John 13: 31-35
The gospel passage is a short extract from the much longer teaching of Jesus which accompanies the washing of feet, and the discussion about the one who would hand him over.
In John’s gospel there are lots of theological layers; one of them is about glory and glorification, and for John, the glorification of Jesus happens on the Cross, where Jesus is lifted up. The moment of execution, the thing that will cause his death is, extraordinarily, the moment of glorification. What the powers that be see as destruction becomes the destruction of the destroyer (as Revelation puts it in ch 11).
The moment of glorification does not lead to his followers being grand and exalted, nor to them getting status – Jesus says the fruit of this is that the followers will live in love- love here meaning practical love and care and support, not just thinking nice thoughts. In a society where love and care and generosity was mostly kept within the in-group, Jesus asks us to model a much more outward form of love and care which wraps in the lonely and the outcast and those whose religion or lifestyle is not like ours, those who may not be very lovely.
So there is a then-moment – the crucifixion, in which in the torment and viciousness God is – and this is beyond our explanation – glorified. Pause for a moment – God, Almighty God, the Creator, in Jesus, washes the feet of the disciples with all their failings and weaknesses, allows himself to be the object of hatred and mockery, endures torture and a vile slow form of execution – God is glorified in this – the true deep sense of who God is, is found in this moment and it changes everyone who comes into contact, it means that eternal life, new life, assurance is there for us in the midst of this world, even when the worst is happening, it cannot separate us from the love of God as St Paul will say and he experienced a lot of aggro, illness and hardship.
And the now-moment is how we life in light of this truth – how we show love to one another, how we see each and any human being as someone special to God, loved by God, equal to me or you. And the future-moment is the promise of sharing in the everlasting glory of God, which is described in Revelation as “making all things new”, a place “where there is no suffering, pain, tears or death”. This is a grand and epic re-ordering of the world, and some of us want it now, but partly because we do not want the effort and difficulties of the present, but Jesus says for now, we love one another, we make a difference for good for others, and rather than seeking the sort of glory that the world goes after, we reflect on the Cross, on the service of Jesus to his disciples.
Has how I have lived in the last week been loving and affirming and upbuilding of others? Have I loved generously and freely, not just the lovely and the ones close to me, but others? Is the glorification of Jesus on and through the Cross something that means so much to me that it shapes my life? When I survey the wondrous cross ..