STUDY | Spend the week studying John 13:31-38. Consult the commentary provided and any additional study tools to enhance your preparation.
DETERMINE | Which discussion points and study questions will work best for your group.
PRAY | Pray for our pastors and this week’s message, the upcoming group time, your group members, and their openness to God’s Word.
LANDING POINT | God is glorified by me when I love like Jesus.
Remember the 4 Rules for Small Group Discussion
- Confidentiality. What’s said in the group stays in the group.
- No cross-talk. Be considerate of others as they share. Refrain from side conversations and texting during group time.
- No fixing. We are not in the group to fix each other. Jesus does that part.
- Sharing. Be sensitive to the amount of time you share. Don’t talk too much or too little. Every person brings something valuable to the group.
As your group time begins, use this section to introduce the topic of discussion.
Love is a powerful word. It’s something that compels us to do extraordinary things. Love leads a mother to spend her time changing diapers, attending recitals and sporting events and guiding her children into adulthood. Love leads a friend speak truth into the life of another, whether it’s a word of encouragement or concern. Love leads a husband to address a conversation with his wife about the widening gap he feels in their relationship.
The Bible tells us that God is love. And in Jesus, we see love on full display and in human flesh. He loved like no other and He calls us to love in an extraordinary way. When we love like Jesus, we glorify God and draw others to Him. This week your group will discuss the next powerful word Jesus spoke to His disciples—love—and how He gives us a model to follow.
Q: Where do you see love in your favorite stories from movies, books or TV?
Q: Describe a time when love for someone led you to do an extraordinary thing.
Select 2-3 questions to discuss as a group.
GLORY IN DEATH
After Jesus washes His disciples’ feet and calls them to serve like Him, He changes the subject to the glory of God. At first, this seems like an abrupt shift in the conversation. But Jesus is pointing His disciples to what awaits Him. He’s showing them how He will serve them in love. Jesus says, “Now is the time for me to be glorified. I glorified God the Father with my life, and now He will glorify me. I’ve fulfilled the Father’s plan for me, and now I must obey Him, even if it means my death. This is what I must do, and only I can do it.”
Jesus is speaking about His coming death. He will be glorified in it because He has obeyed the Father. His love is compelling Him to go to the cross as part of God’s plan because that’s the only way to redeem lost sinners. But the disciples in the story are confused. Peter asks Jesus, “Why can’t we follow? I’d die for you!” Then Jesus looks at Peter, knowing he doesn’t understand, and says, “Would you? Peter, tonight you’ll deny me three times.”
Read: John 13:31–38. How did Jesus’ obedience bring glory to God? How does it bring glory to God in your life?
Q: Name one place where God is calling you to be obedient and take a step forward.
KNOWN BY HIS LOVE
Jesus then takes another opportunity to teach His disciples. He tells them, “See the way that I have loved you. Remember that and love others in the same way. If you love one another like I have loved you, then people will know you’re really my disciples.” In love, Jesus is willing to sacrifice and lay down His life for others. It’s the ultimate expression of love—Jesus taking upon Himself the sin of the world and paying the penalty for sin, so that He might bring us back into a relationship with God. It’s this kind of self-giving love that Jesus commands His disciples to give with their lives.
Q: What words would you associate with the way Jesus loved others?
Q: What impression does it give others when they don’t see love among believers?
Select 2-3 questions from this section to answer.
LOVE IN ANY CIRCUMSTANCE
Loving others like Jesus begins with seeing how He loves you. Jesus loves you despite your flaws, doubts or questions. The disciples were troubled on that night. The man they had left everything for was about to leave them. Their—and your—comfort in troubled times is love. The disciples were also a prideful bunch. They could be selfish and often argued about who was the greatest. This could have led to self-promotion and division. Jesus responded by telling them the answer for pride is love. Finally, Jesus knew the disciples were far from perfect. They had failed before and would fail in the future. But Jesus showed them that the way to respond to failure is love.
Q: How does pride prevent us from loving others?
Q: What difference does it make to know Jesus loves you, even when you fail?
HOW JESUS LOVES
The foundation of God’s law in the Old Testament was always love for God and others. But Jesus gives His disciples a fresh look on an old command. He shows them that His love is new and radical in many ways.
Jesus’ love is:
• Sacrificial. Jesus willingly gave His life for the sake of others. Loving someone is costly, and Jesus was willing to pay the cost. Your love costs you something. It may cost you convenience, time, energy or resources.
• Unconditional. Jesus never gave up on Peter. Even though He knew Peter would deny Him, that didn’t stop Jesus from loving him. Nothing will stop Jesus from loving you with His perfect love. Your love for others may ebb and flow. But Jesus’ love doesn’t rise and fall because of your performance.
• Selfless. Jesus was thinking of others. He wasn’t concerned about what others could do for Him. Love makes us think of others first. It isn’t self-serving.
• Tangible. Jesus did more than simply tell His disciples He loved them. He showed them how much He loved them. Love leads you to take action, to do something to express your love.
Q: What motivates you to love someone, regardless of the cost?
Q: What’s the difference between conditional and unconditional love?
Select 1 question from this section to ask your group.
Jesus could not have been clearer on this point—when you love like He loves, you will draw others to Him. People will see something different in you. People may not like you. They may even hate you. They might disagree with your beliefs. They might not make any room for God in their lives. But, if they see Jesus’ love in your words and deeds, then that can change hearts. If they see the power of Jesus’ love working in the lives of His followers, then they will be challenged to think differently about Jesus and His extraordinary love.
Q: Where would you like to see more of Jesus’ love in your life?
Q: What’s a practical way you can love someone like Jesus this week?
Pray for a heart that sees and loves others like Jesus. Ask the Spirit to reveal anything in you that’s holding you back from living out Jesus’ example of love. Is it fear of being disappointed or rejected? Anger because of past hurt? Pride? Resentment? Listen and confess anything the Spirit reveals. Finish by praying for God to give you moments to share Jesus’ love in a tangible way this week.
Midway through this week, send a follow-up email to your group with some or all of the following:
• Read Romans 5:1–11 and reflect on how Jesus’ love for you can give you hope in whatever you’re facing right now.
• Ask the group to share any stories or lessons learned where they see God at work in their lives.
A Father’s Love and Care In v. 33, Jesus refers to His disciples as “children.” “This term of love expressed Jesus’ concern for them. It is used only here by Jesus in this Gospel. John used it seven times in his first epistle (1 John 2:1, 12, 28; 3:7, 18; 4:4; 5:21), and Paul used it once (Gal. 4:19).” Jesus models the love and care of God the Father for His children in the way He loved His disciples. We are to do the same, both with our literal children and those whom have been entrusted to our care.
Echoes in the Old Testament It seems odd that someone could be glorified in death. Isn’t a person glorified in victory? But Jesus is echoing Isa. 49:3 and connecting his glorification to His death. The way to ultimate victory over sin is through Jesus’ death. Ultimately, He will win the victory by dying and being raised from the dead.
Jesus’ New Community Jesus starts a new community, the church, with His disciples. This new community “epitomized God’s consistent intention in the Old Testament of calling out a people who are to be recognized by their love for God (Deut. 6:4–5; the Shema Israel) and their love of neighbor (Lev. 19:18) just as Jesus spelled out his model in the Sermon on the Mount. Likewise, in his first epistle (1 John 3:1–18) John articulated the fact that this new community of believers was expected to love one another (3:11) and not act like the evil Cain (3:12) because God had loved them and accepted them as his children (3:1–2).”
A New Affection “When a new love enters our hearts, it can drive out old and stagnant feelings, even attraction for things that would do us harm. One writer called this kind of love ‘the expulsive power of a new affection.’” The way to expel sin and selfishness from our hearts is to replace it with God’s love and a desire (or affection) for more of Him.
1. Edwin A. Blum, “John,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 321.
2. Crossway Bibles, The ESV Study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008), 2051.
3. Gerald L. Borchert, John 12–21, vol. 25B, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2002), 100.
4. Kenneth O. Gangel, John, vol. 4, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000), 257.