When a film director wants the audience to focus on the magnitude of what’s happening in a scene, they will often bring the shot in close and slow everything down. That’s kind of what John is doing for us in chapters 13-17.
Jesus is in the upper room with His disciples just hours before His crucifixion. John wants us to focus on the magnitude of what’s happening, and to see everything. By doing so, we’re able to reflect on three astonishing realities:
- Jesus’ Full Awareness: In this account, it’s easy to notice just how fully aware and in command Jesus appears. He knew He was going to be betrayed and crucified; He sees the pain that’s coming and faces it head-on. This is astonishing courage. Have you ever stopped to think that Jesus really knows how painful and broken this world really is?
- Jesus’ Family Resemblance: At the very heart of this passage is Jesus’ commandment to the disciples to love one another. There’s nothing new about this command … but what is new is how Jesus defines it: “just as I have loved you.” This models the love we are to have as selfless, sacrificial service. Jesus serves His disciples in love; the disciples are to serve one another in love; and this example cascades down to all people. It is also reflective of Trinitarian love: the Son serves the Father in love, the Father serves the Son in love, and in doing so they glorify one another. This loving service that Jesus commands of His disciples shows the “family resemblance” in how the Father and Son love one another. Loving, selfless service flows from the heart of God through Jesus into His children so that all people everywhere might know that we belong to the Family of God. Even knowing our weakness, Jesus commands us what He then works in us. Jesus is loving us into loveliness.
- Jesus’ Faithful Pursuit: Isn’t it astonishing how Jesus pursues His disciples faithfully in love? Even though many of them flee, deny, and betray Him, there’s not a hint of anger or distance on Jesus’ part. Instead, He draws close to them, washes their feet, shares a meal, opens His heart. Jesus relentlessly pursues those who betray Him. Even when we fail, Jesus will never give up on us.