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Only One risen Saviuor

Only One risen Saviuor
There is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved - Jesus

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

John Days 111 to 130

John Day 111 - What A Contrast
12:9 "Now a great many of the Jews knew that He was there; and they came, not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might also see Lazarus, whom He had raised from the dead. 10 But the chief priests plotted to put Lazarus to death also, 11 because on account of him many of the Jews went away and believed in Jesus."
Apparently Jesus' quiet supper with friends has become known. We're not told how. Perhaps someone recognized them as they walked the road to Bethany. Perhaps Judas put the word out to put pressure on Jesus to become the king and ruler he wants Him to become. Perhaps Martha let it slip when she was buying supplies for the meal. Perhaps Mary and Martha went together and someone overhead them talking. The truth is it might be none of those scenarios. What we do know is that someone found out and word is spreading like wildfire. At this point Jesus has notoriety that no modern celebrity can match. Despite the best and most determined efforts of the religious leaders to keep a lid on His fame by refusing to even let His name be discussed the Word is out. It can't be stopped. His name, for good or for hate, is on every mind in Jerusalem. What happened at the tomb has gone all through the city. Some want to find Him so they can follow Him. Some want to find Him out of curiosity. Some hope to see Him do something else amazing. Some just want Him dead at any cost. So determined are these religious leaders to regain control over the people that now they have decided Lazarus needs to die too.
Think about it. There were no video cameras and no smart phones at the tomb. There are no YouTube clips to prove what happened. The only evidence is Lazarus himself. The witnesses can be written off as liars but how do you write off the man who was dead and now isn't? These men want control of the people, religion is their controller and Jesus has royally messed everything up. Murder is messy but at this point they see no other options.
What does any of this have to do with you and I besides the obvious things it teaches us about the impact Jesus had and the divisive effect it created?
Control: to exercise restraint or direction over; dominate; command
Control over others is a sickness rooted in insecurity. It destroys relationships and even entire nations and civilizations. It is rooted in insecurity. Yes I just repeated that. We either have security or we are desperately seeking it because we are wired to want security. The religious leaders of Jesus day found their security in an ordered society based on religious law over which they had control. That was their security. Jesus took it away, not by force or out of maliciousness. He just demonstrated to the masses that there was a better way. He opened the eyes of the blind. He brought light to a dark place.
Husbands who maintain their marriage by controlling their wives will only succeed until someone comes along who shows her she can be truly loved and isn't a pawn. When she discovers this reality his control is broken. Parents who rule their children with control rooted in fear will only succeed until that fear is outgrown. The list goes on. Some pastors use fear. Some teachers use it. Anyone in a position of relationship or authority does or is tempted to exercise control when their security is threatened. It can start small but if control becomes the primary factor driving any relationship murder is at the end of that road.
Then there is Jesus. He just is Who He is and He invites us to believe. No fear, no coercion, no force - just a simple invitation and full choice remains with us.
What a contrast.

John Day 112 - Jerusalem Again?
12:12 "The next day a great multitude that had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, 13 took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him, and cried out:
“Hosanna!
‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ The King of Israel!”
14 Then Jesus, when He had found a young donkey, sat on it; as it is written:
15 “Fear not, daughter of Zion;
Behold, your King is coming,
Sitting on a donkey’s colt.”
16 His disciples did not understand these things at first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written about Him and that they had done these things to Him.
17 Therefore the people, who were with Him when He called Lazarus out of his tomb and raised him from the dead, bore witness. 18 For this reason the people also met Him, because they heard that He had done this sign. 19 The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, “You see that you are accomplishing nothing. Look, the world has gone after Him!”
Bethany is less than 2 miles from Jerusalem. Word has spread like wildfire that Jesus is returning to Jerusalem. Passover preparations are being made. The city is full of people with more arriving all the time. Yet despite all that only one thing has captured the minds and attention of most - Jesus is coming!!!
The prophet Zechariah (9:9) had prophesied about this moment hundreds of years before. It is just one of over 300 prophecies that Jesus fulfilled during His life. He rode into town on the colt of a donkey. The crowds met Him with palm branches hailing Him as king. Those who had seen Lazarus be buried and then 4 days later come out of the tomb alive had been telling what Jesus had done and the city was amazed.
Amidst all this happiness and excitement the religious leaders stand watching. I'm sure if looks could kill the whole crowd would have been struck dead. Muttering amongst themselves the sentiment is unanimous. "We are failing miserably. We have not stopped Him. We cannot stop Him. The whole world has gone after Him."
Picture the seen. The crowds are bursting with joy. This seems to be the moment they have been hearing about and waiting for for generations. Finally their Deliverer has come. Finally they have a king again, a king like none before Him. He makes food for thousands from nothing. He heals every kind of disease. He even brings the dead to life again!
Imagine the disciples: 3 years of walking countless miles, death threats, storms, chased out of towns with stones, confused again and again by Jesus' decisions, by His actions and sometimes by His lack of action. Bewildered by His seemingly cryptic parables and controversial teachings they have remained beside Him often wondering I am sure if this day would ever come.
Now that it has they are confused. They had long given up on Jesus ever being anyone in Jerusalem. If you had asked them just a few days before this they would have said Jesus was never going to Jerusalem again. It's interesting that those who were the most bewildered by His life were those who were closest to Him.
Think about that fact. Think about the verse where God declares: "My thoughts are not like your thoughts and My ways are not like your ways. As high as the heavens are above the earth are My thoughts higher than your thoughts and My ways higher than your ways." Isaiah 55:8,9
In chapter 12 the disciples are confused. In chapter 11 they were confused. In chapter 10 they were confused. In chapter 9 they were confused... Need I go on? Do we see a pattern?
If you find following Jesus confusing at times join the club. You are in good company. I live in Grande Prairie, Alberta. That confuses me. However it confuses me less than the fact God called me to be a pastor. I could go on all day about the things that confuse me between my thinking and His Word. However none of this should be surprising. If He is God and we are not why would we expect to understand everything He does or everything He asks us to do?
Countless times I have told my children the first rule in being helpful is listening. Sometimes we won't understand everything we're asked to do but if we fight against everything we do not fully understand we won't be any help and, AND we will thwart the very journey we are on which will bring us to the understanding we seek.
That's what I admire about the disciples. Despite all their head scratching and confusion they kept following Him. I want to be like them.
"I have decided to follow Jesus. No turning back. No turning back."

John Day 113 - Can "They" Come to Jesus?
12:20 Now there were certain Greeks among those who came up to worship at the feast. 21 Then they came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida of Galilee, and asked him, saying, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.”
22 Philip came and told Andrew, and in turn Andrew and Philip told Jesus.
23 But Jesus answered them, saying, “The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified. 24 Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. 25 He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor."
Six verses but at least 3 key ideas are found here. The first is the ongoing struggle with racism and prejudice. In the midst of the excited and welcoming crowds a group of Greeks press close to Jesus. Before they can reach him they must have sensed that Philip was with Him so they made Him aware that they wanted to see Jesus. Philip was a Galilean like Jesus. In the Jewish world of that time Galilee was considered 2nd class. It wasn't like Samaria. Samaria was seen as no longer part of the chosen people. Galilee still belonged but at the same time it was looked down upon. It was geographically disconnected and that physical barrier became a social one as well. Every city has a neighbourhood where no one wants to live. Galilee is that place in the nation of Israel. Remember what Nathanael said when he heard about Jesus? "Can anything good come from Nazareth?"
I explain all this to make you aware that Philip knows what it feels like to be an outsider. He knows what it's like to be judged and put in a box simply for being born in the "wrong place". Maybe the Greeks could sense Philip was from "across the tracks" and felt he would be more sympathetic to their cause. Greeks is a general term for outsiders. They may have been from Greece but maybe not. The Greeks had 'ruled the world' prior to the rise of the Roman Empire so being classified a Greek by a Jew didn't mean much other than they were very much outsiders.
All that being the case these Greeks approach Philip hoping he will connect them with Jesus. However he doesn't. He goes to talk to Andrew. The implication is clear. Philip isn't sure what to do and he wants help. He hesitates. He feels caught in an awkward situation.
However should he? Isn't Jesus the One who talked to the woman in Samaria that the disciples would never have talked to? Isn't Jesus the One who consistently smashed through the invisible but very real walls of prejudice, racism, and national pride? Why then does Philip stammer and fumble when these Greeks want to see Jesus? Why has he not yet fully clued in that Jesus knows no walls and fears no barriers?
Philip balks and defers to Andrew because he is still trying to wrap his mind around a worldview without borders. He has been following Jesus but he still hasn't become like Jesus. We're back at that very real place of tension where the reality is that those following Jesus are still not like Him in many ways and it will always be this way. Many look at His followers and call them hypocrites when often this is an understandable but erroneous label. They aren't hypocrites, they are healing. They are not what they once were but neither are they what they will be.
3 years prior Philip would not have consulted Andrew. 3 years before he would have sent those Greeks packing. How dare "they" try and approach "his" Jesus? Now he is open to the possibility that "his" Jesus is "their" Jesus too. Philip is changing. He is on the road to recovery but some of our issues run very deep.
Today on the anniversary of 9/11 I am reminded of the American who a few days after 9/11 killed a Hindu man from India because by appearance and in is mind the Indian looked like those evil infidels that attacked America. Our issues run deep. You can see it as the issue of illegal immigrants seems to be eclipsing the American election platform. A nation with a statue in her harbour with a plaque that reads "...From her beacon-hand glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command the air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she with silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
Now the same nation is discussing building a wall to keep the disenfranchised and the suffering poor out. Prejudice is not new nor has time and education and wealth and advancement caused us to outgrow it.
What would Jesus say? Well He said something when the Greeks came. We'll explore that tomorrow...

John Day 114 - Jesus Responds
12:20 "Now there were certain Greeks among those who came up to worship at the feast. 21 Then they came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida of Galilee, and asked him, saying, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.”
22 Philip came and told Andrew, and in turn Andrew and Philip told Jesus.
23 But Jesus answered them, saying, “The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified. 24 Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. 25 He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor."
Leave it to Jesus to use a simple question to launch into some deep water. We left off yesterday with prejudice Philip grabbing Andrew and timidly approaching Jesus with a request from some "uncircumcised" Greeks who just want to meet Him. If you can remember back about a hundred days ago (literally) we read and talked about Jesus going into the temple and chasing out the money changers and livestock sellers and throwing over the tables. We talked about how the temple itself where the priests only could enter was surrounded by a series of courtyards. The most outer courtyard, the one furthest from the temple, was the one where these Greeks would be to to worship. They couldn't get closer. They were outsiders. It was people like this who would be attempting to seek God among the racket of a market place surrounded by animals and the smells they provide. If you can remember back to when Jesus cleared out that outer courtyard He said "My Father’s House will be a House of Prayer for all nations".
Jesus was not the One who had an issue with outsiders. Jesus is the champion for the outsiders.
All that being the case, what is up with Jesus seemingly confusing response to Philip and Andrew about seeds and death and being glorified?
Well as always Jesus uses few words to say many things as you peel away the layers. First of all Jesus was saying "It's time. The whole reason for which I came is about to happen. They will certainly see Me. They will see Me high and lifted up. They will never forget what they are about to see. I'm going to die. If I try and preserve my life My life will be pointless and produce nothing but because I'm about to die, My life will produce life for many. It will bring life to those near and far. It will spread seeds all the way to Greece even. Oh they will see Me. Don't worry about that."
The meaning in what Jesus said does not end there though. He brings us into it - "He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also."
Do you see it? In a few words Jesus rebukes the prejudice in Philip and affirms the faith in these Greeks. Philip was an exclusivist. He wanted Jesus for himself and "his people". He loved himself more than others. He had major pride issues. Those issues prevented him from fully coming to Jesus, from fully seeing Jesus as He is and thus from fully following Jesus. In contrast these Greeks came from a place and a culture that were hostile to faith in God. They got no support from their "own people" and the cold shoulder from the Jews. They didn't fit anywhere. Despite all that they came seeking Him anyway. They didn't love their own lives. They were not making choices to encourage self advancement or their own popularity or benefit. At all costs they just wanted to find Jesus and worship the One True God. As a result of those difficult and unpopular choices they have traveled far, endured hardship and prejudice, but guess what? They are about to see Jesus in all His glory. They are about to see what Abraham longed to see. They are about to see the climax of human history. They are about to see the Promised Seed die and go into the ground.
They weren't expecting that. They were expecting to celebrate the Passover and go home. The rest was a result of being in the right place at the right time. That's where His followers find themselves - right in the midst of what He is doing.
We have seen two things Jesus said in His apparently bizarre response. Tomorrow we'll explore a third message. In the meantime where are we? Are we trapped in our cultural norms and the shackles of peer pressure and group think or have we cast those off to find Jesus at all costs?
See you tomorrow...

John Day 115 - Death Before Life
12:23 "But Jesus answered them, saying, “The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified. 24 Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. 25 He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor."
Jesus had a choice: self-preservation or self-sacrifice. The time to make that choice was quickly approaching. He was the Seed promised from the very beginning. He was the one who must die to produce many seeds. He was the Man child promised to Eve and the Seed of Abraham through whom all the nations of the earth would be blessed.
All the nations of the earth... even Greeks?! Even Syrians and Iraqis and...
After speaking of His own death as the Seed He opens the metaphor to include Philip and Andrew and by extension you and I. The words "if anyone" which opens verse 26 is all inclusive. Here is the "if anyone" statement: "26 If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also."
Jesus announces His death. He announces self-sacrifice over self-preservation and then says anyone who chooses to serve Him must follow Him. Serving and following are one. Philip can't serve Jesus and not follow Him. Wherever Jesus goes and whatever Jesus does and whatever Jesus chooses must become the direction, actions, and choices of Philip and of anyone else who chooses to serve Him.
Am I saying everyone who serves Jesus must die on a cross at the hands of Roman soldiers and an angry mob of religious zealots? No. Am I saying everyone who follows Jesus must die prematurely in some manner? No and yes. Some who follow Jesus will live to a ripe old age and die of natural causes. Some may die prematurely for their faith as continues to happen all over the world. What I am saying is that all His followers must die in this very real way. We must die to self-direction and self-preservation.
Self-direction is our very strong desire to be in control and to only follow Jesus to places we want to go. Self-preservation is our at times overwhelming desire to not only live but to value ourselves over others and do whatever it takes to maintain our lives as we think they should be.
Racism and patriotism are two current examples of self-preservation in our western world. We have a sense of entitlement here. We have this pretty safe and blessed existence with our 2.1 children, nice house and 2.5 cars. We watch the news and we see other people suffering and being bombed or shot at or displaced or whatever else and we kind of sort of feel bad but not bad enough to open our borders to them. What if they disturb our lifestyle? What if they bring their issues to our country? Greeks? Greeks coming to OUR Jesus?! Who do they think they are? It's bad enough they come to OUR city to worship OUR God once a year. It's bad enough that we have to walk through them to get to OUR temple to worship. Now they want OUR Messiah too?
Do you see how easily we become defensive and want to preserve what I'd ours and keep things to ourselves and keep things the way we think they should be? Would Jesus close a border to a person in need?
Our attitudes must die. We can't serve Him in words and not follow Him in our actions. Remember the promise to Abraham? He was the Seed that would Bless ALL the nations. Any thinking more narrow than ALL must die. Philip and Andrew couldn't keep Jesus to themselves and for themselves and neither can we. Whatever He has given us must be sacrificed so it can die and multiply and bring forth much more to bless others. Those who choose to "die" with Him are those to whom God will say "Well done good and faithful servant, come enter My joy. Come and see what the sacrifices of love and mercy and compassion and generosity have produced!"
What a day, glorious day, that will be!

John Day 116 - No Turning Back
12:27 “Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify Your name.”
Then a voice came from heaven, saying, “I have both glorified it and will glorify it again.”
29 Therefore the people who stood by and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to Him.”
30 Jesus answered and said, “This voice did not come because of Me, but for your sake. 31 Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out. 32 And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.” 33 This He said, signifying by what death He would die."
Boy could we ever spend a lot of time on these few words jam packed with meaning! Jesus is facing the reason for which He came. A reason that so far only Mary has grasped and even she only faintly. Way back at the beginning the issue was over trust. The seeds of doubt were planted about God's character in that brief conversation at the tree and ever since we have been and remain uncertain about what God is really like.
What we often fail to realize is that doubt over God's character didn't begin at that tree. The very one talking to Eve was himself once a perfect angel. He is the one Jesus refers to in today's passage as 'the ruler of this world'.
See character is a complex thing. It can't be seen. It's not like a physical heart that can be examined. There are only two indicators of character - words and actions. Together they demonstrate the character of a person. Even that sounds much simpler than it is because some words are lies and some actions can be manipulative, deceptive, or misunderstood. People interact with us based on their perception of our character. Reputation is key and perception = reality even when the perception is wrong. Sometimes we trust people we shouldn't and don't trust people we should.
How does one prove their character is good to doubters? That's God's dilemma. He is good and He has loved us from the start yet we doubt. Adam and Eve doubted in a perfect place. We have infinitely more reasons to doubt and yet He is good.
Notice in our reading today Jesus asked His Father to glorify His Name and God responds by saying "I have both glorified it and will glorify it again". All through the Bible the word "name" signifies character. We still use this terminology today when we say a person's name has been dragged through the mud. Jesus is asking His Father to make His Name shine! "Show your true character to the world!" is Jesus' prayer.
God responds "I already have and I'm about to do it again."
What does He mean?
The first step in setting the record straight about what God is really like was to send Jesus to live here as one of us but acting and interacting completely in harmony with the character of God. Jesus has been doing it and it has literally shaken the world. Everywhere Jesus goes people marvel. They are shocked. They are taken off guard. They are confused by His interpretation of the rules that places compassion and mercy over rigid law keeping. They can't fathom that borders, social norms, gender roles, and the caste system mean nothing to Him. He does not play the political game. He ignores pleasing the people of influence to bolster His own popularity. He is literally a freak of nature in how He navigates society and yet there is this love that pierces from His eyes and flows from His Words and actions. People are drawn to Him as if He were a magnet. His teachings are deep and put everything they have ever heard in a new light.
God has already made His character shine by sending His Son as His representative.
Now He is about to make His name shine even brighter by revealing through Jesus how committed He is to saving this planet from "the ruler of this world".
I know both sides of this struggle. I know what it's like to have my reputation falsely dragged through the mud. I also know what it's like to deceive people and make them think you are something you are not. I have tasted a tiny bit of what God experiences over and over and it was bitter and horrible and the most helpless feeling I have ever felt.
I have also experienced the realization that my character is not sufficient to back my words. When we claim to be what we are not people get hurt.
The devil is a liar and people get hurt every day listening to his smooth talk and destructive advice while God hurts because He wants desperately to heal and help us but we don't trust Him.
Jesus came for a purpose and as painful as that purpose was He was not about to turn back. We'll explore that purpose more tomorrow...

John Day 117 - Facing the Darkness
12:27 “Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify Your name.”
This verse marks what we often refer to as the beginning of the end. It isn't quite the end but it's like the last turn of a long journey. At that point you are so close you can taste and Jesus is starting to taste the bitter pill He came to swallow. Peering into the darkness that lay in front of Him reality began to press on Him. For those who absolutely hate going to the dentist or doctor it's like that feeling you start to get the night before only much worse. It's one thing to book the appointment 3 or 6 months in advance knowing you won't like it but it has to be done. It's another thing to feel the mounting dread as the day approaches. Jesus has known this time would come. It was the main reason He came. He said so Himself: "It is for this purpose I came to this hour."
Here's the lesson: sometimes our purpose, our duty, our calling will collide head on with our feelings. Feelings are very real and there is nothing wrong with them. They serve to connect us with the world around us and even alert us to danger. Feelings evaluate and stimulate. Feelings add colour and vibrancy. Feelings can also be dangerous. Feelings can cause us to want to embrace things we shouldn't embrace and flee things we shouldn't flee.
A friend or loved one is dying. We feel awful and helpless to know what to do or say. These feelings make us want to avoid seeing them. What if you were the sick person? Would you want your friends and loved ones to avoid you because of their feelings?
Sometimes duty and feelings collide and there is a reason. There are some things duty calls us to that are necessary because this planet is so far off track. Our feelings war against the calling because we weren't created for this. Death is an enemy. Suffering is the result of a path we were never meant to be on. No one feels good about facing dark moments. These feelings are the reminder that things are not as they are supposed to be. HOWEVER here is the kicker. Avoiding our calling because of the dread of the darkness only increases the darkness. Jesus was called to go face first into the darkness to bring an end to it. Had He chosen to avoid it because of the personal pain and dread it was causing Him we would have forever been trapped and eventually eternally crushed by that very darkness.
Jesus leads. We follow. We can't afford to resist our calling when it is unpleasant or plain awful because that calling is the path to better. We have a purpose. We must pursue it no matter what just as Jesus did.

John Day 118 - Positioning
12:28 Then a voice came from heaven, saying, “I have both glorified it and will glorify it again.”
29 Therefore the people who stood by and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to Him.”
30 Jesus answered and said, “This voice did not come because of Me, but for your sake."
We certainly have the technology today to simulate a voice speaking from the heavens. They had no such technology. This is the second time heaven has spoken about Jesus to the watching/listening crowd. The first time was at His baptism when His public ministry began.
Last chapter at the tomb of Lazarus I didn't spend any time focusing on the prayer of Jesus just prior to calling Lazarus from the tomb. I'm going to quote again here just to show you an interesting parallel.
11:41 "And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. 42 And I know that You always hear Me, but because of the people who are standing by I said this, that they may believe that You sent Me.”
Did you catch it? In both instances Jesus says the Voice was not for Him, but for those standing by. At His baptism God said "This is My beloved Son in Whom I Am well pleased. Listen to Him."
Again God is not addressing Jesus but the crowd around Him.
God wants us to believe in Jesus. Jesus wants us to believe in God.
Now who got to hear this Voice? Who got to see Lazarus walk out of the tomb after Jesus called him?
Simple really. Those who had positioned themselves close to Jesus. There is so much we can't do. We can't change ourselves or others. We can't save ourselves or others. We can't cause miracles or prevent disasters. We can't stop time or speed it up. We can't alter the weather. We can't control oil prices, gas prices, or inflation. We can't control political outcomes even in countries where we can vote. We can't control our own health. Parents can't control their children. The list of things we can't do or control is endless. However there is one thing we can control. We can decide where we position ourselves.
One Christian musician I know told the story of how he got his first big break. He had worked hard and recorded his first cassette (That ancient technology that predated CD's.)
It was being sold and circulated on a very small scale. One day a woman got his cassette and just loved it. She happened to be a flight attendant. She happened to work a particular flight route that a well known music industry person flew often. She had the cassette with her and he was on her flight and she felt she just had to give the cassette to him. She did and told him he just had to hear this person. Well the man did listen and from there his little cassette project known only to a few became a huge musical career that has included several concerts with the Gaithers among many other performances and opportunities few musicians see. When he told the story he said his career was launched by that man on that plane and that try were "hooked up by heaven".
Think about it though. What if he hadn't toiled in obscurity and worked hard to make that cassette that found it's way from the hands of a flight attendant who was so moved by his music that she shared it with the man on her plane? He positioned himself. God did the rest. The rest he could not control but he positioned himself by using the gifts God had given him and taking them as far as he could.
The people who got to see the miracles and hear heaven speak could have been anywhere else. They made the choice to position themselves near Jesus. The rest just happened.
Where are we positioned? What has our eyes and ears?

John Day 119 - The Manual
12:30 "Jesus answered and said, “This voice did not come because of Me, but for your sake. 31 Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out. 32 And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.” 33 This He said, signifying by what death He would die.
34 "The people answered Him, “We have heard from the law that the Christ remains forever; and how can You say, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up’? Who is this Son of Man?”"
This phrase "lifted up" was a trigger phrase the listeners understood. The Romans killed criminals etc... by "lifting them up" as an example and they would hang on wooden stakes or crosses for days before they finally died as an example/warning to the people to live within the laws of the land.
It's clear from the next verse that the crowd understood exactly what Jesus was saying. They responded that in the Law (Old Testament Scriptures) it says Messiah will reign forever. Their intent is clear. Either Jesus must remain alive to be the legit Messiah or He is a fraud.
There was a movie I saw years ago and I will never forget it. The basic story is that a washed up but famous pro baseball player from America is hired by the Russians to coach and develop their baseball team. He of course doesn't speak Russian so he I'd assigned an assistant coach/translator to work with him. Day after day when the assistant coach disagrees with American's decisions about the game he argues and says "Manuel says" and then tells him what he thinks he should have done. For a long time the American coach just ignores him. Finally one day he can't handle it any more and explodes "Who is Manuel?!!!"
The assistant/translator disappears into the club house and returns with a huge book and taps the cover indignantly "Manuel says!" (Manual)
He had been reading this large manual on how to play baseball and the manual didn't always match what the coach was doing.
The Jews had a manual. They had had this manual for hundreds of years and many generations. They considered themselves experts on the manual. They controlled the people or tried to with "Manuel says".
The manual talked about the Messiah. It indeed said that the Messiah would sit on the throne of David and rule forever. His kingdom would have no end. Here is the excerpt from the Manual:
Isaiah
9:6 For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the increase of His government and peace
There will be no end,
Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,
To order it and establish it with judgment and justice
From that time forward, even forever.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this."
It fascinates me that they used this passage to try and discredit what Jesus was saying about Himself in John 12 yet this passage says that the One who would sit on David's throne forever would be called Mighty God yet they expected a human Messiah. It's interesting how we pick and choose from the Manual. It's also interesting that they ignored a much longer passage from the same author and book within the Manual.
Here it is:
Isaiah 53
1 Who has believed our report?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
2 For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant,
And as a root out of dry ground.
He has no form or comeliness;
And when we see Him,
There is no beauty that we should desire Him.
3 He is despised and rejected by men,
A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him;
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
4 Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten by God, and afflicted.
5 But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray;
We have turned, every one, to his own way;
And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He opened not His mouth;
He was led as a lamb to the slaughter,
And as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
So He opened not His mouth.
8 He was taken from prison and from judgment,
And who will declare His generation?
For He was cut off from the land of the living;
For the transgressions of My people He was stricken.
9 And they made His grave with the wicked—
But with the rich at His death,
Because He had done no violence,
Nor was any deceit in His mouth.
10 Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him;
He has put Him to grief.
When You make His soul an offering for sin,
He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days,
And the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand.
11 He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied.
By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many,
For He shall bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great,
And He shall divide the spoil with the strong,
Because He poured out His soul unto death,
And He was numbered with the transgressors,
And He bore the sin of many,
And made intercession for the transgressors.
Same Manual. Same Man. Same message. "Behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world" was the introduction made by John the Baptist. Lambs died for the sins of the people over and over.
It's true that Jesus the Messiah will sit on the throne of David and rule forever but that is only part of the story. The path to that throne was through the cross. Through being lifted up. Through being the Lamb slain.
Be careful with the Manual. Be careful with what religion and tradition say the Manual says.
"My sheep know My voice and they follow Me" - Jesus
True followers don't have selective hearing. They don't pick and choose. They listen and they follow.

John Day 120 - Light
12:35 "Then Jesus said to them, “A little while longer the light is with you. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you; he who walks in darkness does not know where he is going. 36 While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.” These things Jesus spoke, and departed, and was hidden from them."
Both my dad and I like to work with our hands. He likes to play with old tractors and I like to play with wood. The shop we work in is 25x25 ft. It has two good sized windows and two lights in the ceiling. Often we have the two large doors open to let in lots of natural light. In addition to all these sources of light we have several work lights of various sizes and shapes. These lights we can aim directly on what we're doing. Like my dad often says: "You can never have too much light."
Jesus' words in the passage we're looking at today are sobering. Let's review quickly how John introduced Jesus way back in chapter one:
1:4 "In Him (Jesus) was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend or overcome it.
6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. 8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. 9 That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world."
In 6 verses the word light is used 7 times all in reference to Jesus Himself and/or His effect on us.
Jesus tells the people "Right now you have the light. You won't have it much longer. Follow it while you have it or darkness will overtake you..."
When I was a kid there was a popular game we played at birthday parties. A tray would be covered in an assortment of small items from around the house. Maybe a pen, a paperclip, an eraser, a pin, a stick of gum etc... You would have a few moments to look at the tray. Then it would be covered and taken away. When it came back and was uncovered something might be missing or something added and you had to identify what it was. For a short time light was shed on the tray and then it was covered in darkness. Your success in the game depended on your use of the time you had while it was "in the light".
Two quick takeaways: First the people of Jesus' day had the temple, and synagogues, and religious teachers and sacred writings yet they were in the darkness. That is sobering.
Secondly Jesus speaks of a time element related to the light. In John 1 we're told that Jesus is the Light that lights every man that comes into the world. That includes you and I. That includes every person in every era in every part of the world. So we all get to see His light in some form yet if we don't embrace and follow that light when it comes we return to fumble and fall in the darkness.
This speaks of timing and opportunities either taken or wasted. More on that tomorrow. For now, consider these words:
"Today if you hear His voice do not harden your hearts..."

John Day 121 - Light part II
12:35 "Then Jesus said to them, “A little while longer the light is with you. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you; he who walks in darkness does not know where he is going. 36 While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.” These things Jesus spoke, and departed, and was hidden from them."
A little while longer, while you have, while you have...
Jesus is clear. They had a window of opportunity that was about to close. There is a clear time element to His words.
We have an expression in English - Timing is everything.
Engines either run badly or not at all when their timing is off. Music sounds terrible when the timing is off. Ecclesiastes 3 was made famous by the Byrds as they sang "For everything turn, turn, turn, there is a season turn, turn, turn..."
What would happen in our climate (Canada) if you planted your garden in the fall and looked for a harvest in the spring? Might work for tulips and garlic and a few other things but overall the notion is crazy. If you plant to early the seeds will rot and you'll get nothing. If you plant too late the garden will start but it won't have time to fully mature. There is a time to plant and a time to harvest.
Some have ended up alone in life because there was a time to commit and they let that time pass by.
Some have failed papers or courses because they didn't complete their work on time.
Some have lost their jobs because they never showed up on time.
Timing.
The Northern Lights don't dance across the night sky when you are ready for them. They do it when the timing and conditions are right and you have to be ready and watching.
Timing.
Consider the story of Zacchaeus. He had never seen Jesus. He had only heard stories. Then he got the news that Jesus was going to be passing through his town on a certain day. He made plans and when the time came he was up in a tree to make certain he would be able to see Jesus. Zacchaeus was on time. Then Jesus stopped below the tree and called up to him. He said "Zacchaeus I must go to your house today". Jesus uses the strongest imperative in the Greek language. He must go to his house today.
Timing.
Jesus was not going to pass through this village again but there was another factor. Zacchaeus' heart was open that day. It had to be that day or the opportunity would pass never to come again.
Jesus was telling these people "Your opportunity is now and the window is closing, the sun is setting, the chance is passing you by..."
Some things can't be put off. There is a time for everything. If you are hearing Him today then your time is now. Don't put Him off. You may never hear Him again. Act while there is still light. The darkness is coming.

John Day 122 - Hope
12:37 "But although He had done so many signs before them, they did not believe in Him, 38 that the word of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spoke:
“Lord, who has believed our report?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”
39 Therefore they could not believe, because Isaiah said again:
40 “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts,
Lest they should see with their eyes,
Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn,
So that I should heal them.”
41 These things Isaiah said when he saw His glory and spoke of Him.
42 Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God."
Tough passage. Does Jesus force us into unbelief? Does He make it so we can't believe?
Sort of...
There is a pattern to Jesus ministry. He comes to Jerusalem until they pick up stones and then He leaves. After some time passes he returns and stays until they again pick up stones and then He leaves. The pattern is repeated a few times over the three and a half years of His ministry.
Steel can be hardened. In general terms in order to harden steel you make it really hot and then really cold. This process can be repeated over and over each time making the steel harder.
See the connection? Jesus went to Jerusalem until things got really heated and then He left allowing things to cool off. Then He returned until things reached a boiling point and again and He left. You will remember that when Lazarus got sick Jesus was away from Jerusalem and things were so bad the last time He left that the disciples were certain they would all be killed if He went back.
Why? If Jesus knew that He was hardening their hearts why did He do it?
How about another question. What choice did He have? Not talk to them? Not reveal Himself to them? Not give them repeated opportunities to see and feel and choose?
Many became increasingly hardened. Others believed but because if peer pressure wouldn't admit it. Still others openly believed. Guess what? They all saw, heard, and felt the same Jesus and the same conviction, and the same drawing power of His Spirit.
It was His repeated attempts to save them that hardened some. When the sun shines it melts butter but hardens clay. It's the same sun... The sun doesn't cause the effect but it reveals what things are made of.
The most interesting thing in the entire passage is how Isaiah's prophecy ends. He suddenly switches to future tense at the end of verse 40. The Greek literally says: "And I will (future) heal them."
I see hope in seemingly hopelessness and am reminded of God's question to Ezekiel way back in the Old Testament. They are standing looking at a valley full of old dried out human skeletons and God asks him "Can these bones live again?"
Never give up hope. He heals blindness and brings life to the dead.

John Day 123 - A Hidden God
12:44 "Then Jesus cried out and said, “He who believes in Me, believes not in Me but in Him who sent Me. 45 And he who sees Me sees Him who sent Me. 46 I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness. 47 And if anyone hears My words and does not believe, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. 48 He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him—the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day. 49 For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak. 50 And I know that His command is everlasting life. Therefore, whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak.”
Light into the darkness and Jesus and His Father are One. To reject One is to reject the Other. This is the essence of these verses. Sounds simple right?
It is and it isn't.
It would be simple except they had a dark view of God - dark in the sense that the picture they had of God was way off. Generations of traditions built on traditions and twisted interpretations and understandings had left the reality of who God really is almost completely concealed. Often people struggle even today with the seemingly stark contrast between Jesus and "the God of the Old Testament". God only seems dark and harsh and judgmental in the Old Testament because that was their view of Him. Those who found Him on a personal level did not feel that way about Him. Sure they started that way. Moses is a classic example. He went from trembling in fear before Him to begging to be closer to Him and see more of Him. Abraham was described as the friend of God. David, despite his track record of serious moral failure describes God in beautiful terms.
A few days ago someone sent me a video clip of an extremist Muslim protest in the streets of the UK. Near the end of the video the girl doing the filming approaches one of them and has a conversation. He says all non Muslims are evil and will go to hell. She asks "will I go to hell?". He says "Yes". She says "You don't even know me, how can you say I will go to hell?" He replies "Because you are not Muslim, that's all I need to know."
The footage is raw and seemingly shocking but then I thought how different is that from extreme Christianity? Don't we have placard waving Christians who at the end of the day are saying the same thing?
Dark religion is the same no matter the brand and much of it is as dark today as it was in the Old Testament even if the styles vary. The problem with dark religion is that they think they know what God is like but they don't and the only worse than not knowing is thinking you know.
Jesus came as an Ambassador from His Father. He loved all colours. He crossed all borders. He reached out to people of all religions. He was hated by all those who tenaciously clung to their false pictures.
Where are you in all this? Where am I?
Today if you hear His voice do not stubbornly cling to what you think you know...
"In the morning when I rise help me to see more of the real You."

John Day 124 - Connected
12:49 "For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak. 50 And I know that His command is everlasting life. Therefore, whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak.”"
There are many points that could be drawn from these two verses where Jesus plainly states where His message came from. It speaks of obedience, submission to authority and the importance of the message.
Jesus was obedient to His Father in what He spoke. Talk about submission to authority!
Political aspirants have campaign managers and speech writers to assure that the message is properly crafted. However none of those things are what struck me most.
What strikes me about these two simple verses is the deep connection between Jesus the man and God the Creator and ruler of the universe. A few days ago someone asked me at what point in His life as a human did Jesus realize who He was and furthermore would He have had memories of His life before coming to earth as a human? Deep questions. Certainly as know He grew into the realization of who He was as He grew up because the Bible says He grew in wisdom. You can't grow in wisdom if you had the full mind of God from the start. We know that by the age of 12 He understood His identity and mission because He was in the temple discussing it with the priests and told his parents "I must be about my Father’s business".
Fully human yet fully connected to His now unseeable Father.
He explained to His disciples that "without My Father I can do nothing". He was God in human flesh yet a fully dependant human. He couldn't do miracles because He was Jesus. God did the miracles through Him just as He also did them through the disciples.
When I read these two simple verses I realize how close of a connection to God is available to us. It staggers me. It makes me see and feel how disconnected I am and how connected God wants and could be to me. Jesus had a "campaign manager" and a "speech writer". The content of who He was and what He said was fully and only straight from God. No wonder He could boldly say "If you have seen Me you have seen God."
Imagine being a walking, talking revelation of the unseen God?! No wonder He was called 'The Light'.
"Father do whatever it takes to connect me with You."

John Day 125 - Not My Job
13:1 "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.
2 And supper being ended, the devil having already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray Him, 3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, 4 rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. 5 After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded."
So much is happening here that is easy to miss because of the cultural canyon that separates us from this scene. Here in my culture when you enter a home you remove your shoes. In Bible times with open sandals, bare feet, dusty roads, and people travelling mostly by foot, you can imagine the condition of their feet. The custom then was to either have a servant wash the feet of guests as they arrived or the person in the home of the lowest rank. At the bare minimum water etc... was to be provided so people could wash their own as they arrived.
As Jesus and the 12 gathered for the Passover meal there was no servant to wash their feet. Arrangements had been made to have water and a towel on hand and they sat silently in the corner. The meal took place with 13 pairs of dirty feet. Finally when the meal was over Jesus got up and took the basin of water and the towel and began to wash the feet of the disciples.
OK hit the pause button. Several things are wrong with this picture. First of all Jesus is not a servant. He is their master. They call Him Lord. Secondly the washing of the travel weary feet is supposed to take place upon arrival yet now the meal is over. Thirdly, why didn't someone else offer to be the servant?
The disciples had arranged for the room and the meal. Presumably they arranged for the water and towel also or perhaps they just came with the room. Either way the props were present but they remained a silent awkward witness throughout the evening that there were no willing servants in the room.
Jesus knew it. Often He had interrupted the 12 as they argued amongst themselves about who was the greatest. Someday (and they hoped soon) Jesus would rise to take His seat on the throne of David. Someone would sit at His right and another at His left. Everyone knew it. The mother of James and John even approached Jesus one day to see if she could reserve those seats for her sons.
Jesus knew their greatest weakness was their pride and desire to be first. On this last supper with them before His death He had a lesson to teach them. After leaving the water and towel there as and silent awkward witness against their stubborn pride He picked them up Himself.
I remember when I was a kid my mom had a hard time motivating us to clean our rooms. However there was always one thing she'd say that would sting enough to push me into action. She'd say with a weary voice filled with frustration "Fine then, I'll do it myself!" I knew I didn't want to do it. However I also knew it wasn't her job. To prevent her from having to deal with my mess I would finally do what I should have done already.
See there was no servant. In such a case the dirty job fell to the person of the lowest rank. That was an argument the 12 never had. They never discussed who was the least. All through supper the basin and towel stared at them. "It's not my job" was the mental mantra that prevented any of them from moving. Then Jesus made the move. Why? Of all the people in the room it was clearly not His job.
I'll give you a hint and I'll see you tomorrow...
"Jesus... knowing that He had come from God and was going back to God rose from supper..."

John Day 126 - Why Did He Do It?
13:3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, 4 rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. 5 After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. 6 Then He came to Simon Peter. And Peter said to Him, “Lord, are You washing my feet?”
7 Jesus answered and said to him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this.”
8 Peter said to Him, “You shall never wash my feet!”
Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.”
9 Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head!”
We left off yesterday with the question of why. Why did Jesus let the water and towel stare silently at everyone all evening and then rise to take on the role of a servant Himself? Sometimes you can say the most without saying anything. Jesus had a problem. He was the Teacher but His students weren't learning. Repeatedly He had caught them arguing among themselves about who of them was the greatest. Repeatedly He had used words to try and explain to them that they were on the wrong track. Like rubber bullets off a concrete wall the words just bounced off with little effect.
Now during His last meal with them before His death Jesus has decided to teach them the lesson of what greatness is without words. Using their stubborn pride as the intro to His lesson He quietly waited knowing none of them would be willing to serve. Then He did the culturally unthinkable. He got undressed. He wrapped Himself with the servant's towel and He silently began to wash the trail worn feet of His disciples. They were stunned. We don't know how many pairs of feet He had washed before He arrived at Peter but Peter had had enough time to come up with a plan to save face. Peter knew one of them should have done what Jesus was doing but failed. He also knew that Jesus should not be doing what He was doing. We'll talk about Peter's outburst tomorrow.
For now we have the original question to answer. Why did Jesus do it? He did it because His 12 had no idea what greatness was and until they did they were not prepared to be His change agents in a world desperate for change.
Picture a pyramid or a triangle. That shape represents a company. The CEO is at the top. Under him or her are the VP's. Under them are the departmental heads. At the bottom are the rank and file employees. As you "climb the ladder" there are less and less people and the people at the top tell the people at the bottom what to do. The people at the top run the company and the people at the bottom serve the company. This is the typical hierarchical model for how companies and organizations work. Success is defined by climbing higher. Greatness is to reach the top. Metaphorically speaking when you are at the bottom you shine other people's shoes. When you climb higher you just shine your own shoes and when you get to the top someone else shines your shoes.
That is the world's picture of success and greatness. That was the philosophy of the 12. They called Jesus their master and teacher and Lord but they had not yet grasped His most basic lesson: In the kingdom of God the top is the bottom. In the kingdom of God the triangle is "upside-down". In His kingdom the King is the greatest servant of all and the closer you get to Him the more you serve others. Remember what Isaiah prophesied about Him? "And the government will be upon His shoulders."
Think about it. Every time Jesus tried to talk to them about His imminent death the wall went up. They would not listen. They absolutely refused. Why? Because in their model of greatness the Hero never dies. Death is for the weak and defeated. Death is shameful. Death is the opposite of greatness. They could not even begin to grasp that His defeat and death were His greatest acts of heroism. Indeed they would be the turning point in the history of the universe.
In God's kingdom serving is greatness.

John Day 127 - Man or Message?
13:5 After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. 6 Then He came to Simon Peter. And Peter said to Him, “Lord, are You washing my feet?”
7 Jesus answered and said to him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this.”
8 Peter said to Him, “You shall never wash my feet!”
Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.”
9 Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head!”
10 Jesus said to him, “He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you.” 11 For He knew who would betray Him; therefore He said, “You are not all clean.”
Warning: The realities exposed in this passage will not be palatable for all, but for anyone seeking the Truth it will be like steady gentle rain on a parched field.
Peter is a proud man. Peter is an intelligent man. Peter is a bold man.
Peter has known all evening that the basin was sitting there. He has known someone should have picked it up but he also knew that someone wasn't him. Peter is a leader among the Twelve. He may not be the top guy but he is certainly top three. He may even have given a look to another disciple to fill the role that Jesus has now taken upon Himself but whether he did or didn't no one moved. Now that Jesus is the position one of them should have filled Peter knows how he I'd going to handle it. I am certain he is angry and offended that any of the Twelve are allowing Jesus to perform this menial task. Have they no respect?!
Finally it's his turn and he speaks. "Not me. You will not be degraded in this manner by me." You can hear a pin drop. Peter scans the other eyes with that "you are unbelievably disappointing and should be ashamed" look. At the same time he is proud that he knew how to handle this awkward situation and "passed the test".
But then Jesus speaks "Peter you don't understand what I am doing... you will but right now you just don't. I must wash your feet or you can have no part with Me..."
This is a "hit the pause button" moment. Peter does not understand. He is confused. His strategy to navigate this uncomfortable situation has been flipped upside down. However when Jesus said "I must or you can have no part with Me" Peter immediately headed in the opposite direction - "Don't just wash my feet but my head and my hands".
What made this radical and sudden switch in attitude and position? The fear of being disconnected from Jesus.
Do you see it?
I grew up in a religious culture where everything was about the "truth". Everything was provable and information based: 'We believe this because...' It was logical and intellectual. Following God meant knowing and understanding Biblical information.
Peter doesn't understand. He doesn't understand why Jesus doesn't work with or at least find some common ground with the religious leaders. He doesn't understand why He treats foreigners and women as equals. He doesn't understand why He talks about dying. He doesn't understand why He isn't assuming His role as king. Many of the parables confused Peter. In short there is a whole lot that Peter doesn't understand about Jesus and quite a bit he flat out disagrees with. This is not the first time Peter has opposed Jesus publicly.
However, all of that being true, Peter has not left. Peter has not given up or turned back. Why?
Simple. Peter does not believe in some 'thing', he believes in Jesus. He is connected to Jesus. There is no issue or theological nuance or political variance large enough to eclipse his love for Jesus.
"Jesus it is shameful and embarrassing to have you kneel before me and perform such a degrading task but if it's necessary for us to be together than wash all of me. I don't understand any of it but I trust You and I'm with You and I don't want to go anywhere else but be with You."
It should not be revolutionary to me but it is: Peter loved the Man far more than he understood the Man or His message.
We'll continue tomorrow...

John Day 128 - What's In A Name?
6 Then He came to Simon Peter. And Peter said to Him, “Lord, are You washing my feet?”
7 Jesus answered and said to him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this.”
8 Peter said to Him, “You shall never wash my feet!”
Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.”
9 Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head!”
10 Jesus said to him, “He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you.” 11 For He knew who would betray Him; therefore He said, “You are not all clean.”
Names can be fascinating. This is especially true in the Bible because names had meaning and people paid attention to those meanings. Back in John 1:42 Jesus says "You are Simon son of John and you will be called Cephas (Peter)."
Jesus gave him a new name. His original name has no known meaning. This is rare and unusual. Cephas (Peter) means rock or stone. What is interesting is that even after changing his name Jesus almost always called him Simon and here He calls him Simon Peter.
What's all the fuss about names? Jesus is a change agent, a Restorer. Jeremiah calls Him the Potter. Jesus creates and recreates. When Simon met Jesus he was a nobody just like his meaningless name. When Jesus said "you will be (future tense) called Peter" He was announcing a coming transformation.
It is not accidental that in the passage we're reading Jesus calls him both names. It shows that he is in transition. He is no longer Simon but not yet Peter. He is both and neither.
Simon was a proud stubborn outspoken man but God gives grace to the humble. Peter will be a humble man. As Jesus approaches his feet Simon/Peter speaks. The Simon in him is too proud to have Jesus wash his feet. The Peter part loves Jesus too much to see Him on the floor as a lowly servant. The Simon part speaks to Jesus authoritatively, almost harshly: "You will never wash my feet!"
Jesus speaks of the change/restoration process Simon/Peter is going through with these words "what I am doing you don't understand now but you will after this."
Jesus is not swayed by Simon’s outburst and refusal. Calmly He replies "If I don't wash your feet you can have no part with Me."
Now Peter speaks "Not my feet only but my hands and my head".
Why the sudden change? Because Peter's desire to stay with Jesus is stronger than Simon’s desire to be proud and self-sufficient.
Did you know the Bible says we're all getting a new name? Jesus has no intentions of leaving us as we are. He plans to give us a name with substance and meaning and a character to match the name. Here we've seen the inner struggle of Simon/Peter. In the end his desire to be with Jesus became stronger than any competing desire.
Powerful stuff. Tomorrow we'll go even deeper. Some will call it heresy. Some wishful thinking. Others will see it for what it is - Good News.

John Day 129 - Life Is Messy
13:8 Peter said to Him, “You shall never wash my feet!”
Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.”
9 Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head!”
10 Jesus said to him, “He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you.” 11 For He knew who would betray Him; therefore He said, “You are not all clean.”
The turbulent Simon Peter. Passionate in one direction and then just as passionate in the opposite direction. Why? And what is all this talk about being clean and not clean anyway? How could Jesus washing or not washing Peter's feet have any determination over their long term relationship?
So many questions. Let's tackle the last one first. Religion says it is what we do or don't do for God that determines our "destiny". Jesus said it was what Peter allowed or did not allow Jesus to do for him that would determine his "destiny". Let that sink in...
It's obvious from the exchange that Jesus was talking about much more than dirty feet. He compares two kinds of clean/dirty. One is the cleaning of the entire body and the other is the spot washing of parts that get dirty after being clean. This is not foreign to us. We shower in the morning and then soon after we're washing our hands again. Why? Because they got dirty making breakfast or brushing our teeth or whatever.
When Peter goes overboard and wants Jesus to wash his head and hands too, Jesus says "No need. You are already clean."
Revelation 1:5 says Jesus loved us and washed us. Interesting. That washing is symbolized by baptism. Baptism of course does nothing to wash our sin and brokenness away. It's only a symbol of what Jesus has done for us.
Yesterday I saw a clip of a graduation. On that day they received a degree yet on that day they never entered a classroom or wrote a test. The issuing of the paper was just a symbol of the teaching the students had received over a period of years.
So we respond to God's love for us and we choose to receive His forgiveness. We step into the waters of baptism as a symbol of His washing away our sins. Then what? Then we walk out of the water back onto the ground and more significantly back into a world polluted with sin. How do we stay clean in a dirty world?
Some try and isolate themselves. Some religions very much have a bunker mentality like the monasteries of old. That's not that common though. Others try and stay within a social circle of strictly like-minded people. Still others adopt certain practices or avoid certain things that they feel will keep them 'clean'.
The reality is that life is messy and the journey of life will take you on paths that will leave your feet dirty. You may not choose to look at certain things but that does not mean you will never see them. You may not choose to be in certain places or circumstances but that does not mean you won't find yourself there.
What am I saying? I'm saying that Jesus told Peter and the others they were clean despite their dirty feet and that He had that problem covered too. Dirty feet do not take us in and out of a relationship with Jesus. They do not alter our destiny or negate the cleaning He has already done UNLESS we refuse to allow Him to continue His work in our lives.
It all speaks to one truth. It is Jesus from first to last. It is not once and done but neither is it an on and off relationship based on our cleanliness.
I've "stepped in it" many times with Tracey but I'm still married.
Remember Jesus loves you infinitely more than you love Him and He's ready with the basin and towel before you even step in it.
See you tomorrow.

John Day 130 - True Confessions
13:8 Peter said to Him, “You shall never wash my feet!”
Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.”
9 Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head!”
I wasn't going to share this insight as it was quite personal but after thinking about it for a couple of days I have changed my mind.
For those of you who are not familiar with Seventh-day Adventists we have been described positively as people of the Book and negatively as Bible thumpers. We see our mission as continuing the search for Biblical truth begun by men such as Zwingli, Wycliffe, and Luther. So confident are we that our beliefs are firmly Biblical that our evangelists used to travel into towns and challenge the local ministers to public debates.
I give you this background so you can better understand the significance of the insight that struck me between the eyes in this encounter between Jesus and Peter. In a moment Peter switched from being adamant that Jesus not wash his feet to asking Him to wash his hands and head also. The switch was triggered by Jesus' declaration that not washing his feet would somehow sever their relationship.
Just prior the words exchanged above Jesus had said "What I am doing you do not understand now but you will understand later." When you put it all together and then back away from this scene and take a panoramic view of the entire time Peter has spent with Jesus a clear picture emerges. Peter does not understand Jesus. Their views don't match. Several times over the course of their relationship Peter opposed Jesus. At one point it got so heated that when Jesus tried to prepare them for His approaching death Peter defiantly declared "This will never happen to You!" Then Jesus responded "Get behind me Satan. You do not have in mind the things of God but the things of men."
I could give more examples but I'll just use one. The Jews were raised to believe the coming Messiah would become a king in the line of David and Solomon and the nation would rise to be the greatest in the world. The Twelve were raised to believe this too. In Acts chapter 1 when Jesus is about to go back to heaven they ask "Are you going to set up your kingdom now?"
So here you have a group of men who have views and beliefs that are different and in some cases opposed to the Truths Jesus is teaching yet they continue to follow Him.
Wait a second. In our culture when people disagree over seemingly the slightest religious "truth" they part company and start a new church. Christianity is fractured into almost countless denominations and individual denominations are fractured into sub groups. What kept the disciples following a Man they disagreed with on key religious issues?
Are you seeing it? See in my church "truth" is everything. Truth is so big that Jesus inadvertently becomes just a piece of the "Message". Not so for the Twelve. Their love for Jesus trumped everything. When there was a choice between their own pride and personal views or staying with Jesus they stayed every time. They were not mindless which is plainly seen by their outbursts but at the end of the day their faith was in the Man over and above the message.
Deep water for a Seventh-day Adventist.
I won't always understand what Jesus is doing. I won't always understand what He is teaching Me but if I trust Him it will all come together in time.
Faith over my logic?
The Man over the message?
The Man is the message.

Radical indeed.

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