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Posted By Nan

John 13:18
Now that the disciples are washed, the meal commences. However, time is now limited and Jesus has much to teach the disciples. One of the things I love about writing this blog is that I read the scriptures with completely new eyes and see so many things in them that I have not seen before. Of course I would not see them if the Holy Spirit was not guiding me, but I am so thrilled that I have that opportunity to have new aspects of the scriptures revealed to me.
What really struck me when reading verse 18 again was the comment “I know those I have chosen”. If you go back to John 10, especially verses 3-4 and 11-18, you will see that Jesus refers to the Good Shepherd who calls his own sheep by name (because he knows them) and who lays down his life for his sheep. In these verses Jesus identified Himself as being the Good Shepherd and pointed out that His Father loved Him because He lay down His life of his own accord, with the authority given to Him to do so and takes His life up again in obedience to His Father’s command.
It is no accident that Jesus refers to this teaching at the last supper. He wanted His disciples to remember the teaching He had already given them. It is quite likely that they did not make the connection at the time, but it is also obvious that John at least later made the connection, no doubt through the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
It is also interesting in this verse that Jesus says he is not referring to all the people assembled in that room. This is an interesting point to consider. When talking to people as part of a Christian talk, giving a sermon in a church, writing a blog and so forth, it is definite that not all people listening/reading will be those Jesus knows. Of course, some of those people may at some later time become people Jesus knows, but some may never reach that point. It is important to remember that in any Christian organisation or gathering, there will always be non-believers. Some are seeking and will find and others will never reach that point. In this way, Judas was one of those in the crowd who was destined forever to be a non-believer. But of course, we do not know who will never come to faith, so we must always approach every person we meet as a potential believer, but be mindful of the fact they may never become one. We must never be like some Christians who believe that God has predetermined who will believe in Jesus and who will not. Therefore there is no need to spread the Good News about Jesus Christ to others. I do not know whether God has predetermined who will believe or whether He just knows who will believe. What I do know is that Jesus told us to teach others about Him. But we will get to that later.

 
Posted By Nan

John 13:1-17
This section covers the washing of the disciples’ feet by Jesus. In those days, a person going to a feast would have a bath before going. When they arrived at the feast, the only part of them that would be dirty would be their feet. Their feet would be washed by a servant before the start of the feast. Jesus however, chose to wash the feet of his disciples as the meal was being served. Jesus was their teacher, one whom they respected. It was not Jesus’ place to perform such a menial task. Verses 2 to 5 record that Judas had already been tempted by satan to betray Jesus and that Jesus knew this. It also records that Jesus was aware that all things had been put under his power by God, that He had come from God and that He was returning to God. So we have a picture of Jesus being fully aware of being greater than all other men but behaving like the most menial servant by washing the feet of His disciples. This is a contrast to 12:1-10 when Mary washed Jesus’ feet with perfume and wiped his feet with her hair. In that incident she put Him well above her, now Jesus is putting Himself below His disciples.
In verse 1 we are told that Jesus’ showed the full extent of His love by washing the disciples’ feet. It appears this passed without incident until Jesus reached Peter. Peter, acting out of a mixture of humility (Jesus should not wash his feet, rather he should wash Jesus’ feet) and pride (he wanted to tell Jesus what He should do) states that Jesus shall never wash his feet. Jesus response is to tell Peter that he does not realise what Jesus is doing, although a time will come when he will understand. When Peter refuses, Jesus tells him that unless He washes his feet, Peter will have no part with Him. Having realised his mistake, Peter tells Jesus to wash his hands and head as well. Again, he was expressing his wholehearted support for Jesus, but still in a way that was telling Jesus what to do! Jesus response was to say that someone who has had a bath only needs their feet cleaned and the men assembled there were clean, well most of them. I suspect by now no-one dared ask Jesus what He meant by that. Of course Jesus knew that Judas had betrayed Him so was not clean.
When Jesus finished He dressed and returned to His place.  Now was the time to teach His disciples.
“Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked.
He continued: “You call me teacher and Lord and that is correct because that is what I am. Now that I your Lord and teacher have washed your feet you should also wash one another’s feet.”
By now they must have really been wondering. Jesus continued “No servant is greater than his master, and no messenger is greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things you will be blessed if you do them.”
What Jesus meant was that in order to be great, it is necessary to be a servant to others. This means we do not put ourselves above others and behave as though we have power over others and deserve the sort of adulation the Pharisees and teachers of the law demanded. Humility was also important to Jesus, and He was about to humble Himself in a mighty way. Selfless service was also an important message, which Jesus was about to do. Humility and selfless service are hallmarks of a good servant.
In more modern counselling practices we are taught not to have power over others, but instead to resist the temptation to use the inherent power in the counsellor position and allow the client to be an equal partner. I see this as being the type of expectation Jesus was expressing here. We are to walk on our life’s journey with others, not as better or worse than them, but as equal partners. We serve where needed and accept service from others where needed, and we do it all in obedience to Jesus.

 
Posted By Nan

John 12:44-50
Following on from Jesus’ wonderful foundation words about faith is the consequence of not accepting those words. The consequence was not to be judged but to be saved. Jesus indicated a time would come when that judgement would occur. That day would be the last day.
I think that those listening to Jesus would have expected to be told that failure to accept Jesus and believe His words would be met with terrible condemnation. So what would lead them to think that? The attitude of the Synagogue leaders was one of condemnation for all those seen as being “impure”. There are many references just in John to Jesus’ attitude to those people. However, the best description of the extent to which secular interests had corrupted them is seen in Matthew 23.
The Pharisees and teachers of the law saw themselves as being perfect and would not associate with anyone they considered impure. But their attitude was wrong. It was the simple people with the true faith who looked to God, not to secular interests, who were the righteousness in God’s eyes. Sadly, the Christian church has been no different. In Matthew 23 Jesus makes the following observations about the Pharisees and teachers of the law. As you read this, consider how many churches, both in the past and the present, have done this:
• They put heavy burdens (guilt and condemnation) on men’s shoulders but do nothing to lift them (do not offer forgiveness or salvation)
• They do everything for people to see and expect to be treated with honour.
• They seek to exalt themselves above others when Jesus calls for His disciples to be humble.
• They condemn people and tell them they are sentenced to hell.
• They go to great lengths, even sending missionaries, to gain converts then bind them with rules and regulations that have not come from God.
• They give more credence to earthly possessions than to the sacredness of God.
• They stick to the legalism of tithing 10% but do not do what Jesus considers is the important part of the law – justice, mercy and faithfulness.
• They seek to present a clean exterior and put more faith in that but inside they are greedy and self-indulgent. It is all about appearances but Jesus sees the inside, not the exterior.
Throughout its history the Ekklesia that Jesus envisioned has been corrupted by people who put secular interests ahead of God. This has sadly resulted in many churches condemning and turning away those in need of Jesus’ love. This is not to say that all churches do this. There have always been Christians who are true to Jesus and follow His instruction to love others and reach out to them. Many churches today reach out in love and do not condemn those who reject Jesus’ word. Instead they become channels of Jesus’ love and in so doing, open the way for many of those people to come to know Jesus. This is the salvation Jesus came to earth to give. The condemnation people will face on that last day will be to be judged for how they responded to that word. If they rejected it, only then will they stand condemned. As Christians we are called to be Jesus’ love and witness to the world. We do not have the authority to judge or condemn. We also should never give up witnessing to people, because it will never be too late until the last day.

 
Posted By Nan

John12:44-46
In my last blog I talked about the power of the verses in John 12:44-46 and how I can never move past them until I have sat at the throne for a while. As I contemplated those verses I was reminded of the fact that some Jehovah’s Witnesses, who seek to lead people away from Jesus, have rewritten those verses in John 1 to read “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was a god.” I realised that this rewrite was intended to remove the power of that verse because it is a very powerful statement.
In Matthew 7:24-29 Jesus relates hearing his words and putting them into practice to a wise man who built his house on rock so that when there are floods and storms, his house will stand. However those who do not heed his words and do not put them into practice is like the fool who built his house on the sand so that when the floods and storms came, his house was swept away. The Bible notes the people were amazed at Jesus’ teaching because He taught with authority, which even the teachers of the law did not do. We know that Jesus taught with authority because He was God, an essential part of the Holy Trinity.
Of course those who seek to corrupt the word and lead people away from Jesus will deny Jesus divinity. He will become a “god man”, “a god”, “just a prophet” and all reference to Him being the Son of God and being God will be removed. That is dangerous, remove Jesus and your faith foundation is built on sand.
We need to recognise Jesus’ authority and build our faith on His word. John 1 is one of the most important foundation stones of that faith. John 12:44-46 is another stone in that strong foundation.
There are many more foundation stones, can you think of any of them?

 
Posted By Nan

John 12:44-46
The beautiful words contained in these verses are so lovely to read.
When a man believes in Jesus, he does not believe in Jesus only but in the one who sent Him. When a man looks at Jesus, he sees the one who sent Jesus. Jesus came into the world as a light so that no one who believes in Jesus shall stay in darkness.
These words draw us back to the opening verses of John where we are told about the Word, who was with God and was God. The Word through whom all things were made and without whom nothing would have been made. The Word was life and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness but the darkness has not understood.
This is taken from Isaiah 9:2 “the people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned” (NIV). This continues in verse 6 “for to us a child is born”.

If you have time I strongly recommend you read Isaiah 9. The words in that chapter are so beautiful. Also it would be good to re-read the verses in John 1:1-18. As I have said before I love the words in these verses, and what is written here is just as beautiful.
For me these verses capture the core of my belief and I love the imagery of the light coming into our dark world. These verses never cease to move me, powerfully and I can never move past them without spending considerable time meditating on them and sitting at the foot of the throne in delight.
Today I invite you to do the same. Because this is what our faith is about. It is about our relationship with Jesus, and through Him with God.
So sit, for as long as it takes, in the light at the foot of the throne and gaze into the wonderful face of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

 


 
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Nan
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