John 13:21–38: The Love of Jesus
If the first half of John 13 reveals to us the servanthood of Jesus, the second half of John 13 addresses a closely related subject: the love of Jesus. Just as we must serve as Jesus has served us (John 13:14–15), so also we must love as Jesus has loved us (John 13:34–35). This means that we must not only nurture feelings of affection for our fellow believers, but we must love them by serving them self-sacrificially. This mindset of humility, grace, and love for fellow believers is not only difficult, but impossible in our own strength. Loving one another just as Jesus has loved us runs counter to every instinct in us and to the ways of the world.
Therefore, when we learn to love one another by the gospel and the power of the Holy Spirit, a miracle unfolds in our lives—we begin to look like Jesus! As such, our own self-sacrificial love glorifies Jesus, just as Jesus’ self-sacrificial love glorified him at the cross. This idea is at the heart of Jesus’ mission and glory, for Jesus glorifies himself through self-sacrificial love.
1. What can you gain from the warnings Jesus gives to Judas in this passage? Do you see Jesus’ words about his betrayer as something unrelated to you, or do you recognize that you too could fall into sin? How do Jesus’ warnings qualify as a form of his grace toward us?
2. List as many ways as you can that the self-sacrificial love of Jesus on the cross reveals his glory. How does Jesus’ death on the cross cut against the ways of this world? How does the cross reveal God’s love, glory, and justice?
3. If the Old Testament law can be summarized by the law to love God and to love people, then why does Jesus insist that his commandment to love one another is new? Why does Jesus even need to give us the commandment to love one another at all? Where is it hard for you to love self-sacrificially right now?
4. Why does Jesus speak so harshly to Peter when Peter tries to cling to the Lord whom he loves? Can you relate to Peter’s desire to protect what is comfortable and safe in his experience of Jesus? What comfortable and safe experience of Jesus might you have to sacrifice in order to glorify him by loving a fellow believer?