Scriptural Context and Frame

Today’s Scripture reading begins after the writer of John tells us that Judas has betrayal of Jesus in his heart. Despite this, we know Jesus washed the feet of the disciples and broke bread with them. The verse beginning with “When he had gone out…, refers to Judas. (John 13: 31) After Judas leaves, Jesus affirms he is the disciples’ Lord and Teacher. “For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.” (John 13:15) Jesus then gives the pivotal instruction in our reading for this week. His disciples are to love one another as he has loved them..

John 13:31-35 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

The New Commandment

31 When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. 32 If God has been glorified in him,[a] God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once.

33 Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now, I say to you, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.’ 34 I give you a new commandment, that you love one another.

Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Some Thoughts on Today’s Reading—Pastor Pam

The contrast of darkness and light looms large in the Gospel of John. There is the specter of betrayal by one of the disciples. But Jesus washes the feet of the disciples and breaks bread with them anyway. He is their Lord. He is their Teacher. He leads and loves by example.

I am reminded of how our discipled lives can be set in the experience of betrayal by those we love, abandonment and loss of dear people in our lives. What do we do when someone we counted on, believed in and grounded us, walks away or does harm to us? What do we do when the grief of the loss of a loved one leaves us without a compass or way to move forward? We turn to one another where he abides.

These words from Jesus in John were meant as a comfort to the
disciples then and disciples today struggling with betrayal, abandonment and loss. They/we are to remember all he teaches about what it means to love. Jesus showed this in Chapter 13 as well as throughout the gospels as a compassionate and healing Lord and Teacher. He tells the disciples they, too, are to love one another as he has loved them. It is in this that Jesus is embodied in them and a light for those around them. We get through the hard times together.

And so, it is for us today. It is how we love others that others see Jesus in us, we experience him, and all see what it means to be followers of Christ. In this, we heal. Our message is his message and not something born out of foundations that close doors and judge, punish and exclude. Our message is his message spoken by people of hope and integrity who understand suffering and redemption. People who bring his light into every aspect of our lives lived in welcoming community. People who gather together in the most joyful and most fearful of times comforting one another and showing all, including ourselves, the way of life and not harm.

Peace and Grace,
Pastor Pam