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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. 32If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. 33Little 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.’ 34I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. 35By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
31. Now is the Son of man glorified. The last hour was at hand; Christ knew that the minds of his disciples were very weak, and, therefore, he endeavored, by every possible method, to support them, that they might not give way. Even at the present day, the remembrance of the cross of Christ is sufficient to make us tremble, were we not instantly met by the consolation, that he triumphed in the cross, having obtained a victory over Satan, sin, and death. What, then, might have happened to the Apostles, when they saw the Lord soon dragged to the cross, loaded with every kind of reproaches? Might not an exhibition so melancholy and revolting have overwhelmed them a hundred times? Christ, therefore, provides against this danger, and withdraws them from the outward aspect of death to its spiritual fruit. Whatever ignominy, then, may be seen in the cross, fitted to confound believers, yet Christ testifies that the same cross brings glory and honor to him. 5757 “Luy est glorieuse et honorable.”
And God is glorified in him. This clause, which immediately follows the other, is added for confirmation; for it was a paradoxical statement, that the glory of the Son of man arose from a death which was reckoned ignominious among men, and was even accursed before God. He shows, therefore, in what manner he would obtain glory to himself from such a death. It is, because by it 5858 “Par icelle.” he glorifies God the Father; for in the cross of Christ:, as in a magnificent theater, the inestimable goodness of God is displayed before the whole world. In all the creatures, indeed, both high and low, the glory of God shines, but nowhere has it shone more brightly than in the cross, in which there has been an astonishing change of things, the condemnation of all men has been manifested, sin has been blotted out, salvation has been restored to men; and, in short, the whole world has been renewed, and every thing restored to good order.
In him. Though the preposition (ἐν) in is often used instead of the Hebrew ב, and, in such eases, is equivalent to by, yet I have preferred translating it simply, that God is glorified in the Son of man; because I considered that phrase to be more emphatic. When he says, and God is glorified, the meaning, I apprehend, is, for God is glorified
32. If God be glorified. Christ concludes that he will obtain a glorious triumph by his death; because his sole design in it is, to glorify his Father; for the Father did not seek his glory from the death of his Son in such a manner as not to make the Son a partaker of that glory. He promises, therefore, that when the ignominy which he shall endure for a short time has been effaced, illustrious honor will be displayed in his death. And this too was accomplished; for the death of the cross, which Christ suffered, is so far from obscuring his high rank, that in that death his high rank is chiefly displayed, since there his amazing love to mankind, his infinite righteousness in atoning for sin and appeasing the wrath of God, his wonderful power in conquering death, subduing Satan, and, at length, opening heaven, blazed with full brightness. This doctrine is now extended also to all of us; for though the whole world should conspire to cover us with infamy, yet if we sincerely and honestly endeavor to promote the glory of God, we ought not to doubt that God will also glorify us.
And will immediately glorify him. Christ heightens the consolation by arguments drawn from the shortness of the time, when he promises that it will take place immediately. And though this glory began at the day of his resurrection, yet what is chiefly described here is the extension of it, which followed immediately afterwards, when, raising the dead by the power of the Gospel and of his Spirit, he created a new people for himself; for the honor which peculiarly belongs to the death of Christ, is the fruit which sprung from it for the salvation of men.
33. Little children, yet a little while am I with you. As it was impossible that the disciples should not be deeply grieved at their Master’s departure, so he gives them early warning that he will no longer be with them, and, at the same time, exhorts them to patience. Lastly, to remove unseasonable eagerness of desire, he declares that they cannot immediately follow him. In calling them little children, he shows, by that gentle appellation, that his reason for departing from them is not that he cares little about their welfare, for he loves them very tenderly. True, the object which he had in view in clothing himself with our flesh was, that he might be our brother, but by that other name he expresses more strongly the ardor of his love.
As I said to the Jews. When he says, that he repeats to them what he had formerly said to the Jews, this is true as to the words, but there is a wide difference in the meaning; for he declares that they cannot follow him, in order that they may endure patiently his temporary absence, and — so to speak — bridles them in, that; they may remain in their office, till they have finished their warfare on earth; so that he does not perpetually exclude them, as Jews, from the kingdom of God, but only bids them wait patiently, till he bring them, along with himself, into the heavenly kingdom.
34. A new commandment I give you. To the consolation he adds an exhortation, that they should love one another; as if he had said, “Yet while I am absent from you in body, testify, by mutual love, that I have not taught you in vain; let this be your constant study, your chief meditation.” Why does he call it a new commandment? All are not agreed on this point. There are some who suppose the reason to be, that, while the injunction formerly contained in the Law about brotherly love was literal and external, Christ wrote it anew by his Spirit on the hearts of believers. Thus, according to them, the Law is new, because he publishes it in a new manner, that it may have full vigor. But that is, in my opinion, far-fetched, and at variance with Christ’s meaning. The exposition given by others is, that, though the Law directs us to the exercise of love, still, because in it the doctrine of brotherly love is encumbered by many ceremonies and appendages, it is not so clearly exhibited; but, on the other hand, that perfection in love is laid down in the Gospel without any shadows. For my own part, though I do not absolutely reject this interpretation, I consider what Christ said to be more simple; for we know that laws are more carefully observed at the commencement, but they gradually slip out of the remembrance of men, till at length they become obsolete. In order to impress more deeply, therefore, on the minds of his disciples the doctrine of brotherly love, Christ recommends it on the ground of novelty; as if he had said, “I wish you continually to remember this commandment, as if it had been a law but lately made.”
In short, we see that it was the design of Christ, in this passage, to exhort his disciples to brotherly love, that they might never permit themselves to be withdrawn from the pursuit of it, or the doctrine of it to slip out of their minds. And how necessary this admonition was, we learn by daily experience; for, since it is difficult to maintain brotherly love, men lay it aside, and contrive, for themselves, new methods of worshipping God, and Satan suggests many things for the purpose of occupying their attention. Thus, by idle employments, they in vain attempt to mock God, but they deceive themselves. Let this title of novelty, therefore, excite us to the continual exercise of brotherly love. Meanwhile, let us know that it is called new, not because it now began, for the first time, to please God, since it is elsewhere called the fulfilling of the law, (Romans 13:10.)
That you love one another. Brotherly love is, indeed, extended to strangers, for we are all of the same flesh, and are all created after the image of God; but because the image of God shines more brightly in those who have been regenerated, it is proper that the bond of love, among the disciples of Christ, should be far more close. In God brotherly love seeks its cause, from him it has its root, and to him it is directed. Thus, in proportion as it perceives any man to be a child of God, it embraces him with the greater warmth and affection. Besides, the mutual exercise of love cannot exist but in those who are guided by the same Spirit. It is the highest degree of brotherly love, therefore, that is here described by Christ; but we ought to believe, on the other hand, that, as the goodness of God extends to the whole world, so we ought to love all, even those who hate us.
As I have loved you. He holds out his own example, not because we can reach it, for we are at a vast distance behind him, but that we may, at least, aim at the same end.
35. By this all men will know. Christ again confirms what he had formerly said, that they who mutually love one another have not been in vain taught in his school; as if he had said, Not only will you know that you are my disciples, but your profession will also be acknowledged by others to be sincere.” Since Christ lays down this mark for distinguishing between his disciples and strangers, they who lay aside brotherly love, and adopt new and invented modes of worship, labor in vain; and folly of this kind prevails at this day in Popery. Nor is it superfluous that Christ dwells so largely on this subject. There is no greater agreement between the love of ourselves, and the love of our neighbor, than there is between fire and water. Self love keeps all our senses bound in such a manner that brotherly love is altogether banished; and yet we think that we fully discharge our duty, because Satan has many enticements to deceive us, that we may not perceive our faults. 5959 “A ce que nous n’appercevions nos fautes.” Whoever, then, desires to be truly a disciple of Christ, and to be acknowledged by God, let him form and direct his whole life to love the brethren, and let him pursue this object with diligence.