BOOK BY BOOK BIBLE STUDY
BIBLE STUDY LESSON
For the week beginning Sunday March 23, 2014
(Following JESUS in humility)
The Gospel of John gives us the most complete details of JESUS’ instructions to HIS disciples on the eve of HIS crucifixion. Chapters 13-17 represent a concentrated dose of JESUS’ private teachings to HIS select group of disciples on the night of HIS arrest. HE begins the evening with the surprising act of washing HIS disciple’s feet, one disciple at a time. It was an endearing and humble effort on JESUS’ part, to express to HIS closest followers, the kind of brotherly love that HE had in HIS heart for each of them.
HE knew that HIS time to depart from this world was drawing ever closer, and that HIS death on the cross was now imminent. The devil had already entered into the heart of Judas Iscariot and enticed him to go forward with his plan of betrayal against JESUS. And now, the stage was set for the “passion of CHRIST” to begin. But first, there would still be time for some intimate instructions from the MAN WHO had come to mean so much to this unwitting, rag-tagged group of simple and untrained men. And the first of HIS instructions was aimed at teaching them to serve each other in the most menial of ways, which was, in this case, washing each other’s feet.
After washing their feet, JESUS put HIS robe back on and sat down and asked what they had learned from what HE had just done. HE told HIS faithful that they always called HIM MASTER and LORD, and that they were correct in doing so. However, if HE, as their MASTER, would wash their feet, how much more willing should they be to wash each other’s feet? HE had given them an example and HE wanted them to follow suit with their treatment toward each other. And, even though a servant is never greater than his master, and a messenger is never more important than the one who sent him, HE, WHO is MASTER over all mankind, came to serve mankind for HIS FATHER, WHO sent HIM into the world, because HE so loved the world.
All the way up until the very hour of Judas’ betrayal of JESUS, he had been, protected by JESUS from being discovered by the other disciples. JESUS knew from the beginning what role Judas would portray in the outcome of HIS ministry, but HE in no way compelled him to play it. Instead, HE exposed Judas to all of the privileges that HE had afforded the other disciples, and yet Judas’ sinful heart remained unchanged by JESUS’ presence. It is like the professed Christian in the church today, who might attend church every weekend, and go to Sunday school, midweek bible study, participate in church ministries etc., and never really in their heart, accept CHRIST for WHO HE is, as our LORD and SAVIOR.
The “Last Supper” took place on a Thursday night, and the theme of that dinner was one of “Love”. After JESUS performed the menial act of foot washing to HIS disciples, HE now decides, with a heavy heart, that it is time to expose the one who would betray HIM. It was to be one of those whose feet HE had just washed.
JESUS’ allusion to Psalms 41:9, (verse 18), where King David laments his betrayal by his trusted friend, Ahithophel, who like Judas, ultimately committed suicide by hanging (2 Samuel 17:23), clearly identifies this incident as being prophetic. What had happened to David was now happening to David’s greater SON.
When JESUS mentioned the fact that one of them would betray HIM, the disciples were stunned, and began to look upon each other, wondering which of them could be capable of doing such a terrible thing. Peter motioned to John, who sat next to JESUS, and asked him to ask JESUS who it would be. JESUS answered, apparently, only to John’s hearing, that it would be the one HE gave the bread dipped in sauce to, which turned out to be Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon.
Immediately, upon eating the bread, satan entered into Judas, and he was sent away by JESUS to perform his act of treason. None of the others at the table comprehended what JESUS meant, especially since Judas was treasurer of the group, and, at the time, had been sitting in the position of honor at JESUS’ side. They felt for certain that JESUS was sending him away to do something honorable like purchasing food for the Passover, or making a donation to the poor.
However, Judas had already made his deal with the religious leaders to betray JESUS on that night, and JESUS’ statement to him to “Go and do it quickly” let Judas know that HE knew of his plan. And so, at that point, JESUS was, in effect, only giving Judas a final chance to repent. Unfortunately, Judas’ heart was all set to go forward with this final rejection of CHRIST JESUS, and the rest, is the tragic history, of a fallen soul.
After Judas had left the room, JESUS began again, speaking to the eleven disciples that remained. HE tells them that HIS time has come to enter into HIS glory, and that GOD would also receive glory through HIM, because of it. JESUS’ glory was to be revealed in HIS death, and thereby, GOD would also glorify HIMSELF.
The term, “little children”, that, is expressed by JESUS in verse 38, shows us the deep concern HE had, for HIS beloved disciples’ well-being, after HIS departure. HE knew that they could survive HIS absence, only if they obeyed HIS teachings and HIS commandment to love. Here, in this passage, is the only time in scripture that JESUS uses this term. Nevertheless, it is a term that seemed to stick with the apostle John over the years, as we see him use it often in his first letter to the Christians who were dear to him.
JESUS now reiterates a statement HE had earlier made to the Jewish leaders, that, “where HE was about to go, they could not follow”. This statement, of JESUS’ leaving them, perhaps, more than anything else, deeply troubled the hearts of the disciples. Certainly it must have set off a whirlwind of perplexing questions in their minds and hearts. And right in the midst of their confusion, JESUS delivers to them, the one and only new commandment, that, HE would ever give, during HIS ministry. It is a commandment that also comes to us today, from across the spans of time, in hopes that we too, can perform it also, in our lives. It is the commandment to “love each other, just as JESUS has loved us”. It is the Christian image of the family. Love was to take on a new meaning and power, because of the death of CHRIST JESUS. And with the coming of the HOLY SPIRIT to aid us, love would have a new power in our lives. It would stand as true evidence that we are followers of our LORD and SAVIOR, JESUS CHRIST.
However, still stuck on the statement of JESUS’ leaving, Peter steps forward and insists that wherever JESUS was going, he was fully ready to follow right then. In fact, Peter not only insisted that he was ready to follow JESUS wherever HE might go, but he was also ready to lay down his life for HIM. And just when Peter thought that he could not be hit with a more disturbing statement than the one of JESUS’ leaving them, our LORD and SAVIOR hits him with an, even more, heart-troubling declaration. HE prophecies to HIS bewildered disciple, that, “before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will have already denied knowing ME, three times.”
A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander
LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website