Perhaps the most accessible image of this is money. If I receive 100 million dollars from a dying relative I can tap into those funds and start living differently. My bills that now seem overwhelming, can be paid off the mere interest of my funds, and I can start enjoying things I thought I could never afford in the past. In other words, a legacy can utterly change the way I live, and open new possibilities.
It is in this sense that we explore today’s Gospel wherein our Lord sets forth for us a new power, the power of Love wherein we are able to live differently, if we will tap into it and draw from its riches. There is a kind of legacy, a deposit of riches form which we can draw, if we will but lay hold of it.
Lets look at this gospel in three stages and discover what the Lord has do for us and left us, by way of a legacy.
I. Provision and Pivot of the Passion – the text says: When Judas had left them, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and God will glorify him at once.
Note how the text speaks in the present, the Son of Man IS glorified. The aorist tense of the verb indicates something that has begun and is underway. Judas’ going forth has started a process that is now underway and will, by God’s grace, result in liberation and glorification for Jesus and for us. The Lord Jesus is no mere victim. Everything is unfolding exactly as foretold. The Son of Man will suffer, but in the end will be glorified.
And this glory will make available for us a whole new life.
Now this leads us to a question: WHAT HAPPENED WHEN THE SON OF GOD DIED AND ROSE FOR ME? Here we do not pose the mere catechism answer. But more deeply: What difference does the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ make for you today? Is it just an ancient historical event that is meaningful only because others say so? Or have you grasped and begun to lay hold of what Jesus has done for you??
Scripture says of this event that his death, is glorification and new life for us: We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the sinful body might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin…We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might have a whole new life. (Rom 6:4-7)
In other words, the Son of Man, Jesus, is glorified in his passion and is destroying the power of sin and death by his cross and resurrection. And each of us need to spend our lives pondering what happened when the Son of God died for me. What we ponder is not some mere historical even. It is that, but is is far more. And to the degree that we will lay hold of this saving work, we will come to see and experience the power of the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ to put sin to death and to bring new life forth in Christ.
Of this I am a witness for I have seen the power of the cross and known its power to quell sinful fears, worldly lusts, and endless preoccupations. On account of what Jesus endures for us, for me, Jesus ascends on high not to leave us, but to open the way for us to a greater and fuller life. It is a life wherein we see sin put to death and many graces and charisms come alive, charisms of confidence, joy, hope and an increasing;y victorious life. It is for us to grasp this saving work and to the new life it offers us by the power of the Cross of Christ and him crucified.
This is the moment of glory, the pivotal point of all things. This the glory and the premise of a new life. Because of what Jesus does at this moment, his glory and ours is ushered in, it is all premised on this.
II. The Power and Produce of the Passion – The text says, I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. –
When we hear the phrase “Love one another as I have loved you.” we can fall into the trap of thinking: “Uh Oh! I have to do more! I have to try harder. Since he loved me now I, out of my own flesh power, have to love others. But such thing is NOT the gospel. The phrase is not about rules, it’s about relationship. Jesus is not just saddling us with more responsibilities. He is equipping. empowering and enabling us to love with the same love by which He has loved us.
The point here is to let Jesus love you, to experience his love. And with this love, experienced and embraced, now be empowered to love others.
The Lord does not just say, “Love.” Rather he says, receive love and then love with the love that you have received. Scripture says,
– We love, because he first loved us. (1 John 4:19)
– As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love! If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. (John 15:9)
In other words, we have the power to keep his commandments and to love others to the degree that we receive and abide, that is remain, in his Love. We love with his love, not merely our own love.
Do not miss this point! Do you see it?! This is the gospel: That by the power of his love and grace we are empowered to love and keep his commandments and to see our lives changed. The gospel is not a moralism that says, “Keep a bunch of rules.” The Gospel is that God has sent his Son who died for you and rose to give you a wholly new and transformed life, a life that keeps the commands and loves others out the power of God’s own love received and experienced.
III. The Proof Positive of the Passion. The text says, This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.
We have reflected many times before on this blog that the usual Greek word for “know” is richer than our modern notion of “intellectual knowing.” The Greek word for merely knowing something intellectually is oida. But the Greek verb used here is γινώσκω (ginosko) which refers to experiential knowing, to knowing in a deeper, personal and experiential way.
Thus, the point is that others will notice the legacy of Love living us in a very real and experiential way. The Faith, Hope and Love that we proclaim will not, cannot, be a mere intellectualism, it is to be something that others can see and experience at work within us in an evidential way.
Hence, the proof, the evidence or picture of God’s love is not some vague feeling, or a mere intellectual attribute in us. It is a powerful and dynamic force that equips, empowers and enables us to love. The Lord says here that his love is something that changes us in a way that others will notice. It changes our relationships in a palpable, tangible and noticeable way. We notice and experience it power and so do others.
Yes, we will love even our enemies. And we will do this not out of our own flesh power or because “have to” but because we want to and have received a new heart from the Lord and the power to love.
And note this too. The love we have will not be some cheesy or merely sentimental love. It will be a true love, a love rooted in truth. It will be a love like Jesus has, a love that does not compromise the truth or water down its demands. It will be a love that speaks the truth but does so not to win an argument, but to summon the other to fulfillment and flourishing. This is what Jesus did. He loved, but he loved in truth and integrity. Nothing would compromise his love for his Father and the glorious vision and plan of the Father for all his children to abide in truth and holiness.
And thus for us, the proof positive that the legacy of love is at work within us is, first of all, our own transformed lives, that people can see. Secondly, it is the love that others can and do experience from us. Granted, this love will sometimes challenge and irritate some, as it did with Jesus love for the world. But it is a love that is difficult to deny, an integrity that is hard to impugn, a love that is even disconcerting, but one that is real, palpable and obvious.
Here then is the legacy of love. It is a treasure, an inheritance that the Lord Jesus has left us to draw from. This love is not our work, it is not our wealth, not our power. It is all his. He has left it fro us to draw on. Will you? Will I? Or will we make excuses about how we are not able to do the things to which he has summoned us? But, don’t you get it? It is not our power, not our love, it is his, and he has left this legacy, this inheritance for us to draw on.
Lay hold of this power, this love and let it transform your life. Let it turn you into proof positive of the power of the Cross to transform lives and bestow new life.
This song says, (enjoy the brass arrangements of this version!)
Souls in danger look above, Jesus completely saves,
He will lift you by His love, out of the angry waves.
He’s the Master of the sea, billows His will obey,
He your Savior wants to be, be saved today.
Love lifted me! Love lifted me!
When nothing else could help
Love lifted me!