The Fifth Sunday of Easter: Year C

LoveOneAnotherLove One Another

  • Acts of the Apostles 11:1-18
  • Psalm 148
  • The Revelation to John 21:1-6
  • John 13:31-35

Jesus repeatedly speaks of being glorified. At the time, the disciples assumed he was using the term in the traditional sense, that he would be lifted up in esteem and praise and that his lordship over all would be widely recognized. They also assume that, as his faithful followers, they would be privileged to accompany him on this journey of glory. The benefits of Christ’s sacrifice of love extend to all people, as Jesus commands us to glorify God through our mutual love.

In fact, Jesus speaks of being glorified by lifted up on the cross (John 12:32). The glory would be in his act of worshipful obedience to the Father. Thus God would be glorified – the Father’s lordship would be recognized by the Son.

Today’s gospel is set immediately after Judas has departed from the Last Supper, with Jesus’ “farewell discourse.” Jesus addresses three issues – and the disciples will have to resolve all three in order to survive after the crucifixion and continue Jesus’ mission. Given their assumption about traveling some kind of glory road with Jesus, the disciples are quite confused by his statement that they are soon to be separated (13:33). Peter, always the first to speak, insists that he is ready to lay down his life for Jesus. Only later would Peter understand that Jesus was about to lay down his life for Peter and for the world.

The disciples must (1) recognize the vindication of Jesus’ total ministry; (2) come to think of Jesus as living forever in the presence of the Father; and (3) maintain unity among themselves despite all that is to come.

The glue that will hold his disciples together after his departure is his new commandment to love one another, “just as I have loved you.” The commandment itself dates from the earliest gift of the Law (Leviticus 19:18), but Jesus gives it a new supremacy in the lives of his followers. Now the followers of God are not to be characterized by their adherence to a set of rules and rituals, but by their loyalty to and service of one another.

In the Acts passage of Peter’s dream, we see an example of how far this love is to extend. The implications of this dream would mark a major shift in the early development of the Christian community. Peter reveals a transformation of his own understanding of the teachings of Jesus that God’s gift of salvation is offered for all.

Lastly, today’s passage from Revelation expands this inclusive vision of God’s Kingdom. In this world, there will be no more death, grief, crying, or pain. God is present to “wipe every tear from their eyes”, for in this new community the barriers between God and humanity have been eliminated.

In our world today, these words are sorely needed.

For reflection:

  • In what ways was God glorified by Jesus’ obedience? How did the disciples later follow him in that glorification? How do we glorify God today in our home? in our church? in our work place? in our vocabulary?
  • In speaking of loving one another, Jesus was not just speaking of a feeling, but of a choice of the heart. What does it mean to love our friends? people whom we have never met? our enemies?
  • Why does Jesus call the commandment to love one another a new commandment?
  • What is the nature of Christ’s love for us? What does it really mean for us to love others as Christ loves us?
  • Compare Peter and Judas. In what ways were they similar? dissimilar? What clues does John give us about the ultimate outcome of these two denials?
  • At the 2009 General Convention of The Episcopal Church, The Charter for Lifelong Christian Formation was adopted. It is built around John 13:34-35: “Just as I have loved you, love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” How does this document, and our understanding of the importance of lifelong learning support this passage from John?
  • How does the Church live out the truth that God’s love is for all people? How are you personally challenged by these words?

About Sharon Ely Pearson

Editor and Christian Formation Specialist for Church Publishing Incorporated
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