John 13, Part 1: It’s Time.
The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Jesus, who is never less than God and never more than man, senses the coming to a close of his public ministry. John has recorded 7 signs (miracles) and the messages they stimulated. For 12 chapters we have followed Jesus’ earthly ministry. Since John 2 at the wedding in Cana, Jesus has told us repeatedly, ‘my hour has not yet come.’ He was on a heavenly timetable. He had been sent by the Father to do His will. Now Jesus knows the time has come. What would appear on earth to be horrific suffering, would bring about in heaven’s view the crowning point of glory of the plan of salvation created by Triune God before the foundation of the earth. All of history had been moving to this point. Jesus now as a man, tells us: “Now my heart is troubled and what shall I say? Father save me from this hour? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father glorify your name!” (John 12:27) Jesus knows what it is to despair, to feel pain, sorrow and joy. This is what makes Him our perfect High Priest for He knows what it is to hurt, emotionally and physically.
I believe this emphasis on timing reveals when a servant of God is doing the will of God, he/ she is immortal until it is finished.
Jesus had entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday to the Hosanna’s of the crowds. On Monday of this week, Jesus cleansed the temple for the 2nd time. On Tuesday, we read in Matthew’s account he debated with the religious leaders who sought to trap him and obtain evidence for his arrest. We are not told what occurred on Wednesday, but now in Chapter 13, we come to Thursday where Jesus meets with the disciples in the Upper Room to observe Passover. Keep in mind, the Jews counted the beginning of a day at sunset. Jesus had known in this 3 + years of ministry, He could not be arrested, let alone that they could kill Him, until the hour had come. And now the hour had come. Jesus knew it was time. He knew Judas would betray Him.
Jesus is about to reveal the love He has for you and me and for everyone. For God had sent His only Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that through Him, the world might be saved.
We also read Jesus not only knew his hour had come and that Judas would betray him; he also knew the Father had put all things under his power. Jesus knew he had come from God and that he was returning to God. Do you know that without a doubt? Do you know you exist because God willed for you to exist? He chose your parents and the time and place in which you were born. You and I were created by Him and for Him. We were created to reflect His glory by loving Him with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength. Augustine said, “You (God) have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they find rest in you.” This is why Jesus urges all of us who are weary and heavy laden from our search to come unto Him and He will give us rest. We live today in a restless world, where love is sought but is over before it begins. Have you found this rest? It can only be found in God through Jesus Christ.
The evening meal was being served and the devil has already prompted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon to betray Jesus. The KJV says: “the devil having now put into the heart of Judas to betray Jesus.” The word translated “put” literally means “to throw”. It reminds us of the fiery darts of the wicked one. Judas was not a believer, so he did not have a shield of faith with which to quench the fiery darts.
WHAT JESUS DID
Now that Jesus knows the hour has come, knows all things are under his power, and He knows Judas is about to leave and betray him to the religious leaders what does Jesus do with this knowledge?
It is certainly not what the disciples expected. Jesus knowing these things- “got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel wrapped around him.” Remember when water is used for cleansing it is a picture of the Word of God. The One who John told us was the Word of God washed the dirty feet of his disciples. This was the job of the lowest servant in the household. In fact, Jewish servants never washed the feet of their masters, only Gentile servants performed this task. If the host of a dinner washed the feet of a guest, it would mark a special affection for that guest.
What an object lesson of humility! That the Son of God, would take on the role of a bond servant. Get on his knees and cleanse us of our filthy sins. It had a profound impact on the disciples. Peter would later write, and urge his readers to “be clothed in humility.”
Notice the contrast of what Jesus knew and what He did: He knew all power and authority had been given to Him by His Father, God Almighty. What would Jesus do with this absolute power and authority? He would rise up from the table to get down on His knees and wash the disciple’s feet. Yet Jesus had told us, ‘the son can do nothing of himself’. He came down from heaven to do the will of the Father. He was Sovereign but chose to be become a servant. He was rich, but became poor for our sakes. He was Lord and Master but served His followers. Here is the clue: our humility grows out of our relationship with the Father and our desire to do His will, not ours. Jesus is about to share with us the secret of joy. He is giving us a picture we cannot avoid, God serving others.
We live a culture of competition and criticism. I fear our churches are growing in knowledge rather than growing in grace and we are becoming puffed up in knowledge. Andrew Murray has a book about the abiding life. He states: “Humility is the only soil in which grace grows.”
“He came to Simon Peter, who said to him “Lord are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” Are you in a place where you do not understand what Jesus is doing? Are you questioning Him, like Simon Peter as to why He is doing something in your life which upsets you? This message is for you. In fact, all through the Scriptures, we see the Lord allow things to happen which perplexed, worried, and hurt those who loved Him. Imagine the disappointment of Martha and Mary. Put yourself in the Egyptian prison with Joseph. Climb up on the Mount after an agonizing three -day journey to sacrifice your son as Abraham did. And yes- find yourself observing the scene in heaven, where Jesus is crying out, “My God, My God, why has thou forsaken me?”
How can we possible understand His ways which are higher than our ways. He speaks and a universe comes into being. And Peter, who was impulsive, who was a man of action, who wanted to do things which seemed right to him would tell us later: “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him, who has called us by His own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us His very great and precious promises so that through them you ma participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil.” (2 Peter 1) Sounds like Peter was beginning to understand.
But on this fateful night of the Last Supper the beginning of what would be three days of sheer despair and events which would devastate these men, Peter says to the Lord Jesus: “No, said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet. Answered: “Unless I wash you, you have no part of me.” To which Peter replied: “Then, Lord, not just my feet, but my hands and head as well.” Jesus answered, “A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean. And you are clean though not every one of you.” (Jesus knew Judas was going to betray him)
“When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “ Do you understand what I have done for you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed (happy, KJV) if you do them.” (John 13: 12-17)
When as a sinner, an unbeliever we get saved, we are bathed all over. All our sins, past, present and future are forgiven. Revelation 1: 5, John writes: “To Him who loves us and has freed us from our sins with His own blood, and has made us to be a kingdom of priests to serve His God and Father…”
However as we walk through this world, it is easy to become defiled. But if you have been saved, you have been baptized by the Holy Spirit and do not need to get saved again. You need not be bathed again. You need to be cleansed. “If we say we have no sin, the truth is not in us. But if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (I John 1)
Why is it so important that we keep our feet clean? Because if we are defiled, have unconfessed sin in our lives, we cannot have communion with our Lord. He can have no part with us.
Our relationship and our salvation are eternal and cannot change. However our fellowship with the Lord can be interrupted until we are cleansed through confession.
The picture and instructions to the priest in the Old Testament illustrate these truths. And remember John and Peter both tells us we are now a Royal Priesthood.
When a priest was consecrated in the Old Testament, they were bathed all over. (Exodus 29:4) However, during his daily walk, when he became defiled. It was necessary for him to wash his hands and feet in the bronze laver in the courtyard. (Exodus 30: 18-21) Only then could he enter the Holy Place and trim the lamps, eat the holy bread, and burn the incense.
The Lord cleanses us through His blood in His atoning work on the cross. He was the perfect sacrifice once and forever and for all who believe. He also cleanses the believer through His word. The water of the Word keeps our hearts and minds clean so we can avoid the pollutions of this world. But when we do sin, John tells us we have an advocate who will hear our prayers of confessions and cleanse us and forgive us and restore us. Although we must remember sin can have consequences.
Peter at first did not want the Lord to perform this lowly service upon him, until the Lord told Peter, He could not have fellowship with him unless He washed his feet. Then Peter wanted Jesus to wash him, bathe him all over.
What is the lesson here for us: Do not question the Lord’s will or work. Don’t try and change it. The Lord knows what He is doing. It may seem impossible to you that anything good can come from it, but the Lord says you do not understand what I am doing now, but later on you will.
Jesus said, I have done this as an example for you to follow. To serve others. To realize no one work is better than another. The person working in the nursery is as important and necessary as the preacher preaching the sermon; the teacher teaching the lesson is no more important than the one who opens the doors and greets people. No servant is greater than his master; no messenger greater than the one who sent him.
“Now that you know these things, you will be blessed (happy, KJV) if you do them.”
Mary broke her alabaster jar which contained the precious perfume. The lad gave Andrew his meager lunch and Jesus broke the bread and blessed it. Brokenness is the path to blessing.
Humility is the path to holiness which leads to happiness.
Happiness is the result, the by-product of a life lived in the will of God. God gives grace to the humble, but resists the prideful.
When we humbly serve others where God wants us to serve, we walk in the light as He is in the light and we enjoy fellowship with God and one another.
Ask anyone during this Christmas season what would make them happy? And listen to the answers you will receive. Ask children what they want for Christmas and they can give you a ready list. I actually used to write to Santa Claus and give him a detailed list of what I wanted. Sometimes not only describing the product but giving specifics- brand, product number etc.
We thought these would make us happy and they did for a while. We live in a world constantly looking for that something or someone special to make us happy. Yet is seems to be illusive, never quite quenching our thirst, our longing.
Augustine was right: “You (God) have made us for Yourself and our hearts are restless until it rests in you.”
Our Lord did not take on the role of a servant, a household slave, to push us down: He lifted us up. Jesus said, if I, your Lord, your Master, your Teacher have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.
In these last moments with His disciples Jesus is teaching them to serve. This is why James tells us not to be just hearers of the Word, but be doers.
Jesus said if you want to be happy for the rest of your life, now that you know these things- do them.
It is never too late to do the right thing. We have learned from Mary to do what we can, do that much and do it now. WHILE THERE IS STILL TIME- IT’S TIME TO DO IT.