John 13: 31 – 38 Jesus predicts Peter’s denial
When he (Judas) was gone, Jesus said, ‘Now the Son of Man is glorified and God is glorified in him. God will glorify the Son in himself, and will glorify him at once.
‘My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: where I am going, you cannot come.
‘A new command I give you: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.’
Simon Peter asked him, ‘Lord, where are you going?’
Jesus replied, ‘Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.’
Peter asked, ‘Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.’
Then Jesus answered, ‘Will you truly lay down your life for me? Very truly I tell you, before the cock crows, you will disown me three times!’
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The Jesus who attracts me is the Jesus who preaches about love; who heals people; and who comes alongside them in their joys (the wedding in Cana) and sorrows (the death of Lazarus). The Jesus who spoke out against exploitation; who taught forgiveness; who preached non-violence in the face of aggression (turning the other cheek). If we all copied that love, I can see how the world could work without warfare and without poverty.
There is a lot of that Jesus in the gospels.
But there is also another Jesus.
A Jesus who says that his crucifixion is in obedience to the will of the Father, and that it is absolutely necessary. A Jesus who dreads what is going to happen to him, but who goes through with it anyway.
Is it really that God demands a sacrifice? What kind of God would that be?
I said above that I could see how the world could work without warfare and without poverty. But it doesn’t. The reason it doesn’t is human nature. It’s easy enough to point a finger at dictators who torture and murder; at politicians who lie and cheat for power; at a global trade system that makes poor communities poorer to enrich those who already have more than they need. It’s easy to blame.
But I’m a part of that. I have more than I need but I don’t give away the surplus. For all my efforts to be virtuous, I behave selfishly and sometimes with cruelty. I’m part of the problem.
It’s not God who demands a sacrifice, it’s mankind who needs a sacrifice. Jesus shows us that what’s needed to mend humanity is sacrificial love, and he is the supreme example.
That’s what Jesus is talking about when he says ‘A new command I give you: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.’
Thank you for the teaching you’ve given me today. Please help me to be obedient. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.