How can we recover from rejection? Part 4

“When Jesus had said these things, He was troubled in spirit, and testified and said, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, one of you will betray Me.’ ” John 13:21

The fourth way to recover from rejection is to LAY ASIDE YOUR DENIAL OF PAIN (John 13:21). “When Jesus had said these things, He was troubled in spirit, and testified and said, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, one of you will betray Me.’ ” (John 13:21). When Jesus had said these things about being betrayed by one of them, “He was troubled in spirit.”The word “troubled” (etarachthē) means “to shake together, to stir up.” Christ was emotionally stirred up, unsettled, and disturbed. Why? Because He knew Judas was going to “betray” Him. He felt hurt that Judas was going to reject Him. Judas had walked with Jesus for over three years. They had been through a lot together. Christ had poured His life into the disciples, including Judas, but Judas refused to believe in Him (cf. John 6:64, 70-71; 13:10-11; 17:12).

Don’t feel guilty if you are deeply hurt or upset when someone close to you rejects you. Jesus felt hurt when He was rejected, and He is almighty God in human flesh. How much more will we feel emotionally stirred up and unsettled?! If we want to recover from rejection, we must be honest about our feelings. Some of us need to learn to give ourselves permission to feel hurt when we have been rejected. Christians can easily minimize their feelings. “A good Christian would not feel this way,” they say to themselves. Jesus felt upset about Judas’ rejection of Him! Why don’t we permit ourselves to feel hurt when we are rejected? Christ understands what it is like to be betrayed by someone close to you. He is not going to tell you to deny your pain and act as though nothing happened. He sympathizes with your pain and wants to offer His healing grace. We cannot forgive someone from our heart if we do not acknowledge the pain he or she has caused us (Matthew 18:35).

Some of you have been through unbearable rejection and pain. Have you allowed yourself to feel the hurt? People who have experienced a lot of rejection throughout their lives may be afraid to permit themselves to feel the pain of that rejection. It may seem overwhelming to them to feel, so they deny their emotions thinking they will go away. But they don’t. Repressed emotions will manifest themselves in unhealthy ways. Jesus can help you identify your pain and give you the strength to release it to Him. Will you permit Him to help you do this?

After over three years of intimate fellowship with the Lord Jesus, how could Judas betray Him? The Bible tells us that Judas was motivated by greed. 14 Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests 15 and said, ‘What are you willing to give me if I deliver Him to you?’ And they counted out to him thirty pieces of silver. 16 So from that time he sought opportunity to betray Him.” (Matthew 26:14-16). Judas was in bondage to money. Afterward he felt guilty and ashamed for betraying the Lord Jesus, and he hung himself (Matthew 27:3-5). Judas could have turned to Jesus for forgiveness after betraying Him, but instead he took matters into his own hands and killed himself.

Judas’ betrayal “troubled” Jesus. In what ways do we “trouble” our Lord? Have we put money or the approval of others ahead of Jesus’ approval? Whatever we have done to offend our Lord, the solution is simple for believers:“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (I John 1:9). Permit Jesus to come alongside of you and help you release your pain to Him. He can handle what may seem unbearable to you.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for providing a godly example of what it looks like to acknowledge the pain of rejection. For many years I have believed the lie that says, “A good Christian does not feel hurt when someone rejects him.” But You, Lord, understand what it is like to be betrayed by someone close to You. You do not tell us to ignore the pain. You encourage us to acknowledge and release the pain to You. Thank You in advance for the strength You will give me to do just that. Please forgive me for the many ways I have troubled You, my Lord and my God. Thank You for Your cleansing grace that gives me a fresh start the moment I confess my wrongs to You. In Your holy name I pray. Amen.

ENDNOTE:

1. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, compiled by Walter Bauer, trans. and adapted by William F. Arndt and F. Wilbur Gingrich, 2nd ed., rev. and augmented by F. Wilbur Gingrich and Frederick W. Danker (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1979), pg. 805.

How can we experience the blessedness of clean feet? Part 4

“If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.” John 13:14

As we continue to study John 13:1-17, we are learning how we can experience the blessedness of clean feet or intimacy with Christ. So far we have discovered that we must…

– Recognize Jesus’ loyal love for us (John 13:1-2).

– Reckon who we are in Christ (John 13:3-5).

– Receive Jesus’ cleansing grace (John 13:6-11).

The fourth way to experience the blessedness of intimacy with Christ is to RESOLVE TO APPLY JESUS’ CLEANSING GRACE TO OTHERS (John 13:12-15; cf. Ephes. 4:32). “So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, ‘Do you know what I have done to you?’ ” (John 13:12). This was a searching question especially for Peter and Judas. Jesus had just demonstrated His love for them and the benefits of that love. Now Christ turns to deal with the attitude that had characterized them when they came to this meal. In view of their contention for a position in which they would be served by others, Jesus said: “You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am.” (John 13:13). The implication of the title “Teacher” is expanded in verses 14-15 as is the implication for the title “Lord” in verses 16-17. These were titles of respect and honor. They were correct to perceive Him as their Teacher and Lord.

Christ then says,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 should do as I have done to you.” (John 13:14-15). As their Teacher, He has given them an example to follow. “Students,” Jesus says, “you ‘ought’ (to owe a debt or be obligated) to do this assignment for Me. If I can do it, then so can you.” As students of their Teacher, the disciples are to serve one another just as their Teacher served them. As students, they were not to sit around and be served, but rather they were to take the initiative in meeting the needs of others. In other words, they were to be teachable.

Foot washing was common in the first century culture. But not now. Is this meant to be a church ordinance? I do not believe so because the New Testament church did not practice foot washing as an ordinance. Nowhere in the New Testament do the writers treat foot washing as another ordinance in addition to Water Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. The main idea from Christ here is that of humble service.

The practice of humility often means doing what others refuse to do. This is a timely word for the church today. Just as a spirit of entitlement and competition had overtaken the disciples at the Last Supper when they were arguing about who was the greatest (Luke 22:24), so too, it can overtake believers in the church today. “The world asks, ‘How many people work for you?’ but the Lord asks, ‘For how many people do you work?’” 1

Believers may be growing in their knowledge of the Bible, but are they growing in humility? Are they willing to do what no one else will do? Christ washed the feet of His disciples after giving them an opportunity to do so. They did not want to perform a lowly servant’s task. They were too proud to perform such a lowly service.

The Lord wants us to take off our garments of pride and selfishness and put on His love and serve others especially when things get dirty. Humble service is most needed when people are hurting and suffering. This may mean dealing with the dirty feet of other believers just as Jesus dealt with the dirty feet of His disciples. Ephesians 4:32 instructs us, “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” The way to keep our hearts tender is to be forgiving of one another as God forgave us in Christ Jesus. We cannot have an intimate relationship with one another if we are unforgiving. Why? Because all people have dirty feet or sin in their lives and they will offend us. But let’s not forget that we also have dirty feet or sin which offends others. The key is to share the same forgiveness with one another that Christ has freely given to us. None of us deserve this, but all of us desperately need it.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, as my Teacher, You have given me an example to follow when You knelt down and washed the dirty feet of Your disciples. I am realizing that You want me to humbly serve others especially when things get dirty. When people are hurting or suffering, they do not need a lot of Bible knowledge. They need to know they are loved and cared for, especially if they have experienced spiritual failure in their lives. Thank You for reminding me of the importance of passing on the same kindness and forgiveness to others that You freely gave to me. None of us deserve these things, but oh how greatly we need them. In Your gracious name I pray. Amen.

ENDNOTE:

1. Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, Vol. I (Wheaton: Scripture Press, Victor Books, 1989), pg. 347.

How can we experience the blessedness of clean feet? Part 1

“Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.” John 13:1

We can look good from head to toe with the right hairstyle, clothes, and makeup when we are around people. But when it comes to our feet – well – the façade is over. Because feet get dirty and stink. We all have dirty feet. If you don’t believe me, check your neighbor’s feet out right now. It’s impossible to keep your feet smelling and looking good all the time. We are uncomfortable with people seeing our feet up close. You may wonder, “What will they think when they see my feet? Will they notice any toe jam or fungus? Will my feet stink? Will they still like me or will they run away from me?”

We don’t like it when people see our blemishes. We are afraid they will reject us. Think about it for a moment? Why do we even worry about what others think of our feet!?! After all, who doesn’t have dirty feet!?! We all have dirty feet! Jesus came to earth to clean dirty feet. All of us need Jesus to clean our feet!!! Amen!?!

In our study of the gospel of John thus far we have looked at the first twelve chapters which present seven miraculous signs to persuade non-Christians to believe in Jesus for His gift of eternal life. Beginning with chapter thirteen of John, the apostle will begin to present intimacy with Christ to persuade non-Christians to believe in Jesus. He also uses this section (John 13-17) to motivate Christians to experience the abundant life of Christ through a discipleship relationship with Him.

In John 13:1-17, Jesus is going to address the problem of dirty feet. From these verses, we will learn how to experience the blessedness of clean feet. Turn in your Bibles to John chapter thirteen. In the context of this passage, Jesus is in the final week of His life before His crucifixion. On Monday, He entered the city of Jerusalem triumphantly (John 12:12-19). This was the day the Passover lamb was selected. On Tuesday, Jesus cleansed the temple in Jerusalem (Matthew 21:12-13). He returned to Bethany that evening. On Wednesday, Jesus cursed the fig tree on the way from Bethany to Jerusalem and had conflict with the religious leaders (Matthew 21:18-23:36). On the Mount of Olives, He spoke of His Second Coming and predicted that in two days He would be crucified at the time of Passover (Matthew 24:1-26:2). In John 13, it is Thursday, our time.

How can we experience the blessedness of clean feet? First, we must RECOGNIZE JESUS’ LOYAL LOVE FOR US (John 13:1-2; cf. I John 4:18-19), dirty feet and all. John informs us, “Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.” (John 13:1). This does not refer to the Last Supper occurring before the Passover, but that Jesus “knew” before the Passover that His death was imminent. The time for Jesus’ hour of suffering did not take Him by surprise. He would suffer and die and go to be with His Father in heaven.

Christ had loved His “own” disciples “to the end” or full extent despite their shortcomings. Christ would reveal His loyal love through His humble service (John 13:1-17), His teaching (John 13:18-16:33), His praying for them (John 17:1-26), and finally His death (John 18-19). All four would reveal His love.

Christ’s love knows no limits. From this point on, Christ concentrates on those He loves intimately. The word “love” (agapaō) refers to doing what is best for another person. This was Jesus’ last evening together with His disciples before His death and He wants to express His love to them in a very special way.

“And supper being ended, the devil having already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray Him.” (John 13:2). The Passover “supper” had just finished. 1  Luke 22:24 tells us that the disciples had been arguing at this supper about who was the greatest when Jesus needed them the most to be available for Him before His sufferings and death. The disciples were imperfect, yet Jesus loved them despite their shortcomings. Satan had already prompted Judas to betray Jesus. Because Judas’ heart was open to the devil, he allowed himself to serve Satan. He was not forced to betray Christ, he chose to yield to Satan’s temptation. The other disciples had also opened their hearts to serve the devil by arguing about who was the greatest. Although the disciples had dirty feet, Jesus still loved them, including Judas who would betray Him.

And you know what? He still loves you and me although we often betray Him with our thoughts, our words, and our actions. We are no different than Jesus’ imperfect disciples. And like them, we also need Jesus’ loyal love daily. This unlimited love of Jesus Christ beckons us to let Him cleanse our dirty feet; to wash our sin-stained lives clean with His forgiving grace. When we focus on the perfect love of Jesus, any barriers we have, especially fear or shame (cf. I John 4:18-19), will be cast out so that we will permit Him to see and cleanse our dirty feet (i.e. our sinful lives). Without the recognition of His loyal and unlimited love for us, it will be very difficult if not impossible to experience the blessedness of intimacy with Christ.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, I dread to think where I would be were it not for Your unlimited love for me. Because I know You love me regardless of how dirty and smelly my feet are, I can be open and honest with You about my sin and shame. You are not uptight or ashamed of my brokenness or sinfulness. You are more aware of these things in my life than I am. And yet You want to spend time with me and cleanse me of the sin and shame that so often interrupt my fellowship with You. Thank You, my Lord and my God, for loving me to the very end despite my unworthiness. You alone are worthy of all the glory and praise. In Your loving name I pray. Amen.

ENDNOTE:

1. There seems to be a conflict between the Synoptic gospels which teach that the Last Supper was the Passover meal (Matthew 26:2, 17-19; Mark 14:1, 12, 14, 16; Luke 22:1, 7-8, 13, 15) and the gospel of John, which teaches that the Last Supper was not a Passover meal (John 13:1; 18:28; 19:14, 31-36). This apparent contradiction between the Synoptic gospels and the gospel of John can be resolved when we recognize that in Jesus’ day there were two systems of reckoning the day: from sunset to sunset (Exodus 12:18; Mark 4:27; 5:5; Luke 2:37) and from sunrise to sunrise (Genesis 1:14, 16; Deuteronomy 16:4; Matthew 28:1; Acts 4:3; 20:7-11; 23:32). The Galileans and Pharisees used the sunrise to sunrise reckoning. Thus, according to the Synoptics, the Last Supper was a Passover meal. Since this day was to be reckoned from sunrise, the Galileans, and with them Jesus and His disciples, had the Passover lamb slaughtered in the late afternoon on Thursday, Nisan 14 (cf. Exodus 12:6) and later that evening they ate the Passover with the unleavened bread. On the other hand, the Judean Jews who reckoned from sunset to sunset would slay the Passover lamb on Friday afternoon which marked the end of Nisan 14 and would eat the Passover lamb with unleavened bread that night which had become Nisan 15. Thus, Jesus had eaten the Passover meal when His enemies, who had not as yet had the Passover, arrested Him. This interpretation eliminates the difficulties presented in John’s gospel. First, this gives good sense to John 18:28 where the Jews did not want to enter the Praetorium so as not to be defiled since later that day they would slay the Passover lambs for those who reckoned from sunset to sunset. Second, John 19:14 makes sense for it says that Jesus’ trial and crucifixion were on the “day of preparation for the Passover” and not after the eating of the Passover. Third, this fits well with John 19:36 where it speaks of the fulfillment of the Old Testament (Exodus 14:26; Numbers 9:12) when no bones of Jesus, the Passover Lamb of God, were broken. After Jesus’ trial and crucifixion, He died when the Passover lambs were slain in the temple precincts.