Humility, Holiness, Happiness, and Hypocrisy

December 31, 2019 at 1:58 pm | Posted in John | 2 Comments
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The events which took place at the so-called “Last Supper” are very different from what is portrayed in Leonardo da Vinci’s famous painting of the same name. Running through the conversation and the thoughts of Jesus and His Disciples was a theme of balancing interests: humility, holiness, happiness, and hypocrisy.

Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.

John 13:1

There is a big debate about whether the phrase “before the feast of the Passover” means before the food was actually served, or whether this scene takes place at a separate meal. The sign that Jesus’s hour had come was the requested meeting with the gentiles as Jesus traveled to Jerusalem for the Passover. “The world” appears only twice in John Chapter 13, both times in Verse 1, but in Chapters 13-17 it appears 40 times, and is used to describe what Jesus calls His people out of, and to describe where Jesus calls His people to remain and minister. Christians should be IN the world but not OF the world. Jesus loved His Disciples “unto the end” in both senses: to the uttermost degree, and to the end of His earthly life which was right at hand.

And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him;

John 13:2

The betrayal of Christ was a conspiracy involving both Satan’s will and Judas’s will. Judas was not a helpless puppet. He intended to do something evil, but the Holy Spirit does not want the readers of John’s Gosple to get the idea that Jesus was fooled by Judas’s act the way everyone else apparently was.

Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God;

John 13:3

There is dramatic tension here. The emphasis of functional control has shifted from the Father to the Son, so we would expect Jesus to deal with Judas in wrath and preemptive extermination at this point. Instead, in a mind-blowing display of humility and love, He did this:

He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself.

John 13:4

This alone is shocking. No “free” person/dinner guest would dress down like this, much less a respected and honored rabbi, and MUCH, MUCH less the Messiah.

After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.

John 13:5

The silence from 11 of the Disciples is instructive of how worldview-shattering this act was. There are no recorded instances in Jewish or Greek literature of a master washing the feet of a servant. Even Jewish slaves didn’t typically perform this humiliating task. The practice of foot-washing in a rural environment with unpaved roads and domesticated animals walking around everywhere was considered one of the lowliest, if not THE lowliest, of all menial tasks. 11 of the 12 Disciples were shocked into silence, but one of them eventually found his voice and (characteristically for him) spoke up.

Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet?

John 13:6

There were no punctuation marks for grammatical emphasis in the original language, but the Greek construction itself places emphasis on “thou” and “my,” as though Peter couldn’t believe anything about this – from the role reversal to the outrageous degradation to which Jesus was voluntarily exposing Himself.

Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter.

John 13:7

This does not really indicate that they couldn’t understand the meaning of a selfless sacrificial act of humble (even this extremely humble) service, but that they couldn’t yet grasp what this act of sacrificial abasement and service was pointing toward: the Cross. Jesus’s actions were reminiscent of some of the Old Testament prophets and their “action sermons.”

Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.

John 13:8

This is where some sacramentalists get themselves in trouble, thinking that foot-washing is a sacrament or even an ordinance. Jesus was speaking figuratively about what this action sermon represented. It was not a petty threat to “let Me serve you, Peter – or else!” He was talking about having “a part” with God – an inheritance of eternal life with the Father – symbolized here by an act of cleansing that would be done with His removal of sin on the Cross, appropriated by grace through faith.

Peter understood enough to know that ANYTHING that would take away His “part” with God in Jesus, was something of which He wanted no part.

Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head. Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all.

John 13:9-10

This is a great picture of the once-for-all cleansing of salvation and the continual “foot-washing” cleansing of confession and repentance (I John 1:9).

For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean.

John 13:11

This refers to Judas, and reminds us once again of the amazing grace and humility of the Lord, who would stoop to wash the feet of His own betrayer, knowing full well what was in his heart.

So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you? Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet.

John 13:12-14

This is the second part of the object lesson. Nothing becomes Christian service quite like genuine humility.

For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.

John 13:15-17

We can see the pattern and the order here: Humility must come first – the willingness to sacrificially serve – but holiness must also follow. There is an understanding that Jesus first served us, but not according to our selfish plans or wishes. He served us to make us holy. Make sure your service for others is directed toward making them holy, and that it does not compromise your own holiness. Then, from humility to holiness, comes happiness.

I speak not of you all: I know whom I have chosen: but that the scripture may be fulfilled, He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me. Now I tell you before it come, that, when it is come to pass, ye may believe that I am he.

John 13:18-19

Hyporcrisy is not part of the humility/holiness/happiness pattern, but it must be guarded against, first in our on hearts, then in the lives of brothers and sisters in Christ who we love.

The Dirty Girdle

December 12, 2018 at 12:00 pm | Posted in Jeremiah, parables | 3 Comments
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Jeremiah 13 contains two illustrated sermons – or parables – which God had Jeremiah act out. This was unusual behavior compared to the simple preaching and prophesying done by prophets most of the time in the Old Testament, but it was not unusual in the sense of being novel for both minor and major prophets. Ezekiel was especially known for his “action” sermons, doing things like shaving his beard and dividing the whiskers into thirds, building a little fort and tearing it down, and once lying on the ground, and moaning and groaning in pretend agony. Other examples include Isaiah preaching without his clothes and Hosea marrying a prostitute. So, what Jeremiah does here is strange, but not at all without precedent for an Old Testament prophet

Thus saith the LORD unto me, Go and get thee a linen girdle, and put it upon thy loins, and put it not in water.

Jeremiah 13:1

This was a private revelation given to Jeremiah. He was not told by God to share this message with the people. The “girdle” was probably not what comes to mind when we think of a girdle today. It’s not as if Jeremiah put on a pair of “man-Spanx” or anything like that. This would have been more like what we think of as a waist apron. Jeremiah, once on a career path to being a priest before his prophetic call, knew the significance of the “girdle” being linen. Many Jewish men wore aprons for wiping their hands on, etc., and probably to aid in girding up their loins for work or fast travel, but the linen was an unmistakable reference to the Levitical priesthood.

So I got a girdle according to the word of the LORD, and put it on my loins.

Jeremiah 13:2

Notice what’s missing between Verses 1 and 2: any mention of Jeremiah asking the Lord why he needed to do this, or of the Lord giving any explanation. If only we could all learn to obey the Word of the Lord that way – even when we have no idea “why.”

The most unusual thing about the girdle was that it could not touch water; it could not be washed. The nation of Judah was God’s priestly apron, in a sense. He “wore” it for His own glory, the way a priest would wear a linen girdle to be recognized as a priest, consecrated to God. The priests were also supposed to “serve” Him – to be used by Him to do His “work” in the world. God’s people, although they had been delivered “through” the Red Sea, had not gotten wet. Tragically, though, they had not been “spiritually washed,” either. They came out of Egypt dirty, and when God offered them clean garments of righteousness, their defiled hearts quickly made these dirty, too.

And the word of the LORD came unto me the second time, saying, Take the girdle that thou hast got, which is upon thy loins, and arise, go to Euphrates, and hide it there in a hole of the rock.

Jeremiah 13:3-4

This was a 250-350 mile trip each way, so possibly 700 miles round trip, to the Euphrates, not coincidentally the river associated with Babylon – the place where the enemy of Judah would come from and claim a victory over them because they had forsaken their God, their Cleanser and Protector.

So I went, and hid it by Euphrates, as the LORD commanded me. And it came to pass after many days, that the LORD said unto me, Arise, go to Euphrates, and take the girdle from thence, which I commanded thee to hide there.

Jeremiah 13:5-6

Jeremiah was required to repeat the long trip to retrieve this girdle that had been lying buried in the muck and moldly earth near the river, now completely useless for its originally-intended purpose.

Then I went to Euphrates, and digged, and took the girdle from the place where I had hid it: and, behold, the girdle was marred, it was profitable for nothing.

Jeremiah 13:7

Rather than allowing God to carry their sins away and exchange them for His gift of cleansing righteousness, they had buried their identification with God far from Him, among filthy pagans who worshiped filthy false gods which had no power to cleanse, protect, or restore. Why had they done this?

Then the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Thus saith the LORD, After this manner will I mar the pride of Judah, and the great pride of Jerusalem.

Jeremiah 13:8-9

They had done this because of pride. I know of nothing in the Bible which God opposes more than pride.

This evil people, which refuse to hear my words, which walk in the imagination of their heart, and walk after other gods, to serve them, and to worship them, shall even be as this girdle, which is good for nothing. For as the girdle cleaveth to the loins of a man, so have I caused to cleave unto me the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah, saith the LORD; that they might be unto me for a people, and for a name, and for a praise, and for a glory: but they would not hear.

Jeremiah 13:10-11

God calls you to cleave to Him – to STAY close – as close as underwear to the body, but, unlike underwear, to receive honor that will redound to HIS (not our) glory.

Acting Out Against Acting Up

October 26, 2011 at 10:55 am | Posted in Ezekiel | 5 Comments
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Ezekiel the priest heeded God’s call to be a prophet.

The word of the LORD came expressly unto Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the river Chebar; and the hand of the LORD was there upon him.

Ezekiel 1:3

He fell on his face when he saw the glory of the Lord.

As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell upon my face, and I heard a voice of one that spake.

Ezekiel 1:28

God picked him up and told him to stand up, be still, listen, don’t be afraid. He had something important to tell him.

And he said unto me, Son of man, stand upon thy feet, and I will speak unto thee. And the spirit entered into me when he spake unto me, and set me upon my feet, that I heard him that spake unto me.

Ezekiel 2:1-2

Christians go to church to be in the presence of God corporately with other believers, to hear the Word of God through the preaching, and to get our instructions from God. Although we might experience some overpowering emotions when we hear from God, we need to remember that one of the main reasons for attending church is to prepare for battle. We are there to get our marching orders, not to indulge in an emotional outburst.

Christian churches welcome unbelievers, and these who are sin-sick may certainly be excused for their extreme reactions to the truth or (hopefully) their exuberant rejoicing when they hear the Good News for the first time. Christians, though, need to remember that we are to yield our members to righteousness, and not to the emotional desires of the flesh.

After Ezekiel got up, he ingested the Word – God caused him to “eat” it.

But thou, son of man, hear what I say unto thee; Be not thou rebellious like that rebellious house: open thy mouth, and eat that I give thee.

Ezekiel 2:8

Moreover he said unto me, Son of man, eat that thou findest; eat this roll, and go speak unto the house of Israel. So I opened my mouth, and he caused me to eat that roll. And he said unto me, Son of man, cause thy belly to eat, and fill thy bowels with this roll that I give thee. Then did I eat it; and it was in my mouth as honey for sweetness.

Ezekiel 3:1-3

God’s people were captives in Babylon.

Then I came to them of the captivity at Telabib, that dwelt by the river of Chebar, and I sat where they sat, and remained there astonished among them seven days.

Ezekiel 3:15

Even though they were captives and they were not living the right way, God was promising them a victorious return to Jerusalem. Ezekiel was supposed to prophesy to them using “action sermons:” wordless plays in which he would act out spiritual truth.

But thou, O son of man, behold, they shall put bands upon thee, and shall bind thee with them, and thou shalt not go out among them: And I will make thy tongue cleave to the roof of thy mouth, that thou shalt be dumb, and shalt not be to them a reprover: for they are a rebellious house.

Ezekiel 3:25-26

Using a tile, he acted out the siege of Jerusalem.

Thou also, son of man, take thee a tile, and lay it before thee, and pourtray upon it the city, even Jerusalem: And lay siege against it, and build a fort against it, and cast a mount against it; set the camp also against it, and set battering rams against it round about.

Ezekiel 4:1-2

Then he had to lie down a certain way for a certain number of days and only eat certain things at certain times.

And, behold, I will lay bands upon thee, and thou shalt not turn thee from one side to another, till thou hast ended the days of thy siege. Take thou also unto thee wheat, and barley, and beans, and lentiles, and millet, and fitches, and put them in one vessel, and make thee bread thereof, according to the number of the days that thou shalt lie upon thy side, three hundred and ninety days shalt thou eat thereof.

Ezekiel 4:8-9

Can you imagine lying 40 days on one side and 390 on the other side? The significance was the 40 years of wandering by the Israelites in the wilderness after they left Egypt, and the 390 years of kings from Rehoboam, the son of Solomon.

To enact the famine in Judah, the Lord had Ezekiel alter his physical appearance. While these sermons were being acted out Ezekiel became quite a spectacle. People were showing up to watch. He cut his hair and his beard.

And thou, son of man, take thee a sharp knife, take thee a barber’s razor, and cause it to pass upon thine head and upon thy beard: then take thee balances to weigh, and divide the hair.

Ezekiel 5:1

Then he burned one-third of it on the “siege brick” to represent the famine and the pestilence of the siege.

Thou shalt burn with fire a third part in the midst of the city, when the days of the siege are fulfilled: and thou shalt take a third part, and smite about it with a knife: and a third part thou shalt scatter in the wind; and I will draw out a sword after them.

Ezekiel 5:2

A second third he hacked to bits with a sword, and the last third he scattered in the wind, representing the Jews taken to Babylon in captivity, who were spread and lost among the Gentiles. A small amount he bound up in the hem of his garment – representing the “remnant.”


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