Loved By Jesus To Love Like Jesus – John 13:31-38

Loved By Jesus To Love Like Jesus

Nick Esch, 1/28/2018 Cornerstone Baptist Church

Introduction

Just recently I went to Washington DC for the Evangelicals for Life conference and the March for Life. The point of the conference was to equip Christians, and especially leaders in the church to be pro life holistically—from the womb to the tomb. In other words, caring for the unborn, caring for the mother and the father, as well as caring about all issues that have to do with life and justice. It was to equip us to care about all life all the time, to care about all the people that Jesus cares about: people from every tribe, tongue, and nation—all ethnicities, all generations, from all walks of life…

The March for Life is a march that takes place each year to display concern for life and hope that abortion would end. The theme of the March for Life this year was love saves lives. And I couldn’t help but think about that theme as I was prepping for my sermon this week, because love is the central theme in our text today. In our text today we see on a much grander level that love does indeed save lives; but it saves lives not merely by advocating and fighting for life, but by sacrificing… To love is to be willing to sacrifice your life for the good of others. Love saves lives because love is willing to lay down its life… So with those two things in mind—love saves lives, and to love is to be willing to sacrifice our lives—let’s look at John 13:31-38 together.

John 13:31-38

Jesse did a great job last week going over the beginning of the betrayal of Judas. He showed us that we should be both humbled, because in many ways we are just like Judas, and then we should also be amazed by grace, because it’s only by God’s sovereign grace that we don’t all forsake Christ just as Judas did… So, humility and amazement, meek and yet overjoyed: that should be the posture of every Christian… That’s what we learn from the betrayal of Judas… And now, our passage today picks up right after all of that, right after Judas leaves to go and betray Jesus. So verse 31 says, “When he (Judas) had gone out, Jesus said, ‘Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him.’”

Now over and over again throughout John, Jesus has been speaking of the hour coming when He would be glorified, and by that He meant the time of His death, burial, resurrection, and then ascension into heaven; but primarily what He is referring to when He speaks of His glorification is the cross. That’s why verse 31 says that Jesus is going to be glorified now that Judas had gone out to betray Him; that betrayal is what leads to Jesus’ crucifixion. But understand, this was all a part of God’s grand plan of redemption. Judas may be the earthly means that sets the cross into motion, but the cross was planned before the foundation of the world.

Before God ever created He knew that we would go astray and need a Savior; so before God ever created He made a plan to send Jesus to ransom His people by dying for us on our cross. He did this to save His people, but also that the glory of God might be magnified in Jesus. And that’s why Jesus keeps referring to the cross as where He will be glorified. The very point of the cross is the glory of God. So Jesus often speaks of His glorification in reference to the cross.

Think about what Paul says in Philippians 2:7-11. Jesus, “emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Glory comes through the cross; and the very point of the cross is glory. Yes, God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us; but the very reason He loves us is for His glory… God does what He does for His glory… And so it wasn’t Judas that ultimately made the cross happen, but God Himself; and His grand purpose for doing so was so that Jesus would be glorified; and when the Son of Man is glorified, God the Father is glorified in Him.

Verse 32 says, “If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and glorify him at once.” God is glorified in the person and work of Jesus because Jesus was perfectly obedient to the Father, always. God is the holy Creator of all, who created us for His glory, but we all have rebelled against that purpose and are therefore deserving of His eternal wrath. But Jesus came and lived the life we should have lived, perfectly for God’s glory. But He didn’t stop there; as He’s alluding to here, He’s also going to glorify God at the cross. And that makes sense if you stop and think about it. I mean, what does it mean to glorify something? It means to show that thing to be amazing, to display its beauty and worth… And that’s exactly what Jesus does, always, but supremely at the cross. At the cross Jesus shows God to be holy, just, and wrathful, while also showing Him to be loving, merciful, and gracious. All of God’s attributes meet at the cross. God’s Divine perfection, and His beauty and worth are supremely on display in and through the cross—God is glorified at the cross like nowhere else. And so it’s good news that God does all that He does for His glory, because if He wasn’t so passionate about His glory then we would be lost and without hope, because Jesus wouldn’t have went to the cross…

But Jesus did go to the cross. This is what He’s referring to in verse 33, when He says, “Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek me, and just as I said to the Jews, so now I also say to you, ‘Where I am going you cannot come.’” Here, in one sense He’s referring to His eventual ascension and return to glory, but He’s also saying that He won’t be with them much longer because He’s going to the cross. So on the one hand they can’t go where He’s going because it’s not time for them to enter into glory with Him yet, but on the other hand, because He’s also speaking of His wrath absorbing death on the cross, now that Judas has left He’s only speaking to His true disciples, those who are actively turning from their sin and following Him, those who are in Him by faith; and there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus… But that’s exactly where Jesus is going… He’s going to the cross to be condemned in our place… Obviously we shouldn’t want to follow Him there, and—praise God—we’ll never have to because Jesus paid it all! Jesus was condemned for us as He hung on our cross…

So as He’s been doing, He gets our minds focused on the cross and on glory; but then He shifts the focus from Him to us. Starting in verse 34 He says, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” So Jesus goes from pointing to the gospel to giving a direct command, and that’s because this command is a direct implication of the gospel. But notice that He pointed to the cross first; even in this verse His command flows from His love for His people. His people are to love as He has loved His people. So, His love for His people is not contingent upon them following His commands… In fact it’s just the opposite. Jesus loved us and gave Himself for us when we were at our worse. Christ died for the ungodly… Again, God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us… His love is sheer grace!!! It cannot be earned… His love is for the weak, the broken, and the desperate… He doesn’t love us because of what we can contribute, or because of some magical or beautiful quality in us… He loves us because of His beauty… Remember, He loves us because of His commitment to His own glory… Church, would you just soak that in for a moment… On your absolute worst day, Jesus loves you… And on your absolute best day, Jesus loves you… And He loves you the same on both days… You could never earn it, and you’ll never deserve it, yet, He loves you… And it’s His love that is both the motivation and the model for how we are to love one another…

Again, He says, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” And you see, how He’s loved us is what makes this commandment new. The command to love is not new at all. In the Old and the New Testament we’re told to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love our neighbor as our self… But that’s not the command here… Jesus isn’t calling us to love one another as we love ourselves; He’s calling us to love one another as He has loved us. And He has loved us in a way that is unlike any other love in the universe. He came down from heaven, took on flesh, took on sin, took on wrath, took on death, and then satisfied God’s wrath, and defeated sin and death for all who will turn from their sin and trust in Him. Jesus literally poured Himself out to the death in love… But even more astonishing is that He willingly had the wrath of God poured out upon Himself in our place in love; all while we were His enemies…

Jesus has loved us with a completely selfless sacrificial love. And He didn’t just give up a few things for us; He gave up everything for us and went through the absolute worst suffering imaginable… All for our good and God’s glory… And His love isn’t only sacrificial, but it’s also steadfast. In John 13:1 it says He loves His people to the end, meaning to the end of Himself, to the end of His life… But it also means that He loves us to the end of our life, and then on into eternity. As I read earlier, He is abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness… Or as we sang earlier, His love is an overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love… Reckless in the sense that it cost Him everything; but never-ending, in the sense that it’s steadfast…

This is actually why we’re told of Judas’ betrayal right before this, and then right after this, in John 13:36-38 we read, “Simon Peter said to him (to Jesus), ‘Lord, where are you going?’ Jesus answered him, ‘Where I am going you cannot follow me now, but you will follow afterward.’ Peter said to him, ‘Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.’ Jesus answered, ‘Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the rooster will not crow till you have denied me three times.’” Judas outright betrays and abandons Jesus, and then even Peter who is a true disciple, yet still a fallen man denies Christ. He says he would lay His life down for Jesus, but he doesn’t… At least not yet… Eventually a time will come when he does, but as we know, he does in fact deny Christ three times… But Jesus’ love for us isn’t like this. His love for us is steadfast… His love is never-ending… If we are truly His, He never forsakes us, He never denies us, and He will never betray us… The false love of Judas and the weak love of Peter stand in contrast to Jesus’ perfect steadfast sacrificial love… And it is with this love that we are to love one another…

Now we are to love our neighbors as ourselves, and we are to love our enemies, but here the command to love one another with a love that is defined by Jesus Himself is a command to love the church with this steadfast sacrificial love… Again, Judas has left the group, so now all that’s left is Jesus’ true disciples… So Jesus is telling His true disciples to love one another as He has loved them… And if we are true Christians then this command applies to us just the way it applied to them… So it’s kind of like how Paul put it in Galatians, “as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10)… We’ve been commanded to love everyone, but we’re to especially love one another… We are to love our fellow Christian, especially our fellow church member with a steadfast sacrificial cross-centered Jesus-saturated love… But I think we’re on safe ground to say that we should also show at least a similar type of love to the world around us as we seek to engage them with the gospel in hopes that they will become believers, and become a part of the church, which would then include them in the “one another” here…

Now understand, Jesus is commanding His church, He’s commanding us to love one another as He has loved us… This is not a suggestion… This is not something we’re called to do if we have some spare time… This is what all believers are called to give their life to, because this is what Jesus gave His life for… It’s a command… But it’s a command that flows from our salvation, it’s not a command we follow to earn our salvation… Because of how Jesus loves us we then are called to love others in the same way, and if we would see the love of Jesus rightly we would be compelled to joyfully love others this way…

We are to love with a reckless love; this is a love that transcends self-interest, this is a love that ruins our plans, that disrupts our lives, it’s a love that moves us towards people and places that we wouldn’t normally go, it’s a messy love, a vulnerable love, a love that will cost us much… When Jesus says love as I have loved, He doesn’t mean smile and be polite… No, no… You see, we all too often substitute love with tolerance… But these are two very different things. We’re not to just wave and maybe make small talk… No! Jesus means go and die, lose your life, lose everything; laydown your needs and your wants for the good of others and the glory of God… The love He commands us to have and to live out is a love that loves the unlovable, a love that sacrifices for the undeserving, a love that lays down it’s life for Jesus’ sake and the gospel’s…

No doubt, the idea of giving ourselves over to this kind of love sounds intimidating to say the least; but if we who believe the gospel, if we who love Jesus and know the love of Jesus are astonished by the love He’s commanded us to have, how much more so will the world be astonished by our love? I mean, this love is completely counter-cultural… The world doesn’t really know this type of love at all. That’s why things like abortion and euthanasia are so common now… The world tends to love only those who can contribute or offer them something; there’s always self-interest tied to the love of the world… They don’t see the worth and value of a person who can’t care for themselves or contribute to society in some way… But we know that every person—be they still in the womb, or bedridden and 105 years old—is created in the image of God and therefore has inherit worth and value… And on top of that, now, in our text today we see that we are commanded to love like Jesus; and again, He loved sinners who contributed nothing to Him or to salvation; He loved us when we hated Him and wanted nothing to do with Him… So then, if we take all of that, and go and do likewise, loving people at great cost to ourselves, expecting absolutely nothing in return, loving them regardless of what they may or may not be able to contribute, sacrificing our time, our privacy, our possessions, our finances, our lives to love them like Jesus, because Jesus loves us and Jesus loves them… If we do that, the world will stand amazed because they have no category for a love like that… Now we might look out at the world and see so much sin, so much hate, and so much pain that we’re overwhelmed; but that just shows how much the world needs the love of Jesus… And they ought to see that love in us… We may feel like the world is at it’s worst, but the world at its worst needs us at our best: living out the love of Jesus…

This is why Jesus says what He says in verse 35: “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” In other words, when our lives are marked by this kind of love the world will see that our lives have truly been transformed by the gospel; they’ll see that there really is something to this Jesus stuff… They may not believe the gospel, they may not believe in Jesus and His great love for us; but they won’t be able to deny that we really believe it… And that will draw people in…

So understand, fancy buildings and programs, great music, dynamic preaching, engaging youth groups and children’s ministries are all well and good, but God in His providence has ordained that our lives of love for one another would be what He uses to draw people into the church… Do you want to see this church grow? Do want to see people come to know Jesus? Do you want to see the world turned upside down for the glory of God? Then give your life to loving others the way that Jesus has commanded you to, the way that He has loved you. When a church loves like this, not matter how big or how small that church is, people will know that Jesus has come to that church, to that town, to that city, because He will be clearly seen in their great love… That said, we likewise need to understand the flipside to this: if our lives are not marked by sacrificial love, then the world will not see Jesus in us, and they have every right to doubt our discipleship, and perhaps we should too… If we have truly experienced the love of Jesus in the gospel then we should be compelled by that love to pour out our lives in love… And when we do the beauty of gospel-love and the power of the gospel is put on display…

Loving like Christ displays Christ to the world… And you see, that ties all of this back to the very reason Jesus saved us in the first place: for His glory… As I said earlier, the very reason Jesus loves us is for His glory, and so it makes sense that we are to continue that on; we are to love for His glory by displaying His love through our lives of sacrificial love for one another. We glorify Him by showing that we love Him more than everything, even more than our lives, as we give up everything, even our very lives if need be in love for one another… That’s why it’s right for the world to doubt our salvation if we are not loving this way; because if we are not willing to love one another like this it shows that we don’t really love Jesus in all of His glory. Our motivation for loving one another is our great love for Jesus… And we show that we truly love Him by living in such a way that we show that we believe with all of our heart that Jesus is better than comfort, than ease, than possessions, than privacy, than living our lives how we want when we want by counting everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus… And again, if we’ve genuinely experienced the love of God in Christ Jesus, then we will do this with great joy, because no matter what we may risk or give up we have Jesus who will never leave us nor forsake us, and He is enough… And even though in doing this we are laying down our life, it’s only when we lose it for Jesus’ sake that we save it… Remember what Jesus said: “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it” (Mark 8:35)…

Conclusion

And that brings us back to where I started: love saves lives, and to love is to be willing to sacrifice our lives… It was the love of Jesus that saved my life; I pray that He’s saved yours as well. If He hasn’t yet, friend, He can… Jesus has done everything necessary to save you, He merely calls you to come… He says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). Lay down your rebellion and surrender to Him… All you need is your need of Him… Repent and believe… He will save you… In Him you will find rest… His love saves…

And this same life-saving love that we all need is the love the world needs… And it can indeed save to the uttermost; if the love of Jesus is powerful enough to save us, it can save anyone… But God has ordained that His love might be displayed and made known in and through us—through our lives of sacrificial love. And that’s what true love does: to love is to be willing to sacrifice our lives… After all, we follow a Savior who sacrificed all for us, and He calls us to pick up our cross and follow Him, and here He commands us to love like Him… So what are you living for? What is your life marked by? Are you living the average safe American dream lifestyle, or are you following Jesus? Following Jesus this way isn’t exactly safe, and it certainly isn’t easy, but I can tell you this: it’s worth it…