John 13 Part 1

From the House of The Nazarene. This will be a very in-depth deep dive study of the Book of John.
Let’s begin this sermon with a prayer. Lord, we give thanks for this day and for Your word that instructs us and gives us guidance and counsel. I pray we would be a people who would be receptive to it and to apply what we hear.
We pray in Jesus’ name.
Well, we approach, now, the second major portion of the Gospel of John. The first portion of John’s Gospel was the ‘book of signs’ and that was chapters one through twelve.
In the ‘book of signs’ we saw where there would often be a discourse followed by a miracle, or a miracle followed by a discourse. Typically, you would have this theme of the act itself, often Jesus would present Himself and then there would often be a discourse. The point is that these signs and Jesus’ interpretation of the signs go together. His claims and His credentials match up with one another. That was the idea; the claims and credentials were consistent and both point beyond themselves to His true authority. The uniqueness of Christ, then, is not merely a matter of what He claimed, but also what He was able to accomplish. So, in chapters one through twelve, what we see there is the climax of His ministry and being rejected by the religious leaders of Israel at the end of chapter 12. This was the public aspect of His ministry.
So, these were signs to the public. Now we have the ‘book of glory’, as we might call it. This covers chapters 13 through 21. This is really to His disciples. It is private. What has taken place, then, is the final, or official, rejection of Jesus, ‘Yeshua ha Machiach’, by His own people, takes place. He has made His final appeal to them at the end of chapter 12, when He says, beginning in verse 47, “If anyone hears My sayings, and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. He who rejects Me and does not reject My sayings, has One who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day.
For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me a commandment as to what to say and what to speak. I know that His commandment is eternal life; therefore the things I speak, I speak just as the Father has told Me.” But, we know that the people rejected Him. In fact, if you go back to verse 37, “Though He had performed so many signs before them, yet they were not believing in Him.” This is the fulfillment of the text in Isaiah that talks about the fact that the Messiah Himself would be rejected by His own people.
So, He has now completed His signs and because He is rejected by His people and in view of the mounting opposition, the ‘book of glory’ will take place. When I say glory, what I mean by that is now the time has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Actually, you need to understand that the crucifixion is part of that glorification. You must understand that Jesus’ death was not a tragedy. It is not a martyrdom but, rather, recall that He said earlier, in chapter ten, “No one takes My life from Me. I have laid it down on My own initiative and I will take it up again. This authority I received from My Father. Furthermore, “Was it not for this hour that I have come?”
So, that is why He says, “Father, glorify My name.” Clearly, His intention was to fulfill the work of the Father, and that is the reason why He came. The film Passion of the Christ does a really good job portraying this section of John. Recall, the text in John 10 is quoted. Also, at the beginning of the film it actually quotes Isaiah 53. It is contextualized there.
So, the idea here is that it is not a martyrdom and it is not a matter of focusing so much on who killed Him because the answer is that all of us did. Remember two of Jesus’ purpose statements, where He summarizes His mission? The Son of Man has come to do what? One of them is to seek and to save that which is lost. That is part of His purpose. His understanding of what it would take to seek and save was really one of great sacrifice. He knew the purpose for which He had come. The other purpose statement was the Son of Man has not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for the many. There is a very important verse in Galatians chapter two that relates to this matter. Paul, in dealing with the nature of the Gospel, wants to be very, very clear in the application of the Gospel. Verse 20 is very well known, and it says, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in Me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who love me and gave Himself up for Me.” However, it is the next verse I want us to focus on, “I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.”
Do you all catch the implications of that? If there was any way in which people could some how earn their way to God, by any form of works, then it would not have been necessary for God to have done such a desperate act, such a radical act. What this does, what He does then, is condemn every works-based system. It says the reason why the works system does not work is precisely because God’s Holiness is a lot greater than we suppose. Any time you suppose you can work your way up to heaven, or to earn your salvation, is to either bring God down to our level or raise us up to His level. Either we minimize sin or we minimize the Holiness of God. Actually, a grasp of grace causes you to realize both simultaneously and, in fact, it is my own conviction that the more you come to understand the difference between God’s Holiness and our sins, the more you come to understand grace, because that is what covers the difference. To put it another way, no matter how good a carpenter you are, you can never build the steps to Heaven, only Jesus of Nazareth, The carpenter can do that. And ONLY THROUGH HIS WORKS OF THE CROSS and not of ourselves!
But, what happens is that as you grow, you come to understand a higher, or deeper, level and so your understanding of grace will increase. The idea here is that the more you grasp the disparity between the nature of sin and the Holiness of God, the more your grasp of grace will be, and the great Saints always became aware of these two aspects of knowledge, the problem of the human condition and the Holiness of God, and that is why whenever a person encounters God, what will be their first response? When God manifests Himself in a very vivid way? Say, for example, Daniel or Isaiah in Isaiah six, what would be the response these people would have? Well, they would say, “I am undone,” or “Woe to me.” They would be aware of their own sins. They would be undone, even John, when he sees the resurrected Christ, he is overwhelmed, and though it actually takes God to reach down and lift us up, the point is that when people really encounter God in this real way, they are overwhelmed by that knowledge.
So, this understanding, then, must include that He came for this purpose. So, I want to stress certain things about this. In verse one through five we see Jesus’ humility and His relationship with His Father. In the ‘book of glory’, one of the themes we will observe is the issue of the hour. If signs were obvious in the first twelve chapters, the theme of the hour, and its fulfillment, is evident here. I might mention, by the way, that on Sunday Jesus entered Jerusalem, when we put the Synoptics together with John, and on Monday, that was the cleansing of the temple. On Tuesday, it was a day of conflict for the religious leaders. On Wednesday, none of the Gospels provide any information. It is a day of silence. Thursday we have what we are dealing with here, the Upper Room. There are some commentators who argue that John can not be synced with the Synoptics and claim that this is really not a Passover meal. I will not get into that because it is a little technical. However, my own view is that this is the Passover meal and it takes place on Thursday night. One of the things that we know is clear is that Judas betrays Him in the Gospel and he betrays Him here. He did not do it twice. In that context, then, we know it was the Passover meal. There is good warrant, then, to say that these can be fit together. Some continue to challenge this in an effort to refute the Gospel of John because it is such a powerful and clear Gospel. I want to look at verses one through five and I want to speak about Jesus’ humility, (this is going to get a little meaty.) This is His relationship with His Father.
Now, I want to stress something. What we have here in John’s account is unique to John. I must tell you, these chapters are extremely pivotal in the understanding of the Christian faith. In chapters 13, 14, 15, 16, and then in the high priestly prayer of chapter 17, we have the essence of the Christian faith encapsulated and these chapters contain the seeds for all the key doctrines that are developed in the Epistles. We have the essence, in these chapters, of what it means to live the spiritual life. This is extremely important for us, and John supplements the other accounts by giving us this insight that the other Gospels do not provide. In understanding this, then, we must remind ourselves that Jesus knew the hour had come. Knowing that, then, within 24 hours He would be glorified through His crucifixion, understand that He took this as His last opportunity to share His thoughts, these closing words, with the ones whom He loved most. It is very important for us to grasp that. Again, you have to imagine, yourself, that you had only 24 hours to live, but you have enough strength to gather your family and friends together and say some parting words. Ask yourself this question: what would you tell them? It is an interesting mental exercise. What would you want to share with them? Chances are pretty good you would be talking about very fundamental issues. He knew this was His last opportunity.
So, we have the key words, a farewell speech. We saw other farewell speeches, in the Old Testament, for example, and one of them is Moses’ farewell speech in Deuteronomy, where he gives a very clear farewell to the people and gives them clear exhortations. He comforts them, but also warns them. We have Joshua’s farewell speech as well, in Joshua 23 and 24, where he knows that the time has come, he is going to die at the age of 110, and he calls all the key leaders together and give them his reflections. Recall, too, this contains that famous passage, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” He says you have to choose whom you will serve, because you serve someone. That is where Bob Dylan got that line, ‘you’re going to serve somebody, maybe the devil, maybe the Lord’.
But, you will serve somebody. He is absolutely right. You will serve something. Either you will serve the creator or you will serve an aspect of the creation. The latter is idolatry because it is beneath what you were called to be. So, we have Moses, we have Joshua, and also in Acts chapter 20, we have Paul’s farewell speech to the Ephesian elders. Again, in each of these cases, we have a very clear sense of urgency, and of encouragement, but also of exhortation.
So, let’s take a look, then, at these verses and in verses one through three we have what the Lord knew. This emphasizes what our Lord knew and I want you to listen to these verses carefully because this is a very, very important text. “Now, before the feast of the Passover, Jesus knowing that His hour had come that He would depart out of this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.” Let me pause right there. “He knew that His hour had come,” chapter 13, verse one. By the way, that theme of ‘My hour’, in chapter two verse four, it was, “My hour has not yet come.” In chapter seven, verse 30, it was, “His hour had not yet come.” In chapter eight, verse 20, it was, “His hour had not yet come.” Three times this theme is developed about the timing because God’s work, as you know, must be done on His time as well as in His way, and, as well, in His power.
So, you can do a good thing at the wrong time. In all these things, the theme of ‘His hour’ is critical because one of the key ideas in the Gospels is Jesus always doing the will of the Father, always listening to His Father’s voice, and always speaking what His Father has commanded Him to speak. This is a message of radical dependence upon Him. In the same way, you and I are called as well to be people who are radical dependent upon Him, and listening, as you make decisions, for His voice, and seeking to get God’s counsel and perspective, and seeking to serve Him in every aspect of life, because everything matters. I want to stress that again; everything matters, if I understand the Scriptures correctly. There is no area that might be secular and another one spiritual. Everything matters, and the difference is, what is our source of empowerment, of energy, that draws us to God?




Continued to part 2

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