"So when he [Judas] had gone out, Jesus said, 'Now the Son of Man is glorified, and God is glorified in Him. If God is glorified in Him, God will also glorify Him in Himself, and glorify Him immediately. Little children, I shall be with you a little while longer. You will seek Me; and as I said to the Jews, 'Where I am going, you cannot come,' so now I say to you. A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another'" (John 13:31-35).
What did Jesus mean when He said - "Now the Son of Man is glorified, and God is glorified in Him"? He was most certainly talking about His crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension. Earlier that evening Jesus had expressed His disapproval of the arrogant dispute among the apostles as to whom was the greatest (cf. Luke 22:24ff). Jesus had also rebuked their pride as He, their Lord, humbly washed their feet. In general, men with worldly ambitions find glory in being haughty. Jesus, however, found His glory in fulfilling the Father's will. He loved, served, and gave Himself as a sacrifice, and He did it all to the glory of God. Furthermore, God would glorify Him "immediately" by resurrecting Jesus from the grave on the third day (cf. Rom. 1:4).
The phrase, "little children," was used by Jesus to express the affection He felt (and feels) for His disciples. Without Him, they would be like children without the guidance of their father. Jesus desired to prepare them for the separation that was soon to come.
"I shall be with you a little while longer. You will seek Me; and as I said to the Jews, 'Where I am going, you cannot come,' so now I say to you" - Although Jesus had said similar things to the Jews previously (cf. 7:33,34; 8:21-24), the reasoning behind the statement is much different here. The reason why the Jews (in general) would not be able to go where Jesus was going (i.e., heaven) was because of their lack of faith in Him as the Messiah. The reason why His disciples would not be able to go where He was going was because there was a great deal of work that remained for them to do on Earth first. Ultimately, however, all faithful followers of Jesus will eventually go where He went (cf. 13:36; 14:3).
"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another" - The command to "love" is not new in and of itself, being found even in the Old Testament (cf. Lev. 19:18). However, the scope of the love commanded here is indeed new. It was no longer enough to simply love others as one loves himself. Now Jesus challenges (and commands in John 15:12) His disciples to love others with the same sort of humble, sacrificial love that He was in the process of manifesting (cf. I John 2:7-11; 3:16-18; 4:7-21).
"By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another" - Sadly, many of those claiming to be the Lord's disciples today are known by their divisiveness and not by love. Pure hearts flowing with love ought to be the identifying mark of all Christians. One who does not love is not a genuine disciple.
Historians of the early church have often directed attention to the fact that the love of the early Christians was unparalleled among the heathens. A quote from Tertullian illustrates this truth well: "The heathen are wont to exclaim with wonder, 'See how these Christians love one another!' for they [the heathen] hate one another; 'and how they [Christians] are ready to die for one another'!' for they [the heathen] are more ready to kill one another."
Friends, do you love one another as Jesus loves you? We will continue studying this narrative in our next lesson.