John 13:6-12

In John 13:6-12, he recounts the remarkable thing that Jesus did and the interaction He had with His twelve.  He used short, vivid statements to describe in detail the experience.  Each step is recorded in detail. “So he got up from the supper table, set aside his robe, and put on an apron. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the feet of the disciples, drying them with his apron”. At this moment of deep meaning, Jesus did something that must have almost seemed crazy. He began to do the job of the lowest servant in the household. He began to wash the disciples’ feet.

At this critical moment, at this evening before the torture of the cross, Jesus did not think of Himself. He thought about His disciples. Truly, this was loving them to the end with true servant leadership. Peter immediately objected. “When he got to Simon Peter, Peter said, “Master, you wash my feet?”  But Jesus would not be deterred. “Jesus answered, “You don’t understand now what I’m doing, but it will be clear enough to you later.” Jesus didn’t just say He was there to serve His twelve – He showed it. He showed it in a way that illustrated His whole work on behalf of His own.

  • Jesus rose from supper, a place of rest and comfort => Jesus rose from His throne in heaven, a place of rest and comfort
  • Jesus laid aside His garments, taking off His covering => Jesus laid aside His glory, taking off His heavenly covering
  • Jesus took a towel and girded Himself, being ready to work => Jesus took the form of a servant, and came ready to work
  • Jesus poured water into a basin, ready to clean => Jesus poured out His blood to cleanse us from the guilt and penalty of sin
  • Jesus sat down again after washing their feet => Jesus sat down at the right hand of God the Father after cleansing us

Morris wrote: “It is a parable in action, setting out that great principle of lowly service which finds its supreme embodiment in the cross.”

But Peter wanted no part of it.  Peter may have thought the other disciples were missing the point by letting Jesus wash their feet.  He wants to put a barrier up between himself and Jesus.  “Peter persisted, “You’re not going to wash my feet—ever!” Even though Peter was an amazing preacher and follower of Christ – he still needed his feet washed by the Master.  “Jesus said, “If I don’t wash you, you can’t be part of what I’m doing.” This isn’t optional.  Peter had to be willing to submit to the Master even if it made him uncomfortable.  He had to have a spiritual washing in order to be part of Jesus.

Master!” said Peter. “Not only my feet, then. Wash my hands! Wash my head!” Peter, in his request to be fully washed, was still reluctant to let Jesus do as He wanted. Peter wanted to tell Jesus what to do. Jesus – though the servant of all – still was and is God’s appointed leader. He would not allow Peter to dominate this situation and set things on a wrong course. Sometimes we show a servant’s heart by accepting the service of others for us. If we only serve, and refuse to be served, it can be a sign of deeply rooted and well-hidden pride.  Jesus stays the course on His request to wash Peter’s feet, and gives this explanation as to why.

Jesus said, “If you’ve had a bath in the morning, you only need your feet washed now and you’re clean from head to toe. My concern, you understand, is holiness, not hygiene. So now you’re clean. But not every one of you.” Speaking in the long Biblical tradition of using physical washing as an illustration of spiritual cleansing, Jesus taught there is an initial bathing that is distinct from an ongoing washing. We need to be bathed by our trust in Jesus and what He did for us on the cross; there is a sense in which that is done once for all. Yet afterward we must continually have our feet washed in ongoing relationship with and trust upon Jesus. “After he had finished washing their feet, he took his robe, put it back on, and went back to his place at the table”. Jesus gives His lesson, and rejoins the group.  Next, He’ll explain it to them in detail.

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John 13:1-5

In John 13:1-5 Jesus is in Jerusalem with the Passover Feast rapidly approaching.  “Just before the Passover Feast, Jesus knew that the time had come to leave this world to go to the Father”.  His time on earth was coming quickly to an end and He is about to share a meal with His disciples. Scholars disagree whether this meal was actually on the Passover, or if it was the Passover meal, but celebrated the day before.  In any case, He is with His disciples. Jesus lived His life in anticipation of this hour.  It’s what His entire life had been leading up to. Guzik notes The cross is not specifically mentioned here, but casts a shadow over almost every word.

  • We see the shadow of the cross over His hour had come.
  • We see the shadow of the cross over loved them to the end.
  • We also see the shadow of the cross over depart this world.

 

Jesus was with the twelve He had invested the past three years deeply into.  They were His disciples.  “Having loved his dear companions, he continued to love them right to the end”.  Guzik explains the importance of understanding that these men, and all disciples truly belong to Jesus:

  • They were His own because He chose them.
  • They were His own because He gave Himself to them.
  • They were His own because His Father gave them to Him.
  • They were His own because He would soon purchase them.
  • They were His own because He conquered them.
  • They were His own because they yielded themselves to Him.

Being a disciple of Jesus has amazing benefits, but also comes with a cost.  One benefit is that His love will never end.  Jesus will love us to the fullest extent possible with a love that will never end.

So it is time for supper.  “It was suppertime. The Devil by now had Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot, firmly in his grip, all set for the betrayal”. And one of the twelve Jesus had chosen, has slid into the enemy’s camp.  Satan did not control Judas and the decision he had come to.  But the enemy certainly had been whispering the idea into Judas’ mind for some time, and helped guide him to this fateful decision that he would hand Jesus over to His earthly enemies because Jesus just didn’t get the plan of how He could take over the world and become an earthly king bringing power to Judas and the others close to Jesus.  Satan used Judas’ personal motives to draw him into sin.

This isn’t a mystery or surprise for Jesus.  He knew God’s plan from the beginning of time.  This wasn’t something that Jesus came to know just at this hour. “Jesus knew that the Father had put him in complete charge of everything, that he came from God and was on his way back to God”.  This was important because of the hour and what lie ahead. Jesus was about to face the agony of crucifixion on the Cross, and the terror of standing in the place of guilty sinners before the righteous wrath of God the Father. At the same time, Jesus went into this situation as a victor, not as a victim. He could have backed out any time He wanted to, because the Father had given all things into His hands.  But He chose to complete the mission and provide a way for us to deal with the sin problem we all have.  He carried your sin and mine to that Cross and followed God’s plan!

John 12:44-15

In John 12:44-15, Jesus utters the last words in John’s gospel He made to the public. In this last speech to the multitude, Jesus emphasized the themes of all His previous preaching in John. It included a reminder of His teaching, a challenge to decide, a warning to those who decided against Him and a promise to those who decided for Him. “Jesus summed it all up when he cried out, “Whoever believes in me, believes not just in me but in the One who sent me. Whoever looks at me is looking, in fact, at the One who sent me. I am Light that has come into the world so that all who believe in me won’t have to stay any longer in the dark”.

There are some pretty strong lines drawn in this passage.  First note that ‘he cried out’ as this is important stuff for us to hear.  It all comes down to faith and whether or not we’ll believe in Him.  Jesus stressed His own truthfulness, and the need man has to follow Jesus – or else live in darkness. But He continues….“If anyone hears what I am saying and doesn’t take it seriously, I don’t reject him. I didn’t come to reject the world; I came to save the world”. If you want to know what love looks like – this is it.  Jesus says that even if you reject Him, it won’t be done to you in return.  Jesus has one mission, and that is to save mankind.

And it is a life and death eternal mission.  The decision we make about Jesus matters….for eternity.  And eternity is a very long time.  We all have to decide what we’ll do with Jesus. “But you need to know that whoever puts me off, refusing to take in what I’m saying, is willfully choosing rejection”. We have a choice to make.  Will we receive the offer of grace – a free offer that is ours for the taking – or will we willfully reject Him. God gave each of us the freedom to choose. We simply need to be sure we carefully consider the eternal outcome of that decision.  It is the most important decision we will ever make.

He sums up His mission like this: “The Word, the Word-made-flesh that I have spoken and that I am, that Word and no other is the last word. I’m not making any of this up on my own. The Father who sent me gave me orders, told me what to say and how to say it”. God had a plan, and it was Jesus. God sent Him to make the offer. “And I know exactly what his command produces: real and eternal life. That’s all I have to say. What the Father told me, I tell you.”  It really is a simple proposition.  Do you want ‘real and eternal life’?  If so, Jesus is the only ticket to that life.  But it is our choice and no one can make it for us.  It is ours alone!

John 12:36-43

In John 12:36-43 Jesus knows it isn’t quite time, although it is coming soon, so He goes into hiding to be able to complete His mission on God’s timeline, not that of the men around Him.  “Jesus said all this, and then went into hiding. All these God-signs he had given them and they still didn’t get it, still wouldn’t trust him”.  Throughout his Gospel, John told us of many signs that Jesus performed that should cause us to believe in Him. Yet many did not believe in Him. We have tons of prophecy and history to validate the reality of Jesus Christ, and yet like the people of His day, we struggle to believe.

John emphasized that unbelief was because God acted in judgment upon those who refused to see His truth and turn to Him. God would strengthen them in their decision, either for Jesus or against Him. “This proved that the prophet Isaiah was right: God, who believed what we preached? Who recognized God’s arm, outstretched and ready to act? First they wouldn’t believe, then they couldn’t—again, just as Isaiah said: Their eyes are blinded, their hearts are hardened, So that they wouldn’t see with their eyes and perceive with their hearts, And turn to me, God, so I could heal them”.

John calls out the story of Isaiah who not only saw His glory, but then spoke of Him. “Isaiah said these things after he got a glimpse of God’s cascading brightness that would pour through the Messiah”.  Isaiah saw the Lord and all the glory that God would pour through Him.  But that didn’t cause the religious leaders to believe.  There were lots of common people who did, but they were afraid to come out in the open and admit it because of fear.  They knew the Pharisees were not at all open to Christ Followers.

At this point in Jesus’ ministry there were many who believed on Him secretly. They saw the signs and heard His teaching, yet because they were afraid of what others would think and do against them they would not openly declare (confess) their allegiance to and trust in Jesus. “On the other hand, a considerable number from the ranks of the leaders did believe. But because of the Pharisees, they didn’t come out in the open with it. They were afraid of getting kicked out of the meeting place. When push came to shove they cared more for human approval than for God’s glory”. There were many who loved the honor that comes from other men more than the praise that comes from God. We have to get our priorities right!

John 12:29-36

In John 12:29-36 Jesus has just heard God’s voice.  It was audible, and those around Him heard it too. “The listening crowd said, “Thunder!” Others said, “An angel spoke to him!” To some, the voice of God sounded like thunder. Others thought it sounded like some kind of angelic speech. For those who could discern it, it gave them confidence in Jesus before the upcoming critical days in His life.  But Jesus makes it clear what God was up to when He spoke. “Jesus said, “The voice didn’t come for me but for you. At this moment the world is in crisis. Now Satan, the ruler of this world, will be thrown out. And I, as I am lifted up from the earth, will attract everyone to me and gather them around me.”

Jesus is letting the crowd know exactly what is ahead. The spirit of this world was judged by the way it treated Jesus at the cross. The cross not only judged the world it also defeated Satan (now the ruler of this world will be thrown out). The defeat of the world (culture in opposition to Jesus) and Satan was God’s victory and the victory of the people of God. This culture has a leader, a ruler of this world – Satan, the great adversary, who is going to be removed. Jesus was going to be lifted up literally – on the Cross – but also in His place of ruling as He would end up at the right hand of God.  Jesus promised that when He was lifted (elevated, exalted) on the Cross He would draw all peoples to Himself.

He put it this way to show how he was going to be put to death”. Jesus did not only know that He would die, but also that He would die on a Cross, lifted up from the earth. Jesus knew the painful and humiliating manner of His death, but still obeyed God’s will.  He didn’t have to – He chose to obey God’s plan. “Voices from the crowd answered, “We heard from God’s Law that the Messiah lasts forever. How can it be necessary, as you put it, that the Son of Man ‘be lifted up’? Who is this ‘Son of Man’?” The people had been taught only the passages from the law (the Old Testament) which spoke of the triumph of the Messiah. They were mostly unaware of the passages that spoke of His suffering. It made them wonder if Jesus was really the Messiah at all.

Jesus said, “For a brief time still, the light is among you. Walk by the light you have so darkness doesn’t destroy you. If you walk in darkness, you don’t know where you’re going. As you have the light, believe in the light. Then the light will be within you, and shining through your lives. You’ll be children of light.” Jesus assured those with Him that He would be with them only a short time longer. The light of His earthly ministry was about to go out.  He wouldn’t leave them forever, and if they believed in the light, that light will become part of us.  It describes what happens when we receive Christ as our Savior and Lord, and His light shines in us and through us.

John 12:26-34

In John 12:26-34 Jesus begins to make clear what it really means to be a Christ Follower.  “If any of you wants to serve me, then follow me. Then you’ll be where I am, ready to serve at a moment’s notice. The Father will honor and reward anyone who serves me”. To be a Christian is to serve Jesus, to follow Him. It doesn’t mean that you stop working your job or caring for your family or studying at school. It means you do all that as a servant of Jesus, a follower of Jesus.  It means that everything we do is done through the lens of serving Christ.  That plays out through serving those in our patch following the example that Jesus set for us through His life of serving mankind.

Spurgeon wrote “All of you who would have Christ as your Savior, you must be willing to serve him. We are not saved by service, but we are saved to service”.  What we do does not save us.  Who we follow does.  But if we choose to follow Jesus, to give our life to Him, the natural outcome is that we’ll be a servant. Jesus described the servant as one who wanted to be where He is. This isn’t forced slavery where the servant wants to be free from the master. This is a chosen, willing service that simply wants to be close to the Master. The reward for serving Jesus is to receive honor from God the Father. This honor is both reward and recognition. What can be better than that?

Jesus knew the crucial hour was rapidly approaching, and He knew what lied ahead and it weighed on Him. “Right now I am storm-tossed. And what am I going to say? ‘Father, get me out of this’? No, this is why I came in the first place. I’ll say, ‘Father, put your glory on display.’” It’s important to realize that Jesus didn’t have to go to the Cross and pay the penalty for sin.  He chose to do that out of love for the Father and for each of us.  Jesus did not ask to escape the hour, because He knew it was the purpose for which He came. The cross, which had cast a shadow over the entire life and ministry of Jesus, would now become a reality in the experience of Jesus.

Jesus focus was on glorifying the Father’s name and character, not shining the spotlight on himself.  He was about to move into a place where the focus could have totally been on Himself, but He kept the attention on the Father.  “A voice came out of the sky: “I have glorified it, and I’ll glorify it again.”  This was the third audible Divine testimony to Jesus’ status as the Son of God, after the audible voice heard at His baptism and His transfiguration. This was assurance from God the Father. Approaching the cross, the great concern of Jesus was to glorify the Father, and He was assured that He already had and would continue to do so. Are you focused on making God known among those in your patch?  That’s one of our assignments as Christ Followers.  How are you doing?

John 12:16-25

In John 12:16-25 Jesus begins to come closer to making sure the world knows who He is.  He starts with His own disciples.  “The disciples didn’t notice the fulfillment of many Scriptures at the time, but after Jesus was glorified, they remembered that what was written about him matched what was done to him”. Slowly the scales were dropping from their eyes and they were beginning to see Jesus for who He was.  They had witnessed His miracles, but it was when they began to realize that He wasn’t just a miracle worker, but was a fulfillment to the prophecy of scripture that they began to see things more clearly.

The crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus from the tomb, raising him from the dead, was there giving eyewitness accounts. It was because they had spread the word of this latest God-sign that the crowd swelled to a welcoming parade. The Pharisees took one look and threw up their hands: “It’s out of control. The world’s in a stampede after him.”  The religious leaders have lost control.  People were telling their stories of what Jesus had done, give testimony to His miracles and power.  The leaders were beside themselves as Jesus was getting all the attention they wanted for themselves.

Some of the people wanting to see Jesus were from way out of town.  They had heard though, and wanted to see Him.  “There were some Greeks in town who had come up to worship at the Feast. They approached Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee: “Sir, we want to see Jesus. Can you help us?” These strangers find one of the twelve and ask for help in finding Jesus.  They want to see Him.  Philip didn’t know what to do, so he went to get another and together then asked Jesus.  “Philip went and told Andrew. Andrew and Philip together told Jesus. Jesus answered, “Time’s up. The time has come for the Son of Man to be glorified”.

And Jesus says ‘yep, it’s time’.  The plan for His reveal was near.  He gives the example of what’s going on to those around Him.  “Listen carefully: Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over. In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real and eternal”.  Just as a seed will never become a plant unless it “dies” and is “buried” so the death and burial of Jesus is necessary to His glorification. Before there can be resurrection power and fruitfulness, there must be death.

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