Fifth Sunday of Easter

by Crossings

A NEW COMMANDMENT
John 13:31-35
(The Fifth Sunday of Easter)
analysis by Mike Hoy


31When 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.”


DIAGNOSIS: The Crisis of Darkness

Step 1–Initial Diagnosis: Dark Happenings
There are dark happenings taking place as this episode unfolds. Judas has “gone out” to get the police and authorities to have Jesus arrested (v. 31). It is an act of betrayal. It is also a statement of Judas’ disappointment with the kind of messianic rule by which Jesus operates (i.e., not by the old covenant/testament/commandment, but by the new covenant/testament/commandment). There are more dark happenings on the horizon: sufferings, trials, denials, and death. Jesus acknowledges (permits?!) these dark proceedings: “I am with you only a little longer” (v. 33). It may be hard for us sometimes to see the dark happenings around us when there are so many false voices of light. That inability to see is part of the problem, as we will note. Nevertheless, the dark happenings are still around us, sometimes in us, always with a message of crisis and impending judgment.

Step 2–Advanced Diagnosis: Looking, but not seeing
Part of the problem of finding our way through the dark happenings is that we are not even aware how dark it is. There is no indication that anyone except the beloved disciple was aware that Judas was on his way to betray Jesus, even though they knew the betrayal was at hand (vs. 21-30). Such ignorance may be bliss, but it is not an excuse for our unfaith–even our inability to peer into the darkness. Nevertheless, trying to find our way through the dark, if we even realize it is there, is scary and risky–leaving us with fear and trepidation. That, too, is our unbelief.

Step 3–Final Diagnosis: Prohibited
What adds to the fright is that Jesus makes it clear that he cannot be found: “You will look for me; but where I am going, you cannot come” (v. 33). However much we may want to search in the darkness for an answer, there is not one forthcoming. We are prohibited, in our unbelief, from finding the solution–only more and more darkness, which is the way that God has designed it for make-shift trouble shooters like ourselves.

PROGNOSIS: The Crucis of Light

Step 4–Initial Prognosis: Glorying
Glory is glowing–glowing through the darkness. It is the promise of that glow that Jesus affirms for himself at the very moment when the dark happenings are written on the wall (vs. 31-32). That glorying–that glowing through the death and into resurrection and ascension to power–is his assurance that the Dark Happenings are not the final word. The true light that enlightens all has come into the world, and now is about to shine. To be sure, He goes that path alone; but he doesn’t trek that path for himself alone, but for all of us upon whom that glory shines.

Step 5–Advanced Prognosis: Loved
Within us, too, the Light shines in the darkness from that love that Jesus brings. His love is stronger that our fears. He overcomes our fears through his compassionate and endearing call to us, “my little children” (v. 33). Our faith grasps that, no matter the dark happenings that stir, God has valued us as God’s own beloved kids, and Jesus the Light as our kin. Glowing is within us.

Step 6–Final Prognosis: Loving One Another
And glowing is beyond us in our bringing that same love by which we are loved in Christ to one another. One of the marks of our discipleship (our childhood with Christ) is our love. That loving is not ethereal. It means stepping into the dark happenings that surround and invade the lives of others. But permission is granted and endorsed–nay, commanded!–by our Lord, who has already beaten the darkness. Nothing is to prohibit us from taking it on, and with bold affirmation! It is the new way that overshadows and antiquates the old, unenlightened path.

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  • Crossings

    Crossings is a community of welcoming, inquisitive people who want to explore how what we hear at church is useful and beneficial in our daily lives.

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