharisees), but BROTHERLY LOVE. Love for Christ and a genuine love for His people are the distinguishing characters of a disciple (Eph. 4:32).

(Vs. 36) Peter did not understand the Lord's words about His death, burial, and ascension to the Father. He probably thought Christ would go to some distant place; so he asked, "Lord, whither goest Thou?" The Lord replied, "Where I go, you cannot follow now, but you shall follow Me hereafter." When Peter's work is done, when God has accomplished His purpose through him, when Peter's life on earth is over, he would certainly go to be with his Lord (Mark 23:43; II Cor. 5:8; Phil. 1:23), as will all believers.

(Vs. 37) The Apostle was not satisfied to be still and accept the words of the Master. He had a high opinion of his devotion to Christ, of his courage in the face of the enemy, and of his willingness to follow Christ even if it cost him his life; so he said, "I will lay down my life for you" (Rom. 12:3).

(Vs. 38) When Christ asked, "Will you lay down your life for My sake?" He was not questioning Peter's love and sincerity; for Peter did later lay down his life for Christ. He must destroy Peter's self-sufficiency and boasting, for Peter expressed this confidence in himself several times (Matt. 26:33: Luke 22:33; John 13:37). Our strength is not in ourselves but in Him. Left alone, like Peter, we would all deny Him. "Peter, the cock shall not crow till you deny Me three times" (Matt. 26:69-75).

Henry Mahan
Ashland, Ky.