Today’s selected reading continues in the first New Testament epistle written by the apostle John unto the saints which were at Ephesus. More specifically, today’s selected passage is found in verses twenty-eight and twenty-nine of the second chapter, and the first ten verses of the third chapter. When you come to this particular portion of Scripture you find the apostle John bringing the second chapter to a close, as well as beginning the third chapter and the truths and revelation which are contained within it. As you come to and approach the final two verses of the second chapter you will find the apostle John making a passionate plea and invitation to those to whom he is writing—one that calls for his audience to abide in Christ who is their life. I can’t help but wonder if when the apostle John wrote these words he wasn’t’ brought back to that place where he was together with the other disciples in the upper room with Jesus the Christ as He taught and spoke to them during His final week prior to His betrayal, trial, crucifixion and burial in the heart of the earth. If you journey back to the fourteenth, fifteenth and sixteenth chapters of the New Testament gospel which John wrote you will find that he was the only gospel writer who wrote concerning the words which Jesus spoke on that night in which He was together with His disciples in the upper room—the room where He first washed their feet before providing them with instruction. If you journey to the thirteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel of John you will find the apostle John writing very clearly concerning Jesus laying aside His garments, taking up the towel, pouring water into a basin, and beginning to wash the disciples’ feet. I am convinced that this is one of the most beautiful scenes in the entire life and ministry of Jesus Christ, for it with these actions where He lowered and humbled Himself to the status of a servant, for only a servant in one’s household would be responsible for washing the feet of the disciples. In fact, I am convinced that before we can even begin to understand the reality and concept of abiding in Jesus, we must first recognize and understand the tremendous humility He displayed on that night as He engaged Himself in washing the disciples feet. Consider if you will the account as the apostle John recalls it in the thirteenth chapter of this gospel, beginning with the first verse of the chapter:
“Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour was come that He should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them unto the end. And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son to betray Him; Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He was come from God, and went to God; He riseth from supper, and laid aside His garments; and took a towel, and girded Himself. After that He poureth water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples’ ‘feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith He was girded. Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto Him, Lord, doest thou wash my feet? Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter. Peter saith unto him, Thou s halt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with. Me. Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head. Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not to save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all. For he knew who should betray him; therefore sad he, Ye are not all clean. So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye now what I have done to you? Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his. Lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. If ye kno these things, happy are ye if ye do them. I speak not of you all: I know whom I have chosen: but that the Scripture may be fulfilled. He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me. Now I tell you before it come, that, when it is come to pass, ye may believe that I am he. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that receiveth whomsoeover I send receiveth me; and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me” (John 13:1-20).
It’s imperative that we recognize and understand that before Jesus ever spoke the words unto His disciples concerning abiding in Him, He first laid aside His garments, took up the towel which He wrapped around His waist, and washed the disciples’ feet. I absolutely love that Jesus chose to wash the feet of the disciples before inviting and instructing them to abide in Him, for through washing their feet He was demonstrating humility and servitude, but He was also esteeming them as better than Himself. If it was the servant’s responsibility to wash the feet of those who entered into the house, and if Jesus lowed Himself to wash the feet of the disciples, we can logically deduce that what He was seeking to do was to powerfully demonstrate the art and practice of being a servant. What’s more, is that when we consider Jesus washing the feet of the disciples, we must also recognize and understand that included in this particular passage is the statement that Judas was present in the room—even after Satan had filled his heart to betray the Son of man into the hands of man. Despite the fact that Judas had already purposed within himself to betray the Son of man, Jesus still went forward with washing his feet. Pause for a moment and consider that reality—the reality of washing the feet of your betrayer. Let me ask you something—if you know someone was going to betray you, would you proceed to wash their feet anyway? If you knew someone was going to perhaps do irreparable damage and harm to you, or your reputation, or your family, or your career, or anything else within your life, would you still proceed to wash their feet? If you knew someone was going to conceive something behind your back that would ultimately bring about your demise and destruction, would you still demonstrate humility and love by washing their feet? Please note and understand that I am not speaking of a literal washing of feet, but rather a demonstration of love and humility toward those whom you know are going to betray you. Adding a different twist to this thought process and line of the thought—would you wash the feet of those who have already betrayed you? Knowing what those individuals have already done to and unto you, would you still lay aside your own garments, and take up the towel of humility in order that you might wash their feet? Look over your life, and think about all those who have somehow betrayed you—or perhaps those whom you feel have betrayed you [for not every betrayal is actual, for there are some betrayals are conceived within our own hearts and minds]—and ask yourself whether or not you would wash the feet of those who have betrayed you.
Would you lay aside your own garments of self-preservation, your own garments of pride, your own garment of self-esteem, your own garments of self-exaltation in order that you might wash the feet of those who perhaps have wronged, mistreated, hurt and betrayed you? Would you be willing, and are you willing to lay aside your garments of needing and wanting to always be right and the center of attention in order that you might wash the feet of those who have hurt, and perhaps wounded you? Would you lay aside your garments of self-righteousness, and perhaps even your garments of hypocrisy in order that you might wash the feet of those who who have hurt, wounded, and scarred you? There is a particular passage found in the New Testament gospel of Luke which I can’t help but be reminded of when I consider this concept of washing the feet of those who hurt and wounded you. If you turn and direct your attention to the tenth chapter of the New Testament gospel which was written by the beloved physician Luke you will find the parable which Jesus told concerning the Good Samaritan. What’s so incredibly interesting about this parable concerning the Good Samaritan is that it has not only launched an expression concerning those who have exercised and expressed tremendous humility, love and compassion to those in need, but it is also the name of an actual organization that has existed within the world for quite some time. Who would have thought that a parable concerning the actions of a single individual—especially considering the fact that a parable is a fictional story which Jesus used when seeking to teach spiritual principles unto those whom He was speaking to—could have launched such a tremendous movement within and throughout the world. This particular parable concerning the Good Samaritan is one that has long been one of the most beloved passages within the four gospels, for while others chose to be passerby’s, onlookers and spectators to the plight and demise of one in need, there was one who chose to stop what he was doing and actually look after and care for the needs of another. What is so absolutely incredible about the parable of the Good Samaritan is that Jews rarely, if at all, had dealings with Samaritans, for they viewed them as a mixed people with whom they should have no association with. What’s more, is that within this parable, it was a Samaritan, and not a priest, or even a Levite who chose to care for this man in the face of tremendous needs. This man who was beaten, robbed, and left for dead was clinging, holding on to, and fighting for his life, and in light of such a reality, the religious community walked right by him, thus leaving him to his own plight and fate. Consider if you will the parable which Jesus told in response to a lawyer who stood up in order that he might tempt Jesus:
“And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? He said unto him, What is written in the law? How reader thou? And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. And He said unto him, Thou hast answered right: This do, and thou shalt live. But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour? And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, and went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought to an inn, and took care of him. And on eat morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him: and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee. Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves? And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then Jesus aid unto him, Go, and do thou likewise” (Luke 10:25-37).
While this particular parable is most certainly about the Samaritan, and the compassion and pity he took on this single man, I would like to take this parable a step further. Let’s say this man who fell among thieves and was stripped of his garments, this man who was wounded, and this man who was left for dead recovered from his injuries. Let’s say this man fully recovered from his injuries and was able to leave the inn, and upon leaving the inn, he decided to launch a mission of mercy and a campaign for compassion. Let’s say this man rose up from the inn and found the man who had exercised and demonstrated compassion toward him, and expressed his gratitude for saving his life. I have often wondered if this man who was left half dead was aware of the presence of both the Levite, as well as the priest, and even saw them pass by on the other side. What if while he was lying there on the side of the road, this man saw—perhaps out of one eye—the priest and the Levite pass by on the other side completely and utterly showing no regard for him or his condition. In all reality, I would dare say that this man could have held a grudge—not only against the priest and the Levite who passed by him on the other side, thus completely ignoring his plight, but also toward those thieves who had injured him. I am convinced that while he was recovering, and even after he had fully recovered, this man could have chosen to held a grudge against the thieves who had wounded and stripped him of his garment, as well as toward the priest and the Levite who decided to show no compassion on him. What if instead of harboring a grudge toward and against the thieves who had wounded him, stripped him of his garments, and left him half dead, this man set out to find those thieves, and upon finding them, he chose to forgive and exercise compassion toward them? What if this man set out to find those thieves, and upon finding them—rather than exercising Vengeance and revenge upon and against them—he chose to wash their feet and lay aside his garments of self-worth, self-righteousness, self-esteem, and self-preservation? What if this man chose to lay aside his garments—especially after he had already been stripped of his original garments—in order that he might take up the towel and demonstrate humility and compassion toward those who had wounded and scarred him? What if this man made it his ultimate purpose and mission to find the thieves who wounded him, in order that he might deliberately and intentionally wash their feet and show unto them compassion and humility? What’s more, is what if this man set out to find both the priest and the Levite who passed him by on the other side and set out to wash their feet as well? What if this man set out to launch a campaign where individuals deliberately seek out those who have wounded and scarred others, as well as those who neglected and ignored those in need, and instead of hurling insults, exercising bitterness and offense towards them, and instead of exercising wrath and vengeance against them, we showed and demonstrated compassion and mercy?
The reason I mention this parable of the Good Samaritan is because when I read the words which the apostle John wrote concerning Jesus’ washing the disciples’ feet, I can’t help but think of Jesus washing the feet of Judas who would ultimately betray Him into the hands of men for thirty pieces of silver. Jesus knew that Judas was going to betray Him into the hands of sinners, and was going to betray Him with a kiss in the garden of Gethsemane, and yet—in an act of humility, mercy, compassion and grace—He deliberately and intentionally chose to wash his feet anyway. I can’t help but wonder what went through the heart and mind of Judas as Jesus was kneeling before him washing his feet—knowing full well what he was planning on doing toward and against him. I wonder what went through Judas’ heart and mind as Jesus perhaps even looked into his eyes while washing his feet? Was there any sign of conflict within the heart and soul of Judas as Jesus kneeled before him and washed his feet? We aren’t sure what went through the heart and mind of Judas while Jesus was washing his feet, but what we do know for certain is that not only did Jesus wash the feet of his betrayer, but. He also shared the table with his betrayer. WASHING THE FEET & SHARING A TABLE WITH YOUR BETRAYER! Could you do that? Could you wash the feet of your betrayer, and then after you washed the feet of your betrayer, could you go on to share a table and meal with that same individuals? If you knew that one or more around you were going to betray you, were going to hurt and wound you, could you not only wash their feet, but also go on to share a meal and sit at the same table with them? Taking this a step further—what if the betrayal had already been completed, and the hurt, the wounds, and the damage had already been done? What if you were already wounded and scarred by those around you—could you still wash their feet, and could you still sit at the same table with them? Could you not only sit at the same table, but also share a meal with those same individuals who wounded you, stripped and robbed you, and perhaps even left you to recover and rise up from you place of hurt and pain? What if this man who had been stripped of his garment, wounded, and left half dead sought out those who had done the damage and invited them to share a meal with him at his own table? What if this man who had been passed by by both the priest and the. Levite sought them out, and upon finding them, invited them to dine with and sup with him? I am convinced that not only does it take exercising compassion and mercy to be a neighbour, but it also takes forgiving and exercising compassion toward those who have wounded and hurt you, as well as toward those who ignored and neglected you. I am utterly and completely convinced that we can demonstrate being a neighbour by washing the feet of those who wounded and scarred us, as well as sharing a table and meal with them, as well as demonstrating the same actions toward those who ignored, abandoned and neglected us in our moment of need and crisis.
In the thirteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel of John we find Jesus laying aside the garments which He wore in order that He might take up the towel and wash the feet of His disciples. I am convinced that we must recognize and understand this, for we cannot truly understand Jesus’ invitation in the fifteenth chapter to abide in Him without first understanding His humility, His compassion, his mercy and His love. When do finally come to the fifteenth chapter of the gospel according to John we find the following words which were spoken by Jesus unto His disciples concerning abiding in Him. Beginning with the first verse of the fifteenth chapter we find the following words which present us with a wonderful and powerful framework for our need to abide in Jesus Christ. Consider if you will the following words which are recorded for us by the apostle John in the fifteenth chapter of his gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus:
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye cano do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in His love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knowth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you. Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, He may give it you. These things I command you, that ye love one another. If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me” (John 15:1-21).
As I read these words which were spoken by Jesus, I cannot help but see a strong correlation and connection—not only to Jesus’ own actions of washing the feet of the disciples, but also of the parable of the Good Samaritan. What would begin with Jesus speaking of bearing and bringing forth fruit would ultimately and eventually lead to Jesus inviting His disciples to abide in Him. Jesus would emphatically declare unto His disciples that if they desired to bear and bring forth fruit, they needed to abide in Him. Eventually, it wouldn’t simply be about abiding in Him for the sake of bringing forth fruit, but abiding in His love. Oh, please don’t’ miss the tremendous significance and importance of this, for this invitation to abide in Jesus Christ wasn’t simply about abiding in Him, but also abiding in His love—abiding in His demonstration of love toward those around us. The question we must ask ourselves is what this actually looks like? What does it look like to abide in the love of Jesus Christ? I am convinced that the answer is actually found as you continue reading this passage of Scripture, for in the twelfth verse you find Jesus declaring that His commandment was that we love one another as He has loved us. Jesus would go on to declare that greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Please don’t’ miss the incredible significance and importance of this truth, for the ultimate demonstration and manifestation of love—of abiding in the love of Jesus Christ—is to lay down our lives for our friends. I can’t help but be reminded of the words which the apostle Paul wrote in the epistle which was written and sent unto the Roman congregation. Beginning with the sixth verse of the fifth chapter of this epistle we find the following words: “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement” (Romans 5:6-11). Within this passage we not only discover the tremendous reality of Jesus laying down His life for His friends, but we also discover the awesome reality that He laid down His life for those who were once His enemies. How truly remarkable and wonderful it is that not only would Jesus wash the feet of the one who would betray Him, and even share a meal at the same table with him, but Jesus would also lay down His life for those who were His enemies. He even transformed the life of a thief on the cross through redemption and forgiveness. What’s more, is that in the fifteenth chapter of the gospel according to John we find Jesus speaking of the world hating us because it first hated Him. It is in the midst of this hatred of the world toward us that we are commanded and instructed—not only to love one another, but also love our enemies, and those who persecute us:
“Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have the? Do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? Do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:43-48).
When the second chapter of the first epistle written by the apostle John draws to a close, we find the apostle instructing and inviting his audience to abide in Him, and to abide in Him, in order that when He will appear, they might have confidence and be not ashamed before Him at His coming. I can’t help but wonder if the apostle John didn’t look back upon the words of Jesus when he called invited the disciples to abide in Him, and to abide in His love. ABIDING IN HIM WHILE WE WAIT FOR HIS COMING! ABIDING BEFORE THE APPEARING! The apostle John sought to invite his audience into the place where they would abide in Jesus the Christ, in order that when He appears, they might have confidence and not be ashamed at His coming. This is perhaps one of the most important and awesome realities concerning the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, for we must ask ourselves whether or not we have confidence at His coming and at His appearing. The apostle John seems to suggest that the way we have confidence at His appearing, and boldness at His coming is through abiding in Him. .If you go on to read the words which are found in the third chapter of this same epistle, you will find the apostle John writing concerning this manner of love which the Father bestowed upon us—namely, that we should be called the Sons of God. I wonder if as the apostle John wrote these words he did not look back upon the previous gospel account he wrote, and how unto those who believed on Him, to those He gave power to become the sons of God. Within this epistle the apostle John directly links and connects the love of the Father to our being called the sons of God, and in the second verse, the apostle John goes on to write how since we are the sons of God, it does not yet appear what we shall be. Despite the fact that It does not immediately appear what we shall be, we know and have confidence that when He does appear, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. The apostle John takes this a step further and declares that any and every man that has this hope—the hope of being like Jesus at His appearing—purifies Himself, even as Jesus Himself is pure. What’s more, is the apostle John goes on to write how whoever abides in Jesus Christ sins not, and whoever sins has not seen him, neither knows him. The words which the apostle John writes in this passage of Scripture are absolutely and incredible powerful, for within this passage of Scripture we find the apostle John going on to declare how Jesus was manifested to take away our sins, and that Jesus Christ was manifested within the earth, in order that he might destroy the works of the devil. The apostle John goes on to write how whoever is born of God does not commit sin, for his seed remains in him, and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. The apostle John declares that the children of God are manifested in that whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he which loveth his brother. Oh that we would read these words of the apostle John in this passage, and not only look forward and toward the appearing and coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, but also that we would purify and cleanse ourselves, even as He Himself is pure and clean. It is true that we can and shall be like Him, but it is also true that in this life we must purify ourselves even as He Himself is pure. I leave you with the following words which the apostle Paul wrote in the fifteenth chapter of the first epistle which was written unto the Corinthians:
“Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? O The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, moveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:50-58).