I Will Come Again
Last words are important. Several books have collected the last words of famous people. John 13–16 functions as Jesus’ last words to His followers. While our study ends with the promise of Jesus’ return, this passage focuses on the importance of honoring Jesus with our lives.
Honor Through Love (31–35)
John utilized contrasts throughout his Gospel. Judas departs in the night. The literal darkness of the night symbolizes the darkness in Judas’ soul. Immediately after Judas’ departure, Jesus spoke of His glory — “Now the Son of Man is glorified” — a term that has connotations of brightness.
The two events associated with the glory of Jesus in the New Testament are His crucifixion and Second Coming. In response to Judas’ departure, Jesus states God will glorify Him at once — a reference to His approaching crucifixion, burial and resurrection.
How should followers of Christ respond? Jesus gave a new commandment ordering His disciples to love one another. John 13:35 is a challenging verse because followers of Christ do not always love one another either in love or deed. Jesus gave all people the right to judge the disciples based on love. Yet all of us have observed and experienced Christians not loving other Christians. Jesus challenged every believer to examine the nature of their discipleship based on love.
Honor Through Loyalty (36–38)
Peter asked an honest question: “Where are you going?” He sensed a foreboding aspect to Jesus’ answer. He then boasted that he was willing to lay down his life for Jesus. Peter did not understand that Jesus would lay down His life for him. Like Peter, we often overestimate the strength of our level of our commitment. Jesus predicted Peter would deny Him three times.
Peter did not deny Christ in the context of a hostile crowd. Peter denied being Jesus’ disciple in response to the question of a servant girl (John 18:17). When we fail Christ, our final grade may not be an F. Jesus recommissioned Peter after He rose. “Simon, feed My lambs” (John 21:15). On the Day of Pentecost, a bold Peter preached the gospel to thousands (Acts 2). Church tradition described the loyalty of Peter as he died as a martyr. Are we willing to demonstrate our loyalty to Christ through martyrdom?
Honor Through Believing (1–4)
As Jesus approached death, the disciples did not seek to comfort Him. The hearts of the disciples were troubled at Jesus’ announcement of His death. Jesus comforted the disciples by three commands. We often do not think of commands as comfort. Yet, in John 14:1, Jesus commanded the disciples, “Don’t let your heart be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in Me.”
Prior to this command, Jesus spoke troubling words. Jesus, Himself “troubled in His Spirit,” announced, “One of you will betray Me” (John 13:21). Peter would deny Jesus three times. In the context of troubling words, Jesus commanded the disciples to believe in God and believe in Him. Twenty-first century believers live in challenging times. We honor God by believing and being faithful.
By Mark Rathel
Professor at the Baptist College of Florida in Graceville, Florida