Relevant Passages John 13:1-30; 17
Real Greatness. If Jesus’ strong claims to divinity as recorded in the earlier chapters of John are separated from his real life of service and his passion, they could sound very arrogant indeed. But when we see the Creator of the universe and the Redeemer of humankind on his knees washing the feet of his disciples in John 13, we glimpse the essential character of God. And then we hear Jesus’ prayer for those he loved in chapter 17. Together, these two chapters are a powerful testimony to the God who came not to be served, but to serve and to give his life a ransom for many.
- Jesus. In our self-centered world, those who are in authority are accustomed to being served by others. Jesus’ way stands in stark contrast with all that, demonstrating the essence of His kingdom by serving his disciples. How does the believer live in the presence of a God who is so gracious as to wash his servants’ feet, yet at the same time is the Creator and Redeemer of the world? Is Jesus’ example meant for us, showing us how to be gracious givers and gracious receivers of gifts? Is it sometimes more difficult to be served than to serve?
- Peter. Peter is a prime example of someone who would rather serve than be served. He objected to being served by Jesus. Jesus was graciously willing to have his feet washed by Mary and was equally willing to graciously wash the feet of those whom he knew would face very difficult times in the next few hours and days. How does Jesus’ example enable us to be gracious givers and gracious receivers?
- Judas. John’s Gospel frequently tucks in asides about Jesus’ knowledge of Judas’ plans. His purpose is revealed in John 13:19: he didn’t want the disciples to think that he had been naively taken by surprise. Yet Jesus worked patiently with Judas for three years, never blowing his cover publically. Interestingly enough, in spite of the statements in John indicating definite divine foreknowledge of Judas’s plans, Desire of Ages hints at the possibility of repentance along the way. Jesus’ last appeal is described as follows:
But Judas was not yet wholly hardened. Even after he had twice pledged himself to betray the Saviour, there was opportunity for repentance. At the Passover supper Jesus proved His divinity by revealing the traitor’s purpose. He tenderly included Judas in the ministry to the disciples. But the last appeal of love was unheeded. Then the case of Judas was decided, and the feet that Jesus had washed went forth to the betrayer’s work (DA 720).Could Judas’ case be like that of the ancient Ninevites who repented at Jonah’s preaching? If Judas had repented, might God have repented, too?
- The prayer. In John 17, Jesus lays open his heart for his disciples. He prays that they might be protected from the evil one and that they may experience unity with God in the same way that Jesus had experienced that unity. Is John 17:20, the reference to those who would believe through the words of he disciples, a special verse for those of us who live almost 2000 years later?