So, He knew that His hour and come and then in chapter 12, verse 23, for the first time it says, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.” When He thinks about that hour, He is thinking about the glory, and this may seem strange to us, but it is the glory that is associated with the Cross and not just with the resurrection, because, “The Son of Man is going to be lifted up.” That was in chapter 12, verse 23, and then we see it repeated in chapter 13, verse one, “He knew that His hour had come.” Then, if you jump ahead, to chapter 17, and verse one, “Jesus spoke these things; and lifting up His eyes to heaven, He said, ‘Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You.” Now, from the human perspective, this hour meant suffering.
But, from a divine point of view, it meant glory. Look with me at some verses later in our chapter, verses 31 and 32, to get this perspective. “Therefore when He had gone out, Jesus said, ‘Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in Him; if God is glorified in Him, God will also glorify Him in Himself, and will glorify Him immediately’.” There is a very strong emphasis here.
So, we see the idea of Jesus being called to fulfill a purpose and if you look ahead, again, to the John 17 text, Jesus stresses this in verse four, “I glorified You on the earth having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do.” I have said this before, but when the servant of God is in the will of God, He is immortal until that work is done. Nothing can take Him away from God’s purpose. When the servant of God is seeking to do the will of God, God will accomplish His purpose. Whether it takes many years or a very short time.
So, understand, then, that you are called on a divine mission. Every one of you has a mission. Every one of us has a purpose. It is important for you to identify, and prayerfully seek, what that purpose might be. All of you have a universal purpose of evangelism and of edification; that is to say to help people to come to know Christ, and then to make Him known. You see the idea? So, you come to know Him and then you help people develop in Him. As people come to faith in Christ, then they must grow in Him. I think all of us have some purpose in that and in regard to our own arena of influence. In our geographical influence, in our vocational influence, and, third, in our biological influence, namely our family.
Then, fourth, there is the social realm of influence; people you do things with and have things in common. God has sovereignly given you, then, these four realms of influence. Some are larger than others, but my point is God has given you particular gifts, and He has given you a particular realm of influence and my conviction is that as you seek to steward those gifts in that arena of influence, you are really moving in the direction of God’s purpose for your life. I am reminded of Ephesians 2:10, “We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” Paul is saying here that God prepared us for good works and we should walk in them.
Now, the interesting thing is that we are His workmanship, but now having been created, we are now to create and form good works that are pleasing to the Father.
So, I want to stress this, and I would invite you to consider prayerfully what your personal life statement is. It would be a good thing for you to consider what that might look like. What would be your personal statement? If you had to have a purpose statement, maybe about business, you should have one for your personal life as well. I encourage you to move in that direction. It is an important issue. Jesus was very, very clear about His knowledge of the purpose of God. In verse two, it also tells us something else He knew. Not only did He know His hour had come, but He knew that Judas would betray Him. “During supper, the devil having already put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, to betray Him.” Go back to chapter six and look at verse 64. Let me read, again, this understanding. “’There are some of you who do not believe’. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that did not believe, and who it was that would betray Him.” He knew from the beginning. It is really a remarkable concept when we understand that.
Then, if we look ahead to John six, verses 70 and 71, “Jesus answered them, ‘Did I Myself not choose you, the twelve, yet one of you is a devil’? Now He meant Judas the on of Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the twelve, was going to betray Him.” One can ask, how did Jesus have fellowship with him, knowing that in His heart? I can only say there is a divine, sovereign issue here, where Judas had an accountability, which I will discuss a little bit later.
So, He knew that Judas would betray Him, and now let me stress that verse three is particularly key, He knew three things about his own identity. I want to stress this. First of all, He knew who He was. Secondly, He knew where He came from. You can guess where the third one is going to take us. He also knew where He was going. Knowing these three things is absolutely essential to what we are about to read.
So, He knew, then, His identity. He had come from God and He understood, as well, that all things were given into His hand, and that He was going back to God. That is what it tells us. “Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come forth from God and was going back to God,” and that is really a sense of His security.
So, He knew His dignity, He knew His identity, and He also knew His destiny, that is to say, His ultimate glorification. In other words, He grasped who He was. The same thing is true of us. We have a grasp of our identity, if we come to understand that where we came from is no longer from Adam, but from God.
I’ve never heard that before!
Please let me say that again.
We need to come to understand that where we came from is no longer from Adam, but from God.
Turn to John chapter one, verse 12, and you will see, and this is one of many texts about the followers of Jesus, “As many who received Him,” speaking of Christ, “To them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name.” That means that when we come to know Him, we become children of God and that is where we come from. You see the idea there? We are no longer from Adam, but we now have that tremendous dignity and sense of our identity. 1st John 3:2 also develops this theme. There it says, “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.”
So, these are very important understandings of our identity. Let me tell you about our dignity. We also know who we are. In a deep sense we have tremendous dignity, because God has given that to us as a gift. That is to say, in Ephesians chapter one, for example, you will discover in verses three to six, “The Father has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons to Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.” That tells me, then, that we have tremendous clarity about our identity. We are people who have been gifted and called by God. That tells me about our dignity as well. Regarding our security, I would use Romans chapter eight to tell us where we are going.
But, many texts tell us that. It tells us about glorification. In fact, if you wanted, this very next chapter of John even tells us about that, because Jesus says, “It is needful for Me to go away so that I can come back to you.” And then, “Where I am, you may be also, so I am preparing a place for you.” That is where we are going. His desire is for us to be with Him for all time. That is clearly a theme in the John 17 prayer, His desire that we would have intimacy with Him. Intimacy but not absorption. I stress the difference. It is not absorption, but it is immersion. You are immersed in the Trinitarian life, but you are not absorbed in it, because there will always be the ‘Creator-created’ distinction. This is unlike the religions of the East, where you do have that. The Scriptures emphasize, in a balanced way, the transcendence of God and the imminence of God. It emphasizes both distance and nearness.
So, we understand that we are creatures, but nevertheless are called to be children as well. So, knowing these three things, then, is critical to our understanding to what He will do. So, verses one through three tell us what He knew and verses four and five now tell us what He did. We see now, in verse four, “He got up from supper and laid aside His garments; and taking a towel, He girded Himself. Then He poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded.” Now, what He knew helped to determine what He did. In fact, I want to argue that because He knew who He was, He was secure enough to serve other people. You must understand how very, very humiliating such an act would seem to be. It might be analogous to Queen Elizabeth coming to your house and sweeping the floor. It just wouldn’t seem right. Although in various services, in the Orthodox Church, often you will have priests wash the feet of the poor. It would become a symbol of sacrificial service. Here is the embarrassing bit about this. Go back to the other Gospels and you will discover there were a couple of things about these disciples that make, and underscore, the theme. If you go back to Mark, chapter ten, in verses 35 to 45, there you see the disciples were squabbling about their place in the Sun. In verse 35 of Mark 10, “James and John, the two sons of Zebedee, came to Jesus, saying, ‘We want You to do for us whatever we ask of You’.” That is a great prayer, isn’t it? As if He is ever going to agree to that kind of prayer. Whatever it is, You do it. Of course, His answer was, ‘“What do you want Me to do for you’? They said to Him, ‘Grant that we may sit, one on Your right and one on Your left, in Your glory’.” They weren’t asking much, just the first and second positions forever. This is a bit ambitious. We have this interesting tension because the other disciples kind of wanted those places as well.
So, Jesus asks them this question, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” Their answer is humorous. They said, “We are able.” They are clueless as to what He meant by that. “And Jesus said to them, “’The cup that I drink you shall drink; and you shall be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized. But to sit on my right or my left; this is not Mine to give; but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.’ Hearing this, the ten began to feel indignant with James and John. Calling them to Himself, Jesus said to them, ‘You know that those who are recognized as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them; and their great men exercise authority over them. But it is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant; and whoever wishes to become first among you shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many’.” This provides context. This was few weeks before and so we have that theme. I want us to go now to only a few days before.
He is saying James and John will be baptized with that kind of death. In other words, you will suffer martyrdom, as they did. The only one who escaped that was John, and even of that we are not completely sure. It is the baptism of suffering, as I see it. In a very real sense it is an immersion into an identification with God.
So, they are saying they are willing to do something, but have no idea what it means. The cup is something more and another aspect. Some people see the Eucharistic image there. I think it is more than that. I think He is telling them they will get more than they bargained for. The cup was a cup of suffering. Remember Jesus says to the Father, “Take this cup from Me.” There is an image there of suffering on our behalf. Let us go now to Luke 22.