Read or listen to John Chapter 13 (with emphasis on verses 21-35)
We begin with a look at the humanity and divinity of Jesus.
Jesus knew that there had to be a mechanism to get him to the cross. It’s not like the Romans were just going to show up and say, “Heard that you needed a crucifixion done this Friday so the world could be saved by one man.”
Jesus would have to be handed over to sinful men. He would have to be handed over to sinful men with free will. There had to be a mechanism for this. His name was Judas.
But Jesus is deeply troubled. It is not as if Judas has volunteered for a difficult mission and he might never be seen again. To get Jesus to the cross, there had to be a betrayal. And that hurts.
As God in the flesh, Jesus knew he had to go the cross to make this atoning sacrifice. As a man, it hurts to be betrayed. These men are his friends.
What does he do?
He shares this burden with his friends. “One of you is going to betray me.”
Peter motions to one of the disciples sitting next to Jesus—he is indentified as the one whom Jesus loved. That is probably John, at least that’s what we are led to believe at the end of the book, but even there is a little mystery.
In any case, Peter gets the other disciple’s attention and says, “Ask him!”
Surely the disciples are thinking, “How can Jesus drop this kind of bomb and not tell us who?”
Jesus answers by saying that the one whom he gives a piece of bread or the one who dips his bread with Jesus is the one.
This happens. Judas leaves. The disciples do nothing.
Really? Didn’t at least two of the disciples suspect why Judas was leaving?
The scripture says that the disciples thought Judas in his duty as treasurer might be going to buy something for the feast or to give money to the poor.
Perhaps Jesus never gave his disciples a chance to think about what Judas was up to as he told his closest friends, “Now the Son of Man’s Glory is revealed. God’s glory is revealed, and finally God will reveal glory in the Son of Man and he will do it now.”
Jesus tells his disciples that he is going away for a time. They can’t go, or at least they can’t go now.
Peter, once again won’t have any of this. He says he is ready to follow Jesus to the death.
Jesus replies to him with a simple and timely revelation. “Before the rooster crows, you will have denied my three times.”
While this Upper Room Discourse continues beyond this chapter; Peter does not get a chance to reply. Surely, he is once again wrestling with his recurring contrariness to his Master’s direction.
Within this period after Judas left, Jesus issues perhaps his most compelling command.
Love one another as I have loved you.
He goes on to explain that if they will love one another, all men will know that they follow Jesus. All will know that these men are disciples of Jesus.
Up to this point people knew who the disciples were because the literally followed Jesus all over Judea, Samaria, and Galilee. Jesus is preparing his disciples for a time that will come very quickly. He is preparing them for the time when he will not physically be with them.
This is the age that we live in. Jesus doesn’t physically lead us from place to place, tell us when we are going to eat, wash our feet, or send someone away from the supper table.
He has left us a command that covers just about every contingency. “Love one another.”
He gave us an accompanying piece of counsel that we would do well to heed today. It is not the fish sticker on our car. It is not the cross on our hoodie. It is not our baptism or our certificate of baptism. It is not our diploma that tells the world that we graduated from elementary to junior high Sunday school.
It is the love that we show for one another that will tell everyone that we are followers of Jesus. Our love says to the world, “Jesus is my Lord. I am his disciple.”