Fifth Sunday of Easter | May 2, 2010
Psalm 148 (13)
John 13:31-35 Prayer of the Day
O Lord God, you teach us that without love, our actions gain nothing. Pour into our hearts your most excellent gift of love, that, made alive by your Spirit, we may know goodness and peace, through your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Gospel Acclamation
Alleluia. Everyone will know that you are | my disciples if you have love for | one another. Alleluia. (John 13:35)
1a. CONTEXT: JOHN 13:31-35
THE LAST DISCOURSE: Division One (Introduction) These verses are preceded by the Foot Washing, which is performed by Jesus as the revelation of the God who serves, to the disciples within the context of The Last Supper. The public ministry has been concluded, and now, just before the feast of the Passover, Jesus retires with his disciples to an intimate setting, for his final teaching to them. What we have received is the final shape given to their witness over time, by the community of faith known as the Johannine Community.
In their self-reflexive theology, the Johannine Community presents material that differs markedly in content and style from the Synoptic Gospels. Here, the extended private discourse provides the occasion for a confluence of Jesus' teachings. Some of these are taken from the public ministry and given voice within a new context, which is largely presented as a monologue by Jesus. The Jesus who speaks here to the disciples is remembered by the community as the glorified Christ. The introductory verses of the discourse present three main foci concerning Jesus: his glorification "now"; his imminent departure; and his new commandment to the disciples. His glorification comes from God; his imminent departure is necessary to his glorification and will result from Judas' betrayal; his new commandment is constitutive to the community.
1a. TEXT: John 13:31-35 --
When he had gone out, Jesus said, ‘Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. Little 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.” I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.’
31Οτε οὖν ἐξῆλθεν λέγει Ἰησοῦς, Νῦν ἐδοξάσθη ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου, καὶ ὁ θεὸς ἐδοξάσθη ἐν αὐτῷ:
32[εἰ ὁ θεὸς ἐδοξάσθη ἐν αὐτῷ] καὶ ὁ θεὸς δοξάσει αὐτὸν ἐν αὐτῷ, καὶ εὐθὺς δοξάσει αὐτόν.
33τεκνία, ἔτι μικρὸν μεθ' ὑμῶν εἰμι: ζητήσετέ με, καὶ καθὼς εἶπον τοῖς Ἰουδαίοις ὅτι Οπου ἐγὼ ὑπάγω ὑμεῖς οὐ δύνασθε ἐλθεῖν, καὶ ὑμῖν λέγω ἄρτι.
34ἐντολὴν καινὴν δίδωμι ὑμῖν, ἵνα ἀγαπᾶτε ἀλλήλους: καθὼς ἠγάπησα ὑμᾶς ἵνα καὶ ὑμεῖς ἀγαπᾶτε ἀλλήλους.
35ἐν τούτῳ γνώσονται πάντες ὅτι ἐμοὶ μαθηταί ἐστε, ἐὰν ἀγάπην ἔχητε ἐν ἀλλήλοις.
Novum Testamentum Graece, Nestle-Aland 26th edition
© 1979, Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart;
The Greek New Testament, 3rd edition
© 1975, United Bible Societies, London
2. ANALYSIS: John 13: 31-35
THE LAST DISCOURSE: Division One (Introduction)
The Last Discourse opens by proclaiming the glorification of the Son of the Human One. After the Greeks appeared on the scene in 12: 20-22, Jesus announced that the hour of glorification has come (12:23). The coming of the Greeks heralds the beginning of the glorification, for they foreshadow all who will be drawn to Jesus once he has been lifted on the cross.
This interpretation of Jesus' glorification through his suffering and death on the cross is foreshadowed in Isa. 52: 13, and the same relationship of glory and death also appears in the Synoptic tradition, in Mark 10: 35. There James and John are told figuratively, that sharing Jesus' glory is possible only through suffering unto death. The shift from a past tense in v. 31, [edoxasthei] - to a future tense in v. 32, [doxasei] - is illustrative of the way that the theme of glory dominates the second half of the Gospel.
The process of glorification may be described in grammatical expressions that include past, present [nun], and future because the whole process is being viewed from an eternal perspective. The same mixture of past and future that we encounter in 13: 31-32, was already seen in 12: 28: "I have glorified it and will glorify it again." Perhaps the past tense, (aorist in 31), is complexive, referring to the whole passion, death, resurrection, and ascension that takes place in "this hour"[ten horan]; the future in 32 may refer to the glory that will follow when Jesus returns to God.
The treachery of Judas initiates the process of Jesus' passing from this world, to return to God. Judas' departure from the Last Supper, accepted by Jesus, brings the police and soldiers who will arrest Jesus and put him to death. Thus, Judas actually participates in the glorification. If the Last Supper is indeed thought of as a Passover Meal, Jesus' endearing salutation [teknia], v. 33, is particularly appropriate, for the small groups that gathered together to eat the paschal meal patterned themselves on family life.
One of the group acted as a father explaining to his children the significance of what was being done. The address is also very fitting if the Last Discourse is thought of as a farewell speech, for in this literary genre, the scene is often that of a dying father instructing his children. This is demonstrated in the TESTAMENTS OF THE TWELVE PATRIARCHS, a Jewish work with Christian interpolations, or perhaps a Christian work
dependent on Jewish sources, according to the Johannine scholar, Raymond E. Brown. Since the disciples cannot follow Jesus as he leaves this life, they receive a command that, if obeyed, will keep his spirit alive among them (vv. 34-35). The idea that love is a commandment is interesting. The newness of Jesus' teaching has been credited to his giving the command to love neighbor a status second only to love of God, and defining neighbor in a new and wider sense.
3. STRATEGY: John 13: 31-35
THE LAST DISCOURSE: DIVISION ONE (Introduction)
In preaching from this text, the challenge is to be found precisely in : bringing the Christ-life to more than remembrance, to a present reality in our community of faith. It is a matter of incarnational, sacramental theology being worked out in the midst of God's people, the Church. Living communities remember their beginnings. It is a present recognition: we are this community of faith, living still, begetting new life, sharing life, and consecrating life in the gift of God.
The Paschal Meal and the Easter Feast, taken together, embody the Mystery of Christ. He is the gift poured into our human lives transforming us into the New Life he is: God and people at one. We draw together into this beginning moment of the meal all the meanings we discover in our transformation at the Lord's Table. Who he was and has become, who we are and are becoming, all suggest a new language for our faith. From the very experience of our formation in the womb, we know what it means to love and be loved - all the stuff of life is given - drawn bodily from another. Jesus commands his disciples to love as he loves, and in this they will find his/her glory, as well as their/our identity. Even as he lays down his life in order to become Life, we are called to live in that Love which he reveals is God, and for all who are alive with us, to become the living sign of the transforming Christ dwelling within our human life.
4. REFERENCES: John 13: 31-35
Brown, Raymond E. THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN, XIII - XXI. [Yale Anchor Bible] v. 29B, Doubleday Edition, 1970, pp. 605-613.
SYNOPSIS OF THE FOUR GOSPELS. Kurt Aland, ed., Württembergische Bibelanstalt, Stuttgart/West Germany: United Bible Societies, 1975, pp. 272, 287.
Whitson, Robley Edward. THE CENTER SCRIPTURES. Bristol, Indiana: The United Institute, Wyndham Hall Press, 1987, pp. 21,28,31-32.
Exegete: The Rev. Dr. Carol M. Worthing, D. Min.(ELCA, Ret’d) earned a M.Div. degree in 1982 from the Northwestern Lutheran Theological Seminary in St. Paul. Carol earned a P.h.D in theological studies from the Graduate Theological Foundation in 2002, and in the same year was honored as the John Macquarrie Fellow for the superior quality of her dissertation. She was chosen by the Cathedral Council to serve as preacher at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. in November of 2002. Carol Worthing has returned to Edina, Minn. where she currently resides.
5. Music Suggestions: John 13:31-35
Some appropriate hymns for this day would include the following:
COME, MY WAY, MY TRUTH, MY LIFE (ELW 816; HB 487; LBW 513)
DEAR CHRISTIANS, ONE AND ALL REJOICE (ELW 594; LBW 299)
GOD IS LOVE (HB 576/7)
GOD IS LOVE, LET HEAVEN ADORE HIM (HB 379)
IN CHRIST THERE IS NO EAST AND WEST (ELW 650; HB 529; LBW 359)
JESUS, THY BOUNDLESS LOVE TO ME (LBW 336)
LORD, WHOSE LOVE IN HUMBLE SERVICE (ELW 712; HB 610; LBW 423)
LOVE DIVINE (ELW 631; HB 657;LBW 315)
O DAY OF REST & GLADNESS (ELW 521; HB 48; LBW 251")
O GOD OF LOVE, O KING OF PEACE (ELW 749; LBW 414; HB 578)
ONE THERE IS, ABOVE ALL OTHERS (LBW 298)
SON OF GOD, ETERNAL SAVIOR (ELW 655; LBW 364)
WHAT WONDROUS LOVE IS THIS? (ELW 666; HB 439;LBW 385)
WHEN CHRIST WAS LIFTED FROM THE EARTH (HB 603/4)
WHERE CHARITY AND LOVE PREVAIL (ELW 359; HB 581; LBW 126)
WHERE CROSS THE CROWDED WAYS OF LIFE (ELW 719; LBW 429)
WHERE TRUE CHARITY AND LOVE DWELL ( HB 606)
LEXEGETE © 2010
Dartmouth, Massachusetts 02747
Lexegete is edited by David A. Buehler,
who teaches Ethics at Providence College, R.I.