The Word was God

John Chapter 2

John 2:1-25 NLTse The next day there was a wedding celebration in the village of Cana in Galilee. Jesusmother was there, (2) and Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the celebration. (3) The wine supply ran out during the festivities, so Jesus’ mother told him, “They have no more wine.” (4) “Dear woman, that’s not our problem,” Jesus replied. “My time has not yet come.” (5) But his mother told the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” (6) Standing nearby were six stone water jars, used for Jewish ceremonial washing. Each could hold twenty to thirty gallons. (7) Jesus told the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” When the jars had been filled, (8) he said, “Now dip some out, and take it to the master of ceremonies.” So the servants followed his instructions. (9) When the master of ceremonies tasted the water that was now wine, not knowing where it had come from (though, of course, the servants knew), he called the bridegroom over. (10) “A host always serves the best wine first,” he said. “Then, when everyone has had a lot to drink, he brings out the less expensive wine. But you have kept the best until now!” (11) This miraculous sign at Cana in Galilee was the first time Jesus revealed his glory. And his disciples believed in him. (12) After the wedding he went to Capernaum for a few days with his mother, his brothers, and his disciples. (13) It was nearly time for the Jewish Passover celebration, so Jesus went to Jerusalem. (14) In the Temple area he saw merchants selling cattle, sheep, and doves for sacrifices; he also saw dealers at tables exchanging foreign money. (15) Jesus made a whip from some ropes and chased them all out of the Temple. He drove out the sheep and cattle, scattered the money changers’ coins over the floor, and turned over their tables. (16) Then, going over to the people who sold doves, he told them, “Get these things out of here. Stop turning my Father’s house into a marketplace!” (17) Then his disciples remembered this prophecy from the Scriptures: “Passion for God’s house will consume me.” (18) But the Jewish leaders demanded, “What are you doing? If God gave you authority to do this, show us a miraculous sign to prove it.” (19) “All right,” Jesus replied. “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” (20) “What!” they exclaimed. “It has taken forty-six years to build this Temple, and you can rebuild it in three days?” (21) But when Jesus said “this temple,” he meant his own body. (22) After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered he had said this, and they believed both the Scriptures and what Jesus had said. (23) Because of the miraculous signs Jesus did in Jerusalem at the Passover celebration, many began to trust in him. (24) But Jesus didn’t trust them, because he knew human nature. (25) No one needed to tell him what mankind is really like.

If nothing else, John’s style of writing as well as his book are unique. John included stories such as these found in chapter 2, as well as others not found in other gospels. Why, I don’t know why, but Bible writers have a way of introducing a subject then adding details later. Is this what John is doing on a spiritual level when we look at the gospels as a whole? The only way to know is to compare what John gives us and follow the law of context that tells us to look back to see how the author led into the subject.

Here is one of the most important Bible Study steps you want to learn and use:

Always look back to see how the author led into the event at hand. Most of us know in original scripture, neither the Old or New Testaments were divided into chapters and verses. That came much later. That has little to do with this rule, but to understand scripture, we have to look for patterns. One of those is how the author lead from one event to the next.

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John 2:1-11 NLTse The next day there was a wedding celebration in the village of Cana in Galilee. Jesusmother was there, (2) and Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the celebration. (3) The wine supply ran out during the festivities, so Jesus’ mother told him, “They have no more wine.” (4) “Dear woman, that’s not our problem,” Jesus replied. “My time has not yet come.” (5) But his mother told the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” (6) Standing nearby were six stone water jars, used for Jewish ceremonial washing. Each could hold twenty to thirty gallons. (7) Jesus told the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” When the jars had been filled, (8) he said, “Now dip some out, and take it to the master of ceremonies.” So the servants followed his instructions. (9) When the master of ceremonies tasted the water that was now wine, not knowing where it had come from (though, of course, the servants knew), he called the bridegroom over. (10) “A host always serves the best wine first,” he said. “Then, when everyone has had a lot to drink, he brings out the less expensive wine. But you have kept the best until now!” (11) This miraculous sign at Cana in Galilee was the first time Jesus revealed his glory. And his disciples believed in him.

Because John didn’t record anything about Jesus leaving for forty days while He faced Satan’s temptations, it’s difficult to determine timing between those stories in John’s book. John began this story by pointing out it was the next day. The original Greek tells us it was the third day. We can assume this may be the third day after His baptism. But we’re not here to examine the exact timing of every event in John’s book but to look at his story as a whole. The first step is to look back at the link between the end of chapter 1 and the beginning of chapter 2.

The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Come, follow me.” Philip was from Bethsaida, Andrew and Peter’s hometown. Philip went to look for Nathanael and told him, “We have found the very person Moses and the prophets wrote about! His name is Jesus, the son of Joseph from Nazareth.” “Nazareth!” exclaimed Nathanael. “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” “Come and see for yourself,” Philip replied. As they approached, Jesus said, “Now here is a genuine son of Israel–a man of complete integrity.” “How do you know about me?” Nathanael asked. Jesus replied, “I could see you under the fig tree before Philip found you.” Then Nathanael exclaimed, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God–the King of Israel!” Jesus asked him, “Do you believe this just because I told you I had seen you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than this.” Then he said, “I tell you the truth, you will all see heaven open and the angels of God going up and down on the Son of Man, the one who is the stairway between heaven and earth.” (John 1:43-51 NLTse).

I think the last verse is the one to concentrate on here. Jesus promised Nathanael he would see Heaven open up and angles going between Heaven and earth. John followed that with Jesus at a wedding with His mother and some disciples. This is where Jesus performed His first miracle. Is that the spiritual view of the stairway Jesus promised Nathanael would see? Jesus called Nathanael, “a genuine son of Israel–a man of complete integrity.” Was Jesus referring to Nathanael’s ability to see the spiritual side of issues and events?

We also have to compare this introduction to the summary in the chapter. This will help us to understand the theme as well as the style John used to write this chapter.

Examine chapters by first comparing the introduction to the summation. This will give you clues by telling you want to look for within that chapter. If they are contrasts, the chapter will have contrasting stories and characters teaching the same lesson. If the introduction contains contrasts, the summation will most likely contain a contract. When you see this, stories within the chapter will also contain contrasts. The literal form of the introduction and summation will show what types of details to pay special attention to.

But the Jewish leaders demanded, “What are you doing? If God gave you authority to do this, show us a miraculous sign to prove it.” (19) “All right,” Jesus replied. “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” (20) “What!” they exclaimed. “It has taken forty-six years to build this Temple, and you can rebuild it in three days?” (21) But when Jesus said “this temple,” he meant his own body. (22) After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered he had said this, and they believed both the Scriptures and what Jesus had said. (23) Because of the miraculous signs Jesus did in Jerusalem at the Passover celebration, many began to trust in him. (24) But Jesus didn’t trust them, because he knew human nature. (25) No one needed to tell him what mankind is really like.

We see a number of details in this summation. Jesus talked about destroying the temple. John explained, Jesus was referring to His body, which of course points to His death, three days in the tomb, and resurrection. We see Jesus’ first miracle performed in the introduction and an explanation of His greatest miracle.

John pointed out how those miracles made a difference after Jesus rose from that tomb. This makes us ask what impression they made on the disciples while they saw Jesus performing those miracles. What went through their minds when they saw Jesus turn clay pots filled with water to wine? Does that water point to a spiritual lesson? The water was used for ceremonial cleaning. Water was also used for baptism, a sort of New Testament ceremonial cleaning in addition to the symbol of a new individual beginning.

John pointed out, Jesus didn’t trust people because He knew human nature. What did that mean? It’s early in Jesus’ ministry. He prepared for about thirty years before He began His ministry. At the wedding Jesus said, “My time has not yet come.” What was He referring to? It may be pointing out, He hadn’t defeated Satan before that wedding. If that was on His mind, Jesus would have been observing how Satan’s agents controlled people. That would have been something on Jesus mind throughout His ministry and life.

We also see the word servant repeated in this story. They prepared the water for Jesus and carried the wine to the person in charge of the wedding. This showed how Jesus needed people to assist Him throughout His ministry. This is another detail to look out for as we progress through John’s book.

John 2:12-25 NLTse After the wedding he went to Capernaum for a few days with his mother, his brothers, and his disciples. (13) It was nearly time for the Jewish Passover celebration, so Jesus went to Jerusalem. (14) In the Temple area he saw merchants selling cattle, sheep, and doves for sacrifices; he also saw dealers at tables exchanging foreign money. (15) Jesus made a whip from some ropes and chased them all out of the Temple. He drove out the sheep and cattle, scattered the money changers’ coins over the floor, and turned over their tables. (16) Then, going over to the people who sold doves, he told them, “Get these things out of here. Stop turning my Father’s house into a marketplace!” (17) Then his disciples remembered this prophecy from the Scriptures: “Passion for God’s house will consume me.” (18) But the Jewish leaders demanded, “What are you doing? If God gave you authority to do this, show us a miraculous sign to prove it.” (19) “All right,” Jesus replied. “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” (20) “What!” they exclaimed. “It has taken forty-six years to build this Temple, and you can rebuild it in three days?” (21) But when Jesus said “this temple,” he meant his own body. (22) After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered he had said this, and they believed both the Scriptures and what Jesus had said. (23) Because of the miraculous signs Jesus did in Jerusalem at the Passover celebration, many began to trust in him. (24) But Jesus didn’t trust them, because he knew human nature. (25) No one needed to tell him what mankind is really like.

This is a rather short chapter containing only two stories. The question is, what is the connecting factor? One stands out above all. At the wedding John tells us, “But you have kept the best until now!” The story about the temple closed with Jesus telling about His death, three days in the tomb, and resurrection.

John is the only author who tells us about the first time Jesus cleared out the temple court. His story reflects the same effects and reasoning as the other author’s account when Jesus cleared the temple court before He returned to teach a number of parables and answered a number of questions asked by different groups of religious leaders. John also added a detail telling us what Jesus did before He went into the courtyard. “Jesus made a whip from some ropes.”

This is another time you want to sit and think about this scene, putting yourself into it. Imagine Jesus sitting outside the courtyard gate weaving a whip out of ropes. I’ve heard dozens of sermons claiming this story proves Jesus got angry. Some sermons try to call it a sort of controlled anger. But look at the details and ask yourself, how long did it take Jesus to weave a whip out of ropes, and what was He thinking about while He was weaving a series of ropes?

Jesus wasn’t displaying any type of pent up anger. Jesus thought about what He was about to do and prayed why He sat outside that gate. He knew what He was doing and the lesson He was about to teach. Nothing was a spur of the moment outburst in any part of Jesus’ ministry. What was the lesson Jesus taught here?

We get our first clue by looking at the key words. Key words are words the author repeated to draw attention to details. Words like merchants and dealers combined with exchanging foreign money, and marketplace tell us why Jesus formed that whip. How many people lost their money during the time Jesus formed that whip, and how many people wasted their money thinking it was buying them forgiveness for their sins? Jesus had to show them it was time for a change.

Key words are words the author repeated to draw attention to his main thought, point, or lesson. Key words are words that are the SAME, SIMILAR, or RELATED.

It may take a bit of practice to develop a pattern highlighting key words. I look at it as a fundamental and necessary way for God’s Spirit to slow you down and get you to listen. It’s difficult to thoroughly highlight all the key words in one pass. You have no choice but to go back and forth over scripture to do a complete job. Many people have heard of other texts in the Bible that show us how to study, such as line upon line, and using a churning method of going back and forth over scripture. Now you know what that means.

Cattle, sheep, and doves are also repeated. Neither one of those do a thing to forgive sins. In the Old Testament they were referred to as an atonement, which is a reminder. The book of Hebrews goes into detail to explain that change.

Once again we see Jesus quoting scripture. Let’s look at the entire verse. Passion for your house has consumed me, and the insults of those who insult you have fallen on me. (Psalms 69:9 NLTse). This is usually all most people will look at. But if we examine a few verses around that verse, we see one of the messages Jesus pointed to.

Even my own brothers pretend they don’t know me; they treat me like a stranger. Passion for your house has consumed me, and the insults of those who insult you have fallen on me. When I weep and fast, they scoff at me. When I dress in burlap to show sorrow, they make fun of me. I am the favorite topic of town gossip, and all the drunks sing about me. But I keep praying to you, LORD, hoping this time you will show me favor. In your unfailing love, O God, answer my prayer with your sure salvation. (Psalms 69:8-13 NLTse).

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Once we look at a few other verses, we see why Jesus quoted this scripture. He pointed them to a prophecy about Himself. We see how much Jesus cared about those priests when we see the prophecy refereed to them as His brothers. We also see they thought of Jesus as a stranger, or a little strange. What would they think of Jesus when He walked into their courtyard and put them out of business during the busiest time of the year, Passover? Would that scripture have been enough for them to overcome their financial losses and attitude toward Christ? Look at the detail we see in the introduction to Psalms 69.

Save me, O God, for the floodwaters are up to my neck. Deeper and deeper I sink into the mire; I can’t find a foothold. I am in deep water, and the floods overwhelm me. I am exhausted from crying for help; my throat is parched. My eyes are swollen with weeping, waiting for my God to help me. Those who hate me without cause outnumber the hairs on my head. Many enemies try to destroy me with lies, demanding that I give back what I didn’t steal. (Psalms 69:1-4 NLTse).

Another prophecy about Jesus. This shows how Jesus felt and what He thought about while He was outside forming that whip. One look at that courtyard and Jesus felt like He was drowning. Jesus was just beginning His ministry and He was tired of crying. He was crying His whole life. It was time to get up and do something, to put God’s plan of salvation into action on time and on course. Jesus was definitely outnumbered. He was facing off against the priests, Pharisees, Sadducees, temple guards, Roman guards, Herod’s people, and a bunch of people who couldn’t understand His message. That didn’t slow down Jesus. You think David had to have a lot of faith to face his giant, think of what Jesus went up against.

If you still don’t believe Jesus pointed people back to scripture to see at least ten times more than the small message He gave them, look at the summation in Psalms 69.

Then I will praise God’s name with singing, and I will honor him with thanksgiving. For this will please the LORD more than sacrificing cattle, more than presenting a bull with its horns and hooves. The humble will see their God at work and be glad. Let all who seek God’s help be encouraged. For the LORD hears the cries of the needy; he does not despise his imprisoned people. Praise him, O heaven and earth, the seas and all that move in them. For God will save Jerusalem and rebuild the towns of Judah. His people will live there and settle in their own land. The descendants of those who obey him will inherit the land, and those who love him will live there in safety. (Psalms 69:30-36 NLTse).

I don’t think I need to explain what’s been recorded in Psalms 69 and how it relates to John chapter 2. Can you see Jesus thinking about this Psalm as He’s sitting outside working on that whip? If those pastors trying to make an excuse to release their anger, or trying to explain their personal interpretation on that story had spent a little time, turned and few pages and looked where Jesus pointed them, where God’s Spirit was trying to lead them, they couldn’t have missed this message. The sad fact is, if those religious leaders had looked at that scripture, they would have never put Jesus on that cross.

To think, when I try to teach this simple study method, some people argue, saying there’s no need to waste time looking up scripture Jesus quoted. How can you hope to understand half of what’s in the gospels or New testament if you don’t look at Old Testament scripture Jesus and other people quoted? Those people who argue with me think it’s a simple matter of looking at a few texts going with whatever pops into your head. Isn’t that a form of eastern religion – relying on your inner being? Isn’t that in conflict with relying on God’s Word and relying on His Spirit? Not only are those people hurting themselves, but they are holding other people back from the simple things God is holding out to them. What could be easier than following clear and simple instructions in the Bible?

We see the words miraculous sign repeated. Those religious leaders asked what authority Jesus had in addition to asking for a sign. If they were listening, they would had seen, Jesus gave them everything they needed. That whip showed how all the words in scripture are woven together. They didn’t listen to Jesus. They didn’t go back to scripture. They didn’t know how to rely on God’s Spirit. No wonder Jesus didn’t trust them.

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Jesus’ Last Dinner

John 13:1-38 NLTse Before the Passover celebration, Jesus knew that his hour had come to leave this world and return to his Father. He had loved his disciples during his ministry on earth, and now he loved them to the very end. (2) It was time for supper, and the devil had already prompted Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. (3) Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God. (4) So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, (5) and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him. (6) When Jesus came to Simon Peter, Peter said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” (7) Jesus replied, “You don’t understand now what I am doing, but someday you will.” (8) “No,” Peter protested, “you will never ever wash my feet!” Jesus replied, “Unless I wash you, you won’t belong to me.” (9) Simon Peter exclaimed, “Then wash my hands and head as well, Lord, not just my feet!” (10) Jesus replied, “A person who has bathed all over does not need to wash, except for the feet, to be entirely clean. And you disciples are clean, but not all of you.” (11) For Jesus knew who would betray him. That is what he meant when he said, “Not all of you are clean.” (12) After washing their feet, he put on his robe again and sat down and asked, “Do you understand what I was doing? (13) You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and you are right, because that’s what I am. (14) And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. (15) I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you. (16) I tell you the truth, slaves are not greater than their master. Nor is the messenger more important than the one who sends the message. (17) Now that you know these things, God will bless you for doing them. (18) “I am not saying these things to all of you; I know the ones I have chosen. But this fulfills the Scripture that says, ‘The one who eats my food has turned against me.’ (19) I tell you this beforehand, so that when it happens you will believe that I AM the Messiah. (20) I tell you the truth, anyone who welcomes my messenger is welcoming me, and anyone who welcomes me is welcoming the Father who sent me.” (21) Now Jesus was deeply troubled, and he exclaimed, “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me!” (22) The disciples looked at each other, wondering whom he could mean. (23) The disciple Jesus loved was sitting next to Jesus at the table. (24) Simon Peter motioned to him to ask, “Who’s he talking about?” (25) So that disciple leaned over to Jesus and asked, “Lord, who is it?” (26) Jesus responded, “It is the one to whom I give the bread I dip in the bowl.” And when he had dipped it, he gave it to Judas, son of Simon Iscariot. (27) When Judas had eaten the bread, Satan entered into him. Then Jesus told him, “Hurry and do what you’re going to do.” (28) None of the others at the table knew what Jesus meant. (29) Since Judas was their treasurer, some thought Jesus was telling him to go and pay for the food or to give some money to the poor. (30) So Judas left at once, going out into the night. (31) As soon as Judas left the room, Jesus said, “The time has come for the Son of Man to enter into his glory, and God will be glorified because of him. (32) And since God receives glory because of the Son, he will soon give glory to the Son. (33) Dear children, I will be with you only a little longer. And as I told the Jewish leaders, you will search for me, but you can’t come where I am going. (34) So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. (35) Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” (36) Simon Peter asked, “Lord, where are you going?” And Jesus replied, “You can’t go with me now, but you will follow me later.” (37) “But why can’t I come now, Lord?” he asked. “I’m ready to die for you.” (38) Jesus answered, “Die for me? I tell you the truth, Peter–before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny three times that you even know me.

Most Christians have heard a sermon or two preached about that dinner and how Jesus washed His disciples feet. Most likely they heard the same sermon preached over and over again. Nothing new has been added. No one saw anything new in those words John recorded over two thousand years ago. It always seems to be the same lesson, Jesus wanted to show His disciples how to be humble. Some preachers may go back a little to show how the disciples argued about who was greatest. But how many preachers looked at those words, prayed, and waited for an answer? How many of them allowed God to take them to that dinner in a vision, or along the entire path of Jesus’ ministry to see how each disciple reacted to what Jesus taught?

Most preachers will tell you John was the largest of the disciples in physical stature. He used that to his advantage. But why? John thought size could intimidate the other disciples. John thought his size gave him the right to claim the most important position next to Jesus. What about Peter?

Peter grew up with John always competing with him. Peter was smaller but a scrappy fighter who never backed down from a challenge and seldom hesitated to jump into one. He was quick to comment whenever Jesus spoke. He thought his courage was enough to sit on Jesus’ right hand. But what about the other more silent disciples?

Judas was convinced money and power were the qualities that mattered most to Jesus. He thought for sure he would secure that position, so why worry about it, or even discuss it? There were nine more disciples. What did they think? Were they interested in the highest position next to Jesus?

Andrew listened to John the Baptist and followed instructions. Once he found Jesus, he not only followed Jesus, but brought his brother Peter. Jesus found Philip who immediately followed Jesus as soon as he heard the invitation. Philip also went to find his brother Nathaniel and brought him to Jesus. Nathaniel had doubts. So Jesus told Nathaniel how He saw him before he decided to come and investigated for himself. Nathaniel was always busy looking for that ladder and angels. The other disciples we know little about. What qualities did they have?

There is an unusual collection of phrases in this chapter. Jesus repeated the phrases, “I tell you the truth,” three times, and a similar phrase, “I tell you beforehand.” This is another key to understanding scripture. When you see something unusual like this, make a list and look at it.

I tell you the truth, slaves are not greater than their master.

I tell you this beforehand, so that when it happens you will believe that I AM the Messiah.

I tell you the truth, anyone who welcomes my messenger is welcoming me

I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me!”

I tell you the truth, Peter–before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny three times that you even know me.

Look at the sequence it was recorded in. Slaves compared to their master. Notice slaves is plural and master is singular. Jesus identified Himself as the Messiah then talked about welcoming a message. Jesus also identified Himself as the message. But someone would betray Him, and Peter would deny Him, not once, but three times in the same day or hour.

We can see for the most part, those details fall into the common theme most often preached about this subject. But the sequence brings out details about the personality of the texts and characters many people miss. Compare a slave to betraying Jesus. Did Judas think of himself as a slave when he took the money to turn Jesus over to the priests? Did Peter look at himself as a slave while he was trying to hide in the shadows in the high priest’s courtyard? Did either one really understand what it meant to look at Jesus as their master? Would a common slave in Rome betray their master like Judas, or deny him like Peter? What about that message and the way it was received? Didn’t both of them miss the message Jesus was teaching? What about the preacher taking the easy way out by recycling sermons? You have to admit. Most of the sermons preached today are copies from some ones previous work.

Most of those sermons look at the negative aspects of the characters involved in the story. We don’t need to review them. But what about the positive aspects? What about searching for the answer of who was the greatest? Wouldn’t that serve Jesus’ cause more than preaching the negative side of the lesson that’s been copied for generations? Is it so hard for people to look at the positive side of the lesson? Is it so hard to ask Jesus about what was going through His mind during that dinner? Where do we begin?

As we’ve learned in this book, the best way to begin is to go back to see how the author led into this lesson. Or in this case let’s tell it like it is. We need to look at how God’s Spirit led into this lesson by looking back at how the previous chapter ended.

Jesus shouted to the crowds, “If you trust me, you are trusting not only me, but also God who sent me. For when you see me, you are seeing the one who sent me. I have come as a light to shine in this dark world, so that all who put their trust in me will no longer remain in the dark. I will not judge those who hear me but don’t obey me, for I have come to save the world and not to judge it. But all who reject me and my message will be judged on the day of judgment by the truth I have spoken. I don’t speak on my own authority. The Father who sent me has commanded me what to say and how to say it. And I know his commands lead to eternal life; so I say whatever the Father tells me to say.” (John 12:44-50 NLTse).

We see Jesus giving all the glory to God. We see Jesus teaching how He took orders and carried them out. We see how all of Jesus’ authority is given to Him by God. Everything Jesus said was given to Him by God. Jesus is a good little soldier. Now we can see why that one line in Isaiah was translated as soldier.

What are the qualities of a good soldier? He or she follows orders without question. They find it easy to follow orders because they know their commander and chief. They know His ability and trust in it. Picture a battle scene if you will. Picture it like God has the ability to see it. The soldier on the ground can only see what’s in front of him. But God sees it all like from a bird’s eye view. God knows when to tell a soldier to advance, how far, and in which direction. He knows when to tell them to retreat, lay low, hide, and wait to ambush the enemy. God can safely guide his army around every trap the enemy set. All a real soldier needs to do to survive is follow orders. It is a simple mixture of knowing the Commander, believing in His abilities, and following orders. It also requires a degree of courage which is gained only through experience.

I can’t help but see this scenario illustrated this very week in a sequence of events unfolding across the world. In a series of news stores we’ve been told about US plans to invade and take back a major city captured by Isis, the radical militant group in the Middle East. The US president told about the invasion. A top ranking general confirmed the plan to tell Isis about the invasion in advance was done to give them the opportunity to surrender. After I prayed about it, I wondered why the plan was incomplete. Why didn’t the US show the world they the capability to watch every movement on the ground? Why didn’t the US show live video on world wide television to confirm that awesome power? Why doesn’t the president use this power to turn people to God? If he wants to save lives, why isn’t he using resources at his command to turn people to God? If the US can see every move people make on the ground, why can’t the president remind them God is watching with far greater detail and accuracy?

There has also been a series of news stories about one official questioning the president’s love for his country and the president defending that love. But his love falls short. The president defended his love for the US by explaining how he was sending in foreign fighters to capture that city in the Middle East, pointing out, no American lives will be at risk. What about those foreign lives? We know the US has the capability to send in missiles equipped with cameras and guided by people sitting out of harms way. They can also be guided by overhead drones and satellites out of the range of enemy fire. If the president’s intent was to convince Isis to surrender, why doesn’t he provide a live demonstration of that power for all the world to witness? Sacrificing soldiers to make a point is a strange way to show love.

If the president really wanted to save lives, why doesn’t he remind the world of God’s power? How God sent one angel to wipe out 185,000 soldiers in one night. How God took Babylon’s army on a march for thousands of miles then sent them home. How an angel saved Daniel in a lion’s den, and other stories in the Bible. If the president really wanted to save lives, why can’t he do it by showing his love for God first?

Another story shocked me. It showed pictures of sixteen year old American girls at an airport flying to the Middle East. They suspect those girls are joining Isis to fight against America. Why are so many Americans joining Isis to fight against the country they were born in? Once again, men look at the negative view instead of looking for an answer to the real problem. Why are Americans turning against the country they were born in?

The youth of America are seeing families loosing their homes to banks. They see parents loosing their retirement to rich companies and their board of directors. The only hope for a future is to become slaves to student loans, then the health care system, high taxes, and most likely the company they will eventually work for. Poor families see America building an unbelievable military while all they hear is excuses why there isn’t money to fix pot holes in the street they live on. People watch all of this on the news, listen to the president say he loves America before they sit down to a dinner of rice and beans if their lucky.

We have to ask why young people are leaving America and other countries to join one of the most radical movements we’ve witnessed in our life times. It’s obvious radical factions target the poor and depressed. Those problems are easy to understand. What is being done about it? Very little. Numbers of poor are growing at an alarming rate around the world everyday. Much of the military budget is spent to protect elected officials on home soil. More money is spent than any of us can imagine.

The second class of young people those radical factions target are rich and middle class. We have to look a little deeper to see why. We have to examine the way society has changed for that generation and find out what was added to their culture to make such a difference. What we need to look at is battle plans the enemy committed to. How he swayed their minds. In the Bible that was referred to as demon possessed.

We can clearly identify a few items rich and well to do kids have these days that wasn’t around fifty years ago. Cell phones, tablets, laptops, and computers. What are they using those for. What do they have on those items that demons designed? The most popular games center on witchcraft and murder. It’s always a dangerous combination when religion is blended with bloodshed. Think of it, the future generation is fueled on human sacrifice. Looking back on history in the Bible, that was one of the last straws before God saw Samaria then Jerusalem fall. Manasseh also sacrificed his own son in the fire. He practiced sorcery and divination, and he consulted with mediums and psychics. He did much that was evil in the LORD’s sight, arousing his anger. (2 Kings 21:6 NLTse). Today we have laws protecting companies that produce and distribute demonic material. Where are the churches? Not even churches offer any type of opposition to demons taking the lives of our children.

Moses was clear about witchcraft. “When you enter the land the LORD your God is giving you, be very careful not to imitate the detestable customs of the nations living there. For example, never sacrifice your son or daughter as a burnt offering. And do not let your people practice fortune-telling, or use sorcery, or interpret omens, or engage in witchcraft, or cast spells, or function as mediums or psychics, or call forth the spirits of the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD. It is because the other nations have done these detestable things that the LORD your God will drive them out ahead of you. (Deuteronomy 18:9-12 NLTse). To think, the very countries Moses warned us about are reaching half way around the world using the very deceptions Moses warned about. Everyday companies are making millions of dollars from witchcraft and sorcery and no one is saying a thing about it.

Not only poor are turning to prostitution today. It is as popular as witchcraft and murder these days. It is all over the streets, television, and the Internet. It has become an acceptable social event. Once again, we see laws created to protect Internet pimps, people making money by misleading our youth. And once again, no one is saying a thing.

Can anyone wonder why it’s so easy for radical factions to attract young people? Now ask yourself why those people, especially the young people who have everything they could possibly desire, want to give it all up to live out in the middle of a desert and kill people? What would prompt someone to do such a thing? And we’ve heard of the horrific things those kids have done. They post videos of executions like badges of honor. Looking at what society has become, it shouldn’t shock you. Kids do it because they believe no one cares about them. And it’s true. No one is doing a thing to protect them. Not their parents, churches, or government. They watch their families torn apart by the aftermath of society. Lies and adultery are common place. Murders are on the news, almost every show on television, and in many instances, down the street. If their not watching shows about murder, their watching shows about sex. The worst are a new series of shows combining forms of witchcraft, sex, and murder. The details are graphic and those imagines are lasting. Children have been abused so much these days, they can’t tell the difference between fantasy and reality. Then there is the division in classes we see.

How can someone say they love America then create laws that favor the rich? Everyone knows the stock market crash in 1929 was caused by companies inflating values on their books. Instead of fixing the problems to protect common investors, the government made new laws to protect companies and open new doors for them to take more money. Those laws didn’t help the little people, but they did change a lot of millionaires into billionaires at the same time millions of little people lost everything in their retirement accounts, jobs, homes, dignity, everything they built over the years. The government’s solution – lower tax rates on the billions of dollars those few people made while raising taxes on the poor and middle class.

Neither the government nor those billionaires can understand the lesson Jesus taught at that dinner. They don’t understand, when Jesus told the disciples to wash each other’s feet, He was telling them, they had to learn to support and encourage each other. How is the president who claims to love America helping Americans? What can we learn from John chapter 13 that will help point all of us in the right direction?

John made sure we knew which day this took place as he continued his countdown to Jesus’ sacrifice. John called it the time for Jesus hour. We see that term repeated later in this chapter. Jesus knew that his hour had come to leave this world and return to his Father. Jesus said, “The time has come for the Son of Man to enter into his glory, and God will be glorified because of him.” We have two small details about that glory. But that doesn’t begin to tell the full story. There is so much more to learn. But it gives us another example showing what we can learn by listing and comparing similar terms.

The Word was God
The Word Was God: Gospel of John Chapter 11-21 Link here to download the eBook

We also see the word love repeated. Jesus loved his disciples during his ministry on earth, and now he loved them to the very end. For most people this would be enough, but the story goes much deeper. “I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” We’re given another example showing how the summation added information to the introduction. Put the two together and we’re shown where love originates. It begins with Jesus’ love for us which is another part of Jesus’ glory.

John quickly transformed from the subject of love to Judas who was possessed by the devil. John didn’t mention a devil, but the devil. Satan wasn’t fooling around. He wasn’t leaving anything to chance. He wanted the job done right. He thought he finally had Jesus where he wanted him, in Jerusalem surrounded by a vast number of priests and other religious leaders still loyal to him. People Jesus couldn’t reach.

We’ve seen how the Pharisees viewed Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. They saw the numbers and couldn’t figure out what to do. Satan used that fear to his advantage. Satan also counted the numbers of religious leaders in Jerusalem at the time and thought he could use numbers to his advantage. Satan was also growing fearful of the number of people following Jesus and thought he had to act quickly. Satan acted out of fear and led those religious leaders with that same fear.

Satan made a potion out of a combination of fear and greed to put his plan into action. He used greed to guide those religious leaders as well as Judas. The plan took only a few hours to take shape. While all those plans were taking place behind the scenes, Jesus found strength and confidence knowing God gave Him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God. This was more than enough for Jesus to continue working on God’s part of the plan.

So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him. Wasn’t Jesus’ simple dress enough? Were the disciple’s feet so dirty Jesus needed a towel so He wouldn’t get His cloths dirty? Why did John repeat that detail about the towel? It was part of Jesus taking the role of a servant. Jesus had to dress the part to complete the message. It also showed how Jesus worked with traditions to make people feel comfortable, then meet them where they were. It was showing how to use things people were used to seeing as spiritual symbols. We see how Peter and Paul used that method in their ministries. Too bad more preachers and churches didn’t catch onto that process.

In this case, the towel didn’t make the disciples feel comfortable. Neither did the foot washing. When Jesus came to Simon Peter, Peter said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus replied, “You don’t understand now what I am doing, but someday you will.” “No,” Peter protested, “you will never ever wash my feet!” Jesus replied, “Unless I wash you, you won’t belong to me.” Simon Peter exclaimed, “Then wash my hands and head as well, Lord, not just my feet!” Jesus replied, “A person who has bathed all over does not need to wash, except for the feet, to be entirely clean. And you disciples are clean, but not all of you.”


 

First Peter turned Jesus down. Then he goes over board. He wanted more from Jesus than what the others were getting. Peter didn’t understand the lesson. He used Jesus’ act of washing feet to outdo the other disciples. Peter’s mind was still stuck on trying to find a way to secure the position in Jesus’ Kingdom he wanted. Peter missed the lesson. Whoever gets that position has to serve and serve much better than anyone.

Jesus said something rather difficult to explain. “A person who has bathed all over does not need to wash, except for the feet, to be entirely clean. And you disciples are clean, but not all of you.” His statement contained a contrast. First when a man has completely bathed his entire body, only his feet needed cleaning. Jesus was teaching the disciples a lesson where they were. Most never owned a home with indoor plumbing. They washed outside. Those fishermen would have washed in the lake. What happened on the way home? Their wet feet got dirty along the way. So when they got home, only their feet had to be washed. What did that have to do with an unclean disciple? Most people will know the answer, and know we will see the answer in the next few sentences.

For Jesus knew who would betray him. That is what he meant when he said, “Not all of you are clean.” Are all of us clean now? Judas was a symbol. As we know, symbols point to something much greater than the symbol itself. In this case, we have to examine the action. Judas received money to turn Jesus over to people who wanted to kill Him. What about those people making a ton of money from witchcraft, murder, and sex? Are those business ventures much greater than Judas’ motives?

As Jesus washed layers of dirt from each disciple’s feet, emotions soared. They all felt ashamed and to a degree, depressed. Each disciple examined his own emotions as they reviewed their own lives, Jesus’ ministry, and their interactions with Him over the years.

We’re told to remember this by repeating this last dinner ourselves. I’m not sure if all churches enact the last supper or foot washing. I’ve seen some churches conduct the service four times a year, twice, and some once a year. The thing that gets me is, many of the services use a prepared type of ritual. They’ve turned one of the most emotional events in the Bible into an emotionless tradition.

Jesus asked His disciples if they understood what He did. I think people ask themselves the same question while observing a traditional service. What does it all mean? Is it like punching a ticket to Heaven? Why do we follow instructions to repeat a service designed to help us remember, but forget what we’re supposed to remember.

I can remember doing this service with my wife a few times. To me, it was a symbol of serving one another. How service to each other should never be embarrassing or taken for granted. After I found out the marriage was always a temporary arrangement, I can see the foot washing meant nothing to her. I wonder if a lot of people have the same feelings about that service.

We can see the service Jesus performed didn’t mean a lot to Judas. Jesus told them it was a service to remind them to serve each other. Judas left to serve himself. To help himself to some money. How long would that money last?

Jesus put them in their place. He reminded them, not of them was greater than Himself and what He did. They should have been willing to humble themselves. That was the main theme of the foot washing, to prove they were humble like Jesus. Of course Jesus had His entire life and ministry to prove He was humble, but they needed a sign, a symbol to remember. Jesus put them in their place at a significant moment in the scene, just before He quoted scripture. Of course, we have to humble ourselves by looking at that scripture.

Even my best friend, the one I trusted completely, the one who shared my food, has turned against me. LORD, have mercy on me. Make me well again, so I can pay them back! I know you are pleased with me, for you have not let my enemies triumph over me. You have preserved my life because I am innocent; you have brought me into your presence forever. Praise the LORD, the God of Israel, who lives from everlasting to everlasting. Amen and amen! (Psalms 41:9-13 NLTse).

Needless to say, Jesus led us to an unusual scripture. One we would not know is a prophecy about Jesus if He hadn’t led us to it. The context is what we want to concentrate on. The summation shows there is a price to pay. Judas didn’t consider that. All he saw was a temporary profit. This also pointed the disciples to a last minute prophecy about Jesus’ resurrection.

Oh, the joys of those who are kind to the poor! The LORD rescues them when they are in trouble. The LORD protects them and keeps them alive. He gives them prosperity in the land and rescues them from their enemies. The LORD nurses them when they are sick and restores them to health. “O LORD,” I prayed, “have mercy on me. Heal me, for I have sinned against you.” But my enemies say nothing but evil about me. “How soon will he die and be forgotten?” they ask. (Psalms 41:1-5 NLTse).

The introduction is strange to saw the least. If this would have come to Judas’ mind, he would have been reminded how God will always looked after him. Then there is the part about dying and being forgotten. Judas wasn’t forgotten. For him it would have been better if he was forgotten. But his name has been remembered for generations. Not for the life he led. All those details are long forgotten. But people have been associating his name with betrayal for generations.

Jesus said much more than what is in this story when He indicated, He told them that beforehand. The prophecy recorded by David told the story long before Jesus’ ministry. Many other prophecies told them Jesus is the Messiah. Jesus also told about a messenger. After looking up the prophecy in Psalms 41, we see that messenger is God’s Word. That is a more important point than many people realize. It is the essence of the message. It is the fragrance from the oil that anointed Him. What else could be more valuable? What else is more important in life? Jesus’ story and His message is spread throughout the Bible like it is supposed to be spread out in this world. Those stories included people from all walks of life, from every class, and nation.

John told us, Jesus was deeply troubled. John only pointed out one will betray Jesus. But when we look at the emotions and how Jesus pointed them back to scripture, we can see His concern was for much more than Himself. Jesus could see the future. He didn’t have to possess special powers to see what was going to happen. He saw how people ignored scripture. He sent hundreds of people to dozens of scripture, and saw the result. Jesus knew nothing much was going to change in the future. No wonder He was upset.

The fact His disciples couldn’t figure it out was further proof His words and those prophecies would be ignored. I’ve asked dozens of people to explain a prophecy about Jesus. So far they can only remember two. They are either the prophecy about crushing the serpents head found in Genesis, or Isaiah 53. What are preachers teaching these days? Ask a preacher to explain the prophecies Jesus died to fulfill and you’ll most likely receive the same answers. At that point in time, Jesus’ disciples were no better. But when Jesus’ sacrifice became real to them, they learned.

Jesus used a personal act to identify the traitor. He ate with Jesus. How does this point to the table of bread in the Tabernacle set as an invitation to dine with Jesus? How personal can we get with Jesus and still betray Him? Is it a collection of things we neglect, one over sight, how we treat others, or things we forget to do, like that foot washing? Or is it how we change details so we feel more comfortable?

When Judas had eaten the bread, Satan entered into him. It’s frightening to think Satan was at that supper. Satan was in the same room when Jesus shared dinner with them. Satan stood there and watched Jesus wash their feet. That showed how close the enemy is and how he can react in a second. Judas hadn’t done anything wrong yet, except for thinking about what he wanted to do. That offered an invitation to Satan he didn’t hesitate to take advantage of. To think this all happened to Judas when Jesus was only a few feet away. In the middle of a lesson Jesus was teaching. I guess we answered that previous question. Or saw how quickly things can change from learning about Jesus to betraying Him.

Since Judas was their treasurer, some thought Jesus was telling him to go and pay for the food or to give some money to the poor. So Judas left at once, going out into the night. Judas left the room. The other disciples thought he went to fulfill a Jewish tradition of giving money to poor people so they could celebrate the Passover. Kind of a strange tradition when you compare it to the one Jesus introduced. Jesus taught how to share and serve. The Jews taught how to give. But wouldn’t an extension of Jesus’ new tradition include inviting poor people into your home to serve them? Just a thought to consider.

After Judas left, Jesus repeated the key word glory a number of times. Judas missed that. He wasn’t there. He didn’t witness any of Jesus’ sacrifice and resurrection. That showed how people who deny or neglect Jesus miss the most important points. Those details may be written. People may read them, but they still miss them. I’m sure I’ve missed plenty of details in this story. I hope you take the time to go over the entire story and see a few of those details.

Now Jesus is getting serious. He tells His disciples He is telling them the same thing He told the Jewish Leaders. Jesus used the word search for a reason. He wanted His disciples to search for Him in their thoughts, memories, scripture He pointed them to, and with God’s Spirit like He taught them.

To sum up the experience, Jesus gave them another sign or symbol, a new commandment, to love each other. That one commandment has proved to be more difficult to keep then the other ten. It has also been distorted more than the other ten. Some say it is the only commandment, but most of those people really can’t explain what it means. To them it is nothing more than an excuse to ignore the other ten commandments. But how can you love anyone by breaking any one of the commandments?

Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. This pointed back to the lesson about serving each other like Jesus taught them a few minutes ago. Did the disciples link the two together? What about details in between service and love, the scripture Jesus pointed them to? Can we be effective disciples be ignoring either one?

That’s when the second betrayal took place. Not at that moment, but Jesus knew it was coming. “I tell you the truth, Peter–before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny three times that you even know me.” Jesus gave Peter some time to think about it. Which was Peter missing? Service, love, or knowledge about the scriptures?