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.

Prophetic Foot Washing

October 30, 2019 at 9:08 am | Posted in John | 1 Comment
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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. And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him; Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God; He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself.

John 13:1-4

As Jesus disrobed and took on the appearance and attitude of the basest of servants – the lowliest of the low – He demonstrated humility to a shocking degree.

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. Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet? Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter.

John 13:5-7

The foot-washing demonstration by Jesus was done for many reasons, but chiefly it was a preview and illustrated sermon about what He would soon do to an even greater degree in His Curcifixion.

Secondarily, it was an example of how His disciples were to love and serve one another, but Jesus was not instituting a ritual or ordinance to be observed as a ceremony in the Church.

If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. 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.

John 13:14-16

Jesus used a quote from Psalm 41:9 to let the Disciples know that Judas’s betrayal would not catch Him off-guard or in any way be a surprise to Him.

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

As you study the prophetic demonstration whereby Jesus washed His Disciples’ feet, I hope you will see not only an encouragement to love and serve your fellow church members with humility, but that you will also have a greater appreciation for the amazing extent to which the Savior humbled Himself in His service on the Cross.

The Prepared Place

September 9, 2014 at 1:06 pm | Posted in Do You Know the Way?, John | 14 Comments
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At the end of John Chapter 13 three very disturbing things have happened. One, Jesus told His Disciples that one of them would betray Him. Two, He told them that He would be leaving them to go to a place where they could not go. Three, He said that even Peter would deny Him.

This was upsetting, to say the least, and it was the backdrop against which He told them what we see in Chapter 14:

Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

John 14:1-3

Jesus let them know that He knew their hearts were troubled, but He gave them the assurance that He gives all throughout the Book of John. “If you believe in God (and I know you do), then it is safe to believe in Me, too, for I and the Father are one: I am God.”

Then He told them something about Heaven: Heaven is a real place. We know this is true because Jesus spoke of it as a real place. It is not a state of mind. It is not the accomplishment of inner peace. It is not a psychological bromide for those who can’t face the reality of death or the loss of their loved ones. It is “the Father’s house,” meaning it is the eternal home of Jesus, and it is Jesus – not streets of gold or the absence of pain and sickness or the reunion of loved ones or even mansions of glory – Who is its main attraction. That’s right, Heaven’s main attraction will be Jesus. If you do not love Jesus, you would not love Heaven.

Jesus spoke solemnly and reassuringly (“if it were not so, I would have told you”) when He told the Disciples that He was going there to prepare a place, and that they would eventually – not immediately – be brought there by Him (“I will come again to receive You unto Myself”) – to be with Him (“that where I am there you may be also”).

The word translated “mansions” has more of a connotation of permanence than opulence. It is from the Greek word mone: an abode, a permanent dwelling place, not a temporary stopover. Again, Heaven is the place where true Christians will be with Jesus, not a place where “lesser” saints will envy “great” saints who have better “stuff” than us. In other words, there will be no “exclusive” communities in Heaven. However, because it is a place that Jesus is “preparing” (and has been for over 2000 years), it will surely be far more magnificent than what we can imagine. The God Who spoke the unfathomable universe into existence in six short days has been preparing our eternal home for 2000 years! I don’t know if you’re ready “to go,” but surely we are all excited about seeing it

This was Jesus’s first assurance to soothe the troubled hearts of His Disciples. We don’t know everything (or even very much) about Heaven, but we do know “the Way.” Jesus Christ is the only Way to Heaven.

Next time, we will see that the way to the prepared place is the particular path.

Different Types of Burdens

August 3, 2010 at 1:10 pm | Posted in Galatians, Uncategorized | 12 Comments
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One day, Jesus of Nazareth stood up in a busy corner of the marketplaces of Capernaum. People were rushing to and fro, busy with the cares and concerns of everyday life.

This Jesus began to speak openly, and He said a remarkable thing.

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Matthew 11:28-30

Psalm 55:22 tells us, “Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.” Galatians 6:2 says, “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.” And then, there is this interesting Scripture:

For every man shall bear his own burden.

Galatians 6:5

So, which is it? Are Christians supposed to accept the invitation of Christ, and exchange our heavy burdens for His light one? Are we supposed to cast our burdens upon the Lord? Should we find someone else to bear our burden for us? Or, is it back to square one: each person bearing his or her own burden? The answer lies in the type of burden to be borne.

First, there is the burden of the soul’s concern for the chronic cares of survival and mortality itself. This burden will wear us down, and eventually crush us, if we try to carry it in our own strength through the everyday trials and struggles of life. This burden must be exchanged for the burden of our Master. His burden is a joyful reminder that, one day, we will spend eternity with Him. The thought that the tears, pain, and death, which are inevitable in this earthly life, will one day pass away, is a burden which is light and easy to bear.

Second, there are some burdens which God never intended for you to bear. These include physical infirmities, overwhelming circumstances, and the never-ending battle against the temptation to sin. These burdens are to be cast upon the Lord. He will bear them for us.

Third, there are some burdens which may be shared with a brother or sister in Christ. These include burdens which can be alleviated through prayer, encouragement, and charitable giving. When you see someone bearing a burden that you can share, do not hesitate to fulfill the law of Christ: “Love one another.

Finally, there are burdens which God wants each of us to be attentive to on our own. These burdens help strengthen us, and make us more like Christ. When I am tempted to meddle with someone else’s burden just out of idle or morbid curiosity, and not a desire to truly help, I will be better off concentrating on bearing my own burden instead.

Getting Your Feet Wet

November 3, 2009 at 1:34 pm | Posted in BiblicalSwimming, Ezekiel | 7 Comments
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There is a progression in Ezekiel 47 as God’s angel shows Ezekiel the marvelous waters flowing from the throne of the Lord.

And when the man that had the line in his hand went forth eastward, he measured a thousand cubits, and he brought me through the waters; the waters were to the ankles. Again he measured a thousand, and brought me through the waters; the waters were to the knees. Again he measured a thousand, and brought me through; the waters were to the loins.

Ezekiel 47:3-4

The progression is upward and gradual. The waters reach Ezekiel’s ankles, then his knees, and then his loins.

When God wanted to show Ezekiel a picture of His grace in the form of great waters, He could have simply arranged for a great deluge to fall from above onto Ezekiel’s head. But He did not do this. Instead, the Bible has given us a great vision of God’s grace as a rising stream.

You may have seen someone approach a swimming pool or the shoreline at the beach, not yet knowing the temperature of the water. It is common on such occasions to see people testing the water with their feet. It is also common to see others sitting or standing in such a way that only their feet are getting wet. There is something reassuring and refreshing about cool water on our feet.

https://thetompostpile.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/img_1459.jpg

When Jesus demonstrated His great willingness to be a Servant to His Disciples, He washed their feet (John 13:4-16). Jesus did this for a number of reasons. One of them may have been to demonstrate that feet would be important in the Apostles’ ministry. On these feet they would go throughout the world, spreading the Good News of the Kingdom. Therefore, their feet, prior to their holy errands, needed to be cleansed and sanctified. Another reason may have been to remind the Disciples of the refreshment that comes with being in the presence of Jesus. In the dry and dusty lands of Bible times, cool water on the feet was a very refreshing thing (and it still is even today!) In fact, the first time the word “feet” appears in the Bible, it is in reference to washing, rest, and refreshment (Genesis 18:4).

For those who are weary from traveling in their own strength, but are a little wary of plunging head first into the deep end of God’s presence, God is patient to send His grace in a rising stream, so that new believers may first find refreshment and adjustment by going in ankle deep. Let us never make the mistake, however, of thinking that God’s grace is not deep enough to overflow the highest obstacles in our life.

…where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:

Romans 5:12

The Remedy for Mood Swings

July 21, 2009 at 8:32 am | Posted in Biblical Doctoring | 11 Comments
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During his later years, Simon Peter, the disciple and apostle of Jesus Christ, was a shining example of a Spirit-filled Christian. However, this was not always the case. Like many of us, Peter started off his Christian life sometimes acting like a tantrum-throwing toddler or a moody teen-aged child. We’re talking about a man who went from refusing to allow Jesus to wash his feet in one breath, to demanding that He wash his whole body, in the next. (John 13:6-10)

What caused the change from this Peter to the man we see in the epistles I and II Peter: the spiritually mature believer? The answer is that he grew in grace and knowledge.

But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.

II Peter 3:18

Nature teaches that the keys to physical and mental growth are a healthy diet, exercise, and caring companionship. These are good illustrations for the balance needed for spiritual growth also – growth in grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus. Believers must partake of spiritual food: the bread of life, which is the Word of God. Also, they must be active in obedience and good works: Christian love, or “charity.” Finally, they must learn to fellowship with other believers in caring for, and being helped by, the Church.

Christians who swing violently from one extreme to the other in spiritual matters are demonstrating spiritual immaturity. Those who are growing are marked by consistent Bible-study and obedience, active service in sharing the love of Christ, and in regular church attendance and ministry to the living saints.

The Breaststroke

January 14, 2009 at 10:01 am | Posted in BiblicalSwimming, Isaiah | 6 Comments
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USA Swimming defines the “breaststroke” as “the oldest stroke, dating back hundreds of years.” It is a type of swimming in which the swimmer uses “simultaneous movements of the arms on the same horizontal plane. The hands are pressed out from in front of the breast in a heart-shaped pattern.” It is often said to be a type of swimming which requires great endurance because the swimmer is constantly exerting effort.

This type of swimming stroke exemplifies one of the images the Bible gives of God moving on behalf of His people, as He saves them from the midst of their enemies.

And he shall spread forth his hands in the midst of them, as he that swimmeth spreadeth forth his hands to swim: and he shall bring down their pride together with the spoils of their hands.

Isaiah 25:11

As God spreads forth His hands among the enemies of His people, we get a mental picture of His hands making the shape of a heart, representing His love for His children. The enemies are then pressed away and aside, along with their pride and their ill-gotten gains. God’s endurance, unlike that of a human swimmer, knows no limits, as He is all-powerful. If you feel you are drowning in a sea of suffering, misery, or even apathy, admit your sin, smite your heart of pride, and call upon the Lord for mercy (Luke 18:13). He will rescue you, and pull you close to His heart, so that you may fellowship with Him and share His secrets (John 13:25).


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