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The Glory of God in the Love of Christ

February 4, 2024 Preacher: Jeff Griffis Series: Communion in Christ's Love

Scripture: John 13:18–38

The Glory of God in the Love of Christ – John 13:18–38


We’re going to be in John 13 this morning, because chapters 13-17 of John take place at the same setting that Jesus institutes the Lord’s Table, Communion. So we’re running this series simultaneously on communion Sundays while we also have our series through Acts.

What’s really interesting about this passage is that it is the section that Jesus talks about God’s glorification through his sacrifice and how his love is most plainly seen in this sacrifice, and how Christians are to be marked by a similar love for one another. But in that context, and in the context of the Lord’s Table, there is a definite backdrop of betrayal looming over the proceedings.

So here’s what we will aim to see and apply today from John 13:18-38:

Through Christ, we can trust God’s sovereign will beyond betrayal, focusing on the glory God receives and obeying Christ’s command to love one another, in the sufficiency he provides.

After giving them a living illustration by washing their feet of how they should be humble servant leaders, Jesus has said that they will be blessed if they do these things.

However, that doesn’t apply to every one of the twelve, because one among them is false.

John 13:18–30 ESV

18 I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But the Scripture will be fulfilled, ‘He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’ 19 I am telling you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am he. 20 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.” 21 After saying these things, Jesus was troubled in his spirit, and testified, “Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” 22 The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he spoke. 23 One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was reclining at table at Jesus’ side, 24 so Simon Peter motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. 25 So that disciple, leaning back against Jesus, said to him, “Lord, who is it?” 26 Jesus answered, “It is he to whom I will give this morsel of bread when I have dipped it.” So when he had dipped the morsel, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. 27 Then after he had taken the morsel, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.” 28 Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him. 29 Some thought that, because Judas had the moneybag, Jesus was telling him, “Buy what we need for the feast,” or that he should give something to the poor. 30 So, after receiving the morsel of bread, he immediately went out. And it was night.

Why doesn’t Judas’s betrayal unravel Jesus? (he knows, and he’s troubled, but it doesn’t undo him or halt his obedience)

God’s sovereign will can be trusted beyond the betrayal of created beings. (vv. 18-30)

(18) Even as Jesus has been teaching them, by the example of footwashing, that they must be loving servant leaders as he is to them, and that by doing so they will be blessed… he says, “But I don’t speak of every one of you.” Jesus refers to the same concept he already mentioned and John explained at v. 11. Jn 13:11

John 13:11 ESV

11 For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “Not all of you are clean.”

“I know whom I have chosen.” Judas was in fact among the 12 whom Jesus had chosen to be his disciples. Jn 6:70-71

John 6:70–71 ESV

70 Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the twelve? And yet one of you is a devil.” 71 He spoke of Judas the son of Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the twelve, was going to betray him.

But as proof that God’s sovereign plan goes forward even in the sinful choices of men, there is a typological prophecy fulfilled from Ps 41:9.

Psalm 41:9 ESV

9 Even my close friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted his heel against me.

What treachery indeed to lift a heel against one so close as to regularly share table fellowship. In their culture that means to be really close. We often develop friendships in ministry and regular fellowship together that are closer than our own family.

(19) The difference is that yes Jesus was a friend to Judas, but he did not entrust himself to Judas because he knew beforehand that Judas would betray him.

‘So I tell you this now… to the group… so that when it takes place you will know that I am he.’ This “I am he” is undoubtedly a statement that they will know he is the Christ, but also with overtones of his deity.

(20) And speaking of the fact that Jesus is the Christ, the I AM: “whoever receives the one I send receives me and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.” To receive Jesus means to truly accept him and submit to him as Lord and only Mediator to be reconciled to God (the one who sent him). So to receive the ones who bring the truth of the good news of Jesus would mean they truly receive Jesus.

His disciples, minus Judas, might also be rejected and betrayed, but there would be those who would receive Jesus to be their only means of restoration with God. 

(21) Troubled (stirred up, unsettled) in his spirit because one whom he has treated as a dear friend, a close friend, is about to betray him.

(22) Judas so outwardly conformed to being a disciple of Jesus that the rest of the disciples were none the wiser about his falsehood.

Falsehood is characterized precisely by some measure of outward conformity, so as to appear genuine.

But underlying this outward conformity is a lack of true submission to the will of God.

Matthew 7:21–23 ESV

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

We even did mighty works and acts of kindness and prophesied in your name.

Jesus also taught them: Strive to enter through the narrow door…

Luke 13:25–27 ESV

25 When once the master of the house has risen and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us,’ then he will answer you, ‘I do not know where you come from.’ 26Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.’ 27 But he will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you come from. Depart from me, all you workers of evil!’

We ate and drank in your presence.

I believe this falsehood is characterized by personal ambition, such that Jesus is a means to an end, rather than to love him and obey him as the end in itself.

(23) The first reference to the “disciple whom Jesus loved,” which we believe is the Apostle John referring to himself, most likely indicating two things from his own perspective: 1. A humble understanding of the unique love of Jesus and the unique opportunity to be chosen chosen by Jesus to be his disciple (13:1b). 2. A personal feeling of closeness to Jesus, of relational nearness to Jesus.

(23b-25) Close enough to be able to lean in further and privately ask Jesus.

(26) Jesus simultaneously gives John an answer and also displays the unique depth of his love in a kind gesture friendship and honor to one he knows will betray him.

(27a) Although earlier Judas had already submitted to Satan’s desire for him to betray Christ (v. 2), now Satan himself enters into Judas, suggesting the idea of possession and therefore of greater influence and control.

(27b-29) Jesus’ saying, “What you are going to do, do quickly,” they do not understand because nearly all are still in the dark about his betrayal, and even John would not have known how such betrayal would play out. Some thought Jesus was sending him on an errand (buy something needed, or give to the poor).

(30) As soon as Judas has said these things and Judas has received the bread, he departs to betray Jesus. And for John to say it was night is not merely a reflection of the time of day, but carries the motif of the darkness of evil in contrast to light, which represents the revelation of God in Jesus Christ of the very goodness and truth and justice and kindness of God embodied in the divine Savior. But the hour and deeds of Satan and of those who do his bidding is darkness, night (Lk 22:53).

Imagine John reflecting back on this moment. Why isn’t John filled with bitterness and rage toward Judas? While he would be saddened by the wicked hardheartedness of men, and of Judas in particular, John accepts and trusts God’s sovereignty.

Trust in God’s sovereign goodness should give us calm assurance.

Even in the midst of things that cause us hurt and grief and sadness, trust in God’s sovereign goodness should manifest itself in us as calm assurance.

Jesus was knowingly releasing his betrayer to do and set in motion the events that would lead to his death on a cross. - Leads us forward to John’s explanation, from Jesus himself, about why he would do such a thing and how we can be like him.

John 13:31–35 ESV

31 When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. 32 If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and glorify him at once. 33 Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek me, and just as I said to the Jews, so now I also say to you, ‘Where I am going you cannot come.’ 34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Why does God go through with this? (Because he is glorified in displaying his sacrificial love)

God is glorified in the sacrificial love of Christ, a love we are to exemplify. (vv. 31-35)

With the events of his impending sacrifice set in motion, Jesus sets his eyes beyond the agony of the cross to the result: the glory to God that this act of sacrifice and resurrection brings. It is the divine view, God’s own perspective, of the passion events.

As the verb glorify is in these verses repeatedly, we ought to be sure we understand what it means. To glorify is to exalt, to praise, to positively acknowledge, recognize, or esteem one’s character, nature, and attributes. To be glorified then is to be exalted, praised, honored, to be made or understood as truly wonderful, magnified. 

(31) The Son of Man is Jesus’ way of referring to himself that not only emphasizes his true humanity (God in human flesh), but also emphasizes that he is the glorified eschatological King who rules over all (Dan 7:13-14). God glorifies the Son of Man through his sacrificial death, resurrection, and exaltation. And through the Son of Man is God also glorified.

(32) Therefore, because of the unity of the Godhead, God will glorify him in himself. The term “immediately / at once” refers to the crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension within a very short time frame.

We really should ask ourselves, Why does God provide salvation this way? And the best answer really is, Because it best expresses God’s glory. - If there were some other way that were a better expression of his glory, he would do that. This sacrificial love of God is the ideal means by which God is most glorified. Every part of God’s plan is perfect, and nowhere is this more supremely manifest than in God’s own sacrificial love.

(33) And because of his impending departure, Jesus again turns to preparing his disciples to live in his absence. - You cannot follow me now, but will later (33). I’m going to prepare a place for you (14:2), but in the meantime, here is how I expect you to live:

Follow my example of love.

Love is a deep relational affection that desires and strives for the highest glory or highest good of another… at the very real cost of personal sacrifice.

(notice my definition’s connection to this very section of Scripture)

(34) Since loving God supremely and loving others as you love yourself was previously commanded by God, Jesus’ commandment to them is only new in the sense that Jesus gives unique expression to what such love looks like. As I have loved you, so you are to love one another.

A unique marker of Christ’s people: Jesus’ love becomes the model to follow and the means and motivation by which we are to love.

(35) This most complete and full expression of love will be the thing that marks you as my people. —> Loving sacrificially to the utmost (Jn 15:13), loving unceasingly to the end (Jn 13:1), loving to the glory of God (31).


Without Christ’s sacrifice, and without his love poured into our hearts by his Spirit, we cannot love as he loves.

Motivation ***

(In this context of Christ’s love, then) What’s the point of Jesus foretelling Peter’s denial?

John 13:36–38 ESV

36 Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered him, “Where I am going you cannot follow me now, but you will follow afterward.” 37 Peter said to him, “Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” 38 Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the rooster will not crow till you have denied me three times.

Why is Peter’s profession of devotion insufficient by itself to succeed?

Loving Jesus and loving like Him cannot be accomplished by our own strength of determination. (vv. 36-38)

Our commitment to Jesus is misdirected when we are not depending wholly on him for salvation and direction and strength.

(36-37a) While Jesus is focusing on the way they must love, Peter is stuck on where Jesus is going and why he can’t come. “Lord, where are you going?”

(37b) Peter pronounces the depth of his devotion to Jesus. “I will lay down my life for you.”

(38) Can’t you just hear the emphasis in Jesus response? “Will you lay down your life for me?” You are willing to give up, to set aside, your life for my sake? Sadly, Peter, as incontrovertible evidence that you are not as devoted as you think you are, you will deny me three times before the rooster crows. (Peter is probably thinking, ‘what on earth could Jesus be talking about,’ and be yet more resolved in his own determination that he certainly will not deny Jesus.)

Is the point just that Peter is the biggest failure, or is it that…

We need salvation. And we must abide in Jesus to be controlled by the Spirit.

Christ’s love is something we cannot accomplish on our own. We cannot love as he loves without believing in him to be changed, and we cannot love as he loves without abiding in him so that his Spirit controls us.

Peter’s determination and strength of will does him no good without believing and abiding in Jesus, who would demonstrate the love of God through his sacrificial death and resurrection so that we can have new life in God.

Luke 22:31–32 ESV

31 “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, 32 but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”

Peter would learn from this just how much he needed salvation through Jesus and how much he needs to depend on Jesus in order to be like him.

[conclusion] The bottom line is: We need God.

To glorify God, we need God. To love like Jesus, we need Jesus.

God is glorified in his sovereign will beyond our betrayal, he is glorified in his own sacrificial love displayed through Christ, and he is glorified when Jesus is our sufficiency.

Devote your heart to depending on Jesus. ***?



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