Yesterday’s children’s sermon involved a little trickery on my part. I showed the children a large red tube of “toothpaste” that my husband had just brought back from Germany. I squeezed a dollop of this German mittlesharf senf onto a toothbrush and watched their surprise as they realized that it wasn’t toothpaste at all … it was mustard. We then talked about the fact that you can’t tell what it inside by looking at the outside of things.
Today’s scripture is a like that. Jesus pointed to the humiliation of the cross and called it “glory.” Notice that Jesus used some form of the word “glory” five times in the space of two brief sentences. We join Jesus and the disciples in the upper room just after Judas has left:
John 13 (Common English Bible)
31 When Judas was gone, Jesus said, “Now the Human One has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. 32 If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify the Human One in himself and will glorify him immediately.
As soon as Judas left, the process of glorification was set in motion. The arrest, the beatings, the sham trial, and the execution were now in motion and Jesus’ death was assured. Crucifixion on a crude cross was designed for the punishment, humiliation, and debasement of convicted criminals, yet Jesus saw this as his glorification. For Jesus, to be fully known and understood was to be glorified. Finally, the world would know why he had come and through his death on the cross, the world was saved. He took the ugliness of the cross and made it beautiful.
33 Little children, I’m with you for a little while longer. You will look for me—but, just as I told the Jewish leaders, I also tell you now—‘Where I’m going, you can’t come.’
Glory came with his resurrection. Glory was delivered in the form of eternal life for all who believe. Jesus entered into his glory and invites us to follow. But we have one important thing to do first: we must learn to love each other.
34 “I give you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, so you also must love each other. 35 This is how everyone will know that you are my disciples, when you love each other.”
The invitation to glory and the commandment to love one another is inextricably linked. What if that became the one and only requirement for entry to heaven? What if your eternal life was predicated on your demonstrable love for others? Would there be enough evidence to convict you to eternal life?
Where there is hate, let us sow love. It’s not too late. It’s never too late to follow Jesus into a glorified life of loving as he loved us. Let’s get to it.