The Gospel of John, Jesus' seventh sign, part 16
Jan 17, 2020
Judas left the Last Supper, presumably either to buy supplies for the coming Passover feast or give the customary donation to the poor on such occasions. When Judas stepped into the night, only Peter and John knew the real reason for his departure, but there can be little doubt that the others were informed almost immediately of the situation.
If the Last Supper were being held in Bethany, as Lightfoot believed, Judas had to walk about two miles in the darkness to seek out the chief priests and to receive payment for his deed. He knew that Jesus planned to go from there to the Mount of Olives, under what pretext we cannot say. It is certain that Jesus did not announce His intention to go there late that night just to be arrested.
Yet once Judas was gone, Jesus remained alone with the rest of His disciples. The final events were set into motion. He could then unburden His soul to them and give them final teachings and admonitions, knowing that His departure was close at hand. The disciples were about to be surprised and shocked beyond their imaginations, for even though Jesus had spoken of His death quite often, He had used hidden language that veiled the raw truth.
The Time of Glorification
John 13:31, 32 begins,
31 Therefore when he [Judas] had gone out, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in Him; 32 if God is glorified in Him, God will also glorify Him in Himself and will glorify Him immediately.
This is perhaps one of the climaxes of John’s gospel, seeing that all of the miracle-signs set forth were designed to show forth the glory of God in the earth. Seven such signs had been manifested. The eighth would come afterward. The cross stood at the crossroad of history.
It is ironic that Jesus would speak of His suffering on the cross in terms of His Father glorifying Him. Yet His willingness to undergo a horribly painful and humiliating death was certainly an act of obedience in which He glorified the Father and proved His worthiness to receive the authority to rule the earth. To bear the sin of the world and to be able to forgive even those who were inflicting such pain upon Him demonstrated the love of God more than anything else.
This, then, was Christ’s time of glory. He did not have to wait for another day, His second coming. That will indeed be another time of glory, but Jesus was speaking of the present time when God was to “glorify Him immediately.”
Jesus speaks more fully on this glorification later in John 17.
The Time of Departure
John 13:33 says,
33 Little children, I am with you a little while longer. You will seek Me; and as I said to the Jews, now I also say to you, “Where I am going, you cannot come.”
Rabbinic literature shows that it was common for a rabbi to think of his disciples as his children. Jesus had told the Jews in John 7:33, 34,
33 … “For a little while longer I am with you, then I go to Him who sent Me. 34 You will seek Me and will not find Me; and where I am, you cannot come.”
The Jews thought He would be leaving the country to preach His gospel “to the Dispersion among the Greeks” (John 7:35). Jesus did not bother to explain His words to them.
In John 8:21 we read again,
21 Then He said again to them, “I go away; and you will seek Me and will die in your sin; where I am going, you cannot come.”
On that occasion, we read in the next verse that the Jews speculated that He might kill Himself. But Jesus said in John 8:23, “You are from below, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world.” In saying this, He suggested that He was returning to the “world” that was above, leaving behind those who are “from below.”
John and perhaps the other disciples remembered these words later and knew that He was referring to His ascension to heaven. But at the time, they had only a dim understanding.
The Great Interim
At the Last Supper Jesus again spoke the same words, but this time He applied the words to His disciples as well. This was new, for earlier, they had assumed Jesus would take them with Him to wherever He was going. Their understanding of the divine plan was yet limited, not knowing that a Pentecostal Age lay ahead of them prior to their reunification in the Kingdom.
Jesus had prepared them for three years to stand firm in the Pentecostal Age, the age represented in type by King Saul, the Pentecostal. The disciples were to undergo persecution even as Saul had persecuted David. Saul indeed had a kingdom, but it was not the same as David’s kingdom. The disciples had assumed that Christ had come to reign on earth and that He would overcome all opposition from the religious leaders.
Apparently, they did not yet understand that they were seeing the replay of the story of Absalom when he overthrew David with the help of Ahithophel. If they had understood this, they might have realized that this dispute over the throne was not resolved until David returned later. Because Absalom actually succeeded for a season, it was clear that the chief priests too would seem to succeed for a season.
So there were two major types and shadows prophesying the divine plan. First, the story of Saul and his coronation on the day of “wheat harvest” (1 Samuel 12:17) set forth a lesser kingdom under the anointing of Pentecost, which was the day of the wheat offering that marked the day when the people could begin their harvest. The Pentecostal Age was thus an interim between the two comings of Christ, during which time Saul’s persecution of David prophesied the Church’s persecution of the overcomers.
Second, the story of Absalom prophesied the overthrow of Christ in a dispute over the throne. Jesus talked about that dispute in His parable in Luke 19:12-27, where we find the “citizens” hating Christ and appealing to God, saying, “We do not want this man to reign over us” (Luke 19:14). That appeal remained in legal limbo until Christ returned to claim the throne, proving that the citizens had lost their case. The final verdict is given in Luke 19:27,
27 But these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slay them in my presence.
In other words, the Jews who had hated Christ and had filed their appeal to God against Him were to be brought back to the scene of the crime (Jerusalem) for judgment. That is why the Zionist movement was necessary in the divine plan, though obviously, the Zionists were motivated by other causes.
Yet it is at this point in time that the two major types and shadows converge. It is the time of judgment for both Absalom and the “citizens” who hated Christ.
Meanwhile, during the Pentecostal Age, the disciples themselves were unable to ascend to heaven with Jesus. They were called to remain on earth, where they were to manifest the glory of God in a dark world. Jesus had shown them by seven major signs how to bring the glory of heaven to earth. The eighth sign would mark the time of their final commission to gather the overcomers (153 large fish) in the Kingdom net and to “feed My sheep” (John 21:16 KJV).
A New Old Commandment
John 13:34, 35 says,
34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.
Some have mistakenly taken this to mean that love was not commanded in the past—that is, in the law—and that this was something entirely new. They have used this to teach that the law was devoid of love and ought to be discarded in favor of “love.”
Many years later, as the leaven of the Pentecostal offering (Leviticus 23:17) began to grow, John found it necessary to counter such antinomian teaching by writing in 1 John 2:7-10,
7 Beloved, I am not writing a new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning; the old commandment is the word which you have heard. 8 On the other hand, I am writing a new commandment to you, which is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. 9 The one who says he is in the light and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now. 10 The one who loves his brother abides in the light and there is no cause for stumbling in him.
In other words, those who love are those who walk in the light. This is “an old commandment which you have had from the beginning,” John says. In fact, the two great commandments are to love God and your neighbor as yourself. Love is an old commandment found in the law (Deuteronomy 6:5; Leviticus 19:18).
The problem was that the religious leaders had perverted these commandments. Their traditions of men (incorrect understanding of the law) had misdirected their love for God Himself. By redefining one’s “neighbor” as being one’s fellow Jew, they had justified a certain callousness toward non-Jews. This, of course, was the whole point behind Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan.
The law was given by God Himself—the God of love. The law is an expression of His very nature, telling us how we are to love Him and our neighbors. Hence, love is not a new commandment but was revealed from the beginning. It was only “new” because the revelation of God’s love, as set forth in the law, had been misrepresented and its highest form had been lost. Jesus came to demonstrate the love of God as part of the glory that He was manifesting in the earth. It was the kind of love that Paul understood in Romans 5:8-10,
8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us…. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.
Jewish teaching did not think it necessary to love the Samaritans or the Roman “enemies.” In fact, they hated these people. Jesus, however, loved them and died for them. Hence, His new commandment was a renewal of the old commandment that had been lost in Jewish thinking. The problem was not the law of God but the mind of men.