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The Son of Man Glorified.
We have entered upon the Holy of Holies of the Gospel history. The farewell discourses of our Lord, extending from chapter 13:31 to 17:26, are unique even in this unique Gospel of John who was nearest the heart of Jesus and best qualified to drink in those words of comfort and instruction before the great sacrifice of the cross. Lange calls them “the most mysterious and most holy of the sayings of Christ, and a spiritual ante-celebration of his own glorification and that of his people in the new celestial life opened up by his death and resurrection.” The parting song and blessing of Moses (Deut., chapters 32 and 33), the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah, the evangelist of the prophets, and the farewell address of Paul to the Ephesian elders (Acts 20:17–36), bear a remote resemblance. We may also compare these last discourses with the Lord's final discourses in Matthew, chapters 24 and 25, 213Mark, chapter 13, and Luke, chapter 21. In John the Lord revealed the inner consummation of his work and the spiritual revolution to be accomplished; in the other Gospels he prophesied the overthrow of the Jewish theocracy and the establishment of his kingdom. Such an evening as the 14th of Nisan in the year of the crucifixion occurred only once in the world's history; the full meaning of eternity was condensed into a few hours. The last words of our Lord to his eleven disciples combine the deepest emotion with serene repose; they are unutterably solemn, weighty and comforting; they seem to sound directly from heaven, and they lift the reader high above time and space. We have more here than words; we have things, verities, acts of infinite love going out from God and going into the hearts of men. The main ideas are: “I in the Father; the Father in me; I in the believer; the believer in me; I came from my Father in heaven; I fulfilled his will on earth; I now return to my Father, and prepare a place for my disciples in the many mansions of my Father's house that they may be where I am and share my glory.”—Schaff. (Joh 13:31) (Joh 13:32)
31. When therefore he was gone out. When Judas had gone out the last disturbing element seems to have been removed from the mind of the Lord. The clouds of the world are lifted and there begins the most remarkable discourse recorded in history. The hour has come; the Master is about to part from his disciples; he will go through his bloody pathway to the presence of the Father; they will be left without him to meet the storms, trials and persecutions of earth. It is the time, therefore, for the Lord to pour forth the deepest feelings of his soul in their behalf. The discourse that follows, comforts, consoles, instructs and points them to the glory, power, and grace of their Lord. In it he apparently strives, as never before, to reveal himself to them so fully that every doubt of his divine majesty shall pass away. And when the gloom that gathered around his tomb was broken every doubt was forever dispelled in the deep knowledge of his glory. Now is the Son of man glorified. To him, now that Judas has gone, and he is at the foot of the cross, the struggle is passed, his weary ministry ended, and the glorification begun. There is an emphasis and exultation in “now.” His disciples were not yet fully freed from their carnal ideas of his earthly glorification. They had expected its accomplishment in his coronation as King of the Jews in Jerusalem. He had, however, already pointed to the cross as the means of his glorification and as its shadow already falls upon him he anticipates the “lifting up” as a sacrifice, as a risen Savior, and as an ascending Lord to take seat upon a universal throne. It is his work now to more especially prepare his disciples for the disappointment of the false hopes that they had cherished, born of their Jewish education, by pointing them to his greater majesty, filling them with larger hopes and investing them with higher prerogatives and honors than they could ever have had in an earthly kingdom. The Lord's Supper, instituted this night, pointed unmistakably to the cross; now he points to it as the beginning of his glorification. His glory, while engaged in his lowly ministry, had not been seen. Nor would it be seen on 214the cross. The world's idea of his glory was different, but proceeding right from the cross would begin an honor and exaltation that even the world would recognize and from it he would ascend, after a few days' instruction to his disciples, to enjoy the glory he had with the Father before the world was. (Joh 13:33)
33. Little children, yet a little while I am with you. Observe the tenderness of the term applied to his disciples, a term applied nowhere else except in 1 John 2:1, 12. He had told the Jews (7:34; 8:21) that he would go away and they could not follow him. So now he says to his disciples, but he comforts them by the assurance (14:3) that he will return for them. (Joh 13:34)
34. A new commandment I give unto you. The commandment to love was not new, but such love as the Savior commanded was new. It was such love for each other as he had shown for them that he commanded. That love was one so intense as to give up all things. His love led him to leave heaven, to take our infirmities upon him, to endure a weary and painful ministry, to become a servant, even to wash the feet of his disciples, and it was about to show itself forth in the outpouring of his blood for the sake of his people. It was such love as he would inspire in the hearts of his disciples for each other; a self-denying, self-sacrificing love which is not of the earth, but carries its own demonstration that it is of heavenly origin. The “new life” is love. (Joh 13:35)
35. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples. Such love as this excited the wonder of the heathen in the earlier ages of the church when it burned with such a heavenly flame, and they said, “See how these Christians love one another.” But the presence of such love does more than cause those who behold it to marvel. It points them to Christ as its author, for all must admit, when it shines forth in its excellency, that it is of heavenly origin. Hence, when it is fully exhibited men know that those who possess it are the disciples of Christ. So it has been in all ages. The men who have loved their race, given themselves for it, have gone as missionaries to the wretched, have built the hospitals and refuges; the Oberlins, Judsons, Howards and Florence Nightingale, have been those who were filled with the love of Christ. When did an infidel build a hospital! 215 (Joh 13:36)
36. Simon Peter said unto him, Lord, whither goest thou? I believe that in the interval after the departure of Judas and before this question the Lord's Supper was instituted. The Lord said, “Do this in remembrance of me until I come again.” Peter, after the supper is eaten, not yet able to comprehend the Lord's death, asks, “Whither goest thou?” Here begins what Olshausen calls the “Most Holy Place” in John's Gospel; the last moments the Lord spent with his own before his suffering, a moment in which he speaks words full of tenderness and heavenly meaning; if possible, the most precious words of Christ himself. At first there is a conversation around the table; then they arise from it (John 14:31) and the discourse takes a higher form, culminating in the touching prayer of chapter 17th. The Savior's first words are to Peter in answer to his question. Whither I go thou canst not follow me now. The Lord's way was to the cross, the sepulcher, the ascension, and to heaven. Peter might follow in due time, but the Lord had other work for him now. He does not, however, answer Peter's question directly. According to tradition, Peter did follow Christ to the cross in death. He was also crucified. (Joh 13:37)
37. Why cannot I follow thee now? It was very hard for Peter to give up. He was impetuous, generous and self-willed. His conduct now was characteristic of the man. Christ has spoken of death; Peter declares that he will die too for his Master's sake. (Joh 13:38)
38. Wilt thou lay down thy life? The Lord reveals to him his weakness. It was then night. Before the cock shall crow for the dawn of the next morning he will have thrice denied his Lord. For the fulfilment of this prediction, see Luke 22:54–60. Peter had bravely attempted to defend his Master with a sword when the company came, led by Judas, but when Christ was led away, he “followed afar off.” His courage was departing. First, in the hall of the high priest, he denied to the maid servant that he knew Christ; then, a little while after, he denied to another man. About an hour later another said, “Of a truth this fellow was with him; for he is a Galilean.” And Peter denied with oaths, declaring, “Man, I know not what you say.” Just then the cock crowed for the approach of day.
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