I.) The Purpose Of Christ’s Humiliation — God’s Glory
A.) The connection between the betrayal and the glorification (now)
Judas has just left to do his Judas-work. Christ knows what is before him. The purpose of the 1st advent of Christ is steamrolling forward. With Judas departure the sense of inevitability grows.
It is interesting that the greatest work ever accomplished was preceded by the vilest deed ever committed.
Perhaps this should remind us that all things work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose. We struggle with the problem of evil … and rightly so. But here in this betrayal we are staring monumental evil straight on and yet God is using that evil to accomplish the Salvation of the world. That does not negate the evil of the betrayal but it does suggest to us that when evil comes into our lives that we can trust God, no doubt with great difficulty, to turn whatever adversity He sends us in this sad world to our good and His glory.
Judas’ betrayal does not overcome God’s intent and control.
B.) The connection between humiliation and glorification
1.) It is interesting that at this point where Jesus is about to enter into His deepest humiliation He speaks instead of His glorification. We make necessary distinctions between the humiliation of Christ and His Glorification but as glorification could not be arrived at apart from going through humiliation it is reasonable to speak of one’s humiliation as being intimately connected to one’s glorification. As such, even though we may think of the humiliation and the glorification of the Lord Christ as being opposite it really is the case that there is a fitting dialectic between the two that brings them into harmony. If one cannot be glorified without being humiliated then their humiliation is their glorification.
2.) But there is another way to think about this humiliation / glorification as well.
The Lord Christ elsewhere in John speaks of glorification in relation to His own Death
cmp. vs. 23 And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of man to be glorified. 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25 He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 If any one serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there shall my servant be also; if any one serves me, the Father will honor him. 27 “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, for this purpose I have come to this hour. 28 Father, glorify thy name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.”
a.) The “Humble Glory” of the Son (Origen)
In both John 12 and John 13 there is an intimate connection made between the Humiliation of Christ and His Glorification. How is this so, we might ask.
The Son of Man is Glorified in His humiliation because the purpose of the Son of Man’s coming was to seek and save that which was lost. In the Cross that seeking and saving comes to its penultimate fulfillment. Christ is glorified in His humiliation because in His humiliation He accomplishes the seeking and saving of His people.
The Son of man is Glorified in His Humiliation because the Son of Man was the lamb of God who taketh away the sins of the world. In His humiliation the Son of man is Glorified because in His Cross death the Son of Man began fulfilling His purpose as the spotless lamb of God who takes away sins. His humiliation is thus His glorification.
The Son of Man’s purpose, by His own words, was to come to this hour of humiliation. By His dying Humiliation he brings many sons and daughters to Salvation and so is Glorified.
So … there is no contradiction here for the Lord Christ to tie his humiliation to His glorification, for if they are understood in their proper connectedness they can be spoken of as much the same.
Of course all this speaks the Gospel. All this speaks of the reality that we, as those justly under the intense disfavor of God, could only be saved quite apart from our contribution to our cause. The Son of Man undergoes all this saving work are our representative head and in His standing in for us and as our substitute He does all the saving. The Son is glorified in this, His humiliation work, and when we deny that the Son alone saves we attempt to steal from His glory in an attempt to secure some of that glory for ourselves.
b.) The Glorification of the Father by the Son
Well, we might ask how it is that the Father is glorified in the Son.
First, we might offer that the Father is glorified in the Son in as much as the Son of Man did not seek His own will but the will of the Father who sent Him. Jesus came to do the will of the Father who sent Him, and so when the Father’s will is done in the connection with the Lord Christ’s obedience the Father is glorified. The Father is glorified in Christ because the Lord Christ always did those things that pleased the Father.
Second we would offer that the Father is glorified in the Son of Man because in the work of the Son of Man God’s name is cleared of any possible impugning. God had, in times past, overlooked men’s sins. A charge of injustice might conceivably be brought against the Father. He had not brought the full death upon mankind that mankind deserved. But now God is glorified in the self surrender of the Son of Man to a death that bore the full expression of the First person of the Trinity’s justice upon the Incarnate second person of the Trinity so that God’s just wrath upon sinful man might be justly spent. God is glorified in the Son because in the Son and His work, the Father’s name and reputation are cleared of any possible charge. According to the Father’s will the Son of Man, in His life, fulfilled all that was required in God’s law and and in His death withstood all the penalty that the law required against Sin. In the accomplishing of that the Father was glorified.
And allow me to add a slight wrinkle here,
Just as the Father’s name can no longer be impugned so the Son of Man’s name, having so accomplished redemption, will not be able to be impugned when the Son of Man finally crushes the opposition. Because of His finished work he has been commanding through His servants for men to be reconciled to God. He, through His servants, has been commanding all men everywhere to repent and if they refuse to reconcile … if they refuse to repent there will be no shadow cast upon His character when He finally thoroughly crushes His enemies, but only the Praise of His Saints.
c.) The Glorification of the Son by the Father
Well, might we ask how it is that the Son is glorified by the Father.
A hint of that answer is found in John 17:5
5 And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.
Clearly Christ is looking past the humiliation to His resurrection and ascension. The Father will glorify the Son by the resurrection and ascension thus putting the Father’s seal of approval upon the Son’s work and so vindicating Him. The fact that Jesus speaks in the future tense (“will glorify”) is suggestive that the Son is looking beyond the Cross to the Throne.
By the use of the word “immediately” in vs. 32 we know that the glory that Jesus anticipates will come swiftly upon His humiliation.
Just a point of application here,
Just as it was for the Lord Christ that humiliation preceded glorification so it is with His people. Indeed the Lord Christ can say in this same upper room discourse,
John 15:18 “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.
And in his Epistle St. John 3:13 can write,
“Do not marvel brothers if the World hates you.”
29 For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake,
17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.
II Timothy 3:12
12 Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.
So, we must not shy away from this kind of reality nor trim our sails so as to avoid this. We must speak up for Christ and as Christ despised the cross, enduring the shame, so must we on a much much smaller scale do the same for we know that this light and momentary affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison.
3.) Significance of Son of Man statement
This is Jesus favorite self designation occurring over 80 times in the Gospels. It is only on the lips of anyone else twice (Stephen upon his Martyrdom [A. 8:56] and the inquirers probing into the meaning of Jesus usage of the term [John 12:34].) The fact that it is almost completely unique to Jesus combined with the fact that others have to inquire as to its meaning suggest that it was a fairly unknown title for the Messiah. In the usage of this title the Messiahship of Jesus could be cloaked against the wrong expectations of Messiah as developed by the low information and misguided Jew. So, in its being unknown Jesus can fill it with the meaning that He desires to fill it with and so seek to correct wrong concepts about the Messiah.
In the way that the Lord Christ uses the term we discover that it is a reference for both the “heavenly Son of man who comes in glory,” and “the Son of Man who suffers to bring salvation.” So, even in the term “Son of Man” we see a combination of humiliation and glorification that we spoke of earlier.
Leon Morris offers,
“The term ‘Son of Man,’ then points us to Christ’s conception of Himself as of heavenly origin and as possessor of heavenly glory. At one and the same time it points us to His lowliness and His sufferings for men. The two are the same.”
In 13:31 we see the two themes brought together.
Between Christ’s statement regarding glorification and His Precept to Love one another Jesus speaks a few words regarding the immediate future of the disciples.
We want to note especially the tenderness with which Jesus addresses the disciples.
This is a common phrase that John uses in his 1st epistle. It is a term of endearment and reminds us of Jesus love for His people. One could surely excuse the Lord Christ for being more preoccupied with what is before Him then what is before His disciples and yet His mind is upon them and He prepares them for what lies immediately ahead.
III.) The Precept Upon Christ’s Humiliation — Love One Another as I have loved you
A.) Consistent w/ the OT?
The commandment of the OT (Lev.19:18, Prov. 20:22, 24:29) is tweaked.
Whereas the commandment of the OT is for us to love our neighbor as ourselves the commandment from Jesus is that we love one another as he has loved us.
Of course Jesus is demonstrating this love before them (cmp. 13:1) and will continue to do so.
Jesus revealed His love to them by looking not after His own needs but also the needs of other. The love that Jesus has for the disciples is a self sacrificing love. That is the way we as God’s people are to love one another. The standard for loving someone else is no longer “how would I love myself,” the standard for our loving one another is “How did Jesus love us.”
And Jesus loved us by fulfilling all that God’s law required of us. So, our sacrificial love, one for another, must also be consistent with God’s revelatory Law. We do not love sacrificially one another, if we are loving one another in ways that are defiant of God’s revelation of Himself in His law. We do not love the brethren if we encourage them in their sin. We do not love the brethren if we ignore how they know Jesus in a strange way. We do not love the brethren by letting them go on in harm’s way when we know that the way they are going is harmful. We do not love the brethren by protecting ourselves from their wrath by not warning them against some danger we see them headed towards.
Note that we can only have this love one for another as we all have love for Christ. Our mutuality of love for one another extends out of our love for Christ, which itself extends out of an understanding of His love for us. Herein is love, not that we first love him, but that he first loved us and gave Himself as a propitiation for our sins.
So, ultimately the way to grow in love for the Brethren is by plumbing the depth of the Triune Godhead’s love for His people.
B.) The Evangelistic Effect of Love
Tertullian — he one of the ECF — contrasted Christian love with pagan idea.
“But it is mainly the deeds of a love o noble that lead many to put a brand upon us. ‘See’ they say, ‘how they love one another,’ for they themselves (the pagans) are animated by mutual hatred; ‘see how they are ready even to die for one another,’ for they themselves (the pagans) will rather put to death.” (Apology XXXIX)
Our love in the community of faith for one another is to be the kind of thing that causes people who only have competition and temporary alliances w/ other people, to want what is found in the confines of the Church community. In the words of Dr. Fancis Schaeffer, “Love is the final apologetic.”
But again … not some syrupy sentimental love that is defined by the world but the love of Scripture that has sinews and tendons all about it. The love that is measured and defined. Not the love that is whatever makes us feel good.
This passage is a beautiful passage for the Church but we run the danger of shrinking it because of how the word love is so abused and ill defined today.