Sermons

Summary: The darkness in this world spreads, but the light of Christ shines. And it illumines us and radiates through us to the world.

I want to draw your attention again to the beginning of this passage, where it say, “When he had gone out…” (John 13:31). Who is John talking about here? Who is it that has just “gone out”? It’s Judas, isn’t it? If you rewind a few verses in this thirteenth chapter of John, you see that Jesus is at table with His disciples. It is the last night before His crucifixion, and He says to the group, He says, “One of you will betray me” (v. 21). The disciples look at each other, not sure what to make of Jesus' words, but Peter wants to know who it is that Jesus is talking about. So, he motions to John, who’s sitting next to Jesus, to ask Him. And so John does. He asks, “Lord, who is it?” And Jesus tells him. “It’s the one,” he says, “to whom I will give this morsel of bread when I have dipped it.” And sure enough, our Lord gives it to Judas. And then He tells Judas, “What you are going to do, do quickly” (v. 27). And Judas leaves the room.

Now, what John says at this point is very interesting. It’s in verse 30. Check it out. It’s the verse right before the passage we just read. John says about Judas that “he immediately went out.” And then what does he say? He says, “And it was night.”

Now, what do you make of that? Is John doing nothing more than giving us a time reference? Is he simply telling what hour of the day it was? Or, is he doing something more than that? I think it’s something more. I think he’s telling us something about the state of Judas’ heart. In fact, I think he’s telling us something about the state of the world! The whole world is shrouded in darkness. “It was night,” John says. And it still is.

And that makes it all the more puzzling when we hear what Jesus says after Judas leaves. Look at the last part of verse 31. “Now,” he says, “now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him.” By the Son of Man he means himself, of course. He’s saying, Now I am glorified—and, remember, He knows exactly what Judas is going to do. He’s going to betray Him. He’s going to strike a deal with the authorities to expose Jesus and finger him. He’s going to give our Lord over to His enemies, who want to rip Him to shreds. And Jesus says, “Now is the Son of Man glorified”? This doesn’t sound like a recipe for glory. Not to me. Does it to you?

What is about to happen to Jesus hardly seems to us—if we take the world’s point of view—to be ‘glory.’ Jesus is about to be betrayed and, as a result, arrested and, as a result of that, subjected to one bogus trial after another and then, of course, be flogged, mocked, spit upon, and ultimately crucified. Where is the glory in that? It seems to us more like disgrace, dishonor, and humiliation.

And, of course, it is! In the eyes of man. But in God’s eyes it is altogether something different, something noble, something precious, for Jesus’ suffering will be an act of obedience to God and a gesture that will have eternal benefit for God’s people. It will be glorious!

I never really thought about the meaning of the word glory until some years ago when I heard Manford Gutzke explain it. Dr. Gutzke was a professor at Columbia Seminary in Georgia, and he had a radio program in which he taught the Bible. On one occasion he addressed the meaning of the word glory. He said the glory of anything is the manifestation of its true nature. I think that’s a helpful definition, so let me repeat it. The glory of anything, Dr. Gutzke said, is the manifestation of its true nature. To illustrate, he explained that the glory of the apple tree is the apple in the barrel. I took it a step further and thought to myself, The glory of the apple tree is the sweet taste of the apple on the tongue. You want to know what the true nature of the apple tree is? Eat an apple.

So then, when Jesus says—after Judas has departed to betray Him, mind you—“Now is the Son of Man glorified,” what does He mean? He means just this: ‘Now that events have been set in motion to lead to the gory, grotesque, hideous outcome of the cross, My true nature is revealed.’

What happens, then, if we read verse 31, and the next verse, and substitute for the word “glorified” Gutzke’s definition, or words like it? If we do that, what we have is this: “Now is the true nature of the Son of Man revealed, and God’s true nature is revealed in Him. If God’s true nature is revealed in Him, God will also reveal His true nature in Himself, and reveal His true nature at once.”

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