Posts Tagged ‘Leadership’

John 14:22-31

In John 14:22-31 Jesus continues to talk with His disciples about His coming death.  They still don’t get it, as evidenced by Judas’ question. Judas (not Judas Iscariot, but his other disciple with that name) said to him, “Sir, why are you going to reveal yourself only to us disciples and not to the world at large?” His disciples were still expecting Jesus to rise up and become a powerful ruler.  But that wasn’t God’s plan.  “Jesus replied, “Because I will only reveal myself to those who love me and obey me. The Father will love them too, and we will come to them and live with them. Anyone who doesn’t obey me doesn’t love me.” It was about the relationship, which is still the foundation of our walk with Jesus today.  If we love Jesus, we obey Him.  It’s about the relationship!

Jesus is quick to point out that this wasn’t His plan.  It was God’s and He was merely executing it.  “And remember, I am not making up this answer to your question! It is the answer given by the Father who sent me.”  But Jesus wasn’t leaving the disciples alone and empty handed.  He is communicating exactly what would happen and what they should expect.  “I am telling you these things now while I am still with you. But when the Father sends the Comforter instead of me*—and by the Comforter I mean the Holy Spirit—he will teach you much, as well as remind you of everything I myself have told you.”  He’s sending the Holy Spirit to live in them and through them.

But there was more.  “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart! And the peace I give isn’t fragile like the peace the world gives. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” Jesus leaves two gifts: the Holy Spirit and His peace. Jesus has no fortune to give His followers, but He gives them gifts that can’t be bought – the presence of the Holy Spirit and the presence of peace. And then He lays the big truth on them – He’s coming back.  “Remember what I told you—I am going away, but I will come back to you again. If you really love me, you will be very happy for me, for now I can go to the Father, who is greater than I am.”

He didn’t want them to be sad over the events to come.  After all, they were appointed to Him by God.  But He did want to communicate clearly so His disciples would not be caught off guard.  “I have told you these things before they happen so that when they do, you will believe in me.” He is preparing them for something they have never experienced – seeing the Man they have followed for three years submit to evil and go to the Cross. He wants to tell them some last things before that happens. “I don’t have much more time to talk to you, for the evil prince of this world approaches. He has no power over me, but I will freely do what the Father requires of me so that the world will know that I love the Father. Come, let’s be going.” Jesus goes to the cross willingly and of His own choice.  Satan did not win over Him.  Jesus submitted to achieve the plan of grace God had for you and me!

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John 14:14-21

In John 14:14-21 Jesus has just given the Eleven and us, the most amazing promise we could ever receive.  He tells us that we can ask for and receive anything from Him.  This isn’t a ‘genie in a bottle’ kind of moment. “Yes, ask anything, using my name, and I will do it!” Rather, it signifies both an endorsement (like a check) and a limitation (requests must be in accordance with God’s character). We are coming to God in Jesus’ name, not in our own. The goal of prayer in Jesus’ name is to glorify the Father and make Him known.  It isn’t about us getting what we want, but rather aligning with what God is up to.

Jesus gives a simple test for loving Him.  “If you love me, obey me; and I will ask the Father and he will give you another Comforter, and he will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, the Spirit who leads into all truth”. It’s not complicated – it is all about obedience. This is a fair measure of our love for Jesus. It is easy to think of loving Jesus in merely sentimental or emotional terms. It is wonderful when our love for Jesus has sentiment and passion, but it must always be connected to keeping His commandments, or it isn’t really love at all. And on the heels of that revelation He promises another amazing thing – the promise of sending the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is being sent to act as our helper – to empower and help the believer fully live the Christian life.  But the Holy Spirit will only come for Christ Followers. “The world at large cannot receive him, for it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you do, for he lives with you now and someday shall be in you.” And that Spirit lives in us and through us and helps us walk in obedience if we’ll only listen.  Jesus promises that He’s not leaving for good – only for a while.  “No, I will not abandon you or leave you as orphans in the storm—I will come to you.” He’s promised to come back.

Jesus had to leave for a bit to fulfill God’s plan for eternity. “In just a little while I will be gone from the world, but I will still be present with you. For I will live again—and you will too. When I come back to life again, you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you”. Jesus departure was all about God’s plan to save mankind from sin.  It’s about a relationship with the Savior, and the process of making Him Lord.  That is where obedience comes in.  Jesus as Savior is about our faith in His grace and forgiveness of sin.  Jesus as Lord is about our ongoing relationship of obedience where He and the Holy Spirit are in the driver’s seat of our life.  That’s how we love Him and ultimately receive God’s love in return. “The one who obeys me is the one who loves me; and because he loves me, my Father will love him; and I will too, and I will reveal myself to him.”

John 13:31-38

In John 13:31-38 Jesus talks with His now Eleven disciples.  When Judas left Jesus knew that everything was set in motion for His arrest, trials, humiliation, condemnation, beatings, crucifixion, and burial. He spoke of His coming death and the glorification that would follow.  “When he had left, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man is seen for who he is, and God seen for who he is in him. The moment God is seen in him, God’s glory will be on display. In glorifying him, he himself is glorified—glory all around”!  The Cross was not a moment of weakness, but a moment when God’s love was put on full display. The cross most perfectly made known the heart of Jesus; and for Jesus, to be known was to be glorified.

Jesus goes on to try and help His disciples understand what is about to happen.  “Children, I am with you for only a short time longer. You are going to look high and low for me. But just as I told the Jews, I’m telling you: ‘Where I go, you are not able to come.” This would have been like an earthquake to the disciples – major disruption of their plans. They had literally left everything to follow Jesus, and expected to be high-ranking officials in His government when He took political control of Israel as Messiah. After three years they now heard Him say He would leave.  It was why Judas made the decision He did. He realized his ambitions would not be accomplished through Jesus.

Jesus did have a different plan. “Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.” We might have thought the new commandment was for us to love Jesus in an outstanding way. Instead, Jesus directed them and us to love one another, emphasizing that there should be a special presence of love among followers of Jesus Christ. A key part of this new commandment is the measuring stick – it is to be done as Jesus loved His disciples.  Love has a new definition.  And it is the mark of one who is a true Christ Follower!

But the disciples, and in particular Peter, just can’t let go of Jesus plan to leave them. “Simon Peter asked, “Master, just where are you going?” He won’t take Jesus’ simple words at face value. “Jesus answered, “You can’t now follow me where I’m going. You will follow later.” That should have been the end of the discussion, but Peter continues to press. “Master,” said Peter, “why can’t I follow now? I’ll lay down my life for you!” Peter seems pretty confident that he is going along.  He makes a bold claim of his willingness to die for Jesus.  But then comes the question from the Master. “Really? You’ll lay down your life for me? The truth is that before the rooster crows, you’ll deny me three times.” Ouch.  It’ll be a few chapters before we see this play out, but Jesus calls it exactly as it happens.

John 13:20-30

In John 13:20-30, we have Jesus dealing with a very painful part of His time on earth, facing His betrayer prior to the act. But before He faces off with Judas, he says “Make sure you get this right: Receiving someone I send is the same as receiving me, just as receiving me is the same as receiving the One who sent me.” Jesus reminded all His disciples – the faithful ones and Judas – that His work was not finished. Judas would not win; the work of Jesus would continue and they would be sent as His representatives. He also wanted Judas to know that rejecting Him meant rejecting the God who sent Jesus.

Then the mood shifts as Jesus deals with the pain ahead. “After he said these things, Jesus became visibly upset, and then he told them why. “One of you is going to betray me.” No beating around the bush here.  Just truth, plain and straight.  Judas’ betrayal of Jesus troubled Him. Jesus was not unfeeling or emotionally detached from the events ahead. He loved Judas, and was troubled for Judas’ sake, much more than His own. But everyone else was clueless.  They had no idea what was coming.  “The disciples looked around at one another, wondering who on earth he was talking about”.

So as usual, Peter takes the lead in trying to get answers. “One of the disciples, the one Jesus loved dearly, was reclining against him, his head on his shoulder. Peter motioned to him to ask who Jesus might be talking about. So, being the closest, he said, “Master, who?” John was likely on one side of Jesus, and Judas on the other.  Peter asks John to find out who was the betrayer.  And Jesus clearly gives the answer.  “Jesus said, “The one to whom I give this crust of bread after I’ve dipped it.” Then he dipped the crust and gave it to Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot. As soon as the bread was in his hand, Satan entered him”.

Jesus knew Judas was His betrayer, yet His love and goodness seemed to become greater instead of lesser. Jesus even gave Judas the chance to repent without revealing him as the traitor to all the other disciples. But when that obviously wasn’t going to be the outcome, Jesus sends Judas off to do what his heart intended – betraying Jesus to the religious leaders who wanted Him dead. “What you must do,” said Jesus, “do. Do it and get it over with.” The rest of the Twelve were still oblivious to what was happening right in front of them.  They don’t understand Judas is the one.

It was already in the heart of Judas to betray Jesus. Yet when Judas rejected the love and favor of Jesus it broke some barrier within him and Satan entered him. Jesus knew what happened but “No one around the supper table knew why he said this to him. Some thought that since Judas was their treasurer, Jesus was telling him to buy what they needed for the Feast, or that he should give something to the poor”. If they (especially Peter) had known they would have stopped Judas. They believed Judas had business to do on behalf of the group, either to pay the expenses for the dinner or to give something to the poor. “Judas, with the piece of bread, left. It was night”. Judas shows us that a fallen man needs more than an example and even more than good teaching. Judas had the best example and the greatest Teacher, and was still lost.

John 13:12-19

In John 13:12-19 Jesus has just finished up washing the feet of His disciples.  There’s been a little drama about it with Peter, but now Jesus is making it clear what has been done, why He did it, and what they should do as a result. “Then he said, “Do you understand what I have done to you”? Jesus’ entire life was a lesson and example to the disciples. Here He felt it was important to specifically draw attention to the lesson of what He had just done. The washing of their feet meant something and Jesus would not leave the understanding of that up to chance. What we do matters, and certainly what Jesus did was a critical teaching moment for the Twelve.

They knew who Jesus was, at least in their heads. “You address me as ‘Teacher’ and ‘Master,’ and rightly so. That is what I am. So if I, the Master and Teacher, washed your feet, you must now wash each other’s feet. I’ve laid down a pattern for you”. But the lesson here is not about head knowledge, but one of attitude and action.  Every Christ Follower needs to show the same humble and sacrificial love to those in their patch.  A leader must serve those being led, not from the front of the line, but by humbly serving everyone in their care. This wasn’t a ceremony or special occasion that Jesus was showing here, but a way of living as servant leaders for all those in our patch.  We need to wash each other’s feet!

It wasn’t a mere suggestion.  Jesus states it as a command. “What I’ve done, you do. I’m only pointing out the obvious. A servant is not ranked above his master; an employee doesn’t give orders to the employer. If you understand what I’m telling you, act like it—and live a blessed life”.  Action is required here.  Anything we do for each another that washes away the grime of the world and the dust of defeat and discouragement is foot washing. It’s not the physical act, but the underlying action that is required.  The theory of being humble and being a servant isn’t worth very much. But the practice of being a servant pleases God, fulfills our calling, bringing blessing and happiness!

Jesus reveals that one will betray Him. “I’m not including all of you in this. I know precisely whom I’ve selected, so as not to interfere with the fulfillment of this Scripture: The one who ate bread at my table turned on his heel against me”. He waited to make that clear until the right time.  But now Jesus reveals the truth.  “I’m telling you all this ahead of time so that when it happens you will believe that I am who I say I am”. He knew it all along. Jesus told them this so the faithful disciples would remain confident in Him. Things are going to transition from a very cozy foot washing experience, to a very different time of trial and tribulation for the disciples.  Jesus is preparing them for what is coming, but also creating clarity that they will see the truth of Scripture happen before their eyes!

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.

John 11:45-57

In John 11:45-57 Jesus has just raised Lazarus from the dead.  It changed the opinions of some.  “That was a turnaround for many of the Jews who were with Mary. They saw what Jesus did, and believed in him”. But not everyone was on board.  Some took the approach of continuing to cause issues.  “But some went back to the Pharisees and told on Jesus. The high priests and Pharisees called a meeting of the Jewish ruling body. “What do we do now?” they asked. “This man keeps on doing things, creating God-signs. If we let him go on, pretty soon everyone will be believing in him and the Romans will come and remove what little power and privilege we still have”.”

Jesus is continuing to cause problems to the established leadership.  They don’t know what to do with Him but know something has to change.  And they certainly don’t want to have the Romans get involved.  “Then one of them—it was Caiaphas, the designated Chief Priest that year—spoke up, “Don’t you know anything? Can’t you see that it’s to our advantage that one man dies for the people rather than the whole nation be destroyed?” He didn’t say this of his own accord, but as Chief Priest that year he unwittingly prophesied that Jesus was about to die sacrificially for the nation, and not only for the nation but so that all God’s exile-scattered children might be gathered together into one people”. Here’s where one of the central figures in Christ’s crucifixion gets involved.  Caiaphas gives an unconscious and involuntary prophecy, but it is attributed to the office, not the man.

But the Pharisees decided they had to get rid of this threat. “From that day on, they plotted to kill him. So Jesus no longer went out in public among the Jews. He withdrew into the country bordering the desert to a town called Ephraim and secluded himself there with his disciples”. Before, it was mostly lesser religious officials who wanted Jesus dead. But now, the men with real political power have decided to murder Jesus.  Contrary to what some might think, Jesus did not do this out of fear, but because His hour had not yet come.  It was not yet time for God’s plan of redemption through His death on the Cross to happen, but it is drawing near.

In fact, it is coming quickly. “The Jewish Passover was coming up. Crowds of people were making their way from the country up to Jerusalem to get themselves ready for the Feast. They were curious about Jesus. There was a lot of talk of him among those standing around in the Temple: “What do you think? Do you think he’ll show up at the Feast or not?”  Jesus was the talk of the town.  He’s done a number of miracles that just can’t be ignored.  Everyone wanted to see Him, but for very different reasons. “Meanwhile, the high priests and Pharisees gave out the word that anyone getting wind of him should inform them. They were all set to arrest him”. The showdown was coming.

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