A Current Bible Study:

John Chapter 13

    I love to sing "Jacob's Ladder." For me Christ is that ladder. A ladder to Heaven. In this passage Jesus provides a ladder from the Old Covenant worship seen in Chapter 12 to the New Covenant worship He describes so well in His sermon in Chapter 14. Read John Chapter 12 to get a clear understanding of the sad state of worship before Christ's resurrection (see John Chapter 20) and the Day of Pentecost (see Acts Chapter 2). With the Messiah finally present in Jerusalem, what we mostly see among the religious folk is fear, bitterness and treachery. God lets us see that for our benefit, so we don't slide down to this level in the New Covenant Church today. We are supposed to be raised to the level of a "better covenant" (see Hebrews 8:6-13). Lift us right now, Father, through Your Word, and Your Spirit:

John Chapter 13, Verse 1- "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."
    This is leadership by example. If you make a covenant with a man you may run into a problem. No matter how enthusiastic people are at the beginning of a thing, we sometimes get distracted along the way. I think you know what I mean. But with our Lord the end is just as strong as the beginning. Indeed God, Who created this world in perfection, is going to stay true to His plans right through to the end of this world. That is His personality, and it is revealed here in the Person of Christ.

Verse 2- "And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him;"
    Judas was disciple on the outside, but devil on the inside. O, beloved, I need to search my heart today, and so do you. Later we will see exactly what is happening to Judas. God is letting us see right into this man's heart, so that we can guard our own hearts today. Even with all our blessing in the Church we are not immune to Judas' fate.

Verse 3- "Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God;"
    Jesus is about to humble Himself before these disciples. Look at the confidence He has. Real humility takes courage and confidence. Confidence in God.

Verse 4-5- "He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. After that he poureth water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded."
    Do we really want to be like Christ? Anyone who claims they do needs to read these verses carefully. This is the Truth. This is Christ's example to us. This is how we SHOULD treat one another. This is Christ's cure for Church squabbling. He was preparing to die, friend. He really wanted to make His point very plain. By the end of this chapter He will wonderfully put all this into words for us.

Verse 6- "Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet?"
    Sometimes when we get a look at the real Jesus, we object the way Peter did. My way is better, Lord, we say. If not in words, we say it with our attitude and actions. This always gets me sliding backwards down the ladder instead of climbing up where the Lord wants me to be.

Verse 7: Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter.
     Thankfully, our Lord did not come to judge our weaknesses, but to fix them, and to save us (see John 12:47). Jesus could see the Christian in Peter way before the Resurrection and that Day of Pentecost. I believe this is still true today. Christ still sees the potential inside the unbeliever. And He longs to foster growth and spiritual life. It is those of us who already believe who are, may a I say, getting in His way today. When was the last time you looked upon the spiritually ignorant with love for what they could be in Christ? Re-read John 12:47. It causes me shame to think that I have often set myself up as a judge of the unbelievers when I should have been looking and longing for their salvation.
     By the way, Jesus was right about Peter. Peter became a man of great spiritual understanding, and even more importantly, a man of great spiritual courage, humility, and love. There are many Peters wasting away today because the Church has failed to recognize the great potential of the lost. And in a much less apparent way, the Church is wasting away, too.

Verse 14- "If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet.'
    In verses 12-20 Jesus stops and clearly explains to the disciples what the foot washings meant. I don't know if maybe sometimes the disciples might have gotten dumb looks on their faces. It seems like there are places in the Gospels where the Lord would stop and just spell everything out for them. I know I need His patience as I try to study His Word today. Verse 14 insures that we won't be able to miss the point. We must love one another, at ALL COST. Like Peter, I want to see if this can be optional.  Well friend, I've found out the hard way: IT CANNOT BE MADE OPTIONAL. It is a requirement of the New Covenant. With the commandment comes a corresponding blessing in Verse 20:

Verse 20- "Verily, verily I say unto you, He that receiveth whomsoever I send receiveth me; and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me."
    WOW! Look at the company you are in when you go out in the name of the Lord today. O my, this ladder goes all the way into heaven itself! You just can't go any higher than this, beloved. You meditate on this verse long enough and you'll start wanting Him to send you out. Hallelujah!

     Before we get to the great climax of this chapter, we must re-visit Judas and Peter.

Verses 26-27- "Jesus answered, He it is to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it. And when he had dipped the sop, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. And after the sop Satan entered into him. Then said Jesus unto him, That thou doest, do quickly."
     Judas is now clearly identified as the traitor in the group. Notice carefully what has happened to him. Way back in the second verse we saw that Satan had gained access to Judas' heart. Now the Devil has completely moved in. This is a sickening process. Doubly so since it has occurred among Christ's followers. But the lesson for us is to love and let go of anger. Bitterness is Satan's key to our hearts. Judas had first harbored strife in his heart. Only later were Satan and the worst kind of treachery manifested. Remember how angry he became when Mary poured out the perfume (see John 12:3-8) on Christ's feet?
     Please do not say, "So what does that have to do with me?" We are all susceptible. Can you see through this example of Judas that in a perverse way, Satan is knocking at the door of our hearts, even as Christ does. He wants in. And O the havoc and suffering that may ensue. But God is instructing us here to close that door of anger and bitterness. We should be washing not wrangling. Satan is always looking for places to enter in among us today. Listen as the Apostle Paul reminds the Church of this in Ephesians Chapter 4, verses 26-27:

"Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil."

     What is happening to Peter is presented as an example for our benefit, also:
Verses 37-38- "Peter said unto him, Lord, why cannot I follow thee now? I will lay down my life for thy sake. Jesus answered him, Wilt thou lay down thy life for my sake? Verily, verily I say unto thee, The cock shall not crow, till thou hast denied me thrice."
     Peter's problem is confidence in the flesh. He is close to Jesus and knows Jesus, but as I often say, Peter needs to get to know Peter. He believes he can do it all in his own strength, but he will fail (see John 18:25). We need confidence in God to love and serve Him. Self-confidence will fail us, too. The Book of Acts records many of the miraculous exploits of Peter after the Resurrection and the Day of Pentecost. He crossed over, through Christ, from the flesh to the Holy Spirit. Humility, and love, and service to God, these are far too easy to brag about. And it can be very painful when we finally realize just how weak we are.

     Let's really listen as Jesus closes with a mandate for all of us:
Verses 31-32- "Therefore, when he was gone out, Jesus said, Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him. If God be glorified in him, God shall also glorify him in himself, and shall straightway glorify him."
    We say crucified, He says glorified. He was right. Since the day He died for us he has been receiving glory. Why, friend, you and I are glorifying Him right now! He knew that the Church He was starting would be of colossal importance. And He knew exactly how He wanted it all to be:
Verses 33-35- "Little children, yet a little while I am with you. Ye shall seek me: and as I said unto the Jews, Whither I go, ye cannot come; so now I say to you. A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another."
    What is the measure of success for the Church? Great music? Brilliant oratory? Plush facilities?
     No. No. No.

May Jesus Christ richly bless you-JKD 9/24/01


(click here BEFORE printing)               Bible Study INDEX                  HOME