Skip Heitzig - John 13
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Father, we now focus our hearts, we calm them before you. We do so, because we know you, and we have come to trust you. And in this time of prayer, we ask you to be our teacher, that your Holy Spirit would break the bread of life, the word of God to us. As we examine these writings of John, which are more than a man writing, it is the very word of the living God, your word, inspired, written through the human instrument of John, telling us about these last hours of Jesus. Inspire us, Lord, and prepare our hearts as we then take the Lord's supper, your supper at your table in Jesus' name. Amen.
If you remember in Chapter 12, there was a meal with friends and a foot washing. It was at the house of Simon. Mary, Martha, Lazarus, the disciples, Jesus, were there. It was before the Passover. It was a house filled with friends. And Mary of Bethany took a pound of very costly oil of spikenard, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped Jesus' feet with her hair.
When we come to Chapter 13, we also have a meal among friends and a foot washing. This time, it is not Mary of Bethany, it is the master. Mary of Bethany was anointing Jesus' feet in preparation for his burial, he said. In Chapter 13, Jesus is washing the disciples' feet, preparing them for after his burial, after his death, burial, and Resurrection. It
Is just the disciples in this room. It is typical Passover meal. It is a meal that Jews have celebrated, and do still celebrate annually, marking their deliverance from the bondage of the Egyptians so many years before. And it was on this night that Jesus made the elements of the bread and the wine, we commemorate by a piece of bread and grape juice, the fruit of the vine. Symbolic of that first Passover meal that Jesus made those elements so noteworthy, what we call the Last Supper.
Now again, remember, the perspective of John, of these gospel writers. The first 12 chapters cover the first three and a half years of Jesus' public ministry. Chapters 13, 14, 15, 16, and 17, and part of 18 cover the last night of his life before he will be sentenced and crucified under Pontius Pilate. So it is weighted toward the last few hours as Jesus makes this eternal transaction for our sins.
Now every Passover, the kids ask a question. They're prompted to ask this question. They say to the dad, what makes this night different from all other nights? I want you to think about that question, in terms of if one of the disciples, perhaps, asked that question to Jesus. And perhaps one of them did. That was part of the protocol. Maybe one of the disciples, like a child would do at a Passover, following the protocol the typical Haggadah of the Jews said, master, what makes this night different from all other nights?
It was a different night. They had shared many nights with Jesus. They had shared at least two Passovers with Jesus. This is at least the third Passover that they celebrate. So they're used to the question. But this night would be different. They don't know what is coming. Jesus will hint at that, intimate at that, what he is about to go to the cross.
Now you do know, probably, most of you, that meals were considered sacred, right? To eat with somebody was an intimate form of fellowship. If you want to be close to someone, you break bread together. And essentially, that meal, that bread, that I put in my mouth, becomes a part of my body. The bread you put in your mouth from the same loaf becomes, eventually, a part of your body. So we are, in essence, becoming a part of each other.
So they considered it a sacred thing to eat with another person. This is why Paul the Apostle later on will say, don't even have a meal with somebody who claims to be a believer but is living in blatant disobedience. You are sharing a level of intimacy that can't be shared as a believer in Christ. So it is sacred, but at a Passover meal especially. It was more than just, this is a meal. This is an even more sacred meal. Because at a Passover meal is where you linger. You make it last a long time, the opposite of a fast food restaurant. It was a long food restaurant. You sit for hours and you share.
The other night, I was with a friend I hadn't seen in a few years. And we were at the table for three hours. So it wasn't Passover, but that's the idea. And that's the meaning when Jesus said in Revelation Chapter 3, behold I stand at the door and knock. And if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come and dine with him, and he with me. I will share a level of intimacy with that person who invites me to come in to come close.
Now at this Passover meal, the world is shut out. It is just Jesus' men. It is the coach getting his players together before the game. It is the General getting his men together before the battle. The world is outside. Just Jesus and his disciples are sharing this moment inside. And that's important to note. Jesus' public ministry is over. It's done. He has nothing more to say to the world, but he has a lot more to say to his men. Now if you know anything about the discourses of Jesus, you know that Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John include four, and only four, major talks, discourses, by Jesus.
The first one in the New Testament, and probably the most famous one, the most notable one, is the Sermon on the Mount. That's the first discourse. It's a public discourse. That's Matthew 5, 6, and 7.
The second public discourse recorded is called the Kingdom Parables, recorded in Matthew Chapter 13. The Kingdom of God is like this. The Kingdom of God is like that.
The third major discourse, we call it the Olivet Discourse. The Olivet Discourse, because it was preached on the Mount of Olives in front of Jerusalem. When Jesus predicted the collapse of the temple, and the disciples said, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age? And he gave Matthew Chapter 24, also mirrored in Mark Chapter 13, also mirrored in Luke Chapter 21. That's the Olivet Discourse.
Now we come to the fourth one. And this is the longest one. And this is the most significant one to us, because the world is outside, and just Jesus' closest friends are on the inside. This is to them. And that's why we love this section. And we'll just be touching on it tonight in Chapter 14, 15, 16, we'll be getting into it. Jesus' own words. If you want to look ahead, if you have a red letter edition, look at all the red letters in those chapters. Which is Jesus giving that intimate discourse to his disciples.
Now if you remember, and I do want to refresh your memory, because I left you hanging last time, as I frequently do unapologetically. But when Jesus was ending his public ministry, which ended in Chapter 12 of John, John makes a special note of how they were treating him. In verse 37 of Chapter 12, "but although he had done so many signs before them, they did not believe in him." Miracle after miracle, sign after sign, indisputable, visible evidence, and they did not believe That it might be fulfilled. The word of Isaiah, the Prophet, which spoke, "Lord who has believed our report, and to whom as the arm of the Lord been revealed, therefore, watch this, therefore they could not believe." See that?
They did not believe, therefore they could not believe. Because, Isaiah said again, "he has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, lest they should see with their eyes, lest they should understand with their hearts, and turn that I should heal them." What's the point there? Here it is. It's pretty simple. If you are unwilling to believe, you may reach a point where you are unable to believe.
The point, put in another way, is this. If you harden your heart, your heart will be hardened. In other words, you might decide, I'm going to harden my heart against the truth of God. God will come along and strengthen whatever decision you make. He did it with Pharaoh. It says, Pharaoh hardened his heart. And then we read after that, God hardened the heart of Pharaoh.
You know, I meet people who have trouble with that verse. Why would God harden his heart? Dude, you need to read context. You need to read before that. And before that, Pharaoh hardened his own heart. And God came along and said, well, then I'll harden your heart on top of that. So it's like a poker game. I see that five and I raise you 10. I see your hard heart, and I'll raise it up even another notch.
So if you are unwilling to believe, you could come to a place in your life where you are unable to believe. That's a judicial hardening. Willful hardening is followed by a judicial hardening. That's part of the judgment of God on an unbeliever. Anybody can come to Christ, whosoever will, let him come. I believe that.
I know my Calvinist friends do not believe that. But I believe that whosoever will can come, and that if you soften your heart, God will even soften it more, or he'll firm up that decision you make toward him. If you harden your heart against him, he'll firm up that decision you make against him. So that closes his public ministry.
And then, Chapter 13 Verse 1, now Jesus is going to teach them. But before he teaches, he touches. He's going to wash their feet. And the story is so precious. I mean, this is one of those chapters, I tell my fellow pastors, that preaches itself. You know, this is plug and play. You just read it. And you'll get ministered to without any explanation. But you know me, that's not going to happen.
Now before the Feast of the Passover, "when Jesus knew that his hour had come that he should depart from this world to the father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. And supper being ended, the devil already having put into the heart of Judas Iscariot Simon's son to betray him, Jesus, knowing that the father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God, and was going to God, rose from the supper, laid aside his garments, took a towel and girded himself. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which he was girded."
I hope you notice that little phrase that appears six times in the Gospel of John tucked into Verse 1 of this chapter. It's very important to John's narrative. And it's the little phrase, his hour. Look at it. "Before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come that he should depart."
Six times that phrase appears in the Gospel of John. We've already seen it a few times. First time is in Chapter 2 of John at the wedding feast at Kaina in Galilee, when Mary, the mother of Jesus, sees that the wine has run out, and says, hey, Jesus they're out of wine, like, come on. And he says, woman, what is your concern have to do with me for my hour has not yet come?
Then we followed the thread as we keep reading through the Gospel of John. And he goes to Jerusalem into the temple area. And twice we are told by John, they tried to lay hands on Jesus to seize him. But they could not, for his hour had not yet come. Now his hour has come. Now the time is up. Now the perfect timetable set for Jesus by the Father has arrived. This is it. It's showtime. It's time to go to that cross, to die on it for the sins of the world, to glorify the Father.
Jesus, in Chapter 12, even Verse 23, answered them saying, "the hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified." All of that to just undergird an important truth that I hope your soul can rest in. God is always on time. God is never late. My dad was always late. Or let me rephrase that, he was often late. When it came to picking me up at school, he was always late. There were other things he kept, he was busy, and he had his business, and he was on time for.
But when I heard my mom say, honey, would you pick the boys up today from school? I thought, oh, I have an hour to spare. He was often late, always late. When he'd pick us up, I could bank on it. That was my earthly father. My Heavenly Father is never late. He's always on time.
"The Lord is not slack," Peter said, concerning his promises. He keeps them right on time. This is the hour. This is what Jesus looked forward to his whole life, was this moment. He was marching toward that hour.
Now he has been accused of being late. Two chapters before this, he comes to Bethany with Mary and Martha, Lazarus is dead, and they basically say, you're late. Lord, if you would have been here, my brother wouldn't have died, i.e. you're late. Jesus looks at his little watch and says, I'm not late. I'm perfectly on time. He's dead, right? Good. Well, he's been dead for days. Perfect. I'm right on time. You wanted a resuscitation, hey, I got a Resurrection. Right on time.
It says, "having loved those who were in the world, he loved them to the end." Or as I believe the NAV puts it, maybe other modern translations, he wanted to show to them the full extent of his love. How does he do that? The Supper is ended. The devil has already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Verse 2 Simon's son, to betray him.
If you know your bibles, you know that a Matthew 26, this has been prearranged. Judas Iscariot has already received the money, 30 pieces of silver, and arranged for a time of betrayal. And what is that time? His hour. Not according to Judas's timetable. He thinks, I've got a plan. I got the right time. He doesn't know he's on God's timetable, as you will see.
"Jesus, knowing, Verse 3, that the Father had given all things into his hands", a very important phrase. Knowing that the Father has given him full and absolute authority, it literally means. Or he has all power. Now just think about that. Here is Jesus. Here is God in a body of flesh. He has all power at his fingertips given to him by God the Father.
And he knows it. He knows he has ultimate power, ultimate authority. He can do anything he wants to. He can turn water into wine. He can walk on the water. He can raise dead people. He has all the power at his disposal. What are you going to do with all that power? He washes feet with all that power.
When I work out at the gym, there's one portion of the gym where the free weights are. And it's where the buff guys hang out. I see them over there. I look at them, and I notice them. And they're gnarly. Some of them are tough. And they got big, defined muscles. And they're just like hanging out. They even have a snarl sometimes, they're like, it's not a tumor.
And they're big. And I one time ask one of them, I said, man, you got a lot of muscles. What do you do with all those muscles? And he looked at me, like, well, well, watch. And he, you know, flexed. I said, yeah, that's cool. But, but what do you do with all those muscles? You know, again he wanted to show me what he did with him. And that's all he did with them. So does Jesus, God in human flesh, do with all of that incredible, ultimate, spiritual, unlimited muscle, power? And that's what I want you to see. Knowing that he had all authority, he acted like a slave, a servant.
Now here's something you don't know by reading John. You have to read Luke. Something is going on that night that you may not know about. They have been arguing. They have been arguing about who's going to be the greatest in the Kingdom. Now typically, when you would walk to a place for Passover, well, when you'd walk anywhere for that matter, you didn't have close-toed shoes. All of you that I can see have closed-toed shoes tonight, for a good reason. It's stinking cold out there.
But in the Middle East, you had sandals. And your toes were exposed. Your feet were exposed. So walking on those roads, all dirt, all dust, by the time you got to the place where you were going to eat supper, you had gnarly looking feet. So to cure the gnarly feet syndrome, in every place where there was a meal, there was a pitcher of water and a towel. And it was the job of the household servant to wash the feet of the guests to prepare the guests for a meal. If there wasn't a servant in that house, probably that is the case here, they would do it to each other. That was just protocol. Or they would do it for themselves. But typically, you would do it to one another.
But they are so preoccupied with who's the greatest in the Kingdom, nobody is doing it. They're arguing about who's going to be the greatest. They're not thinking about serving. They're thinking about being a sensation. And so the greatest sensation of history, Jesus, becomes a servant to show them, this is how it's done, boys. God didn't save you to be a sensation. He saved you to be a servant.
You get down and you wash feet. Wash feet? You're the Messiah. You have all power, you're going to wash feet? I mean, that's like the President cleaning the toilets in the White House. Or it would be like the Queen of England doing the laundry at Buckingham Palace, Elvis tuning his own guitar, or, that's outdated, John Mayer tuning his own guitar. You have people to do those things. But those people weren't doing those things.
So the sensation becomes the servant. And there's a hush that falls over the room, as Jesus takes out the towel and begins to wash feet. Now I believe there's a principle here. When you have all power, and you know it, you're secure. You don't have to prove it to anybody, right? When you know who you are, you don't have to prove who you are. I want you to hear this. When you know who you are, you don't have to prove. Well, let me prove, let me show you who I am. Let me tell you about my degrees. Let me tell you about my education. Just serve. It's more dramatic when you do.
So your security comes from your identity. I know who I am. I know where I've come from. I know where I'm going. I'm going to wash their feet. It says, "he rose from the Supper. He laid aside his garments. He took a towel, girded himself. And after that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel with which he was girded. And then he came to Simon Peter. And Peter said to him, Lord, are you washing my feet?"
Boy, this guy has a keen eye for the obvious, doesn't he? It's like, I'd want to say, duh. What was the first clue? Did it take four or five disciples for you to figure that out before he got to you? Oh, yeah, he's washing feet. Lord, are you washing my feet? No, but he means that in a different way. Jesus answered and said to him, "what I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this." What Jesus did that night was more than just an example of humility. It was a parable. It was a parable, not just an example.
And the parable is that what he did on that night is what he did in greater fashion at the cross. He rose from supper. Now that's an act of your will. That's voluntary. Nobody forces you to do that. You decide in your head, in your heart, I'm going to stand up, and I'm going to do something. That's an act of your will. Jesus coming to this Earth, it's not like the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit drew straws, and whoever got the short one had to do the job. This is something Jesus voluntarily came to do. He rose up in Heaven. He rose to the occasion, you might say.
Notice the language as it goes on. "He laid aside his garments." What does Philippians, Chapter 2, tell us that he did? He emptied himself. He laid aside his garments of glory, his prerogatives of deity. He laid aside the heavenly garments, so to speak, and took on garment of flesh. He was clothed in skin. And here Jesus wraps that towel around him as a servant would. He poured water, Verse 5, into a basin. In a greater way, he will pour out his blood in a few hours, not to wash feet, but to wash souls. "He began to wash his disciples feet, and I like this, wipe them with the towel with which he was girded." In other words, Jesus finished the job.
It would be one thing to pour water on the feet and then just sort of leave their feet dripping wet, and not finish the task. But if you got wet feet, you want them dried. So what I love is that Jesus, not only washed them, but he dried them. He finished the job. I have come to do the will of the Father. And, he said, to complete it, to do all the work that is necessary.
But he comes to Simon, we just read that. And then look at Verse 8. Peter said to him, "you shall never wash my feet." Jesus answered, "if I do not wash you, you have no part with me." Simon Peter said to him, "Lord not only my feet, but also my hands and my head." Jesus said to him, "calm down, boy, down, down." Jesus said to him, "he who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean. But not all of you."
For he knew who would betray him. Therefore he said, "you are not all clean." And when he had washed their feet, taken his garments, and sat down, he said to them, "do you know what I have done to you?" I imagine, when Jesus began the process, there was a quiet that fell over the room. Everybody was going, uh, is he doing what I think he is doing? And then he comes to Peter. And those big old fisherman feet, size 13D probably, calloused, unattractive are sitting out there. Jesus begins to wash. And Peter protests.
Now one thing we know about Peter, I don't want to be too hard on him, but I need to be a little hard on him here. He always tried to be Joe Spiritual, right? Well, he did. He was the guy in Matthew 16 when Jesus said, I'm going to Jerusalem. They're going to arrest me. I'm going to go to a cross and die. But I'll raise the third day. He said, not going to happen. We're not going to let that happen. Jesus had to say, get behind me, Satan. So that shut that conversation down pretty quick. But he thought, I'm going to rescue Jesus. He didn't know what he's talking about. Peter to the rescue.
In the Garden of Gethsemane, he will try to prevent the arrest of Jesus by trying to cut off a guy's head, missing, and cutting off his ear instead. Trying to rescue God again. Don't worry, God, I got you covered. You can count on me. So he's always trying to do this.
Now I know, some of you might read this and go, oh, this is just humility. He's just being humble. Listen, you don't disobey what God says and call that humble. You call it disobedient. This is a pattern with Peter. He says, no way, Lord.
Now he'll do that again and Acts Chapter 10 when a sheep gets let down from Heaven and he sees all sorts of unkosher things in it. And the Lord says, rise, Peter, kill and eat. And he goes, no way, Lord, not so, not going to happen. That's a pattern with him.
He always thinks he knows better than God. And God is gentle with him, puts him in his place. And Peter will go on. Now he swings the pendulum. First he goes, it's not going to happen. It's a double. negative. It's, this will never happen, no, never. I'm not going to let this happen. It's a double negative. It's very strong. And then Jesus said, "then you'll have no part with me."
So now he swings the pendulum to the other side and says, "well, then not only my feet, but also my hands, and my head." That's when Jesus said, "he who is, now watch this word, bathed." See the word bathed? It's the Greek word louo. And louo means a complete washing.
He who is bathed, louo, needs only to wash, different word, nipto his feet, which means to wash a portion, a part. You've already been louoed, Peter. You've bathed all over. You bathed before you came to Passover meal tonight. So the only thing that's dirty is your feet. You've got to wash the feet.
Now he's drawing a spiritual corollary to this. But you're already clean. And you are clean, except not all of you, speaking of Judas. But he says, "but you only need to wash your feet." Here is the spiritual analogy.
You believe in Christ, you who trust Jesus, you're saved. You're saved. Don't wake up and go, I don't know if I'm saved. I was saved yesterday, but I think I got unsaved between yesterday and today. No, he did it. It's done deal. If you're saved, you're saved. You don't get unsaved, but you do get soiled.
You're saved, but you do walk in this world. And in walking in this world, you pick up a little dirt. You pick it up every day. You pick it up in conversations. You pick it up driving. You pick it up in a number of ways. And so you need to keep your feet clean.
First John Chapter 1, if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. He's saying that to believers who are already luoed. They're already bathed. They're already born again. They're already saved. They're already clean. But they need to be niptoed.
They need to confess their sins. They need to say, Lord, I failed in this area, in that area. Forgive me of my sins. Cleanse me from my unrighteousness. You need your feet cleansed.
And so in Verse 12, when he washed their feet, took off his garments, sat down again, he said to them, "do you know what I have done? You call me teacher and Lord. And you say, well, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example that you should do as I have done to you. Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them."
I don't believe that Jesus was saying, I am officially inaugurating a weekly foot washing ceremony. And I think it's important that when you gather together in my name, have a Bible study and a foot washing ceremony. I don't see that. Because if that were the case, you would see that in the early church. You'd see it repeatedly in the Book of Acts. You'd see Paul the Apostle highlighting it, elucidating it. But you don't. You find the Lord's Supper mentioned that way, but you don't find foot washing.
And he wasn't, I don't think, intending that we literally wash each other's feet, though there's nothing wrong with that. I know some traditions have that. And it's quite beautiful. But his idea is I want you to do as I've done. This is an example of servant-hood. Be a servant to people. Be a servant to people. One of the great needs of the church is to have feet washed. Serve people. Encourage people.
Mature people. Train people. Love on people. Forgive people. Talk to people. Pray with people. Wash their feet.
You've been saved but now, when I say a great need, here's the deal. You can study the scripture. And I'm a huge advocate of study of the Bible, as you know. But in studying the Bible, and in looking at Greek, and outlining text, and going deep, and all of that, you can stimulate your mind, you can satisfy your heart, but you still have dirty feet. And look what Jesus said in that last little section, Verse 17.
If you know these things, blessed are if you do them. Please note that. He didn't say, if you know these things, happy are you if you know them. Ooh, you know these things. You're so awesome. You know stuff. You're so smart. You're so wise. Sagacity pours out from your mouth. You are awesome.
No, he said, you want to be really blessed or happy, do it. Do it. The key to happiness is humbleness. You want to be blessed, you want to be truly happy? You do what you read. You do what it says. And when you put it into practice, that's where the joy factor comes in. "If you note these things, happy blessing blessed are you if you do them."
Let me give you a little advice. If you're going to wash somebody's feet, if you're going to help somebody along, do it gently. Now we all sin. We all blow. It we all have issues. All of us do every day of our lives. We do. And so we need people to counsel with, to talk to, to pray with, et cetera.
But this is what the Bible says, in terms of gentleness, Galatians Chapter 6, Verse 1. If anyone is overtaken in any fault, or any trespass, you, who are spiritual, restore such a one in the spirit of meekness, humility, considering yourself, lest you also be tempted. That's how you wash feet. That's how you help a person.
You do it in humility. You do it in meekness. You don't do it, I'm better than you, or I'm smarter than you, or I'm wiser than you. Listen up. You're about to get schooled. You humble yourself. You get underneath them. You become people of the towel, people of the towel. Grab the towel. Do it gently.
Some people love to wash feet with ice cold water. You know what I'm saying? They're formal. They're cold and aloof. Other people try to wash feet with scalding hot water, criticism. Ooh, you're really horrible. I hope you feel bad, because you are bad. It's just that snobbery, superiority.
But then, even worse than cold water and hot water, some people don't even use water. They just hit hard. It's like scraping the dirt off somebody's feet. Do it gently. Become a person of the towel.
"If you know these things, happier are you if you do them. I do not speak concerning all of you. I know whom I have chosen, but that the scripture may be fulfilled. He who eats bread with me has lifted up his heel against me." He's quoting Psalm 41.
What it shows me is that Jesus knows what is happening, knows who's going to betray him, quotes a scripture that he knows so well just to show them, I'm in control of this whole operation. This is not any misstep. I'm perfectly on time in the Father's hour, in this hour, my hour.
"'Now I tell you it before it comes, that when it does come to pass, you may believe that I am He. Most assuredly, I say to you, he who receives, whomever I send, receives me. And he who receives me, receives him who sent me.' When Jesus had said these things, he was troubled in spirit, and testified, and said, 'most assuredly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.' Then the disciples looked at one another perplexed about whom he spoke."
Now did Jesus know that Peter was going to deny him? Yes, he did. He predicted it. Did Jesus know that Thomas was going to doubt him? Yes, he did. Did Jesus know that Judas was going to betray him? , Yes, he did. Why? Because he is omniscient. He's omniscient. He knows everything. That's one of the attributes of God. He could tell people what they're thinking. Often he did that. He predicted what was coming in incredible detail. He is omniscient.
But here's what I want you to see. Being omniscient, having these attributes of divinity that he had, having all power and being fully aware of who is going to betray him, deny him, doubt him, it didn't soften the blow. It says his heart was troubled. It's a strong word. It says, "he was troubled in spirit." Torosso is the word, agitated deeply.
Now why do I bring this up? Because we evangelicals are really good at defending the deity of Christ. What we are not really great at is getting in touch with the humanity of Christ. He was fully God, and still is. He was fully man, and still is. Do you know that when Jesus was glorified, when he went up to Heaven, he was a glorified, resurrected human being, God in human flesh, still, in his incarnated body. And today, tonight, there is a man at the right hand of the Throne of Glory, who intercedes for you and I.
I'm glad that you approve of that, because it shows me that you appreciate what that means. What it means is Jesus intercedes unto the Father for you as a human. So Hebrews 4, he is able to touch all of the feelings of our infirmities, it says. He knows what it's like to feel pain. He knows what it's like to feel rejection. So even though he knew, in his complete and absolute omniscience, being total deity, he still had humanity that that deity was encased in. And he got troubled. It bothered him. So when he talks to the Father about you, he knows what you feel. He's not aloof. He relates.
Now Verse 23, "there was leaning on Jesus' bosom, one of his disciples whom Jesus loved. Simon Peter therefore motioned to him to ask who it was of whom he spoke." Now the disciple Jesus loved is none other than John, the writer of the gospel. He doesn't call himself John. He calls himself the disciple that Jesus loved. I like that about John. Well, who are you? Well, I'm the one he loves.
Of course, any of his disciples could say he's the one he loves. He loved them all. You're the disciple Jesus loves. So am I. I like to think of myself, oh, I'm the one he loves. Four boys were in my family. And if you were to ask my mom, which one is he, she'd say, oh, that's the one I love. John was one who experienced the love of God as the disciple whom Jesus loved.
Jesus answered, "'it is he to whom I shall give a piece of bread when I have dipped it. And having dipped the bread, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. After the piece of bread, Satan entered him. Then Jesus said to him, 'what you do, do quickly.' But no one at the table knew for what reason he said this to him. For some thought, because Judas had the money box, that Jesus had said to him, buy those things which we need for the feast, or that he should give something to the poor."
That was custom in those days. When you had a big meal, like a Passover meal, and you didn't eat it all, you would take a portion of it and you would set it aside. And you would go out. And you would find somebody in the neighborhood, a family, or a person, who needed a meal. And you would be generous to them. It's part of the levitical code. You will be kind to the poor of the land.
"Having received the piece of bread, he then went out immediately. And it was night." Now I have to give you quickly the setting. The Last Supper was not as Leonardo da Vinci painted it. You know the famous picture. When I say the Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci, you know the one where they're all sitting on one side of a table kind of like facing the camera, and kind of looking at it, kind of head leaning toward Jesus, right? Get that out of your mind. That is not what it was.
They weren't sitting on chairs, they were reclining on a triclinium. A triclinium was a three-tiered table. So if you can imagine this table up front, and then another table attached to it going that direction opposite this, and then another one on the other side doing the same thing, you have a three section table that would set about 12 people. At a meal, at a Passover especially, on the triclinium, you would lean, recline, on your left shoulder. Why? Because most people are right handed. They need their right hand to grab food and eat it. So can you picture them laying on their left shoulder, kind of leaning one direction, and with their right hand, they're able to grab things, eat it, pass it around.
What this means is that John, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining to the right of Jesus. Because he was leaning his head on Jesus' bosom. That's in the reclining position. His head is toward the breast of Jesus, near his heart. Which then brings up the question, I can't tell you where every disciple sat. But where was Judas sitting? Obviously on the very left, on the very left. On the immediate right of Jesus was John who is leaning in toward his chest, or bosom, his heart. And Jesus was leaning in toward Judas's bosom or heart.
How do I knew this? Because in Verse 26, Jesus says, "it is he to whom I shall give a piece of bread when I've dipped it." Now the host was in charge of two things, taking the bread and starting the meal, and number one, making the placement of where people sat. Which means, if you're going to sit at the right or left side of the host, you have to be invited there. Which means, since he's not giving it to John, who sat next to him, and he can't go all the way to the other side where the other disciples are because of the shape of the triclinium, it must mean that Judas was to the very left of him so he could easily pass that little piece.
And it also means that Judas got there by Jesus giving him a special invitation. I can picture it. I can hear it. Friend, I want you in the place of honor right next to me. It was as if Jesus was reaching out one final time to the man who had already agreed to betray him. Sit in this place of honor. What I love is John is leaning toward Jesus. Judas, however, is leaning away from Jesus.
And I want to ask you, where are you leaning? Are you leaning toward him So that you're close to his heart just inches away, or are you leaning away from him? You may be invited in. It might be a place of honor. But where are you leaning? What are you inclined toward? He gets up and he leaves. Notice the end of Verse 30. What's that last sentence? What does it say? "And it was night." To me, that's significant. It wouldn't be if it weren't the Gospel of John. But because it's John's writing, it's significant.
Because in John's gospel, light and darkness are used a lot symbolically by John. Jesus said it, but he highlights it a lot. "I am the light of this world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but have the light of life." So to leave Jesus' presence, you're getting into dark territory. When you walk away from Jesus, when you leave his presence, when you shut him out, you're moving toward darkness. Not a good thing. And it was night.
And when he had gone out, Jesus said, "'now the Son of Man is glorified. And God is glorified in him,' speaking of the cross. If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and glorify him immediately. 'Little children, I shall be with you a little longer. You will seek me. As I said to the Jews, where I am going you cannot come. And now I say to you a new commandment. I give to you that you love one another as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this, all will know that you are my disciples if you have love for one another.'" I'm giving you a new commandment.
Now if you're a Bible student, and I'm speaking to Bible students when I speak to my Wednesday night crowd, this I know. I hope, when you read this, you're going, wait a minute. This isn't new. I've read this before. I've read this in the Old Testament before. My mind goes back to Leviticus Chapter 19 where God said, "you shall not seek revenge, or take out a grudge on any of the children of your people, but you will love your neighbor as yourself." You will love them. "A new commandment I give unto you that you should love one another." That's an old commandment.
But here's the deal. The word Jesus used for new is the word that means renewed. It means fresh. You know it, but I'm going to freshen it up a little bit. The word is "kainos." If Jesus meant it's brand new in chronology, he would have used an entirely different word, the word "naios." But he didn't. He used the word "kainos," which means it's renewed. It's refreshed. And what I mean by that is Jesus took a commandment they were familiar with, but then he qualified it. Because he goes, now there's a new standard by which you are to love, and that is, you're to love people like I love.
As I have loved, that's how you're to love. You saw me wash feet, you wash feet. You saw me serve, you serve. You see how I love, you love like I love. Well, how did Jesus love? Well, let's see? Sacrificially. Well, let's see. Unconditionally. Well, let's see. Non-reciprocally. He loved us while we were sinners, without us loving him back, he loved in a sacrificial manner, unconditional manner, and non-reciprocal manner. That's the new standard.
Now when we read this, that didn't put warm fuzzies in us. Because if you're reading this literally, and you're thinking about this like you should, you're thinking, well, that's impossible. I can't love like Jesus loved. He set that standard pretty high, that bar, pretty high. How on Earth can I do that? Listen, love is not a goosebump. It's an act of the will. It's whether you feel like it or not. Can I tell you there's times I don't feel like serving my wife. It's true. I confessed it. I don't feel like it. But then this thought comes to me. Do it. Get the towel. Serve.
But it's not real if I don't feel. Yeah, it is. It's called obedience the last time I checked. It doesn't always feel good at first, but if you know these things, happy are you if you do them. Just keep doing it. You'll get really happy. That's how it works. That's how it works. So it's a new commandment. And you should love as I love. By the way, do you know, listen to this, you have an infinite capacity to love. I know, I'm saying that, and a lot of you aren't even believing it. I know that, because I know people, I think, well enough by now, as old as I am. But you have an infinite capacity to love.
How do I know this? Because Romans 5 says that God has poured out his love in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given. That means, when you run out, he's got more to pour in. Oh, I just don't have enough love. Well, just wait for it. He'll pour it in. "His shed his love abroad," or poured it in. Which means, as a believer in Jesus Christ, no one in your circle should be love-starved ever, ever. You can do this. You can do it. I don't feel like it. It's OK. Don't feel like it, but do it anyway. And watch how transforming it becomes for you and for them. That's the new commandment, love like I loved.
"Simon Peter said to him, 'Lord, where are you going?' Jesus said, 'where I am going you cannot follow me now. But you will follow me afterward.' Peter said to him, 'Lord, why can I not follow you now?'" I don't even have to comment. This is Peter. You know him by now. "'I will lay down my life for your sake.'" Mr. Spiritual comes out. Joe Spiritual, there he is again. "Jesus answered, 'will you lay down your life for my sake? Most assuredly, I say to you, the rooster shall not crow till you have denied me three times.'"
I'm looking at the time, and I'm way overtime. I have a minute to do communion. It's going to take about five minutes. And I'm sorry, I just get carried away. But I have to say this if we close the chapter. Jesus knew Peter was going to fail him. He's not shocked by your failure. He didn't go, uh, he's not perfect. It doesn't shock him. But he also knows you'll be restored. In Luke's gospel, he said, "Peter, I know you're going to fall. But when you are returned, strengthen your brothers."
So what I want to say to you is don't let your failure be your undertaker. Let it be your teacher. Learn from it. And take the elements. And I just saying: "Oh, God, forgive me. Cleanse me." And then take these in full confidence that you're saved, but you need your feet washed. Thank you, Lord, for your love for us, your kindness to us. And forgive me for this late hour in Jesus' name. Amen.