Love and Glory
The 5th Sunday of Easter
Love and Glory
Text: John 13:31-35
I think that my life would be at peace and I would still manage somehow to die a happy man if I never heard or saw a Kardashian again. It’s unbelievable. Those Kardashians are everywhere! TV shows, commercials, magazines. That means they have infiltrated our homes, our grocery stores, our doctor and dentist waiting rooms. But if that’s not enough, you can even get a little more Kardashian in your life as Kim, Khloe, Kourtney, and Kylie all have their own official apps you can download on your phone or tablet.
As ridiculous (or annoying?) as the Kardashian craze may be, you have to hand it to their publicists. They are certainly good at what they do. They put that unique family out there for the whole world to see.
Now you have to ask, “Why would someone want to do that? Why harness the powers of all these media channels? Why put yourself out there in front of the world?” The Kardashians have an entire staff of PR specialists because they understand a fundamental concept innate to every single human being: If you gain glory, you gain love. This is how our entire world—and especially our American culture—is set up. If you have glory, you will have love.
No one talks about the musician that plugs away at practice on the piano or with the band in the garage. Our culture doesn’t care. But when your record goes double platinum and you win a couple grammies, now you have adoring fans who will fork over a fortune for tickets and gear and will faint just to see you as they scream, “I love you!” Whether it’s the Beatles or Bono, the Backstreet Boys, Beyonce, or Bieber, when you achieve glory you are loved.
No one lines up for autographs from the benchwarmer. You want the signature from the all-star or living legend. When Kobe Bryant played his last game 10 days ago the Lakers set a record selling in their stadium in one day over $1.2M of Kobe Bryant merchandise.
The same will be true this summer. No one in America talks about the average Joe or Jane athlete who work their tail off training. Even those that make it to the Olympics—they may get a little press, but you won’t be remembered if you take 8th overall in gymnastics. It’s the gold medal heroes who get our love and adoration.
Take any venue you want, and the same is true. Those who have the most delicious food have the best Yelp reviews and the most customers. The CEO’s and entrepreneurs with the most money write books we buy to ask for their “expert advice.” Even our entire democracy is driven achieving glory to gain love. If you are successful enough, the loving populous will vote for you. And then when you’re president, we’ll even measure how much people love you with your official approval rating.
You might be thinking, “You’re right! Our world and the media are out of control!” But don’t think we small, unheralded people are immune to such thinking. Remember, it is an innate human thought that if you gain glory, you gain love. So we get Facebook and Twitter accounts and share with the world what we have done or accomplished. We sit around with friends telling stories and always want to “one-up” them with something cooler or better or bigger that we have done or accomplished. And we write Christmas letters that amount to nothing more than two pages of family bragging. This way of thinking is so natural to humans that even children do it from the very beginning, “Mommy/Daddy, look what I did!” We all want glory and achievement because we all want to have love for what we have done.
It is the simplest of concepts so common to human beings, and yet it is a concept foreign to the way our God operates. It’s not God who is driving those thoughts. It’s our own pride, our own selfishness, our own discontent that desires more. In short, it’s my sinful nature that tells me if I can achieve some kind of glory I can win the love of others and even God. That’s how humans captive to sin think and act. But God actually thinks and acts in the opposite way.
Just look at and listen to Jesus in the gospel today. This is something completely different to the way we think. Verse 31: “When [Judas] was gone, Jesus said, ‘Now is the Son of Man glorified and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will glorify the Son in himself, and will glorify him at once.”
Jesus is talking about being glorified and giving glory to God. How was this going to happen? Was the Son of Man going to perform another dazzling miracle—calm another storm, feed another couple thousand, heal another hoard of the hurting? Was Jesus going to flex his divine muscles and force puny people to bow down to his glory as God? Was Jesus going to make sure he was on the front page of the Jerusalem Journal and that he had one million Israelite followers on Twitter so that the love and praise he had on Palm Sunday would be given him every single day? Was Jesus going to assert his glory in order to gain love?
Not at all. In fact, Jesus was going to do just the opposite. Jesus was going to show love, and that was going to bring him glory. Isn’t that amazing? For all the things that Jesus had accomplished and done from a worldly perspective—extraordinary miracles, thousands of followers, authority in preaching and teaching—these weren’t the things that would bring Jesus glory. Jesus said, “Now is the Son of man glorified.” Not all those other things, but what he was about to do would bring him glory.
You might guess what Jesus is talking about. I gave you the clue that it was Judas who had just left the room. The night was Maundy Thursday. Jesus had stooped down to wash his disciples’ feet. But what Jesus was about to do far surpassed that both in humility and in love.
Jesus was hours away from being beaten and betrayed, bruised and bloodied. He was hours away from being nailed to a cross. In Jewish and Roman culture, there was absolutely no glory in being a prisoner or being tortured or especially not in being crucified. That was considered by all to be a shameful curse.
But in those humble and shameful things Jesus was going to be glorified and he was going to glorify his Father in heaven because in suffering and dying Jesus was going to show love. He was going to show love that no person has ever known. He was going to offer himself as a substitute for all sinners of the world. For every person that selfishly and sinfully seeks glory, Jesus was going to set aside his glory to take away those sins. In his suffering and death Jesus was going to be selfless for the selfish, humble for the proud, loving toward the unloving. He offered himself to a death he didn’t deserve to spare us all from the death that we do deserve. That unfathomable love is what would bring him and his Father glory.
See how different Jesus is! See how perfect Jesus is! See what a wonderful Savior we have! Sinful humans seek out success and power and glory so that they might be loved by others. “Glory leads to love,” we think. But Jesus loved first, humbly and selflessly, and that is what led to glory. So he rightly said to his disciples in verse 33: “My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come.” The disciples couldn’t follow him to the cross and show equal love, nor could they quite yet receive the glories of heaven. Later, but not yet.
Jesus flips our thinking completely upside down about Love and Glory. And once he shows us his boundless love, then he flips our lives upside down, too. With a clean slate of forgiveness, Jesus doesn’t want us to live according to our old life of sin that chases glory. Jesus wants us to live a new life of love. So he said, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”
This is a new command for us. God had given his people an old covenant with Moses with all kinds of commands. A few weeks ago I told you that many say there were 601 commands in the laws of Moses. They had all kinds of laws about all kinds of things. But the people couldn’t achieve the glory of God and life in heaven because they couldn’t keep his commands perfectly. Neither could we. So Jesus told his disciples that he was giving them a new covenant, a covenant in his blood that was for them for the forgiveness of sins. You’re about to receive that covenant today, too. And telling them that he had a new covenant, he told them that he had a new command. It’s a simple one. Love one another.
Jesus’ command is that we do exactly what he did. Rather than chasing glory to gain the love of others like a celebrity in the news, following in Jesus’ footsteps we show love to others first. We humble ourselves. We show self-sacrificing love. We put others first. We go above and beyond. We forgive. In other words, we love because and just like he first loved us.
That kind of life is so radical, so peculiar to the rest of the world that it will make us completely stand out to the rest of the world. Jesus foretold this. In the last verse he said, “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
So while other are bragging about their accomplishments and their adventures or their child’s awards and accolades, rather than rolling your eyes or trying to one up with your own stories, you will simply listen with a smile, with interest, and with care for what matters to that person. And when everyone is rushing to be first—first in the car rider line, first for grocery checkout, first to get out the door—you simply step aside and humbly let them go first knowing that though it’s important them it really isn’t that big of a deal. And when your boss totally trashes you in front of others and mistreats you nearly every day, you still speak of him respectfully and defend him to the others badmouthing him at lunch. And at that same lunch break when others are putting the smackdown on our president, even though you might agree with things they are saying, you will temper your conversation with respect and honor for the person God has allowed to lead us in a position you really don’t understand.
And when people are hurting you’ll express concern and offer a hug. When people feel guilty and depressed your words will be filled with the good news of the gospel in Scripture. The way you greet people in the morning and close your Emails and interact with your waitress—it will all have words and tone and attitude oozing with kindness and godliness.
And when you do these things, people will look at you like your an alien. “What’s wrong with this person?” they’ll think. But there will only be one possible conclusion they could come to: You don’t act like a Kardashian, you aren’t glory-hounding, you aren’t proud, you aren’t selfish, you are patient, you are kind, you are forgiving because you must be a Christian. Jesus said, “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
What a world we live in! It’s a dog-eat-dog world where people race for the spotlight and chase after glory. The people of this world will take glory any way they can get it by any means necessary. The thought is that if they possibly can gain glory from people, they will also be loved by people.
But Jesus teaches us something radically different and completely opposite. He teaches us with his own life and death that love comes first. Christ humbled himself even to death on a cross for our sins, and because of his great love he glorified God even as God glorified him.
As was true for Christ, so is true for us the Christians. We love because he first loved us. When we act completely different than the rest of the world, when we humble ourselves and show self-sacrificing love that gives God the greatest glory and everyone will know that we are his disciples. And even more, when you follow Christ in faith and love, by his boundless grace God will then glorify you by allowing you to share in glory everlasting.
Lord, fill our hearts with love, as Christ first loved us.
Posted on April 28, 2016, in Church, Sermons and tagged Church, Glorified, Glory, John, John 13, Kardashian, Kim Kardashian, Kobe Bryant, Love, Olympics, Sermons, Son of Man. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.