Mob Rule and the Destruction of History

Reader Advisory: This is an Opinion Piece that expresses the view of its author. If you are likely to be upset by a view of recent events that may differ from your own, please stop reading now, and we’ll see you tomorrow. If, however, you are not offended by a diversity of opinion then please feel free to continue, and for best results, please begin with the Prologue to this piece, if you haven’t already read it.

Over the past month or so, we Americans have borne witness to some rather bizarre cultural twists and turns that followed the horrific murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis policeman as a few of his fellows stood by watching: I hope they throw the book at those guys.

I was, as you know by now, on a road trip when all of this began, and the first I heard in the wake of this was the controversy about whether or not the name of Fort Lee should be changed. I still haven’t figured out what the connection between the two might be, but nevertheless, that was the first thing I heard while on the road. As recently as this morning I heard reports about the need to take the name Lee out of the name of Washington and Lee University, where Robert E. Lee is buried and where he was the University’s President at the time of his death.

There are many places in the Southeastern United States named after Confederate heroes, it isn’t just General Lee, but let’s just take him as an example…

Robert E. Lee was an honorable man by all accounts who possessed many admirable qualities personally, and who is said by many to have been a great military tactician, and most of the history of the American Civil War would tend to bear that out, although he was not infallible. Prior to the war however, he was an officer in the US Army, a graduate of West Point, and was actually offered overall command of US forces at the outset of that war, but he chose to renounce his oath of allegiance to the United States and chose instead to take up arms against the US, and if that doesn’t make him and so many others like him, traitors then I simply don’t know what to say! I too have taken that oath 3 times, and if I took up arms against my country the only thing they might name after me is the prison cell I rotted in. Yes, I know that he felt his first allegiance was to his state, but his oath was to the United States.

Fine, change the names if you want; Who cares about a name?

Then the mob began terrorizing cities, tearing down statues, setting fires, throwing bricks… while local officials did nothing to stop them, and while the police, whose job it is to enforce the law and maintain public safety stood around and watched. In Seattle, the mob was allowed to occupy a significant part of that city, and calls for help from citizens often went ignored as the mayor declared it a new summer of love.

Well, it was a summer of love until the mob came for her that is, then she morphed into a law and order mayor.

I’m sure I don’t need to mention any more instances; you’ve all heard the reports. The point I’m trying to illustrate is that when those who are in positions of public trust refuse to stand up to the mob, then the mob rules the day, and in way too many places this summer, our public servants have let the mob rule the cities they are responsible for making safe for their citizens.

What really amazes me is that in more than one of these cities, these elected officials are up for re-election, and in November, they will win their elections in spite of their negligent disregard of their duty. Have I mentioned that they are all members of the same political party? Do you see other members of that party denouncing what has been going on?

Not so much, for the mob is helping their cause in this election year, and in the process, it is wiping away their party’s shameful history as the Party of Slavery, Segregation, Jim Crow and the KKK.

Yep, it makes me a little crazy to watch this.

Four years ago, I began posting a weekly series on the history of Progressivism, and if you were around back then I suggested my theory that we have been locked in an ideological struggle between Progressivism and Classical Liberalism for more than a century. I suggested then that we are gridlocked politically because there are no more compromises to made, and that the USA cannot really move forward again until somebody wins, and somebody loses. I stopped posting on the subject rather suddenly because I could see that I didn’t need to post about it, for it was playing out right in our living rooms on the evening news for all to see.

Just think about what’s been gong politically over the last four years: The Russia hoax, which although discredited is still being played. The ever-growing thought police making everything racist, sexist, homophobic, and diversity of opinion into assault. The idiotic Ukraine story that led to a shamelessly fraudulent Impeachment, and my personal favorite, the politicizing of the COVID pandemic… and now the attempt to sanitize the history of the Party.

I could go on and on, but I’m sure you get the idea. Yes, I could be entirely wrong: I’ll admit that, but I doubt it. If nothing else, this is going to be a very interesting year to watch. Happily, whether I turn out to be right or wrong, my hope is entirely placed in Christ, and not in the crazy world we are living in these days: In the end, justice will be done, evil will be but a distant memory, and tears and pain will cease forever.

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Hated by the World

John 15:18-6:4

While the first 17 verses of chapter 15 discuss relationships within the Christian community, verses 18 and following discuss the relationship between the Christian community and the outside world.  In the first instance, the relationship is characterized by love, but in the second it is characterized by hate.  This is a new reality that the disciples must deal with, one that exists to this day. To begin to understand this phenomenon, we must remind ourselves that the world Jesus speaks of is continuing to live in rebellion against God.  Jesus brought this contrast between God and Rebellion into the harsh light of day and the people didn’t like it, and His disciples will soon do the same thing with the same result.  We too will make this contrast easy to see if we live according to His teachings, and in doing so we will also cause some to believe and be saved, but the majority will not appreciate our work.  For this reason, Christians in “tolerant” America are ridiculed in the press, movies and television, and are sometimes singled out in the public square for derision.

Christians are not “of this world” but instead “our citizenship is in heaven.” (Phil. 3:18-20) The world we live in today is “post-modern” meaning that the overriding standard of morality is what is right for me.  Post-modernism doesn’t allow anyone to say that something is “right” or “wrong” absolutely and calls on individuals to seek that which is right for them and demands “tolerance” from everyone else.  Obviously, post-modernism is not the philosophical basis of the Bible, and as we all know many people have a hard time listening to anyone tell them differently.  This entire philosophy demonstrates that most people do not wish to be reconciled to God, or as Jesus put it, to “know the One who sent me.”

As a result of Jesus’ ministry, the world was left “without excuse.”  He has spoken the truth of sin, death, right and wrong, and He topped it all off by confirming His teachings with miraculous signs so that there would be no way for anyone to claim that His teachings were simply another random philosophy: They were the very words of God.  As a result, rebellious humanity in large part hated both Jesus and His Father, as the prophets had foretold.

Jesus reminds the disciples about the coming of the Holy Spirit. Note that this is not a teaching about the Holy Spirit as much as it is teaching about what their responsibility would be.  The presence of the Holy Spirit is beneficial in a great many ways, but it doesn’t mean that we have no work to do; our part is to teach people about the Gospel and make disciples.

Jesus has told His disciples unpleasant facts about their future, and now in 16:1-4 He tells them why He has done so.  The unpleasant future would soon begin with the arrest and senseless murder of Jesus Himself by Jewish leaders who believed that they were keeping God’s Law by doing so.  The book of Acts documents a reign of terror against the early church in which many were arrested and tortured or murdered by people who thought they were doing God’s work in silencing God’s truth that is not only an irony but sheer madness.  Jesus has told them of these things so that they would not drift away from their faith when the trials came; so that they would hold steadfast in the knowledge that God’s plan was playing out.  In truth, the more the church has been persecuted, the more it has grown because of the courageous stand taken by the followers of Christ.  Sadly, there have also been times when the church itself has persecuted the truth by torturing and murdering “heretics” who were teaching the truth within the church.

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Mob Rule and the Destruction of History: Prologue

My Mom and one of her great-grandsons in 2017

I mentioned here on TLP several weeks back that I officiated at the funeral of my mother back in February, breaking quite a few of the usual rules for preachers doing funerals, the most obvious of which is that you have someone else do the funeral. In that particular post, I left it at that, for believe it or not, I try very hard not to make these posts about me, preferring to make them about Him instead. I also usually avoid writing here about my views on current events, politics and social issues, and when I do share these thoughts, I clearly label them as Opinion pieces. Mob Rule and the Destruction of History will be an Opinion piece and will post tomorrow. This Prologue is a story that is part of my family history that I am sharing with you today so that you can better understand where I will be coming from in the main piece tomorrow and with that said, let’s get started.

At the funeral last February, just a short time before the whole COVID crisis burst upon us, I looked out at those who had come to my Mom’s funeral, and saw the largest gathering of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren that is ever likely to be in one place at the same time, since they live all over the country. This was my only chance to tell them all about the legacy she had left for them, for you see, my mother had a secret, a secret that I was forbidden to share during her lifetime; my sister didn’t even know about it. Her secret was such that certain things would make her very emotional and irrational, like a PTSD trigger might do, so she only spoke openly about it to me once, when I was about 13 and, unable to continue, told me to ask my Grandfather about it, which I did the next time I saw him. Here is the briefest of thumbnails of what he told me…

My Mom was born in a small West Texas oil boom town in 1923, where she lived until moving away right after graduating High School in June of 1940. As is usually the case with boom towns, there were a great many single young men from other areas living there, having come to work in the oil fields, with much the same atmosphere as a Wild West mining town. As was the case throughout the states of the old Confederacy, Texas was solidly Democratic, part of the old “Solid South”. My Grandfather, however, never once mentioned party labels when speaking with me, instead using the label “Party of Lincoln” and “Party of Slavery, Segregation, Jim Crow and the Klan”.  He, and member of the Party of Lincoln, was a small businessman all of his working life, and in those days he had a small oil business that included 3 service stations and several gasoline trucks that loaded up with gasoline at nearby refineries to supply his stations and to supply other independent service stations in the surrounding counties. Yet there was a problem with this, for there was a shortage of good labor caused by the demands of the oil fields. Even so, my Grandfather never went short of good help, because the oil fields were mostly “White Only” − there were plenty of highly competent black men to drive his trucks.

That is where the problems really began, because my Grandfather paid “White Man’s Wages” to black men, because he believed that was the right thing to do. The Party of Jim Crow was not going to take this lightly…

Aside: If you aren’t familiar with the history of time and place, the 1920’s and 30’s was the high-water mark of Jim Crow and the Ku Klux Klan, not to mention lynching.

As a result, my Grandfather and his family were labeled “N…..lovers” and were shunned by the white community who feared the mob, which in this case, was the KKK.

It’s important to note however, that my Grandfather was not the only one in the area who was a member of the Party of Lincoln, and as a result of circumstances and necessity, they came to form a small resistance to the KKK, with food and other necessities, money and all too often armed force− this was not a pretty time.

The Party of Slavery came calling to my Grandfather’s house one night in 1933 or ’34, mostly drunk in their ridiculous costumes and very brave masks. My Grandmother was ordered to take the 5 children to the cellar as my Grandfather loaded his guns. My Mom, always a bit incorrigible, crept into the front room of the house unnoticed just in time to see her father on the front porch engaging the mob in conversation. It seems that an easily recognizable voice, brave behind his mask, indicated that their intention was to burn down the house and kill the entire family. Upon hearing this cheerful news, my Grandfather lowered his weapon directly at the man and asked him if he was going to be the first to try it…

After a sufficient number of profane threats, the highly courageous mob made its way home. Apparently, this scene was repeated from time to time at various homes.

On another occasion in this general time frame, my Mom was walking down a country lane early on a Sunday morning and stumbled upon a man hanging from a tree who had been lynched the night before.

These are the two events that she never got over, and to her dying day, she would lose it whenever she saw a member of the Party of Slavery, Segregation, Jim Crow and the Klan on television lecturing us on Civil Rights and calling everyone else “racist”. If I’m entirely honest, it kind of makes me crazy as well, and is one of the reasons I spent many years of my life in politics opposing the Party of Shameless Hypocrisy. For her grandchildren and great-grandchildren, several of whom are “of color” I think that what my Grandfather and others did is a legacy to be proud of and to carry on in their lives.

I ended the funeral service by posing the following challenge to the young family members present:

Knowing what you now know about the legacy you have been given, what are you going to do about it?

As people began to leave the service a young nurse of 30 or so from the nursing home came up to me and said, “Are you trying to tell me that Lincoln wasn’t a Democrat?”

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I am the Vine, You are the Branches

John 15:1-17

Today we continue our study of Jesus’ remarks to the disciples in the Upper Room.  Our passage is one of the best known in all of Scripture in which Jesus uses the illustration of a vine to describe key relationships within the Christian life.  The text moves to its climax in verse 16 with the word “then” giving us a conditional statement that if our relationships are working together properly, “then” our requests will be granted.

This is the seventh and final “I Am” statement in the Gospel of John, and it is intended as an illustration of the relationship between the Father, the Son and the Church.  Jesus is the vine, the Father is the gardener and the disciples are the branches.  Notice that Jesus points out the fact that in a vine a branch has the function of bearing fruit, and no fruit can be borne by a branch that has been removed from the vine.  His point here is that the disciples must remain in Him in order to accomplish their purpose.  The Father as gardener will remove any branches that do not bear fruit, and prune the ones that do so that they may bear even more fruit… but what is “fruit”?  It is easy to say that He is referring to the making of new disciples, and certainly this is part of the answer.  Considering that the Father will be pruning individual branches as well as the entire vine however, there would seem to be something more involved.  In this case, it would be the removal of sin from our lives so that we will not only build new disciples, but that we would live such lives of love and purity that we would produce even more disciples than before.  One could say that this pruning involves God’s fine-tuning of our spiritual lives so as to bring about maximum growth not only in ourselves but as a result, in the entire Christian community.

Here Jesus restates the “I Am” in verses 5-6 and adds that we must remain in Him or we cannot produce anything.  Consider what happens when we attempt to produce spiritual fruit apart from Christ, entirely on our own… what is the result?  Usually the result is either nothing at all or the entry point for sin and wickedness into the community of believers.  One might even suggest that this is the formula for the development of cults in the extreme case. Much has been made of verse 6 in certain circles, but notice the word “like”.  If we do not remain in Him we are “like” branches that will be cast in the fire.  It did not say that we will be cast in the fire; repentance is an option, and most of us have had our times of straying and then come back to living “in Him”.

Verses 7-8 establish clear linkage between “remaining” and being disciples.  If we remain in Him… we will be seen as His disciples.  Remember that a disciple is one who knows what the Master knows (“and my words remain in you”) and who does what the Master does (bear fruit).  Thus, if we are His disciples in reality then He will answer our requests for His purpose.  It would go without saying that we wouldn’t be making selfish requests.

Jesus now introduces a second analogy to illustrate this relationship, and that is the relationship between the Father and the Son.  The illustration is Father/Son is the same relationship that is between Son/disciple.  The Father has loved the Son, and the Son has responded with love and obedience.  Therefore, since the Son has loved us, we respond with love and obedience. To remain in His love is to have our joy made complete.

Going one step further in 12-13, Jesus tells us exactly what obedience looks like: “Love one another as I have loved you.”  This is the command He is talking about, and as we saw a few sections back, this means putting others ahead of ourselves: always:  The Christian life has no room for self.  Verse 13 goes still further when Jesus mentions that the greatest love is to lay down your life for your friends.  In His case this meant the cross.  In our case, who knows the future?  One thing is clear however, to lay down our life of selfishness is paramount.

There is an interesting contrast between “servant” and “friend” in the last 3 verses, one that is even stronger than the NIV gives us, for the Greek word rendered “servant” (doulos) is the word for “slave”.  The contrast is clear: A slave is an inferior relationship while a friend is an equal relationship.  Don’t get crazy just yet, for this equality is entirely conditional.  Go and bear fruit.  Love one another.  These are the conditions, and realize that the first will not happen until we accomplish the second.  Then the Father will grant whatever we ask.  This is the conditional nature of the Christian life, and the challenge before us today.  As our culture continues to crumble and the church falters what will we do? We will remain in Him, love one another and bear fruit.

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2020: A Unique Road Trip

My view from the ferry returning from Key West

I mentioned in a post several weeks ago that I would be leaving for a four- week road trip to do research for a writing project I’ve been working on… and to just get out of the house. As I sit here at my trusty computer and look around, it would appear that I have returned, exactly a month after beginning this little adventure. Looking back over the last 30 days, the one thing I will not soon forget is how entirely strange our world has become, for in so many ways, COVID governs the land, along with the mob, of course.

On that very first day, I learned how different this trip was going to be- in a very basic way.

Where’s the bathroom?!

As most Americans know, when you travel the Interstate Highways there are perioding “Rest Areas” as you motor through rural areas, but not normally in urban regions. On other highways, there are usually none of these rest areas. Even so, there is seldom much of a problem because gas stations and restaurants have restrooms you can use when you stop.

Not any more.

On the first half of our trip Interstate rest areas were open only if the restrooms had exterior doors, if not they were closed. As for gas stations? Most had their restrooms closed. Restaurants?  Forget about it- drive thru and carry out only, and in the carry out places, everything except the carry out counter would be blocked off. I haven’t had to plan driving around bathroom breaks since I had toddlers with me, and that was 30 years ago.

On another front is the food aspect: I haven’t eaten so many meals in the car since the 1960’s!

Finally, you arrive at your lodgings and we very quickly found that you just never know what to expect. Many seem pretty much like they always did, while others were… strange. Two required you to bring your own sheets and pillows. Another had the office closed and you could only speak to the desk clerk through a cracked open office window while standing in a flower bed…

OK, now that you are in your room, where will you go for dinner- maybe you want to do a little shopping…

Forget about it.

If you want to eat, you’d better have your door dash app ready.

Just to make it a little more interesting, each state, we were in 13 of them, has different rules. Within each state each city and town has its rules, and of course, each business has its rules, so you never know where you stand for sure… and then they all change the rules yet again. As you can imagine, this whole COVID thing adds several layers of excitement to make any road trip a very grand adventure.

Finally, there’s one thing you can almost always count on: Most people only follow the rules when they know they are being watched.

Here’s a specific example:

In our first week on the road, my wife wanted to take the ferry from Ft. Meyers Beach, Florida to Key West, about a 3 hour trip each way. Key West has some of the strictest regulations in the country, due to its unique conditions and the ferry must be in compliance with those rules or they cannot unload their passengers. So, when preparing to board, everyone was required to wear a mask, have their temperature taken, and strict social distancing must be maintained. When you board, distancing must be maintained, as you are escorted to seating so as to maintain distance from others in their seats… and then you take your mask off if you want, unless you walk around, in which case, you put it back on. The same procedure applies when disembarking. Yet once you leave the dock, almost nobody wears the required mask. In fact, you see a lot more masks laying on the sidewalks and streets than on faces.

But most of the stores and restaurants are closed.

When the time comes to leave, you need a mask and a low temp to get back on the boat, until you reach your seat.

In case you’re wondering, I had my temperature taken 5 times on the trip, and my highest reading was 94.3.

Hmmm… maybe that’s why I always set the AC at 95!

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The Counselor

John 14:15-31

Today’s scene is a continuation of the Farewell Discourse of Jesus.  Jesus has just told the remaining disciples that anything they ask in His name will be given to them.  Keep in mind that in context this was no blank check, but was all about doing the things that He had been doing. As we continue with this discussion, we now move into further elaboration of how this will all work: There will be a new Counselor.  The word translated “counselor” is parakletos which in the ancient world meant “one who gives legal advice”.  Today, we often refer to a lawyer as “counsel” which comes from this meaning.

In verses 15-17 Jesus teaches us three things about the Holy Spirit. 1) The Holy Spirit is our Eternal Advocate who intercedes for us before the Father (1 John 2:1).  2) The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth that unveils for us our relationship with God and thus sets us free from sin, death and the traditions of men.  3) The Holy Spirit is within you.  He cannot be taken He can only be received.  Thus, this world cannot take Him away and cannot even comprehend Him for He is not compatible with the world of men.  Wherever there is a Christian, there is also the presence of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus goes further still in vv. 18-21 with the concept of His being “in the Father” and being “in you” and “you in me.”  By extension of course that means that we are “in the Father” through Jesus.  If we have His commands and obey them, then we will be considered to love Jesus.  If we love Jesus, the Father will love us.  Be sure to catch the “if” here; it goes back to obey.  If we obey Jesus’ commands the Father will love us in a special way, and Jesus will show Himself to us.  Will He literally and bodily do so?  No!  It’s actually better than that:  He will show himself through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

The Judas in 22 ff. is the Thaddeus of Matthew and Mark.  His question should sound familiar as it has already been asked by Jesus’ own brothers in 7:3-4. Jesus will not show Himself to the world because He doesn’t do things the way the world does.  You will never see Jesus as a guest on The Factor or Oprah because He is not out to win the praise of men; He is doing the Father’s work of redemption.  Finally, He introduces another element of the Christian life: Peace.  This is not merely the absence of war; it amounts to the full renewal of fellowship between Man and God.  With this peace, we need not be afraid, for no matter what the world may do, we are in a place where our future is assured.  The chapter concludes with the urgency of the hour.  Satan is busy at work and the time for face to face discussion is very nearly over, yet there is still time for a little more yet to come when Jesus talks about vines and branches in the next chapter.

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The Way, the Truth and the Life

John 14:1-14

We continue today with the “Farewell Discourse” of Jesus with His disciples.  This particular text is one of the most beloved in all of the Scriptures, full of love, hope and reassurance containing some of the most memorable phrases in the Bible, and indeed in all of literature.  In the discussions that have come before it, there has been a challenge in the example Jesus set when He washed the disciples’ feet.  There has been a betrayal and predictions of Jesus’ death and then of Peter’s denial of Jesus.  Now, Jesus seeks to comfort the  disciples and to help them begin to understand that the events which would soon follow are nothing less than God’s Eternal Plan coming to its climax.

This is the transitional verse that takes us from the tension and distress of the latter part of chapter 13 into a new topic.  Jesus is telling the disciples to take heart because He is not going to forsake them, even though He must be returning to the Father.  The key phrase here is “Trust in God; trust also in me.”  It is key because it is phrased not as a suggestion or as advice but as an imperative: Trust!

Then, in verses 2-4 Jesus uses the illustration of the Father’s house to tell them that His leaving is to serve the purpose of preparing their place in God’s “house”.  He uses an interesting method to tell them that He will return for them in due course so that where “I am” you also will be.  This is a clear play on the words “I am” and it indicates that upon His return there will be some amount of sharing His “I am-ness” with His disciples.

Having left off in verse 4 by telling them that they know the way to where He is going, He now responds to the insistence of Thomas that they don’t even know the where, much less the how…Jesus, with evident patience tells them again what He has been telling them for a long time: He is the Way, you can only come to the Father through Jesus Himself.  He is the Truth; you can know no other truth, for no other truth is genuine.  He is the Life, for there is no other life that is eternal. He expands on this in verse 7 by pointing out to them that He and the Father are one.  If we want to know the Father we will see Him revealed in His Son.  If we want to see the Father, we will see Him in His Son.

Phillip’s reply is to innocently ask Jesus to show the Father to them in the way that a lawyer might produce a witness.  All of them should know that no one has ever seen the Father (John 1:18). It was considered by the Jews impossible for a mere mortal to look directly upon the glory of God, not even Moses had looked directly at Him.  Jesus explains that we see God revealed in Him through spiritual discernment.  He indicates also that His miracles were revelations of God’s presence in Him.  In truth, the logic is that since it isn’t possible for a mortal man to look directly at God and live to tell the story, God has been made manifest in Jesus Christ, having become a man so that direct interaction can occur, a foundational premise of Christina Theology.

Jesus mentions that those who have faith in Him will continue to do what He had been doing, and that they will do even greater things because He will grant them whatever they ask of Him in His name.  This has been the source of considerable confusion and discussion in our time.  Are we doing what He was doing… what was He doing anyway?  The ministry of Jesus on the earth was not one designed to advance my interests, desires, wants or needs.  Its purpose was to advance the redemptive plan of God.  Are we living our lives to advance the redemptive plan of God?  Jesus is not telling us to use the ‘magic words’ at the end of our prayers, “In Jesus’ name Amen.”  He is telling His disciples, soon to become His Apostles that He will do great works through them and in fact He did; they are recorded as answered promises in Acts including many miraculous signs that were performed for the specific purpose of confirming the Gospel message. With that said, it is possible, even requisite that we as Christians have an active and powerful prayer life; I can’t imagine how we can follow Him through life without it.  However, in no way did Jesus promise anybody that He would give them a “blank check” to live selfish lives of demanding benefits from Him; this is simply inconsistent with every word of Scripture. He will give us whatever we ask for in His name to accomplish God’s purposes.

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Independence Day!

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A New Command

John 13:18-38

The scene continues from last time, it is the last supper in the upper room.  Jesus and His disciples are reclining at the table as Jesus continues his remarks after washing their feet. He has just said that if they follow the example that he set when he washed their feet, they would be blessed.  Now he modifies that by saying that one of them would not be blessed; He will send Judas on his way shortly…

Jesus is concerned that His coming betrayal and death not be understood as His mission being thwarted.  Instead he attempts to convey that everything is proceeding according to God’s amazing, if counter-intuitive plan.  In short, creating the community of believers, the church, was the whole point of Jesus’ ministry and not an accident or a “fall back” position.

The time for Jesus to leave subtle hints and illusions has passed; He tells them plainly that one of them will betray Him; they are shocked.  It would appear that Peter asked John to find out from Jesus who the traitor was and John’s question and Jesus’ answer was in a whisper.  He indicated Judas who was next to Him on the other side from John… (vv. 21-26)

Jesus gives the bread to Judas, who accepts it.  It is hard to imagine that Judas has not heard what has passed between John and Jesus… and he accepts the bread when he could have repented.  So completely did Satan win out in Judas’ life that John refers to it as satanic possession.  Judas leaves the room immediately; it would seem that nobody other than John understands what has happened, and John keeps quiet. John ends this with a chilling sentence: “And it was night.”  This has much more meaning than simply noting the time of day, for Jesus has spoken of the coming night before.  It was literally the beginning of the most beastly occurrence in human history, when Satan had stolen away a disciple of the Son of God to bring about the murder of the Son of God to silence the truth and darken the light once and for all.  Paul noted in 1 Cor. 2:8 that if the rulers of that time and place had understood what was going on, they would never have put Jesus on that cross!

Verses 31-32 are a little confusing for their use of “glorify” so many times in quick succession together with the indefinite pronoun “him” and it requires a little sorting out.  Here’s a paraphrase:  The time has come for the Son of Man to be glorified (recall that Jesus has been using this term to describe his crucifixion all through John) So then, we would say, starting over: “The time has come for the Son to be crucified and God will be glorified in him (By completing His plan for redemption). If God is glorified in the Son by what He accomplished on the cross, then God will glorify the Son by the Son’s resurrection and ascension to glory (as King of kings and Lord of lords).  What comes next is inconvenient for certain end of the world theorists: “and will glorify him (the Son) at once”. That is to say not at a time which has still not come.

Jesus repeats here what He has previously told the Jews, that they cannot come where He is going, referring to the right hand of the Father in heaven.  This is a statement that establishes His authority, and is followed by a new commandment: Love one another.  As you might expect, the Greek word used here is agape which is a godly, unselfish love.  It is a commitment to serve and value one another with no expectation whatsoever of anything in return.  It is just what the unbelieving world will notice, for it is seldom if ever found amongst them.  By this sign all will recognize the difference between the Christian and everyone else. This is the most important lesson from today’s text: We must love one another.  Imagine what the reaction of the rest of the world would be if they saw this kind of powerful love at work in the lives of millions of Christians: Would you like to ‘change the world’?  Love one another!

Peter doesn’t seem to soak up the new commandment and wants to go with Jesus.  The exchange leads directly to Jesus’ prediction of Peter’s denial of Him. I guess there’s a little bit of Peter in all of us.

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Humility Exemplified

John 13:1-17

This is the beginning of the second section of John’s Gospel; there are no more scenes of Jesus teaching the crowds.  The pattern of chapters 2-12 where there is a miracle or sign followed by Jesus giving an explanation are replaced by Jesus explaining the greatest sign of all, His death, burial and resurrection before it happens.  These are called the “Farewell” or “Upper Room Discourses”. The scene opens just before the Passover meal on the night that Jesus would be betrayed.  Jesus demonstrates an act of humility that would normally be done by a slave; the washing of the feet of the dinner guests.

John uses these verses to set the scene by placing the time at the very beginning of the meal.  They had not yet begun to eat, Judas had already been prompted to go astray, and yet Jesus was confident in his destiny and had received all power from God.  It is particularly pointed that John mentions this fact: Jesus had received all power, had everything placed in his control and was about to return to God… when all of the sudden what did He do?

Jesus gets up from the table, takes off his clothes, grabs a towel and begins washing the feet of the disciples.  It is important to note that even though the NIV adds the word “outer” to garments, there is no such indication in the Greek.  Commentators rise to this and many describe Jesus as in his “undergarments”.  Undergarments for men were invented around the time of George Washington and were not widely worn until the late 19th century; they did not exist in ancient times.  If Jesus had indeed removed an outer garment, then it would have been a cloak, comparable to a modern-day coat, and obviously this is not likely.  I do not join the NIV in protecting modern-day sensibilities here because it is vital that we get an accurate picture of exactly what was going on in order to get the full value of what Jesus is demonstrating in this act of humility, for it is in total and complete contradiction to what was stated in verse 3, and it actually becomes the whole point of this incident.  Jesus was not only washing the feet of men who weren’t qualified to carry his briefcase (so to speak) but he had utterly and totally humbled himself in the process!  (Can you imagine yourself doing this?) The NIV also states that He had a towel wrapped around him, while the KJV says he “girded” himself with the towel.  Was the towel providing a modesty covering, and at the same time being used to dry their feet after washing?

HOMEWORK:  Do an experiment at home.  Wrap a towel around yourself, as to cover up, get down on the floor and try to dry something also on the floor in front of you.  You will discover the answer. Once you have the answer, then remember that Jesus also washed the feet of the one whom he knew was about to betray him: Now you will understand what this scene means; you will also have some real insight into the metaphor of being naked before God.

Peter seems to have understood that he was not worthy to be treated in this way by Jesus who was so much greater than he.  Jesus’ reply to him is also understood… sort of.  Well, in that case, how about washing my hands and head too.  Peter believed Jesus when he told him that he must be “cleaned” by him, but he still didn’t quite grasp the metaphor that was playing out in that room.

Jesus’ comments in verses 10-11 refer to the fact that a person attending a dinner would bathe before leaving their house, so that when they arrived at the dinner, only their feet would have gotten dirty on the walk to the dinner venue; thus the custom of having your feet washed by a slave prior to reclining at table.  Remember that dinner tables were not like the ones we use today, and the “reclining” was literal.  The comment that not all were clean gives us a hint that Jesus is not really concerned about hygiene, for He knew what was afoot with Judas; His concern was that they be spiritually clean.

Jesus gets dressed and resumes His seat; then He explains what He has done.  He has set for them an example, a twofold example.  First, we as His servants must be willing to humble ourselves in His service.  Do we dare humble ourselves as He has done?  Second, our service must be to clean the filth of sin from one another, to help one another to obey all that He has commanded us, and to be willing to dirty our hands in the process.  We can never do this by glorifying ourselves; we can only accomplish this mission by humbling ourselves:  We are to follow His example.

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