Today our text is about Jesus’ disclosure of Judas’ coming betrayal.
• Jesus uses this moment to provide a number of things to the disciples.
• And, importantly, it is how He initiates the immediate sequence of events that lead to His crucifixion.
o “What you are going to do, do quickly” (vs. 27).
• We will also see that there is a lot to learn about sin.
1) CONTEXT AND COMFORT
John 13:18–21 (ESV) — 18 I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But the Scripture will be fulfilled, ‘He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’ 19 I am telling you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am he. 20 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.” 21 After saying these things, Jesus was troubled in his spirit, and testified, “Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.”
Before Judas’ betrayal plays out in John 18, Jesus addresses it here in two ways for the benefit of the disciples.
• He sets the Context and gives Comfort.
• His Context is Psalm 41:9.
• His Comfort is Prophecy, Providence and Pentecost.
The Context – Psalm 41:9:
Psalm 41:5–10 (ESV) — 5 My enemies say of me in malice, “When will he die, and his name perish?” 6 And when one comes to see me, he utters empty words, while his heart gathers iniquity; when he goes out, he tells it abroad. 7 All who hate me whisper together about me; they imagine the worst for me. 8 They say, “A deadly thing is poured out on him; he will not rise again from where he lies.” 9 Even my close friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted his heel against me. 10 But you, O LORD, be gracious to me, and raise me up, that I may repay them!
Jesus pointed to this Scripture to frame the betrayal He was about to reveal.
• David’s words, a petition to God against his enemies, were also a prophecy of betrayal against the Messiah.
• “Scripture will be fulfilled”, Jesus said.
• Someone who broke bread with us will lift “his heel against me”.
Significance of the Heel:
• Lifting a heel against Jesus is a sign of contempt for Him.
• In the Middle East it is a stark contrast to the intimacy of breaking bread together – “he who ate my bread”.
• Joining the two together paints a clear picture of “a betrayal by a close friend” – Kostenberger.
Using one’s feet as a symbolic display of contempt is still practiced today in the Middle East.
An obvious question arises as Jesus reveals His coming betrayal.
• Would the real Messiah be betrayed by a close companion?
• This revelation is troubling, embarrassing and needs explanation.
• Jesus next words both answer this question with an explanation.
• And they provide needed comfort to the disciples for the pain it would cause them emotionally.
The Comfort and Explanation:
• We must remember that the disciples’ grasp of the Passion Week events was somewhat tenuous.
• They still don’t get much of what Jesus had taught about His death.
• In the midst of this, to be faced with the betrayal of Jesus by a close companion makes it even worse.
o Maybe Judas knows something we don’t?
o If he saw what I saw and bailed, maybe I misunderstood?
o Are others of us going to betray Jesus too?
Jesus, understanding this, tells them in verse 19, “I am telling you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am he.”
• So what does He tell them?
• He tells them at least three things that both explain and simultaneously comfort.
(1) Fulfillment of Prophecy
“Scripture will be fulfilled” (vs. 18)
• This is not Plan B.
• It was ordained by God.
• It is not a surprise or hiccup in God’s plan of redemption.
• Jesus’ role as the suffering servant is not a change in plans initiated by the betrayal.
• For these reasons, when it happens, you can look back to this moment and know that “I am he” (vs. 19).
o Another example of faith rooted in knowledge!
(2) God Is in Control
“I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen” (vs. 18a).
• These words of Jesus relate directly to His teaching from John 3, 6 and 10.
Judas is not “chosen” by Jesus and so in his depravity Judas rejected Jesus (more on this soon).
• John 6:44 (ESV) — 44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.
• John 6:64–65 (ESV) — 64 But there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) 65 And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”
In fact, Jesus included Judas in the Twelve knowing full well what he was and what he would do.
• John 6:70 (ESV) — 70 Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the Twelve? And yet one of you is a devil.”
God is God of everything; every atom, every purpose, every decision.
• There are no surprises.
• And not just because He knows the future.
• But because he ordains the future.
(3) Confirmation at Pentecost
“Whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.” (vs. 20)
• Jesus points to a coming historical event that will confirm everything He has ever taught the Eleven.
• He tells them that when they receive the Holy Spirit, they have confirmation that they were received by Him – the “I am he”.
• This language is the same language He has used earlier to describe His relationship to the Father.
It is telling here how Jesus uses explanation to comfort.
• He doesn’t show them how to “make everyday a Friday”.
• He doesn’t tell them everything is going to be O.K.
• He doesn’t tell them to “find themselves” or “self-actualize”.
• He points to Himself, His Word and His Action in history!
With His words, Jesus armed the disciples with the proper context, comfort and explanations for the betrayal.
• And, when the time came, the disciples could now make sense of their companions’ betrayal.
• As we are about to see, however, the one “whom Jesus loved” is apparently the only one who knows the betrayer at this time.
• We also want to take note that in the coming text there are two dimensions in play.
o Physical – what happened at dinner
o Spiritual – what happened in the heart
2) REVELATION OF BETRAYAL – PHYSICAL DIMENSION
John 13:22–26 & 28-29 (ESV) — 22 The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he spoke. 23 One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was reclining at table at Jesus’ side, 24 so Simon Peter motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. 25 So that disciple, leaning back against Jesus, said to him, “Lord, who is it?” 26 Jesus answered, “It is he to whom I will give this morsel of bread when I have dipped it.” So when he had dipped the morsel, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. 28 Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him. 29 Some thought that, because Judas had the moneybag, Jesus was telling him, “Buy what we need for the feast,” or that he should give something to the poor.
The scene described apparently played out the following way.
• Peter, as usual, wants to get more info from Jesus.
• He gets the attention of the disciple “whom Jesus loved” who was seated at a place of honor at Jesus’ side (vs. 25).
• Somehow Peter “motioned” to this disciple to ask Jesus who the betrayer was.
• Jesus told the disciple “whom Jesus loved”, “It is he to whom I will give this morsel of bread”.
• Jesus gave the bread to Judas.
• Judas was also apparently sitting at Jesus side seated at a place of honor.
o They reclined at a “U” shaped table.
o So if Jesus handed bread to Judas, and the rest of the disciples were clueless, it makes sense that Judas was right beside Jesus.
• In verse 27, Jesus told Judas to go do what He has to do.
• We are told in 28 that no one knew what had just happened, except of course of the disciple “whom Jesus loved”.
• They only knew Judas left because Jesus asked him to do something.
o They would all know in just a few hours, however, what just happened.
So this was how the physical dimension of Jesus’ revelation of betrayal played out.
• Now we need to see if we can get at how the spiritual dimension unfolded.
3) REVELATION OF BETRAYAL – SPIRITUAL DIMENSION
John 13:27 & 30 (ESV) — 27 Then after he had taken the morsel, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.” 30 So, after receiving the morsel of bread, he immediately went out. And it was night.
What does John mean when he tells us that “Satan entered into him”?
• TDNT says the classic meaning for the Greek is “to come” or “to go”.
• The BDAG says that in our context the “coming to” or “going to” is based on a sense of ownership.
What we are about to find out is that Satan “came” to Judas because Judas “went” to Satan.
• The ownership is a two way street.
• Judas was not a passive victim.
• To see this, we need to uncover what we know about Judas.
• I am going to frame what we know about Judas around the desires of the heart.
What we know about Judas:
(1) Like all humans, Judas did what his heart desired.
• Matthew 26:14–16 (ESV) — 14 Then one of the twelve, whose name was Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests 15 and said, “What will you give me if I deliver him over to you?” And they paid him thirty pieces of silver. 16 And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him.
• And His heart desired, at a minimum, money.
(2) Judas’ desires were not mitigated by a born again, regenerated heart; He had not trusted Christ.
• John 13:11 (ESV) — 11 For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “Not all of you are clean.”
• As we saw a few weeks ago, the context here is salvation and sanctification.
• Jesus excluded Judas from the saved.
(3) Judas’ father was Satan and not God.
• John 8:42–44 (ESV) — 42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me. 43 Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. 44 You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
• There is no neutral ground – you are either God’s or Satan’s.
• Therefore Judas’ desires aligned with Satan’s.
Important Point before we move on:
• “Satan could not have entered into him had he not granted him admission. Had he been willing to say “No” to the adversary, all of his Master’s intercessory power was available to him there and then to strengthen him. But when a disciple’s will turns traitor, when the spiritual aid of Christ is refused, that person’s condition is desperate indeed” – F.F. Bruce.
• MacArthur even points out that much of Jesus’ “teaching applied directly to him” – love of money; greed; pride.
• But, Judas refused Christ and His teaching.
Summary of Judas relationship with Satan:
• Judas was not “chosen” by Jesus and Judas rejected Jesus.
• Judas acted out of the desire of his heart.
• And from God’s perspective, Judas willingly desired what his father Satan desired.
Finally, we need to really get at what was happening with Judas and his desires.
• To do this, we turn to James who lays it all out for us.
• James 1:13–15 (ESV) — 13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. 14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.
Judas was “lured and enticed” by his desire for money – greed.
• His desire was “conceived” and “gives birth” with his decision to go to the chief priests and negotiate.
o Where are you going Judas?
o “I have to take care of some ministry business.”
• His desire and sin was “fully grown” when he betrayed Jesus with a kiss.
• And it brought “forth death” with Jesus’ crucifixion and Judas’ own suicide.
This was the spiritual dimension that night.
• A devastating cycle of selfish desires running rampant.
• It started inside his heart and mind and matured into a kiss of betrayal.
But our text tells us it was so much more awful than that.
• “Satan entered into him”.
• What does this mean?
• The depraved desires of Judas’ heart intersected with the purposes of Satan.
Lessons for Us:
• Judas had witnessed 3 years of the miracles, signs, wonders and teaching of Jesus.
• And yet, led by the desires of his heart, he betrayed Jesus.
• We can learn a great deal from this.
1) We should never be surprised by the sin of others.
• Judas had a front row seat to Jesus.
• Yet, Judas chose himself and rejected Jesus.
2) Selfish desire is dangerous.
• Judas was selfish.
• His selfishness led to love of money.
• His desire for money aligned with the establishment’s desire to be rid of Jesus.
• A deal was struck and money changed hands.
• At any point in this process – the “conception”, “birth” and “maturity” of sin – Judas could have made different decisions.
Where are you on the road to devastating sin – “conception”, “birth” or “maturity”?
• Wake up and see.
Satan is eagerly waiting for your selfish desires to cross paths with his purposes.
• Ah, but the cleverness we use to justify our selfish desires is scary-effective.
o “I am not respected in…”
o “I deserve better than…”
o “My needs aren’t being met in…”
o “I am bored and need excitement in…”
• So we refuse to pay attention to the warnings of this coming collision of selfish desire and Satan’s purpose.
So how do we combat the selfish desires of our hearts?
• Do not trust your feelings – they are inclined to selfishness.
• We give too much power to them.
• We think they tell us the truth about what we need.
• What matters is the Work and Words of God!
• We are to look to them not to us!
• They tell us the truth about us.
• Peace and Joy come when we realize this.
Christians worry too much about how our faith, and all that it entails, impacts our lives.
• So much so that we gravitate towards Christian ministries, teaching, or books that attempt to show us how to have “our best life now”.
o As of today, the best-selling Christian books have to do with “how to let go”, “the story of your life”, “enjoying peace”, “guide to deliverance”, “life together”, “increased wealth and better relationships”, etc.
• In the course of any given week, we make our faith all about us and meeting our needs.
o Even though we might be more sophisticated about it than reading questionable books.
• The result is that we have “applicationed” and “devotionified” it to death with selfish needs and cultural baggage.
We lose sight of the fact that Christian faith and its Gospel are not rooted in us, but are rooted in the action of God in history.
• Christianity is unique among world religions in a number of ways.
• One in particular is its relationship to history.
• “The God of the Bible acts in time and space” – John Monson.
• We make the claim that “God’s existence, character, and direct (sometimes miraculous) involvement and guidance in history, and biblical revelation [are] historical realities” – Richard Averbeck.
• Christianity stands or falls on the truth of historical events.
• Historical events are “the central theme of the Bible, [forming] the main link between Old and New Testaments, and [whose] presence and importance marks biblical faith off clearly from other religions” – James Barr.
I want us to see that understanding God’s work in history and its implications deserve more of our time than “devotion” or “application”.
• Any religion or philosophy has “devotion” and “application”.
o There is even a movement afoot to build an atheist “temple” in London.
• Only we have a God of history!
As we celebrate Easter today, I want to briefly explore two acts of God in history, their connection and why the can be believed.
• The Exodus and the Resurrection
1) THE EXODUS
Old Testament scholar James Hoffmeier argues that the establishment of the Israelites as an ethnic group and a nation was based on “a particular event” in history.
• The particular event is the Exodus including, specifically, the giving of the law on Mt. Sinai.
What is at stake?
• Jean Louis Ska says the Exodus “contains the experience on which Israel based its existence as a people.”
• This “experience as a people” includes not only the Exodus itself but the entirety of Israel’s history ultimately culminating in Jesus.
• “From the earliest prophets, to those from the end of the Old Testament period, the exodus and wilderness history, and especially the Sinaitic covenant, are constant themes. And it was the violation of that ancient treaty with God that accounted for the calamities they were encountering from the Assyrian through Persian periods” – James Hoffmeier.
The Old Testament makes this connection clear.
• Exodus 6:7–8 (ESV) — 7 I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the LORD your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. 8 I will bring you into the land that I swore to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. I will give it to you for a possession. I am the LORD.’ ”
In fact, not only did God use the Exodus to “take you to be my people” but God also used it to obligate the Israelites into the Mosaic covenant.
• Exodus 20:1–3 (ESV) — 1 And God spoke all these words, saying, 2 “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 3 “You shall have no other gods before me.”
• Deuteronomy 24:18 (ESV) — 18 but you shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt and the LORD your God redeemed you from there; therefore I command you to do this.
• And so “…because God delivered Israel from its servitude in Egypt, Israel would now become Yahweh’s people by the Sinaitic covenant (treaty), which carried with it laws or stipulations” – James K. Hoffmeier.
More Examples of Israel’s Connection to the Exodus:
• Exodus 13:9 (ESV) — 9 And it shall be to you as a sign on your hand and as a memorial between your eyes, that the law of the LORD may be in your mouth. For with a strong hand the LORD has brought you out of Egypt.
• Deuteronomy 4:20 (ESV) — 20 But the LORD has taken you and brought you out of the iron furnace, out of Egypt, to be a people of his own inheritance, as you are this day.
• 1 Kings 8:16 (ESV) — 16 ‘Since the day that I brought my people Israel out of Egypt, I chose no city out of all the tribes of Israel in which to build a house, that my name might be there. But I chose David to be over my people Israel.’
• Psalm 66:5–6 (ESV) — 5 Come and see what God has done: he is awesome in his deeds toward the children of man. 6 He turned the sea into dry land; they passed through the river on foot. There did we rejoice in him,
• Psalm 80:8 (ESV) — 8 You brought a vine out of Egypt; you drove out the nations and planted it.
• Jeremiah 2:6 (ESV) — 6 They did not say, ‘Where is the LORD who brought us up from the land of Egypt, who led us in the wilderness, in a land of deserts and pits, in a land of drought and deep darkness, in a land that none passes through, where no man dwells?’
It should be clear; if there was no Exodus then there were no chosen people of God through which the promised offspring would come.
• And there would be no reason to expect restoration from exile for such a people.
• If the truth of Scripture depends on the historicity of the Exodus, an obvious question follows.
• What are the reasons to believe the Exodus occurred?
Reasons to Believe:
(1) Uniqueness of the event – Origin of People, Its Law and Curses and the Exodus
• Within in ANE religious history, “identifying an ethnic group with their deity in terms of a particular event…is unique” to Israel and Yahweh” – James Hoffmeier.
• In the context of Mesopotamian ANE religions, only in the Hebrew law do “statutes include the specific historical event that created the precedent…” – James Hoffmeier.
• Covenant curses given for breaking covenant are “part of all ancient treaty texts”, but “only in the Hebrew Bible are curses connected to specific [historic] events” – James Hoffmeier.
(2) Origin of Passover Festival (pesah), Festival of Unleavened Bread (massot) and Feast of Booths (sukkot).
• The “pesah and massot have no other explanation for their origin than the exodus from Egypt” – James Hoffmeier.
o Deuteronomy 16:1 (ESV) — 1 “Observe the month of Abib and keep the Passover to the LORD your God, for in the month of Abib the LORD your God brought you out of Egypt by night.
o Exodus 34:18 (ESV) — 18 “You shall keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, as I commanded you, at the time appointed in the month Abib, for in the month Abib you came out from Egypt.
• The use of booths in the Feast of Booths, is also directly connected to the Exodus.
o Leviticus 23:42–43 (ESV) — 42 You shall dwell in booths for seven days. All native Israelites shall dwell in booths, 43 that your generations may know that I made the people of Israel dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.”
(3) Archaeological Evidence
• Though there is much debate about the archaeological evidence for the Exodus, or lack thereof, there is evidence for Joshua’s military undertakings.
• “The book of Joshua’s account of the Israelite entry into Canaan does overlap with archaeology, albeit in broad strokes” – John Monson.
• The implication, of course, is that there was a tribe of invading Hebrews whose origin must be accounted for.
Summary of reasons:
• “The biblical evidence for the exodus and wilderness periods reviewed above so overwhelmingly supports the historicity of these events that the priests, prophets, psalmists, people of Israel, and foreigners believed these events occurred, and consequently they celebrated festivals, sang songs, dated events, and observed laws that assumed that Yahweh’s salvation from Egypt was authentic” – James Hoffmeier.
Exodus and Easter:
So what does all this have to do with Easter?
• Isaiah 11:16 (ESV) — 16 And there will be a highway from Assyria for the remnant that remains of his people, as there was for Israel when they came up from the land of Egypt.
• Hosea 11:1 (ESV) — 1 When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.
Remember, the Jews still considered themselves in exile in 30 A.D.
• Restoration would come through Jesus.
• Jesus was called “out” by the Father as the second Moses to be the “highway” of restoration from exile “for the remnant” of his people – the drawn, called and chosen.
• The New Testament claimed this restoration would find its completion on earth in the resurrection; Jesus’ exaltation.
• Therefore, God’s action in history inextricably links the Exodus to the Resurrection.
• It can be argued that they are two parts of the same action – the Gospel.
So the Resurrection of Jesus Christ is ground zero for the claim that God works in history.
• Everything in Scripture, for the Christian, rests on the Resurrection.
• If Jesus was not resurrected, there was no Exodus, no Gospel, no restoration and no salvation.
In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul first tells us that the Gospel is not just Jesus, but the entire story of the “Scriptures” (a history of God working in the life of the Israelites), Jesus, and His resurrection.
• 1 Corinthians 15:1–8 (ESV) — 1 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.
Paul then lays it all on the line – it being both the “the Scriptures” and Jesus – when he says:
• 1 Corinthians 15:13–14 (ESV) — 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.
• Paul’s preaching was that Jesus was the fulfillment of the OT expectations of Messiah, restoration and resurrection.
What is at stake?
• Everything from Genesis to Revelation and the propositions they contain.
More Examples of the NT’s Connection to the Resurrection:
As the OT is to the Exodus, the NT is drenched at every turn with the resurrection.
• Acts 5:30 (ESV) — 30 The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree.
• Acts 13:34 (ESV) — 34 And as for the fact that he raised him from the dead, no more to return to corruption, he has spoken in this way, “ ‘I will give you the holy and sure blessings of David.’
• Romans 1:3–4 (ESV) — 3 concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh 4 and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord,
• Romans 6:4 (ESV) — 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
• 1 Peter 1:3 (ESV) — 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
If, for the Christian, everything is riding on the resurrection are there reasons to believe the resurrection happened?
• John, you may remember, ends his Gospel by saying he wrote of the works of Christ so that “you may believe that Jesus is the Christ” (John 20:31).
• We must not forget that, “Faith is a response to evidence, not a rejoicing in the absence of evidence” – John Lennox.
Reasons to Believe:
• The evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ is what is referred to as cumulative.
• In other words, it builds and builds and builds on itself, and in historian speak, is left standing as the “inference to the best explanation”.
• It is the best explanation because the resurrection of Jesus is the only explanation that can account for all the events that need explaining.
There are far too many good books written on the subject of the resurrection to entertain all of the evidence here.
• So, I will not deal with the objections and answers to the objections (read the books for that).
• I will simply cite the most common arguments for the truth of the Resurrection.
• Our information comes from N.T. Wright’s, The Resurrection of the Son of God, and Gary Habermas’, The Case of the Resurrection of Jesus.
Minimal Fact Approach:
We will start with Habermas.
• He states that his approach “considers only those data that are so strongly attested historically that they are granted by nearly every scholar who studies the subject, even the rather skeptical ones.”
• He calls it the “Minimal Facts Approach”.
• What is the Minimal Facts Approach?
“Jesus died by Crucifixion”
• This is recorded in all four Gospels and in non-Christian works of the period.
• John Dominic Crossan (Jesus Seminar) concedes that nothing about Jesus is more certain.
“Jesus’ disciples believed that He rose and appeared to them”
• (a) They testified to both in Scripture – He rose and we saw him.
• (b) They had a radical transformation from coward to martyr which corresponded with their belief in the Resurrection.
o “Modern martyrs act solely out of their trust in beliefs that others have taught them. The apostles died for holding to their own testimony that they had personally seen the risen Jesus. Contemporary martyrs die for what they believe to be true. The disciples of Jesus died for what they knew to be either true or false” – Gary Habermas.
“The church persecutor Paul was suddenly changed”
• Paul, the chief of sinners, changed from being a “skeptic who believed that it was God’s will to persecute the church to becoming one of its most influential messengers” – Gary Habermas.
“The skeptic James, brother of Jesus, was suddenly changed”
• (a) Mark and John tell us he was an unbeliever during Jesus’ ministry.
o Mark 3:21 (ESV) — 21 And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for they were saying, “He is out of his mind.”
• (b) And then in Acts, after the Resurrection, he was a church leader who would eventually die for his beliefs.
“The tomb was empty”
• (a) Jerusalem Factor – “It would have been impossible for Christianity to get off the ground in Jerusalem if the body had still been in the tomb. His enemies in the Jewish leadership and Roman government would only have had to exhume the corpse and publicly display it for the hoax to be shattered. Not only are Jewish, Roman, and all other writings absent of such an account, but there is a total silence from Christianity’s critics who would have jumped at evidence of this sort” – Gary Habermas.
• (b) Enemy Attestation – The Jews conceded the tomb was empty; they accused Jesus’ disciples of stealing the corpse.
• (c) Testimony of Women – not what you would use if you were making something up.
N.T. Wright’s Approach:
• Wright outlines at least 6 differences between Jewish Resurrection and Jesus’ Kingdom Resurrection.
• The differences are unique to Christianity and their origin requires an explanation.
Summary of Reasons to Believe:
• The simplest and best explanation for Habermas’ Minimal Facts Approach and N.T. Wright’s approach is simply that Jesus was raised from the dead.
• There is no other single reason that can account for all of these facts.
• If one believes that God exists and that He acts in history, then there is no reason to reject the crucifixion.
• God acted in history to raise Jesus on our behalf.
• And if God raised Jesus, then we can have further confidence that God established the Israelites through the Exodus.
• For those with eyes to see and ears to hear, believe.
Lesson for Us:
• If God has worked in history through the Exodus and the Resurrection, then we can confidently believe in what the Bible has to say.
• And importantly, the Bible’s truth exists completely independent of our experience.
• It is in God’s action in history as revealed in the Bible that assurance is to be found.
• It is God’s actions that we are to explore, know and understand.
o The Gospel, after all, is made up of God’s work in history.
o It is not us, or our testimony.
• For as we said at the beginning, we have a God that lays claim on history.
And like Paul, we can stake our life on the activity of God in history.
• Whether we have our “best life now” is irrelevant.
• We still sin; we still struggle; we still fail, but Jesus has been raised from the dead!
• God’s action is our comfort.
Finally, the God that delivers through the Exodus and that raises Jesus from the dead is the God that meets you in real time and gives you a new heart.
• Ezekiel 36:26 (ESV) — 26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
• Ezekiel is not speaking philosophically or metaphorically.
• This is not new age, post-modern, self-actualization mumbo jumbo.
• This is a claim that God works in history.
• Your salvation is itself a historical event!
Last week we saw how Jesus serves us, dispenses grace to us, with both his words (spoken service) and action (enacted word).
• And in these we experience the love of Christ just as the disciples did.
We also discussed the implications of this as it pertains to a proper view of church.
• As Jesus served the disciples via the foot washing, Jesus seeks to serve us (dispense grace to us) through His word (spoken service) and sacraments (enacted word) in church.
• Therefore, church is to be more a place of receiving than doing.
• This concept is fundamental to the Gospel – Christ acting in history, dispensing grace, on our behalf.
• Today’s text, however, does concern something we are to be doing.
o The horizontal aspect of our faith.
• We will figure out exactly what He is asking of the disciples and explore its theological implications.
1) DO YOU UNDERSTAND?
John 13:12 (ESV) — 12 When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you?
Apparently, as we saw last week, they didn’t.
• If you remember, Jesus told them, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.”
• And as we discussed last week Jesus words, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me”, clearly are best understood from the resurrection side of the cross.
• It is from that side of the cross that one can finally get that Jesus’ death/burial/resurrection was creating the “fellowship of the cleansed” – D.A. Carson.
Yet, interestingly, we learn that there is another meaning behind Jesus foot washing.
• And he wants the disciples to understand this meaning before the cross.
• So he proceeds to explain it to them.
• The “fellowship of the cleansed” Jesus is creating is to be “characterized by the same love” as Jesus and “therefore by the same self-abnegation for the sake of serving others” – D.A. Carson.
Let’s take a look at how Jesus spells this out for them.
Jesus’ Object Lesson on Humility and Service:
John 13:13-17 (ESV) 13 You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. 16 Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 If you know these things, blessed [some say happy] are you if you do them.
Jesus makes it pretty clear.
• He tells them that the reason He humbled Himself and washed their feet was to give them “an example” to follow.
• The example to follow was “to wash one another’s feet”.
• And for added emphasis, Jesus says, “you also should do just as I have done to you”.
Before we go any farther, we have to answer an obvious question.
• Why isn’t foot washing a sacrament like baptism and the Lord’s Supper?
Between D.A. Carson and John MacArthur I found at least three reasons why.
• (1) MacArthur simply says Jesus’ words are clear in the Greek that He means we are to do “as” He did not “what” He did.
• (2) D.A. Carson points out that “nowhere else in the New Testament, or in the earliest extra-biblical documents of the church, is footwashing treated as an ecclesiastical rite, an ordinance, a sacrament” – D.A. Carson.
o In other words, the NT writers and early church didn’t see it as such.
• (3) “The heart of Jesus’ command is humility” – D.A. Carson.
o In other words, “The Lord gave an example of humility, not of foot washing” – MacArthur.
Why the Love and Service?
• Not only does Jesus call the disciples to follow His example, but He also gives them the reason why.
• (1) “a servant is not greater than his master”
• (2) “nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him”
• Jesus, sent by the Father, submitted to the will and example of the Father.
o Philippians 2:6–7 (ESV) — 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.
So, likewise, the disciples are to submit in the style of Jesus.
• Jesus’ example removed any “conceivable reason for refusing to do so” – D.A. Carson.
• “What is proper for him is proper also for us” – James Boice.
• And Jesus’ style is servitude and humiliation.
And we have already seen, from Peter’s response to Jesus’ foot washing, this is not something that comes naturally.
• We just can’t get away from the fact that Jesus and the imperatives He gives to us are offensive to the self-serving pride we all struggle with.
• It was obviously no different for the disciples.
• In fact, in the Hellenized Greek culture in which Judaism was operating, there was:
o (1) “no use for humility” – Wiersbe.
o (2) and manual labor was despised – Wiersbe.
• Jesus example to the disciples and us contained both of these things!
• Quite honestly, Jesus’ example of self-denial, humility and self-abnegation can be seen as disheartening if viewed incorrectly.
• I think there are at least two reasons for this.
(1) One reason is that the imperative to live like this is plain enough; it can’t be ignored.
• John 12:25 (ESV) — 25 Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.
• 2 Corinthians 5:15 (ESV) — 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.
• 1 Peter 4:2 (ESV) — 2 so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God.
And we need to also include Jesus’ words just a few verses down from our text today.
• John 13:34–35 (ESV) — 34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
(2) The second reason is that, as equally plain as the call, is our limited success in living up to Jesus’ example.
• This is problematic because of the verses that teach us, that “obedience to the will of God demonstrates the reality of a person’s faith in Jesus Christ” – M.H. Manser.
• Romans 1:5 (ESV) — 5 through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations,
• Hebrews 11:8 (ESV) — 8 By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.
• John 8:31 (ESV) — 31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples,
• Mark 3:35 (ESV) — 35 For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.”
• 1 John 3:24 (ESV) — 24a Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us.
I will come back to this relationship of faith and obedience shortly.
• For now, I think most of us agree we fall short.
• Right now let’s move on to verse 17.
Benefit of Obedience:
• Jesus then pronounces a blessing for obedience to His call to humiliation and service.
• He says, “blessed are you if you do them” (vs. 17).
• The NIV makes it plain, “you will be blessed if you do them”.
• To be blessed in our context is to be a “privileged recipient of divine favor” in a transcendent sense – BDAG.
• What is Jesus talking about here?
• This almost sounds like Jesus is saying, “I’ll usher you in to heaven, the ultimate divine favor, if you do what I tell you to do.”
To understand what Jesus is saying here, we have to begin with what He is not saying.
• It must be emphasized, that this is not a call to pietism – righteousness and justification earned through good works.
• This is not the Gospel of moral improvement.
o This would be the white-washed tombs of the Pharisees.
• Jesus is not saying that He will give them more righteousness through obedience and works.
• As we know, our works are of no help at all.
• We even talked last week about Jesus’ pronouncement that the “flesh is not help at all”.
Scripture makes clear that we are only justified and made righteous by faith in Jesus.
• Galatians 2:16 (ESV) — 16 yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.
• Ephesians 2:8–9 (ESV) — 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
We also have to understand something else extremely important here.
• Jesus had already blessed the disciples even prior to these demands.
• For starters he already recognized them as being called by the Father – they followed Him.
• He entrusted Himself to them.
o In other words, He saved them.
• He taught them the truth of God’s word and how He fulfilled OT prophecy.
o Something only “heard” and “seen” by those the Father has given Him.
• He brought them into the light.
• And in our immediate context, He humiliated Himself for them and washed their feet!
I think all of this is all plain enough.
• But we haven’t answered our question and we have raised another.
(1) If we are saved by faith, what is the relationship of obedience to faith?
• Another way to put this is what is the relationship between law and Gospel?
• I said we would come back to this relationship.
• After all, Jesus isn’t supposed to be so religious.
o As in making demands on our behavior.
(2) And what is the blessing in verse 17 if we are already blessed with salvation?
• What exactly was he talking about?
To get at the answers, we have to take a theological rabbit trail.
2) BLESSING BECAUSE OF OBEDIENCE OR OBEDIENCE BECAUSE OF BLESSING?
Answering the first question:
We need to know –
• “God’s Word has two parts: the law and the gospel. The law commands and the gospel gives. The law says, “Do,” and the gospel says, “Done;” the law issues imperatives (commands), while the gospel announces indicatives (a state of affairs)” – Michael Horton.
Jesus changed things:
We have to understand that Jesus completely changed the relationship between the “Do” and the “Done” – the Law and Gospel.
• In the OT, God delivered His chosen people, the Hebrews, out of Egypt.
• This action of God obligated the Hebrews to a specific relationship with Him.
o Exodus 20:2–3 (ESV) — 2 “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 3 “You shall have no other gods before me.
• To formalize this relationship, God gave the Law to Moses on Mount Sinai and covenanted with them.
• He then constantly reminded them that if they follow the Law He would bless them.
• The covenant was conditional on obedience.
o Deuteronomy 15:4–5 (ESV) — 4 But there will be no poor among you; for the LORD will bless you in the land that the LORD your God is giving you for an inheritance to possess— 5 if only you will strictly obey the voice of the LORD your God, being careful to do all this commandment that I command you today.
o One of many examples.
And then enter Jesus Christ and the new covenant alluded to in Jeremiah 31.
• God delivered His Son to the cross and delivered Him from death.
• God’s elect (the born again, the called and drawn, the sheep) are blessed through the “Done” of Jesus; through the obedience of Jesus.
o Matthew 5:2–3 (ESV) — 2 And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying: 3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
• And then Jesus calls the blessed to obedience (the “Do”).
o Matthew 5:44 (ESV) — 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
Do you see the difference?
• The OT covenant was “DO” to get the “DONE”.
o Obey and be blessed.
• Jesus reversed this.
o As seen at the Sermon on the Mount, for example, Jesus pronounced blessing first.
o And as seen in our text, Jesus blessed with foot washing first.
o He pronounced “Done” and then the “Do”.
o He served and then asked for service.
o Being blessed leads to obedience.
OK, so how does this help us answer the first question about faith and obedience?
• Why did Jesus get so “religious” by placing demands on us?
• If Jesus’ commands are not about a Gospel of moral improvement, what are they?
• Obedience to Jesus’ commands, the Law, is the “instrument for enabling them [believers] daily to learn with greater truth and certainty what that will of the Lord is which they aspire to follow, and to confirm them in this knowledge…” – Calvin.
o The 3rd use of the law.
• In other words, the law (the “Do”) that comes after blessing serves to guide us.
• It is one answer to the question, “what is God’s will for my life?”
But there is more.
• The final piece of the puzzle that helps answer question one is what Michael Horton calls the relationship between Guilt, Grace and Gratitude.
Obedience is an act of Gratitude for the blessing God has bestowed on us through the Grace of the Gospel.
• It is not a “doing” in the legalistic sense.
• Again, Jesus is not teaching a Gospel of moral improvement.
o It is no secret to God and us that we can’t keep God’s law.
o This is why it is the means God uses to drive us to Christ in the first place.
* 1st use of the law.
o Once saved, He doesn’t continuously condemn us over and over.
• We simply have such Gratitude that God’s Grace has provided salvation from our Guilt that we desire to know what Jesus wants and desire to do it (even if with limited success).
• There simply can’t be true belief without obedience!
• There is no relief of Guilt through Grace without Gratitude.
• Just as the living breath, the justified obey.
BTW – this is why it is important for the believer to routinely hear the Gospel.
• We too often downplay the extent of our Guilt and depravity.
• We too often take for granted that Jesus “died for our sins”.
• So, we too often quench our Gratitude.
• We acknowledged earlier that both Jesus’ demands and our failures are plain enough.
• This itself is a blessing because it is a loving reminder of our Guilt and our need for the Grace we have been given.
• This should fill us with Gratitude not self-loathing!
Answering the second question:
What is the blessing that comes from obedience?
• (1) A desire to know and obey Jesus and God’s word is a confirmation of our belief.
o It is assurance of our salvation.
• (2) Obedience itself is a blessing because it is what is best for us.
o It answers the question about God’s will.
• (3) The call to obey reminds us of our need for Grace.
• (4) And there is another angle to Jesus’ words, “blessed are you if you do them” (vs. 17).
o The angle is simply this – the blessed ARE the ones that “do them”.
o As we have just seen, we are blessed first and then we are fit to obey.
o If Jesus is guiding you with the law, you are His!
Back to our text:
• I think we can now have a clear understanding why Jesus makes demands on us.
• The law has not been overturned.
• In fact, just as Jesus did with so many other things in the Kingdom, He redefined it.
o He took it up a notch for our benefit and His glory.
• Mark 12:30–31 (ESV) — 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”