Lately, I have been meditating on John 13-17. These are Jesus’ last moments with His beloved disciples before going to the cross. These sweet and sacred moments reflect Jesus’ deepest desire for His twelve disciples and for us. Here is John 13:
Jesus Washes the Disciples' Feet
13:1 Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. 2 During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him, 3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, 4 rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. 5 Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. 6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” 7 Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” 8 Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” 9 Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” 10 Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “Not all of you are clean.”
12 When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? 13 You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. 16 Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. 18 I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But the Scripture will be fulfilled, ‘He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’ 19 I am telling you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am he. 20 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.”
One of You Will Betray Me
21 After saying these things, Jesus was troubled in his spirit, and testified, “Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” 22 The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he spoke. 23 One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was reclining at table close to Jesus, 24 so Simon Peter motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. 25 So that disciple, leaning back against Jesus, said to him, “Lord, who is it?” 26 Jesus answered, “It is he to whom I will give this morsel of bread when I have dipped it.” So when he had dipped the morsel, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. 27 Then after he had taken the morsel, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.” 28 Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him. 29 Some thought that, because Judas had the moneybag, Jesus was telling him, “Buy what we need for the feast,” or that he should give something to the poor. 30 So, after receiving the morsel of bread, he immediately went out. And it was night.
A New Commandment
31 When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. 32 If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and glorify him at once. 33 Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek me, and just as I said to the Jews, so now I also say to you, ‘Where I am going you cannot come.’ 34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Jesus Foretells Peter's Denial
36 Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered him, “Where I am going you cannot follow me now, but you will follow afterward.” 37 Peter said to him, “Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” 38 Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the rooster will not crow till you have denied me three times.
Here are a few observations from Chapter 13:
1) Jesus wants us to know His love for us. Christ deeply loves His bride, and He went to great lengths to demonstrate His love for us. I am so moved by His love for my brothers and sisters in Christ and for me.
2) The legacy we ought to pursue is love. As He was nearing the end of His life, Jesus looked back on his legacy as loving His own to the end. Love glorifies Christ.
3) We ought to be rooted in Christ’s love. Christ’s love is our comfort and strength, and it is our inspiration and example in loving others. Our love for others must be an overflow from His love for us.
4) In love, we ought to consider the interests of others even in the middle of our own trials. Rather than fretting anxiously about the horrific suffering He knew He was about to endure, Jesus’ focus was not on Himself but on lavishly loving those around Him.
5) We ought to love without partiality. Jesus, who is God our Savior, willingly came to earth as a man. That is scandalous! If that wasn’t scandalous enough, He came as a servant! He could have come as a mighty king. He could have chosen disciples who were influential, wealthy, wise, charismatic, powerful, popular, and beautiful. Instead He came as a simple carpenter. He sought out and invested in simple, blue collar, averagely gifted disciples through whom He built His church.
6) We ought to love with humility and with a servant heart. This Jesus, through whom the world was created, was entitled to be worshipped as God Almighty, yet He kneeled down to perform the lowly task of washing His disciples’ dirty calloused feet. We too ought to humble ourselves in sacrificial servant love.
7) We ought to love in the face of betrayal, abandonment, and pain. Jesus knew that Judas would betray Him to the death and that Peter, one of His closest friends, was going to deny Him three times. With this knowledge, Jesus still lovingly washed their feet.
8) We ought to love with no agenda. Jesus knew that Judas was going to betray Him to death and was doomed to destruction, and yet Jesus still lovingly washed Judas’ feet, knowing Judas would never turn.
9) We ought to go to Jesus to be clean. We can have no part in Him if we do not allow Him to make us clean. He cleansed us at salvation when we first gave Him our sin (in utter dependence on Him) in return for His righteousness. He also continually cleanses and sanctifies us as we continually go to Him, confess our ongoing struggles with sin, and receive His forgiveness and grace for each day. (See, Matt 6:12 & 1 John 1:9.)
10) We are not above Jesus. If it was fitting for Jesus, Our Perfect God, to love sacrificially, humbly, impartially, with no agenda, and even in the face of betrayal and abandonment, we ought to do the same.
11) The way we treat our brothers and sisters in Christ is the way we treat Christ Himself (see verse 20). If we love, serve, honor, and bless our brothers and sisters in Christ, we are loving, serving, honoring, and blessing Christ Himself! If we abuse, reject, abandon, dismiss, and ignore our brothers and sisters in Christ, we are abusing, rejecting, abandoning, dismissing and ignoring Christ Himself! This applies equally in how we treat the most prestigious of our brothers and sisters in Christ as well as the most humble of our brothers and sisters in Christ.
12) The way Christian brothers and sisters love one another will be a witness to the world of our belonging to Christ. In this, Jesus is talking about the kind of love that He demonstrated to us, not the kind of love that comes naturally to us or the kind of love that we see in the world around us. Worldly love tells us to love those who love us. Worldly love tells us to love those who can do something for us. Worldly love tells us to seek prestige, honor, fame, and glory for ourselves and it is okay to use or abandon people to get there. Wordly love tells us we need to be ruthless to win. Worldly love tells us to look out for #1 (ourselves). Worldly love tells us to seek out associations with the influential, wealthy, wise, charismatic, powerful, popular, and beautiful. Worldly love tells us to protect ourselves from being vulnerable or wounded at all costs, even if that means holding back in our love and sacrificial service. Worldly love tells us to give up on those who hurt or betray us. Worldly love tells us to get revenge. Worldly love is sappy, fleeting, defensive, and wavering. Jesus’ love is affectionate, yet courageous, fierce, bold, risk-taking, sacrificial, persevering, and enduring. Jesus tells us to love even those who don’t love us. Jesus tells us to love without an agenda. Jesus tells us to love without partiality. Jesus tells us to love humbly, sacrificially, and lavishly. Jesus tells us to love those who hurt and betray us, even if it breaks our hearts. (Matt 5:4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”)
What do you see in John 13 about Jesus’ heart for His Bride? Is there anything that He has revealed to you through this section of Scripture?
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