Hoping everyone had a wonderful Christmas. But don’t let the wonderful Christmas crowd out your reading, especially not today, because today’s readings are some of the best in the book of John. Again, I’ll be a little briefer than usual.
Drawing all men — John 12:32
It is not the speaker that draws men to Jesus, nor the “show”, nor the facility, nor many other things that we moderns have mistakenly thought are irreplaceable to evangelism. Jesus gave us what the magnetism to salvation would always be, “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.” In other words, teach the Gospel: men’s sinful and condemned condition, Jesus’ merciful and loving death on the cross in substitution for us all, the resurrection that proves that He is the Son of God and that we really are saved, and what we must do to respond to it to His offer of spiritual rescue. It is an irresistible and compelling story to those who really wish to be saved. Anything else is nothing but icing that CAN go on the cake, but doesn’t have to — don’t forget the cake!
Judged by… — John 12:48
Ever wonder what the standard will be on the last day? It will not be what Billy Graham had to say; it will not be what the Pope had to say; it will not be what I said; it will not be what was most popular or most widely believed; and it will not be what our consciences might have led us to do. Jesus laid it out clear and plain: “He who rejects Me and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the lsat day.” You’re holding the standard in your hand, the Bible — not pieces, parts, or the attractive portions: all of it!
If I do not wash you… — John 13:8
It was a bit of an awkward moment for Peter. He was aghast that Jesus would wash their feet — probably a little embarrassed, given the prideful argument they’d been carrying on as they entered the upper room. So, he demurs. But Jesus insists with a life or death sort of statement — if you don’t let Me do this you have no part in Me. I am left to wonder why John included this part of the story. I think it had to do with the resistance that some folks might have in generations to come to obey the commands of the Lord; and of all the commands that Jesus gave the one that gets resisted the most — for whatever reason — is baptism into Christ (Matthew 28:18-20 / John 3:3,5). Don’t object and resist; obey.
Free moral agency — John 13:26,27
Jesus knew who would betray Him, before the supper. He still washed His feet. I wonder what Judas was thinking as Jesus washed his feet? I wonder if Judas’ heart skipped a beat as Jesus revealed that He knew. I wonder what Judas was thinking as He heard Jesus say, “What you do, do quickly.” Jesus allowed free moral agency, but consider how generous He was with His grace, giving Judas chance after chance to reverse His course. Honestly I’m amazed that he never did, but that’s foolish human nature, I suppose. OK, what we do is a little less dramatic than Judas’ sin — though our sins still often fit into the category of betrayal — but is Jesus giving you chance after chance to repent and change course? What’s keep you? What do you need to change?
A new commandment — John 13:34
Loving one’s neighbor isn’t the new command. That’s something right out of the OT. What’s new is how Jesus qualifies it — as I have love you. Jesus’ command wasn’t just words, it was a living, breathing example, too!
Inspired memory prompter — John 14:26
Following Jesus around day after day for three years must have been amazing in so many different ways. So much teaching and example and wonders packed into just a few non-stop action years. How would they be able to remember it all? The Holy Spirit would be their inspired memory jogger. The words of the apostles are not mere words of men; they are the words of the Son of God remembered accurately by the apostles through the Holy Spirit. The Spirit does so much more, but here’s an important thing to know and remember as we read Scripture.
See you tomorrow, Lord willing.