A Snow Day Meditation on the Son of God

The bright reflection of snow is brilliant.  Don’t you think that snow makes winter that much better?  If it is going to be cold, we might as well get to see some snow out of it.  How could one not enjoy a good covering of snow?  Of course, it is realized that not everyone enjoys winter equally and not everyone enjoys snow (for whatever reason. . .).  Yet, in the following paragraphs, I would like to share with you an argument for the significance of snow.  I would like to encourage you to look on a snowy day with a different perspective.  I am also challenging myself to do the same.  I love snow for the simple fact of its beauty, fun, and the memories that it gives to children and parents, but God has given us something more than that to consider when we see it.

When seeing snow, one may be reminded of what the New Testament says about the transfiguration of Christ.  We are told that the Lord went up on a mountain with His three closest disciples, and He was transfigured before them.  The description of His glorious appearance in Mark 9 is given in the NKJV words, “His clothes became shining, exceedingly white, like snow, such as no launderer on earth can whiten them.”  There is a variant in the text which causes us to question whether the phrase “like snow” was original (the Majority Text includes the phrase while the Critical Text does not), but I think we get the point.  The Lord’s appearance was bright and white, and there are very few words in any human language to describe the sight and just how bright/white His appearance really was that day.  Snow is a great example of the combination of brightness and whiteness.  This is part of the majesty of snow.  On a snow covered day, one can see the great reflection of the brightness of the sun and there seems to be nothing whiter.  There is no question that this manifestation was meant to show Christ’s glory and holiness in the sight of those three men.  How did they react? When they saw Christ transfigured and heard the voice of confirmation from heaven, Matthew 17 says the men fell on their faces and were greatly afraid.  As Christians, do we really consider the glory and holiness of God and respond properly?  I think that if we truly do meditate on His purity, we will be knocked-off-our-feet.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t have enough of those kind of moments.  A snow day may offer just one of those special instances.
Also, we may mention that the description of Christ in Revelation 1 is significant.  The One who declared Himself, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last. . .” is the same One whom John described as,
“like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band.  His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters; He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength.  And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead.”
When Jesus is seen in all of His glory, the brightness is so great that people can only fall on the ground as dead.  His brilliance is humbling.  There is no question of the phrase, “as white as snow” in this passage.  Christ is pictured as the Alpha and Omega, the King of kinds, and Lord of lords whose head and hair are as white as snow.  As many commentators point out, this is not supposed to be taken as a literal description of Christ, but as a full picture which metaphorically is saying something about the Lord.  In Daniel 7, the Ancient of Days, God Himself, is referred to as having a garment as white as snow.  The Apostle, following a trend in the New Testament of using Old Testament references to God in referring to the Lord Jesus, uses the description of the Ancient of Days in Daniel to depict the risen and exalted Christ in the latter days.  This trend constantly reinforces the interrelationship of the Father and Son, their unique harmony.  As one author says (Osborne), white hair in ancient cultures (and somewhat today) is a symbol of dignity and wisdom.  The same author goes on to say that there was no better way to refer to pure and brilliant whiteness in the ancient world than using the ideas of snow and wool.  Will Jesus have a head full of white hair in heaven?  That is not what the word-picture is trying to communicate.  What meaning do these biblical references convey of the Triune God being clothed in garments and having hair as white as snow?  What are we to learn and heed from these passages?  The primary lesson, or maybe more significantly declaration, is the holiness of God.  The illustrations are meant to express the brilliance, righteousness, purity, holiness, glory, wisdom, and more of the One who has overcome the world and conquered all His enemies.  He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.  Although He was once veiled in flesh, the disciples got a preview of what it will be like to dwell with Him forever in His fully glorified state.  Both Daniel and John got glances of His snow-like glory in visions that they received from heaven, but one day we will all see Him face-to-face.  As 1 Corinthians 13:12 says, “For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face.  Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.”
So, can we now all agree that snow is a marvelous thing?  Yes, I could enjoy it for the excitement of seeing my daughter’s face light up when it is falling and covering the ground and the fun of playing in it, but from this point forward, I am determined to consider the glory and holiness of Jesus Christ in the brightness and whiteness of a snowy day.  The next time you are trapped in your house by winter weather, will you also meditate on the Bible’s descriptions of our Great God and Savior, Jesus Christ?

John 13:31-38 The New Commandment

John 13:31-38    The New Commandment                          WC McCarter
We have found ourselves in the Upper Room with Jesus and His disciples over the past couple of weeks, and we will continue to make our way through these sections to hear what the Lord has to say to His first disciples as well as His disciples in the latter days, you and me. This is a tense time in the narrative as the time for Christ’s glorification draws near.
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Now the Son of Man is Glorified (31-32)
The betrayer has now been fully possessed by Satan. The hour of darkness has come. However, the hour of Christ’s glorification has also come, and He makes that clear at the beginning of this passage. Jesus will have a lot to say now that Judas has left the house, and He begins by declaring His coming glory. Since we know the whole story, we can now see clearly, even in the Upper Room, that the most glorious event of human history and the time when God will put His glory on full display is at the cross of Calvary. The term “glory” (as you have heard me say before) refers to someone’s worth. For someone to be “glorified” means that their value is put on full display. God the Father will make the glory of His Son known in the humiliation of the cross.
This is the story that we are reading, learning, and discussing on Sunday evenings. From the beginning of human history until now God has been working out a plan to redeem us by the work of Christ. This King would overthrow much more than a human government. He would conquer the enemies of the people of God: Satan, the demons, sin, and death. He would do so by taking the penalty for the sins of the world upon Himself. Here is His glory. How valuable is He? You would be cursed for eternity and abandoned to the lake of fire if it were not for what He has done. He has taken your place to bear your penalty. There is no thing and no one more valuable than Him.
Let me point out that Jesus shows His relationship with the Father again here. The glory of the Father and the Son are so attached that when the Father is glorified, so is the Son, and when the Son is glorified, so is the Father.
A Little While Longer (33)
Jesus is now going to speak plainly to His disciples about His departure, and He begins by speaking to them gently saying, “Little children. . . .” This is a term of affection from a teacher to His students. The men only have a little time remaining together. Jesus is dropping on them what amounts to a bomb in their minds. They may begin to feel defeated and desparate, so Jesus affectionately speaks to them. This is a phrase (little children) that the Apostle John heard loud and clear, and it became the designation he used for his congregations later in his life. Jesus will spend much of His time in the Upper Room preparing these men as much as possible for His departure.
What Jesus had already said to the Jews, now He must say it to His closest followers. He is leaving, and they cannot go where He is going. At least not yet. There are many promises that will follow. When Jesus spoke this same thing to His opponents on a couple of previous occasions, He meant that where He was going they could never come. Their hearts were evil, and they would die in their sins. When Jesus says this to His disciples, He means that they cannot come just yet. As we will see, He is going to prepare a place for them, and He will come again so that where He is they may be also. We will see in response to Peter’s question in verse 36 that Jesus says promises that, “. . . you shall follow Me afterward.” It is only a temporary thing, but Jesus is leaving.
Love One Another (34-35)
This evening’s teaching is Jesus’ farewell speech. He will leave them with many things including His commands. He wants to leave them with a new commandment, and this command becomes a major theme in the rest of the Lord’s farewell speech as well as the remainder of the New Testament Scriptures. He commands them to love one another, but what makes that command new? The Old Testament commanded the same thing. In fact, Jesus had been teaching throughout His ministry that the Law was fulfilled in two commands of the OT, Duet 6, “Love the your God” and Lev 19, “Love your neighbor.” Why does Jesus say that He is giving them a new commandment?
The second part of verse 34 is what makes the command new because He says, “. . . as I have loved you. . . .” This is a new revelation. Christ has said that He has come not to be served, but to serve and give His life as a ransom for many. He is now showing, that night in the footwashing and the next day on the cross, the definition of love. Loving one another is not light and fluffy. It is not sweet and pretty. Christian love is sincere and sometimes dirty. It is difficult and sometimes ugly. Christian love is sacrificial. Christian love commands us to consider others better than ourselves. Christian love calls on us to lay down our lives for our brethren. This is the new commandment.
In what way(s) were the disciples recognized as followers of Jesus during His ministry? They literally followed Him. They were His tail. They were His shadow. If Jesus went to Galilee, the disciples went to Galilee. If He went to Jerusalem, they went to Jerusalem. They traveled together, ate together, and rested together – they lived together for three years. That’s how someone could tell that they were Jesus’ disciples. They were always with Him. But, now He is leaving. How will people know that they are His disciples after He leaves? Jesus gives them a new “badge” (Piper). They are to love one another. There is the new sign of their discipleship, and it is ours as well.
All true believers will exhibit this kind of love because THE FRUIT of the Spirit IS LOVE. This is the mark of the Christian life. This is what declares to the world that we are disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is the flag that we raise above our assemblies: Love for one another. He first loved us, so we love one another. He laid down His life for us, so we lay down our lives for one another. We may not be called upon to physically die for a fellow believer (although we will if need be), but we surely offer our bodies as living sacrifices.
You Cannot Follow Me Now (36-38)
Although Jesus has just given the new commandment, Peter wants to back-track and ask a question about Jesus’ departure. In verse 33, He said that He was leaving. Now Peter asks, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus responds by further explaining what He has said. In verse 33, He said, “Where I am going, you cannot come.” At the end of verse 36, He says, “. . . but you shall follow Me afterward.” Jesus is leaving, and although the disciples cannot follow Him there now, they will be able to go there later. This can only be understood by the disciples after everything takes place. They do not understand that Jesus is going back to the Father. Remember what verse one said, “. . . when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father. . . .” Then in verse three, “. . . Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God. . . .” He is going to the Father, but by way of the cross. No one can go where He is going. He must go this route alone. He is the Lamb of God who will take away the sin of the world. None of the disciples can go with Him.
Of course, this is not good enough for Peter. He asks an acceptable question at first. There was nothing wrong, apparently, with asking the Lord where He was going, but Peter wants to push the issue farther. He wants to know why he can’t follow Jesus now. He even pledges that he would lay down his life for the sake of his Master.
Jesus knows more about Peter than Peter knows about himself, and that is true of us as well. We rarely have a balanced or genuine view of ourselves. We often think to highly of ourselves and sometimes we think to lowly of ourselves. We never really get a sense of how damaging the sin can be that is in our lives. We think that we would do well, but often we do not. Like Peter, we think that we will charge the hill for the Lord’s sake, but we fail miserably. The issue is not with the Lord or the cause. The issue is with our own hearts. When we operate in a worldly mode (often called the “flesh”), we cannot please God, but when we are walking in the Spirit, He directs our steps into paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. The flesh told Peter that the Lord should not die. The flesh told Peter that he should go with the Lord right then, although the Lord told him he could not. After all, who is it that is laying his life down for the other (Carson, 486)? It is the Lord that must first lay down His life for Peter and the world. Of course, Peter will lay down his life for the sake of Christ some three decades later when he is crucified by Rome.
Jesus says, in essence, You think you know yourself, but you do not. I know your heart, and I know your future. Listen up, you will deny Me. Peter made a pledge of allegiance to the Lord, but in only a short time he would deny his Lord three times. On the same night that Judas betrays the Lord for 30 pieces of silver, Peter would deny the Lord three times. As one author has said, “Sadly, good intentions in a secure room after good food are far less attractive in a darkened garden with a hostile mob” (Carson, 486). In Palestine, roosters would usually crow about 12:30am, 1:30am, and 2:30am, so that the Romans called the watch between midnight and about 3:00am the “cockcrow” (Carson, 487). Thus, it would not even get very late into the night before Peter would deny his Lord three times.
Conclusion and Christian Application
(1) Forget worldly understandings of wisdom, strength, and value. Corinthians says in one place, “But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty” (1 Cor 1:27), and in another place, “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God” (2 Cor 3:19). God will use the cross to glorify Himself. If you cannot accept salvation by the work of Christ on the cross, you will not and cannot be saved.
(2) Through the tension and uneasiness, we must hear Jesus say that His disciples will be known by their love for one another. If you say you love God, you must love your brothers and sisters. We love God and one another because He first loved us and gave Himself for us.
(3) Operate in the Spirit. Do not lean on your understanding, the world, or the flesh. They will often lead you to the wrong conclusion. There is a way that seems right to a man, but its ends are the way of destruction. Keep in step with the Spirit, and He will direct your paths and understandings as well as give you wisdom and grace when you need it.

John 13:18-30 The Announcement of Betrayal

He Loved Them to the End: Sermons on John 13-17

John 13:18-30    The Announcement of Betrayal                WC McCarter

We have already begun to see the plan unfold. Satan is at work, but the plan of God which is salvation by the blood of Christ is in full effect. The evening is getting darker, but Christ glory is beginning to shine all the more brightly.

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I Know Whom I Have Chosen (18-20)
Verse 18 refers back to verse 10 where Jesus said, “You are clean, but not all of you.” Now He comes back to that statement and says, “I do not speak concerning all of you.” As we saw last week, Jesus knows full well what is going on that evening. He knew all along who He had chosen, and He knew that one of them would betray Him. After all, Scripture had foreshadowed the event that was now coming to pass. David, the great king and psalmist of Israel, prophesied concerning this betrayal. David himself was betrayed, but that betrayal was only a precursor to what the Messiah would experience.

To eat a meal with someone, especially in that culture, was to share a close time of friendship and closeness. The feelings that David experienced when he wrote Psalm 41, were the same feelings that Jesus felt when He was betrayed by a close friend on that last night. Have you ever been betrayed by someone very close to you? Scripture is not only being fulfilled in this act, but Jesus is also proving that He is in the line of David.
There are several interpretations for what “lifting up one’s heel” could mean. I interpret it simply that Judas has turned to walk away, to walk out on Christ. Therefore, “to lift one’s heel” is equivalent to today’s common phrase, “to turn one’s back” on someone. Some stress the metaphor all the more by adding to the idea of betrayal a sense of violence. So, then, the phrase may mean that Judas, like a beast such as a horse or donkey, has raised up his heel to violently kick the Lord. Although Judas, a close friend who was now influenced by Satan, would raise his heel against the Lord, it would be the Son of Man’s heel that would crush the devil’s head. God told this from the very beginning of the sin problem, back in Genesis 3:15. Of the serpent, God said, “You shall bruise His heel,” and of Christ, God said, “He shall crush your head.”
It was important that the disciples hear that Jesus knew what was happening. The disciples may not take comfort in it then, but later, as they are sorting out the events of Christ’s life and glorification, they will remember that the Lord was fully aware of Satan’s plot to influence Judas to betray Him. So, Christ says, “Now I tell you before it comes, that . . . you may believe that I Am.” The reason for telling them ahead of time that He knows is so that the men will believe that Jesus is who He claims to be. This is the famous “γώ εμι” in the Greek, the same phrase Christ used for all of the other “I AM” statements. Thus, the NIV translates the phrase, “I am who I am.”

Verse 20 then fills-out the idea of believing that Christ is the I AM and begins with the famous phrase (in the KJV), “Verily, verily, I say unto you. . . .” The phrase is used for emphasis to grab their attention and basically say, Listen up. If you receive Him on that basis (I AM), then you receive the One who sent Him (that is, God the Father). Notice the links: from that point forward the mission would be the responsibility of the apostles. If anyone received them, they were receiving Christ, and anyone who accepted Christ was accepting the Father. If you want a relationship with God, then you must have a relationship with Christ. And we have access to Christ right here in the apostolic word. We are a part of the apostolic community when we are devoted to the uniquely inspired words of the New Testament and all of Scripture.

One of You Will Betray Me (21-22)
Jesus’ reference to His betrayer have been veiled thus far in the language of clean and unclean, but now He tells the men plainly. As He begins to do so, He is greatly troubled in spirit. He does not say that He is troubled in spirit, so it must be obvious to those in the room. They can probably see the trouble all over His face, and they can probably hear it in His voice. This is why the author of Hebrews can say that we have a High Priest who can sympathize with our weakness. He has struggled. He has been burdened. He has been deeply troubled. He knows my heartaches, and He knows yours too. With great emotion, He says again, “μν μν λέγω μν,” that is, “Truly, truly, I say to you. . . .” Listen up, “One of you will betray Me.”
This threw the disciples for another loop. These men had no categories for these ideas. They had no clue what to do with these notions. They stared at one another, completely confused. Maybe they had thought that the traitor was another person, not in the Upper Room, but was a disciple in the larger group of followers (Carson), but now Jesus focuses the attention to someone there.

Lord, Who Is It? (23-26)
Christian tradition and the internal evidence of the Gospel of John proves that “the disciple whom Jesus loved” is the apostle John who wrote this Gospel. This is the first time that the title is used. This disciple, who was there all along, will show up with this same designation again at the cross, at the empty tomb, by the sea when the resurrected Christ appears, and at the end of the book when the writing is attributed to him.
This one was reclining into Jesus’ chest. As marvelous, historic, and famous as da Vinci’s Last Supper painting is, it is not historically accurate. The men would have sat in the floor around a lowered table that may have either been round or “U” shaped; they would have reclined toward the person on their left; and they would have eaten with their right hands. While the Israelites at the first Passover ate in haste, these Jews ate in relaxation. So, John would have been eating to the right of the Lord in a place of honor and privilege.
Because John was sitting close to Jesus, Peter motions to him to ask the Lord who and what He was talking about! We do not know where Peter is sitting, but it is not next to the Lord like John. So, for once, Peter is not the one to speak up and question the Lord, but John will have that privilege, and he will receive privileged information as well. John simply asks, “Lord, who is it?”

Jesus answered by saying, “It is he to whom I shall give a piece of bread when I have dipped it.” For this reason, we believe that Judas was sitting very close. In fact, it appears that the betrayer was sitting to the left of the Lord, in the highest place of honor at the table. “In ancient [times], eating bread at the table of a superior amounted to a pledge of loyalty” (Kostenberger, 486). For a host to dip a piece of bread and pass it to a guest was to honor that guest. And the text says, “And having dipped the bread, [Christ] gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon.” Now, the betrayer has been identified. The one who has lived, worked, and fellowshipped with Jesus for three years; the one who has eaten the Messiah’s bread; the one who has reclined in a place of honor at the Lord’s table; he is the one who will betray Christ!

Satan Entered Him . . . And It Was Night (27-30)
We know that Satan had been influencing Judas Iscariot for a very long time. At the beginning of the chapter we were told that the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas to betray the Lord. Now, when he receives the bread from Jesus, Satan enters him. He becomes fully obedient to the will of Satan. This final act of love, after calling him to discipleship, living with him, teaching him, giving him the responsibility of the money bag, and washing his feet, shows that Jesus offered one more opportunity for Judas to break down in repentance, but his heart hardens all the more. Satan now has complete control over him. He is not merely demon possessed. He is Satan possessed.

Jesus tells him, “What you do, do quickly.” Since Judas has completed the process of hardening his heart, the betrayal is now inevitable. He might as well go and complete the evil transaction. The disciples are still clueless. Jesus has said this loud enough for everyone to hear, but the disciples do not know what He is talking about. They see Judas get up from the table to leave and most of them think nothing of it. Some thought that maybe the Lord had told him to go carry out some treasurer responsibilities, like buying things for the feast (that is, the feast of unleavened bread which came right after Passover) or to give alms to the poor, which was a Jewish tradition at the Passover times.

Judas is under complete control of Satan, but he is still obedient to Jesus. Satan and the demons, of course, must be obedient to the Lord as well. Jesus tells Judas to do what he is going to do quickly, and we are told that Judas leaves immediately. The scene with Judas as a main character in the Upper Room then ends with the statement, “And it was night.” Darkness had covered Jerusalem in the physical sense, but darkness had covered the face of the earth in the spiritual sense.

Conclusion and Christian Application

(1) You and I need to know, just as the disciples did, that Jesus was fully aware of the events of that evening even before they took place. You cannot find yourself in a situation in which the Lord did not know beforehand.

(2) Christ knows our weaknesses, struggles, and sorrows. He has experienced them Himself. We do not worship a God who does not understand us. He has created us, entered into this creation in order to associate Himself with us, and has died in order to redeem us from the curse of sin. Christ is now our Advocate at the right hand of the Father, constantly interceding for us.

(3) At our Tuesday afternoon Bible study this past week at the Living Well, we studied Psalm 1 which begins with the picture of the ungodly who eventually finds himself in the place of ruin. The psalm pictures an ungodly man first walking in the counsel of the ungodly, then standing in the path of sinners, and finally sitting in the seat of the scornful. The Psalm says that those people are like chaff which the wind drives away. They cannot stand in the judgment because the wrath of God will overwhelm them. Their way will perish. You can see in that psalm that a wicked person does not become that way in only a moment. There is a gradual process of slipping farther and farther into darkness. The heart becomes harder and harder over time.
Judas is a prime example of that fact. At one time he was a trusted companion and the treasurer of the group, but then he begins to steal from the money box, he lies to cover his tracks, he is shown to be greedy, Satan puts the thought in his mind to betray the Lord, there is still no repentance, and finally Satan enters him. His life ends on this earth in a disastrous fashion, and at the judgment he will be swallowed up by the wrath of God.

The same will be true of many people today, even those in churches. Like Judas, there are many who are trusted friends. Like Judas, there are many who are constantly involved in the things of Christ. Yet, these things may not be genuine and are only outward signs of godliness. Please don’t be one of those people. Please don’t live your life only appearing to be godly. Repent and turn to Christ. He will forgive you and restore you.

John 13:1-17 The Footwashing

He Loved Them to the End: Sermons on John 13-17

John 13:1-17       The Footwashing                                       WC McCarter

As we move into the thirteenth chapter of the Gospel of John, the scene changes, the ministry of Christ changes, and the overall tone changes. Christ and His disciples are no longer out in the public performing miracles and preaching to the masses. Jesus is now in an Upper Room with His closest disciples, the twelve, eating a meal and speaking plainly to them about His departure. What He will say to them on the eve of His betrayal, arrest, and death will be crucial. The Lord will prepare them as much as possible for what lies ahead. He is leaving, but it is not the end of the world or mission. As they sat in the Upper Room, Christ’s glorification was only beginning.

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He Loved Them to the End (1)
The first verse marks a transition in the Gospel of John. This verse, which is one, long sentence in Greek, is an introductory statement to the rest of the book. Christ’s love is about to be put on display. When human history comes to its darkest moment, Christ will shine all the more brightly.

We are told that this sequence takes place before the feast of the Passover, that is, we have now come to a moment just before the Passover celebration. Jesus knew that His hour had come. Christ has been aware of His coming “hour” from the beginning of His earthly ministry. All the way back in John 2, when Jesus performed His first recorded miracle, He said to Mary, “My hour has not yet come.” In chapter 7, the reader is told that the Lord’s opponents tried to take Him away, but He miraculously escaped, “because His hour had not yet come.” The same things happens in John 8. As His hour neared, Jesus was fully aware. In chapter 12, Jesus is somewhat signaled that the time has come. When the Jewish authorities are at the height of their hatred toward Jesus, there are many Gentiles who are wanting to see Him. Jesus says, “The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified.” The “hour” is the appointed time of Christ’s death, resurrection, and crucifixion. Picking up on Jesus’ reference to all of this, John lumps these events together and calls them Christ’s “glorification.” Jesus then says in chapter 12, “For this purpose I came to this hour. Father, glorify Your name.”

So, when we come to chapter 13, John reminds us that Jesus’ hour has come, and Jesus is fully aware of that fact. He will leave this world and go to the Father. He will go back to His place in glory at the right hand of the Father. Remember, this is the Word that we are talking about. Chapter 1 told us that, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.” The eternal Word, who descended from heaven and put on flesh, would be returning to heaven after completing His mission. He is the Creator of this world and stands above it, but for a time entered into it in order that He may redeem it by His own blood.

Although Jesus would be leaving the world, He had loved His own who were in the world all along. Jesus was invested in the men and women who were gathered around Him. He loved the men whom He had chosen. Not only had He loved them during His time with them, but He loved them to the end. This word, “end,” refers to more than what may meet the eye. It refers to completion, fullness, and to the uttermost. When Jesus cried out on the cross in John 19, “It is finished,” He was using the same word as here. The full extent of His love would be shown on the cross by His sacrificial death. He loved them to the end of His time on earth with them. He loved them to the completion of the mission and fulfillment of the promises of Scripture. He loved them to the uttermost in humbling Himself to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore, when John says He loved them to the end, He is not referring to only what happens in the next few paragraphs, but to what happens in the remainder of the Gospel story (which is why I think that 13:1 is an introductory statement to the remainder of John’s Gospel account).

The Betrayer’s Heart and the Lord’s Mind (2-3)
After getting the big picture of what is now going on, verse two takes us into a particular scene. Jesus is gathered in the Upper Room with His closest disciples, and they are eating the Passover meal together. The NKJV says that supper has ended, but a better translation would be that supper had just been served, and thus, the evening meal was actually still in progress at this point in the narrative. Of course, food is not the only thing present at the table, there is wickedness in the betrayer’s heart and there is awareness in the Lord’s mind. The opening scene presents Jesus and Judas juxtaposed.

Although Satan himself has not entered into the heart of Judas at this point (which happens not long after this), the plan is already in the works. The devil has already put the thought into the heart of Judas Iscariot to betray the Lord. The devil had been working on Judas for some time now. Judas has been shown to be a lying, thieving, and greedy previous to this occasion, and now the devil has Judas just where he wants the man. Although Judas had spent three years with the Lord, close by His side, and even carrying the money bag, he was weak and vulnerable to the wiles of the devil. As Jesus had previously taught in Matthew 15:19, “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.”

The devil was doing things that the men around the table could not be aware of, but Jesus was fully aware of what was going on. Not only do I firmly believe that Jesus knew what was in Judas’ heart, we also read that Jesus knew that the Father had given all things into His hands. What can this phrase mean, but that all authority was His? Although Judas would hand Christ over, Christ had all things in His hands. John wants us to know, and later we will see that Jesus wanted His disciples to know that He was fully aware of what was about to happen.

“Jesus knew” . . . “that His hour had come”
“that He should depart from this world to the Father”
“that the Father had given all things into His hands”
“and that He had come from God and was going to God.”
Let me assure you of something, JESUS KNEW!

And He always knows! Christ knows your heart, and, not only that, He knows what you are going through. He has experienced this life for Himself.

The Footwashing (4-5)
Verse four makes clear that supper was still ongoing. In the midst of a celebration and meal, the Lord stands up, takes off His clothes, and heads to the water basin near the entranceway. Notice that the word “garments” is plural. He took off more than His outer cloak. Apparently, He stripped down to only a loin cloth like a slave. He then wrapped a towel around His waist. Jesus was doing the unthinkable! In the homes of that day, there would have been a basin of water by the door and a servant to meet you whenever you came into the house. It would not be just any servant, but it would be the lowliest slave who had footwashing duty. The roads were dusty and trashy, and the people only wore sandals. Thus, although they may have had a bath that morning, after walking the roads during the day, their feet would need to be washed upon entering a house.

It is obvious that none of the disciples decided to humble themselves to wash their colleagues’ feet and not even their Lord’s. Of course, this is not unexpected. The disciples had been arguing for some time now who would be the greatest in the Lord’s coming kingdom. All of the men gathered in that Upper Room to celebrate the Passover and eat the meal, but there was no servant there to wash their feet and none of the disciples volunteered for the lowly task. Therefore, Jesus saw an opening and decided to act out a lesson.

Peter’s Disapproval (6-11)
Do you know anyone who has a foot-shaped mouth? Well, the leader of the apostles did! Peter was always the one to speak up. While the other few that Jesus washed before getting around the table to Peter remained in stunned silence, Peter speaks up. He cannot allow the Lord to wash his feet. Peter is the one who somewhat doubted the Lord when he first met Him, but soon learned to humble himself in obedience to the Lord. He was blown away by the majesty of Christ in one of those early encounters and fell down on his knees saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!” Since that time, Peter, to some degree, made it his mission to defend the Lord. He self-appointed himself as the Lord’s bodyguard. So, when Jesus says that He would suffer, die, and be raised again, Peter says, “Far be it from You, Lord.” Even after they leave the Upper Room and head to the Garden, Peter pulls his sword and is ready to fight for the Lord against the Temple guards who come to arrest Him. If no one else would speak up about the Lord humiliating Himself, then Peter would!

So, Peter asks the question in utter bewilderment, “Are you washing my feet?” And the Lord responds, “You don’t understand this now, but you will.” This is the first signal that points me to something more being taught than simply humility. Peter then rebukes the Lord, “You will never wash my feet.” To which Jesus responds, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.” So, Peter quickly changes his story, “Give me a bath then!” Jesus responds by teaching a lesson based on common practice. If you had a bath that morning, you didn’t need a whole bath again after walking the streets, you would only need your feet washed. Spiritually speaking, once you have been regenerated by the Holy Spirit, you do not have to be regenerated again every time you fall into sin; you only need to be forgiven. John, the apostle, learned this lesson and said in his first epistle, “If anyone sins, they must confess their sin and Christ is faithful and just to forgive him and cleanse him from all unrighteousness.” Jesus, then signals that not all of them were clean. Not all of them belonged to Him.

Do You Know What I Have Done to You? (12-17)
And, so, we come to the last paragraph. Because Jesus says, “I have given you an example,” many have come to this passage wanting to interpret that Jesus is simply teaching us how to be humble. He is obviously doing that, but I think it is beside the main point. There is something far greater going on in this passage. Something far greater is going on in the washing of these feet, and we have seen some signals in the passage to this truth. First of all, the whole setting somewhat sets the pace for this. This is the last night that Jesus is with His disciples. They’re in private. These are the men who are going to carry on the mission. And we have already been told in verse one that the time has come for Jesus to depart and return to the Father. Whatever preparation these guys still need they are going to have to get right now.

I think a major part of the preparation that is lacking is that they are going to have to understand what Jesus does the very next day by willing laying down His life and being crucified. This is a man who had large crowds surrounding Him who wanted to kill Him . . . stones in hand . . . and all eyes on Him. Yet, He slips away without a scratch. This is not a man who can be taken if He does not want to be taken. But, He willingly allows Himself to be arrested in the Garden. He willingly allows Himself to be dragged from one court/official to the next. He willingly lays down on a cross to have nails driven into His flesh so that He may take the sins of the world upon His sinless soul to pay our penalty as our substitute.

Jesus is fully aware of what’s going on, but the disciples are not, and as Jesus will later say, You are going to be scattered, and, Peter, you are going to betray Me three times. . . . You need to know what’s going on, and you need to know that I know ahead of time what is going to happen. Those two things are vital to this evening in the Upper Room. So, by way of preparation, I believe, Jesus acts out a prophecy; He acts out a lesson. If they could not accept Him taken off His clothes down to a loin cloth, putting a towel around His waist, picking up the water basin, and washing their feet, then they will NEVER understand nor accept what He does on the cross. When He extends it past that to this being an example that believers should do for one another, He is saying much more than, You need to wash one another’s feet on a regular basis. He is saying, You need to lay down your lives for one another. Another signal that I have this interpretation right is that the apostle John learned this lesson and later said in his first epistle, “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” The apostle John, who was sitting there in the room with Jesus, who was reclining into His bosom because he was sitting right beside the Lord, who had his feet washed by Jesus, and who was the only apostle to follow Jesus to the cross – this apostle learned this lesson, and we do well to learn this lesson too.
This is the Gospel. We worship a God, the one, true, and living God, who put on flesh and blood in the Christmas story, who humbled Himself in the first place to become a man, and then humble Himself to the point of death, even death on a cross to pay for our sins. You see, there is no atonement if the Son of God does not offer Himself as a sacrifice. There is no atonement for sin if this story is not true. If it is not true, what is your hope? What is your trust? What is going to save you? If this book is not true, then we have no hope. If this book is dead, then we are also dead. But, I believe this book is true and living, and I live because of what it tells me. He has laid down His life for us, and He has taken it up again. He has shown us that this is the way.

This is the Way: Christ’s death and sacrificial love. This is THE mark of Christianity. Not that we sacrifice others, but that we sacrifice ourselves. Our Master has done this and as His servants we are no greater. He stoops to this level, so we stoop to this level. He dies in order to pay for our sins, and we live in order to tell others that He paid for their sins. We offer our bodies as a living sacrifice that by some means people may hear the Gospel and come to a thorough knowledge of the truth and to saving faith.

Conclusion and Christian Application
(1) Let us make something clear: Christ knows your heart. He knows what is in you. He can see to the depths of you. Does He find brokenness over sin? Does He find a contrite heart? Does He find an admission of spiritual bankruptcy? Does He see a heart that is after the things of God? Or does He find pride, arrogance, selfishness, worldliness, and the like? What is your treasure?

Not only does Jesus know your heart, but He knows what you are going through. Whatever you find yourself in the midst of, whether it be a lack of necessities, relationship problems, pain, suffering, the loss of a loved one, and the like, Jesus can sympathize. He knows our weaknesses. He knows our hurts. He was betrayed by one who was close to Him for three years, a man who spent every day with Him.

(2) You must be willing to humble yourself in behalf of others. You are probably willing to do that for your kids or your family, but what about others? Are you willing to put yourself in the lowliest of places to serve your brothers and sisters in Christ? Are you even willing to show the love of Christ by humbling yourself to serve your adversaries and betrayers? Christ did and commands us to do the same for one another.

(3) You must be willing to humbly serve your fellow Christian, and you must also be willing to lay down your life for them! This may mean on certain dire occasions that you risk your physical life, but it most certainly and more regularly means that you must offer your body as a living sacrifice in service to the Lord and His church.

John 12:9-11 A Sacred Enticement

John 12:9-11       A Sacred Enticement                                WC McCarter
What in this world really grabs your attention and entices you to follow after it? Are you enticed by nice cars, beautiful clothes, or the latest technological device? I guess we all have our weaknesses and some are worse than others.
Just as we said last week about extravagance, the same can be said this week about enticements. An enticement is normally thought of in a negative sense in the Christian’s mind. We do not want to be enticed with anything or anyone other than Christ. Should we enjoy the things of this world? Sure, we should enjoy all of the blessings that have come from God, but none of them should ever draw our attention away from the things of God. I would like to share with you today about a sacred enticement. An enticement that is not Christ Himself, but points you to Him.
READ Scripture- This is the Word of God
Lazarus’ Influence because of Jesus: His Story (9)
A large crowd had gathered from Judea at the house of Lazarus, Martha, and Mary in Bethany. Many were probably from Jerusalem, and the time was so close to the Passover that many who gathered to see Jesus were probably pilgrims from all over the world. The occasion was a dinner, and Jesus was the honored guest. Lazarus was one who reclined at the table with Him, Martha worked hard at serving, and Mary was ready to show great devotion. The more I think about it, the more I believe that the three siblings might have agreed together beforehand for Mary to anoint the Lord with the precious and costly perfume that may have been a family possession.
This great multitude knew that Jesus was there, so they wanted to go see Him and be around Him. He was the one who had been teaching with great authority, no one taught like Him. He was the one who was healing all kinds of diseases, casting out demons, and performing all kinds of miracles. He was the one who had raised the dead back to life (even after four days)! Why wouldn’t you want to be around this man?
The Apostle John tells us that the large crowd not only wanted to see Jesus, but they wanted to see Lazarus who was a real-life, breathing, and walking witness to the resurrection power of Jesus Christ. Lazarus now had great influence because of Jesus. His story would be a great witness to the things of Christ. Let’s look at his story together in the eleventh chapter (read together).
Human beings are curious creatures. We want to see things, hear things, and experience things. If we get wind of something, we want to check it out for ourselves. This is not a bad thing. In fact, I think it is good and godly on many occasions. It is the crowds’ curiosity that drew them there and then to faith.
Lazarus’ Vulnerability because of Jesus (10)
How ironic is it that Lazarus’ new life may cost him his life? It is almost laughable, from a Christian perspective, but it was a very real possibility. Lazarus was now vulnerable to the chief priests who were powerful. They thought that they had authority over the entire situation. Thus, they now plotted to not only get rid of Jesus, but also the one who was a great witness to the supernatural power of their enemy. The religious leaders planned to put Lazarus back in his rightful place: the grave.
Although Lazarus was now vulnerable to the evil plots of the chief priests, they really meant nothing. Lazarus had now experienced resurrection power. He now knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that Jesus is the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in Christ, though he may die, he will live! I imagine that Lazarus would have no fear of the folks who could harm his body because he trusted the one who could raise both his body and soul from the dead!
Lazarus’ Influence because of Jesus: His Evangelism (11)
Why did the chief priests ate Lazarus so much? First, because he hung out with Jesus. Second, because many Jews left their allegiance to Jerusalem and believed in Jesus. Lazarus’ influence was now great in the realm of evangelism. What Christ had done in his life was more than a great story, it was a story that could change other people’s lives as well. It was a story that could draw the attention of others away from the worldly systems and to the Christ who Himself was the resurrection and the life.
Conclusion and Christian Application
(1) Do you realize that you have a story to tell? If you are a born-again believer, then Jesus Christ has done something marvelous in your life. You are a walking witness to the power and love of God.
(2) Following Christ leaves you vulnerable to this world. You are not exempt from the fallenness of the world around you. You are not immune to sickness, sorrow, persecution, or death. If you live long enough, you will suffer in this life. If you trust in the Lord, to one degree or another you will face persecution. But take courage, Christ has overcome the world. Although you may die, you will live because your Savior and Lord is the great I Am, the Resurrection and the Life. He has already conquered sin and death. You are free from its curse.
(3) Evangelism is never ultimately about what you do, but it is all about what Christ has done. He is the one who creates things out of nothing. He is the one who shines light into darkness. He is the one who brings life out of death. He makes something of nothing. Evangelism points people to Christ where they can then experience His love and power for themselves. In addition to the primary mode of evangelism, the spoken word, you can also greatly influence people in other ways. You can, like Mary, do something sacredly extravagant to point people to the Lord; or you can, like Lazarus, be a sacred enticement that points people to Christ. Sometimes evangelism can be simply who you are as a blood-bought, born-again believer.
(4) Curiosity is a great thing, but it cannot be left as simply interest in Christ. Curiosity must turn into faith. If you have not committed to Christ, you must do so. You are obviously curious and interested, but you must move beyond that to saving faith. Trust in Christ today. May you curiosity transition to love.