Posts Tagged ‘Gospel of John’


Healthy school lunches are causing a lot of grumbling among teenagers. Mrs. Obama is the target of a great deal of criticism for setting new Federal Standards which limit calories and protein and carbohydrates.  

“We hear them complaining around 1:30 or 2:00 that they are already hungry,” said Linda O’Connor, a high school English teacher at Wallace County High School in Sharon Springs, Kansas. “It’s all the students, literally all the students… you can set your watch to it.”

The USDA has responded to criticism by recommending the students eat a “snack” in the afternoon (see the article here).

Funny, but this is nothing new. I know of a large group of Jews who complained to God Himself about their hunger. God responded with “Manna from Heaven”.  Heavenly food, the food of angels, and still the people complained. They just did not get it. They were clueless to what God was giving them. I fear that many Christians are even more clueless to what God has given them in a book we call the Bible.

Jesus made a statement that His listeners found incredulous. Even His disciples thought He was being a bit ‘crazy’. Yet what Jesus said is the key to understanding the Power of the Word of God! 

So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” John 6:53-58

When the disciples heard Jesus say this, they said “This is a hard saying, who can listen to it?” And Jesus, hearing the internal grumblings of their heart replied, “Do you take offense at this?” Then he amazed them a bit more by asking, “What if you were to see me ascending to where I was before?” In other words, if your eyes were to be opened to see Jesus as Lord of heaven, and yes, Lord of Life, would my words be easier to accept and understand?

As a Pastor I know that most Christians do not grasp the power of the Word of God. They do not depend upon the Word of Life to live their lives. They may know a few common verses, and may even read it now and then, but the Word of God is not the staple of their life, something which they cannot live without. On the contrary, the Word of God is strange and hard to understand to most “Christians.” Yet, we are to see the Word of God as the very source of our life.

This is what Jesus said in John 6, that the Word of Christ must become your life, so much so that you must feast upon it every day. If the Word of God becomes your means of life, you will live indeed! The Words of Christ and His presence are to be as the manna which fell from heaven and provided sustenance for the Israelites for 40 years!

This is what God meant when He spoke to Moses about the manna. He told Moses and the people, “in the morning you shall see the glory of the LORD, because he has heard your grumbling against the LORD. For what are we, that you grumble against us?” (Exodus 16:7)

God’s answer to grumbling was to show His glory. Jesus answer to grumbling was to ask them to see His glory. The Glory of God was the manna. The Glory of Christ was His Word! The manna was a type of the Word of Christ!

When the Jews saw it, they said “What is it?” When the disciples heard Jesus, they said, “What is this, who can listen to it?”

A casual glance at manna said it was nothing special and not very appetizing. A casual glance at the Word of God says it is nothing special, and not very appetizing, especially the way Jesus described it. Yet both are the glory of God!

We must chose to eat it and to live from it. Regardless of what it looks like or how it may seem, the WORD is life! We must make a decision to make it our life, our sustenance! If we do, we will see the GLORY of God!

God says, See, I have set before you this day life on the one hand and death on the other. Therefore, choose life!” (Deuteronomy 30:19). We can choose to value the Word above all else, or we can relegate it to an afterthought, something insignificant as far as our living is concerned. We must make the choice as to whether we gather it for our sustenance each morning.

Give us this day our daily bread

This is what Jesus meant when he taught  His disciples to pray. He told them to ask the Father to “give us this day our daily bread!” (Matthew 6:11) Jesus was not talking about physical bread, but the Bread of Life which is His Word! How do I know this? Look at what He said just a few verses later:

Matthew 6:31-33 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Why should we pray for our food each day when Jesus tells us not to be anxious about it? On the contrary, Jesus says to seek FIRST the Kingdom of God and His righteousness! The foundation of Kingdom Life is the Word of God! If you want to be a good citizen of the Kingdom of God, you must live by His Word! I will be so bold as to state that you cannot be a citizen of God’s Kingdom if you ignore the Word of God!

If you want to experience His life…

Jesus told the people that if they want to experience life, they must eat His flesh…“whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me…” Jesus described himself as the “bread of life”. Bread is used in the Bible as that which is taken into the body and provides nourishment. Two types of bread are found in the Bible, leavened and unleavened. Leaven consistently pictures the corruption of sin (see 1 Corinthians 5:8).

Two Types of Bread

A Christian must chose the bread he takes into his life. The unleavened bread which is sinless and pure, or that which is leavened, corrupt and defiled. The leavened bread comes in a wide variety, ranging from sinful and unhealthy to evil and downright life destroying

The manna which displayed the glory of God was symbolic of Jesus Christ, the “Bread of Life” (John 6:49-51). The Israelites had to respond correctly to this ‘gift’ from God to receive proper nourishment. They were to gather early before the sun became hot and it melted away, or they would go hungry that day, and perhaps another day if it was the day before the Sabbath.

Jesus teaches His disciples to pray early every day, asking the Heavenly Father to send the unleavened, sinless bread of Life to dwell with them. Without the indwelling of Christ through the Holy Spirit, there is no spiritual life in us (John 6:53, 55-58)

Why do we need to ask this of God every day? Isn’t the indwelling a permanent, point in time occurrence? Yes, but His Life can be blocked by our love of the world, love of sin and assorted other selfish reasons. Jesus told Peter that, even though he was clean all over at one point, he still needed his feet washed every day, of Peter could have no part in Jesus…

Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” John 13:8.

While it is true that we are indwelt with the Holy Spirit, He must be invited into our lives each day. He never leads without an invitation. God never takes control of our lives against our will. God wants us to choose willingly to believe and obey Him and seek a relationship with Him.

If we do not chose each day to actively pursue God by partaking of His Word, we will slowly drift away from Him.

Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. (Hebrews 2:1)

We are easily and soon distracted by the cares of this world. Our eyes quickly fall from Him to the glitter all around us. We are easily distracted. This is why God often gets our attention through trials and other circumstances.

However, God may not always strive with us if we continually fall away, smitten by our love affair with the world.

You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. (James 4:4)

Without the strength and power of the Word of God, we will soon find ourselves overcome by the wilderness of the world. We will join the fallen Hebrews. If Jesus realized that “I can of myself do nothing (John 5:30), what chance do we have to overcome this world in our own strength?

Jesus exhorts us to seek His Bread each and every day! Feast on it daily and enjoy His LIFE!

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Last week we were in John 12, and observed a woman washing the feet of Jesus with an expensive ointment. It was shocking to the Disciples, but gave great delight to the Lord. This week we will focus on Jesus washing the feet of his Disciples. It was equally shocking to the Disciples and equally delighting to the Lord.

Lydia Will, a mother of 4 young boys writes in Small Town Simplicity,

No matter my nagging, they just cannot seem to resist kicking off their shoes and squelching in the sun-warmed mud. Four sets of mud encrusted feet patter up the path and up the porch steps, one by one dunking feet into the warm white foam. I’ve got the rolled up sleeves and scrub tiny toes, searching for the pink skin beneath all the grime. Then towel dry and open the door, in they come looking for their dinner.

I wish I could say I had a good attitude about all of this, but it was not the first time I cleaned them up today. Nor the second, for that matter. In fact, if I am completely honest, I was downright annoyed.

I tossed out murky water, turn toward the sink to scrub the pot. And right there it strikes me.

Today I didn’t make a million dollars.
I didn’t attend an important investment meeting.
I didn’t wear expensive clothes.
Today I didn’t save a life, or change a law, or bring about world peace.
It may look like I really didn’t do much of worth to anyone.

But today, and really, every day, I washed feet.

As I make my way through this life of mine, I am taught so much. I am learning, daily, to look for the small and the humble – the quiet and the meek. The foot-washing moments that point me toward the blessings of laying down self and striving to serve. In lowering me, He elevates.

Read John 13:1-20 There are three things that Jesus said which bear closer examination. They reveal the motivation and message of the Gospel.

  • “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.”
  • “I have given you an example”
  • “If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them”

Most of us know this story. Jesus washes the feet of His disciples. Peter protests at first, but relents. It is a touching story reenacted in many churches even today. But too often we miss the message Jesus wanted to get into the thick skulls of His disciples. 

“Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.”

There is a Blessing here, but we have to make it a part of our life. Its roots are in the Gospel. Its foundation is in the power of the Gospel we saw last week, the waste that Mary exhibited.

This is the Passion Week, and the memories of that week frame each of the Gospels. Obviously, of all that happened during 3-1/2 years of training, the events of those weeks stuck out most in their hearts and minds. Yet only in John’s gospel is this story mentioned – the one in John 13:1-20.

Coming just a day or so after the Disciples had been chided for their treatment of Mary, Jesus was having a His Last Supper with His Disciples. In one simple act Jesus reveals the power of the Gospel through His Motivations and the Message He wants His Disciples to learn.

The Motivation of Jesus

John 13:1 reveals that before this supper, Jesus had determined two things:

1. His hour had come to depart and return to His Father

All through his ministry he knew he was to be the “Lamb of God who would take away the sin of the world,” (John 1:29). The time has also come when he, as the grain of wheat, must fall into the ground and die. He sees, as a result of his death, a great harvest of Jews and Gentiles to follow in the power of the second Adam, freed from the defeat of death and sin. This is the power of the Gospel, Death with a View to Increase!

2. Having loved his own, He would love them to the uttermost.

Regardless of their denials or flight, Jesus would love them to the very end, or ‘uttermost’ as the Greek could be translated. He knew what was coming and knew the Disciples would need His Love. Within a few hours of this event, he would be hanging upon a cross. His Disciples would be scattered in utter dismay. He must love them to the uttermost!

Later this evening he says to his disciples, “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends,” (John 15:13 RSV). No one can go further in his expression of love for someone than to die for him. This is what it means for Jesus to love his disciples “unto the uttermost.”

The Gospel of John is very clear that the relationship, which Jesus had with his disciples, is the relationship he has with all who follow Him as Savior and Lord. This means each of you who are born again have a Savior who loves you to the uttermost.

Nothing we do, or fail to do will stop Him from loving us to the uttermost. He will discipline us, He will grieve, but His love will always be there.

That is the first thing about this love. It is not offended by our failures. He does not withdraw His love because we make mistakes. We may often disappoint Him, we may often fail Him, we may often grieve His heart, but He goes on loving us. He loves us unto the uttermost, right to the end. He is not offended by our failures. That is a very different kind of love from our love. This is God’s love in Christ. – T Austin Sparks[1]

He may bring remarkable experiences into our lives, but we may be sure that underneath all is his loving concern for us. How important it is for us to remember that. Jude writes, “Keep yourself in the love of God,” (Jude 1:21). When you by faith enter into the New Covenant with God through the Blood of Jesus, God takes full responsibility for your life. He is faithful. His Love guides everything that happens in our lives.

We can see this because even though Jesus was facing the greatest trial of his life, his focus was not on Himself. His focus was on loving His disciples.

  • Verse two reveals that Jesus was also aware of something else:

3. The Devil had entered the room and was in the heart of Judas.

Yes, there was an unwelcome guest at that meal, a guest that escaped the attention of everyone else but Jesus. You will not see him in Da Vinci’s: “Last Supper,” but he is there.

John 13:2 “the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him”

Jesus knew that the devil was bringing about a crisis and that he had determined to use Judas to betray him. This indicates how easily we can be victimized by the devil. He can put thoughts into our minds and hearts and, if we follow them, we will end up betraying our highest hopes. It is so important that we guard our hearts through the Word of God. If you are not daily in the power of the Word, do you think you are immune from Satan’s influence and doubts? Faith comes by the Word of God. Doubts come when our faith is weak.

Judas was a devoted disciple. He went out witnessing. He even healed people. But Satan used a desire of his to cause him to turn away. His desire for wealth and standing got in the way of his following a Savior who was to be crucified. The only way wrong desires can be changed is through the power of the Word! Never resist it. Always honor it.

Jesus knew that the Devil was in the room and so Jesus had to show his disciples something drastic.

There is the third motive: The devil, the enemy, is at work, closing in on Jesus, and he knew it!

  • Something else that Jesus knew is mentioned in verse 4:

4. All things were given into His hands. He had come from God and would return to God.

Now that may seem like a slogan, like Allstate Insurance – You are in Good Hands. However, I believe the Word of John 13:3 is quite literal. Jesus had the most powerful hands in the Creation of God. All things had been placed in His Hands. Jesus was no helpless pawn, drawn along reluctantly. He was the director; He was in control of Passion Week. He was behind the smallest detail.

Can you visualize what this means?

Those soldiers who were beating Him, mocking Him, nailing Him to the Cross- were given into His hands. The Pharisees who were crying out to crucify him were in His hands.

Your sickness, your disease, your pain, is in His hands.
Your children, your grandchildren are in His hands.
Your life, your possessions, your career, your reputation are all in His hands.

Everything has been given into His hands. He knew exactly who He was and where He was headed. Jesus is Lord of ALL! Throughout the Passion Week, Jesus never panics. He is always in control. He moved with a quiet majesty through the events of his arrest and his appearance before Herod, Pilate and the chief priests. He is in full control because He knows who He is. He is God.

How important for Christians to understand this! The New Testament constantly thrusts this one truth upon us! When you are facing pressure at home, in your job, in relationships, in temptations, in whatever, the Scripture urges you, “Remember who you are. You need no longer be the victim of the wiles of the enemy; you no longer must obey him. You belong to Jesus Christ, Lord of the Universe. You are part of His Kingdom of love, not of anger and fear. You are loved and cherished by your Father. Your situation is in His hands.”

What worries do you have? What problems are keeping you up at night? See His hands! He has hold of it. Nothing is too great for His hands to handle!

Jesus is about to use those powerful hands to demonstrate the Message and Power of the Gospel.

B. The Message of Jesus

Verse 4 & 5: (He) rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

When Jesus took his outer garments off, he was taking on the dress of a slave. This would have been quite shocking to these Jews. Slaves were non-people, treated like livestock, property.

The rich used slaves to have their feet washed. The poor would set water by the door and you would wash your own feet. Roads were dusty, dirty, and muddy in ancient Palestine. There was no asphalt or concrete. No curbs and gutter. Travel was along footpaths that were dusty when hot, muddy when wet. The custom was to bath in the morning, but by the dinner hour, feet would need to be washed because they would be filthy with the grime of the streets.

For some reason this had not been done. Perhaps the disciples were stressed by the busy week, but perhaps Luke sheds light on why their feet were not washed. I am sure the disciples, being poor, would take turns washing each other’s feet. However, Luke reveals something that had been discussed that evening.

Luke 22:24-30 A dispute also arose among them, as to which of them was to be regarded as the greatest.

The disciples had been arguing over who would hold the leading positions in the government Jesus was about to set up (cp. Luke 22:24; Mark 10:35-45, esp. Mark 10:41). The discussion was heated. They were caught up in the ambition for position and power and authority.[2]

Jesus needed His disciples to realize that the glory of the Gospel is through death and service, not through position and authority.

Jesus had to get this truth across forcibly enough that they would never forget it as long as they labored for the Gospel.

I want to correct the picture of the Last Supper that most of us have from Da Vinci. Unlike his painting, the disciples reclined on their left side, leaving their right hand free to eat. This accounts for the fact that John lay “on Jesus’ breast,” as his head was right next to Jesus’ head. It is clear also that Judas lay on the other side of Jesus. Somehow, he had managed to place himself next to Jesus, which later allowed Jesus to hand him a piece of bread to indicate that he was the traitor.

So as they were all reclined around the table, about to eat, the disciples began to argue over who was greatest. Like children who won’t do their assigned work (washing the dishes, for instance) because they are angry at each other, they refuse to acknowledge whose turn it is, until one is made to do it by a wise parent. This was happening in the Upper Room as the argument over who was the greatest went on. Each of the disciples said to himself, “I’m not about to wash that turkey’s feet! I am above all that. We’re about to see the Messiah manifest himself as the Deliverer” and “I’m so close to Jesus I shouldn’t have to do this kind of work.” However, Jesus waited until they were all reclining around the table, no one having offered to do the foot washing. Without a word he rose, took off his garments (reducing himself to the position of a slave), and, kneeling in front of each disciple in turn, including Judas, washed his feet and dried them with a towel. They were shocked, stunned, and embarrassed. They did not know what to make of this.

Jesus came to Peter, and he protested, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” Jesus answered, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” Peter said, “You shall never wash my feet!” Jesus said, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.”

John 13:9-11 Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.” For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “Not all of you are clean.”

Now here Jesus is illustrating Spiritual Truths through a Physical example. They certainly understood the need to wash your feet after a day of walking. They understood what he meant by being clean from your daily bath. But Jesus wanted them to see that they were clean in Him, as Peter had confessed that Jesus is the Messiah. The clean that Jesus provides is at once for past, present and future sins. Romans says we are justified before God – Romans 3:24 “we are justified by his grace as a gift.” We are declared righteous. We are saints. But Jesus through this one example of washing their feet illustrated Four Spiritual Truths:

1.  The Fellowship Principle

Jesus wanted them to see that the dirt of this life accumulates and must be washed, it must be cleansed, or it will keep us from sharing in Jesus. Here our Savior was showing the power of His hands. All things had been placed in His hands, even the power to wash us from our daily sins.

We are clean before God, but sin in our life will hinder our fellowship with Jesus. It will cause us to lose passion and desire for Him and what He wants to accomplish.

No matter how you fail Him after your salvation, no matter how despicable or horrid or selfish your sin is, all things have been given to His hands. Let Him wash your feet through the power of His Word. He is faithful to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

This is the advice of 1 John 1:5-10

1 John 1:5-10 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

One point of information for your understanding of the Blood of Christ.

Jesus washed their feet with water, not blood. Sometimes we will say we need to be cleansed through the blood, but that really is a onetime thing.

The blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, cleanses us from all sin — past, present, and future — in one application. There is only one sacrifice. Hebrews 10:14 says: “For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.”

When you and I came as sinners to Christ Jesus, it was His shed blood that once and for all cleansed us, justified us, redeemed us and gave us a righteous standing before God.

Romans 3:24-25 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.

However, we get our feet dirty with sin along our journey. We need washing. Jesus washed the disciple’s feet to illustrate this. But what washes us? It is no more than the Word of God, for the Bible says if we agree with Him about our sins, He is faithful and just to cleanse us. If we disagree, we call God a liar, and the power of His word is not in us.

Therefore, the power of the Gospel applies to sins past present and future, and it has power to keep us clean so that we can enjoy fellowship with our Lord Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 5:26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word…

But more than 1 John 1:9, Jesus wants us to understand that the Gospel is not man’s wisdom, not man’s standing, not man’s righteousness.

Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.

The Gospel is the wisdom of God in the Cross. The Gospel is the Justice of the Word of God over our lives. The Gospel is the Righteousness of Christ alone. If we do not embrace the Hesed, Mishpat and tsedaqah of the Gospel, we will not enjoy the blessing that it promises us.

2. The Honor Principle.

John 13:12-17 When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.

Gaining by Trading

The foundational truth of Discipleship is “Gaining by Trading.” Therefore, Jesus says if you want to share with me, you will embrace this principle.

Luke 22:24-30 A dispute also arose among them, as to which of them was to be regarded as the greatest. And he said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you. Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves. For who is the greater, one who reclines at table or one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table? But I am among you as the one who serves. “You are those who have stayed with me in my trials, and I assign to you, as my Father assigned to me, a kingdom, that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

Jesus says “It shall not be so among you,” indicating his rejection of hierarchical authority in the church. Here in John, he says, “I have given you an example that you also should do as I have done to you.”

The Gospel is not about position or authority. It is about humble service to others. It is about meeting the needs of others, regardless of their position or authority.

Romans 12:10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.

Regardless of your position in the church, or workplace, or home, we must remember that we are not greater than our master. A wife is not greater than her husband, a husband is not greater than God, an employee is not greater than his boss, a boss is not greater than God. A deacon is not greater than the pastor, a pastor is not greater than God.  Jesus realized that He too was under God’s authority. He wanted His Disciples to realize they should not seek to exalt themselves as they work for the sake of the Gospel.

We are all under authority, and as such none of us is exempt from serving. When we realize and continually do this Christ says we will be blessed.

To embrace the Honor Principle, you must embrace God’s Unfailing Love that extends to each one, even those we do not like. His Hesed working in our life instead of our pride will motivate us to love and honor those around us, especially those authorities God has placed in our life. It will motivate those in authority to love and honor those under his employ or care.

So an employee serves his boss, and a boss serves his employee. A wife serves her husband, and a husband serves his wife. A deacon serves his pastor, and his pastor serves the deacon. Regardless of your position there is an obligation of service, because we are all under God’s authority.

There are no “But’s” to the Honor Principle.

You don’t say I will not honor him because he’s a lousy boss. I will not honor him because he is a lousy husband. Jesus honored Judas when he knew Satan had entered his heart. In effect, Jesus was honoring Satan. The Honor Principle defies man’s wisdom and points out the wisdom of the cross!

  • 1 Timothy 6:1 Let all who are under a yoke as slaves regard their own masters as worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and the teaching may not be reviled.
  • Philippians 2:1-8 So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
  • Ephesians 6:5-8 Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ, not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man, knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free.

3. The Cleansing Principle

Jesus indicated we need a daily spiritual cleansing from the dirt of this world. When He exhorted His disciples to do as He did, he charged them with the responsibility of cleansing each other. We have a ministry to one another to help keep our spiritual feet clean.

Followers of Jesus are to be servants, not putting up walls, but building bridges. Walls are erected on a foundation of sin and fleshly pride. Bridges are built because of God’s Justice. When we bring God’s Justice into our lives, and respond to His Word by serving other brothers, feet are cleansed, disciples are encouraged, and the Body is blessed with healthy growth.

When flesh and pride prevent the Justice of God’s Word, the body is not cleansed, it gets dirty and Satan has a foothold. That is what happened when the Disciples focused on themselves rather than on the Lord. Judas focused on himself, money, and power and Satan was given a foothold.

Just as Jesus cleansed His disciples, so do we cleanse each other through our service to each other. This brings cleansing and encouragement and keeps the body healthy.

James 5:16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.

Hebrews 12:12-15 Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled;

4. The Profit Principle

Jesus shocked his disciples with what He did. This was unheard of. Peter protested most of all. But Jesus said, “if you do not let me do this you will have no share with me.” Jesus wanted His Disciples to see that Jesus was willing to go beyond what was expected to show His love for them. If they wanted to share with Jesus, they must follow His example, and do more than what is expected of them.

Following Jesus is not about position or accomplishments or degrees or knowledge. Following Jesus is about service beyond what people expect. It is along the Waste Principle we saw last week, it is the Second Mile Principle that Jesus preached on the Mount. If you want the power of Jesus in your life, if you want to share in the beauty of His Love and Glory, you will embrace this profit principle. Jesus taught it in Luke 17.

Luke 17:7-10 “Will any one of you who has a servant plowing or keeping sheep say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and recline at table’? Will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, and dress properly, and serve me while I eat and drink, and afterward you will eat and drink’? Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’ ”

Duty serves most Christians well. They feel good about their religion as long as they are doing such and such. For each one it is different. It can be attendance, tithe, reading the Bible. We feel close to God as long as we are fulfilling our ‘duty’ as we perceive it.

Jesus wants us to see that following Him is much more than ‘fulfilling a duty’. If we are to be profitable to Jesus, if we are to share with Him, we must go beyond our perceived ‘duties’ and serve when it is not expected.

This is the Victory that is in the Righteousness of Christ. If you are living your Christian life as a duty, you are walking in the flesh. You are serving in your own strength. You can ‘handle’ the Christian life.

However, Righteousness and sharing with Christ comes only as you go beyond what you can naturally do, or handle. When your service forces you to rely on Christ because you cannot do it, that is when you share with Christ. That is when His Righteousness is yours. You depend upon Him.

Ephesians 6:7 Rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man,

2 Corinthians 4:5 For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.

The Promise attached:

John 13:17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you DO them.

If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. Mother Teresa discovered the joy and blessing of service. After all, service for the sake of others is the Gospel in its simplest form.

Mother Teresa

Mother Teresa lived her life by the simplicity of the Gospel and experienced great Joy through the power of Jesus: Mother Teresa sang a hymn to joy that went like this:

Joy is prayer
Joy is strength
Joy is love
Joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls.

She said: “The best way to show our gratitude to God and the people is to accept everything with joy.”

  • “Never let anything so fill you with sorrow as to make you forget the joy of the Risen Christ.”
  • “We all long for Heaven where God is, but we have it in our power to be in Heaven with him right now to be happy with him at this very moment.

But being happy with him now means:

  • loving as he loves
  • helping as he helps;
  • giving as he gives
  • serving as he serves
  • rescuing as he rescues
  • being with him 24 hours a day[3]

Whose feet will you wash today?


[2] The Preacher’s Outline & Sermon Bible – John, (Chattanooga: Leadership Ministries Worldwide, 1991), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “XIII. THE REVELATION OF JESUS, THE GREAT MINISTER AND HIS LEGACY, 13:1-16:33”.

[3] “Mother Teresa—Messenger of God’s Love” by E.Le Joly.



My Daddy taught me not to waste. He would yell at us to close the door, turn out the lights, clean my plate. He so impressed that quality upon me that I echoed his words to my children. Something about waste bothers us. We would never volunteer to pay $100 for a McDonald’s Happy Meal. No, that would be a waste!

To understand the radical work of the Gospel, we must understand that the Gospel runs counter to everything that man is taught. The Gospel is opposed to every rational thing that we teach our children. The core concept that is most repulsive to us is seen in John 12. But before we dwell upon the Gospel and “waste”, I want us to see what other things can block the power of the Gospel from our lives. This will lead us into a deeper understanding of the power of the Gospel for our everyday lives. This will open the Gospel to us and it will drive our discipleship.

The Gospel is “Death with a view to increase”. Discipleship is “gaining by trading”. Fruitfulness is the result of living the Gospel. We are not talking of your own fruitfulness, like looking at your garden and admiring your green thumb. We are speaking of fruit that comes from gaining the life of Jesus Christ. Fruit comes from Him and our willingness to give everything to Him.

John 12:24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.

A grain of wheat has life in it, but it abides alone. It has the power to impart life to others, but to do so it must be buried in death.

2 Corinthians 4:11-12 For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.

Is Life at work in You? Are you experiencing the Life that is in Jesus Christ? Do you ache when you spend a day without a word from Him? Do you miss not spending time in prayer and fellowship with Him? If His life is at work in you, you know it. If it is not, perhaps you have become hardened to the Gospel. Perhaps you will see yourself in John 12, and God will speak to you this morning, calling you to repent, calling you to waste your life for the sake of Jesus Christ.

John 12 is a chapter about Life and Death, Light and Darkness, Man’s Wisdom vs. God’s Wisdom. At the beginning we see Lazarus who came back to life from the dead. He is the testimony of what a Christian is to be. In the middle we see people who want to see Jesus, but they are blind, their hearts are darkened. At the end we see a lonely Jesus talking to a group of people who just don’t get Him:

John 12:44-50 And Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.”

There is light in the words of Christ. There is Life in the Words of Christ. But our hearts are easily hardened to the power of Christ and His Gospel. Our eyes are easily dulled to witness the power of the Gospel.

Let’s see how our hearts can become hard, and our eyes become dull:

There are three people seen in John 12. There are the Disciples, who supposedly follow Jesus. There are the Greeks who want to see Jesus. There are the Pharisees who despise Jesus. Finally, there is a solitary woman named Mary, and our attention will be drawn to her in a moment.

1. The Greeks

Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him. (Joh 12:20-26)

The Greeks wanted to see Jesus. They made a big deal about seeing him. As if they were important and were worth an audience with Him. The fact that they used intermediaries to see Jesus indicates they were men of station and means. In the oriental world important people would always use intermediary agents. As important men they would never go directly to Jesus. They required an introduction.

  • Man’s Status is not an element of the Gospel.
  • Only Dying Slaves have Status with God

Jesus answered Philip and Andrew’s request by referring to His approaching Glory.

John 12:23 And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.”

His glory is not based upon His status or rank, but simply upon His death. Jesus answered their request with a grain of wheat, and how it must die to bear fruit. If anyone wants to see Jesus, they must hate their life and their status, and follow Him as a slave, a person with no status.

God will honor all those who hate this life and follow Jesus as a slave.

2. The Pharisees & the Crowd

One more time Jesus speaks of glory.

“Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” (Joh 12:27-28)

And the crowd heard the voice of God. Jesus said further, When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all people to myself.”

But the people didn’t understand. They said the Law teaches that Christ will abide forever. How could the Son of Man die? Their eyes were blind to Jesus. Their hearts were hardened to Jesus being the Messiah. The Pharisees and the crowd could not see Jesus as Lord because they were too focused on their standing, and what they thought should be the standing of the Messiah.

The word spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: “Lord, who has believed what he heard from us, and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” Therefore they could not believe. For again Isaiah said, “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, lest they see with their eyes, and understand with their heart, and turn, and I would heal them.” Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory and spoke of him. Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God. (Joh 12:38-50)

The Pharisees could not see the Glory of God because they loved the glory of man. They put their own concepts of standing and status before God’s. They could not see the glory of God hanging on the cross. It was a foreign concept to them. It kept their eyes blind and their hearts hard.

Do you seek man’s glory? Do you like the admiration of men? Does it bother you when men think bad of you, or look down on you?

Is standing important to you? Do position, influence and power matter to you? If you answered even a tiny ‘yes’ to any of those things, you might not understand the Gospel. Your eyes might be blind to the power of the Gospel. Your heart might be hardened to the power of the Gospel.

But the real test of whether the Gospel is impacting your life is in the third group, the Disciples.

3.  The Disciples

Money and things can harden our heart to the message of the Gospel.

Mark 14:4-9 There were some who said to themselves indignantly, “Why was the ointment wasted like that? For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they scolded her. But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have me. She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial. And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.”

To show you how hard hearts can get over money, look what Mark records as happening next:

Mark 14:10-11 Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went to the chief priests in order to betray him to them. And when they heard it, they were glad and promised to give him money. And he sought an opportunity to betray him.

Jesus is being honored because He brought Life to a dead man. He raised a dead man to life. Not a sick man, not a comatose man, but a dead rotting in the ground, stinking to high heaven man. Jesus had brought life to a dead man, and all the disciples could worry about was how wasteful this woman was. A woman (Mary) took an alabaster flask of spikenard and used it to anoint the head and feet of Jesus. She even used her hair to wipe his feet. The disciples reacted indignantly, especially Judas. They said this is such a waste, it should have been sold for a year’s worth of wages and given to the poor.

The Gospel is Never “Rational”

What she did was so unusual, that most ‘normal, rational Christians’ would find it a waste. They shake their heads and turn the judgmental faucet on. Jesus reacted with some stern comments. His comments will shed some insight into the Gospel that you and I believe in. I want to unwrap His comments so we can learn the power of the Gospel in our everyday lives.

Why was the ointment wasted like that? Why this Waste?

Waste-apóleia; gen. apōleías, fem. noun from apóllumi , to destroy fully. Used trans. the losing or loss (Matt. 26:8), intrans. perdition, ruin. In the NT, apóleia refers to the state after death wherein exclusion from salvation is a realized fact, wherein  .[1]

In 1 Tim. 6:9 the words ólethros and apóleia occur together referring to those who determine to be rich. In this instance, ólethros refers to the actual physical death of those who desire to be rich by any means such as Judas, Ananias and Sapphira. Apóleia, on the other hand, refers to separation from God Himself in fulfillment of our Savior’s warnings that the rich enter the kingdom of heaven with difficulty (Matt. 19:23, 24; Mark 10:25). [2]

Jesus responds to His blind and hardened disciples:

1. Leave her alone

Jesus issued a stern rebuke to His disciples. Give it up guys! Stop it! You are so wrong Guys. You just don’t get it! Jesus wanted his men to see something amazing about the Gospel. It is a foundational principle of God’s character revealed in the Gospel. It is a principle which must be applied to our life if we are to experience the power of Jesus Christ.

Sometimes we are quick to judge someone, especially because of something they do that seems to be stupid or dumb. God often has a lesson for us to see and understand. God’s ways are not our ways, and we must learn to see God in those moments that seem such a waste.

Have you ever said something or thought something about what someone has done and you say, I know I should say this, or I don’t mean any disrespect… Jesus is telling you to “Leave Her Alone”

2. Why do you trouble her. (Cause her pain)

The disciples probably thought they were something else. They had already argued about who was going to sit at the right hand of Christ. So they thought they were entitled to look down their noses at this poor unfortunate woman.

Jesus said stop causing her pain. Spiritual pride gets in the way of the work of the Spirit. It can cause pain in the body. The idea of this Greek word for cause  is ‘minister’.

  • The disciples were ministering pain to the body.

The Gospel is about Honoring Jesus Christ through your life. You can touch and encourage people and other disciples. You can strengthen others with your words and your actions. But when you allow things to darken your eyes, you can say and do things that bring pain to the body, to other believers. You cause pain to Jesus Christ. He says, why do you trouble her.

3. She has done a beautiful thing to me

Mark 14:6 καλὸν kalon ἔργον ergon  ἠργάσατο ērgasato ἐν en ἐμοί. emoi –A GOOD WORK SHE HAS PERFORMED ON ME

expresses beauty as a harmonious completeness, balance, proportion. Good as to effect or influence, useful, profitable, equivalent to hálas, salt[3]

We are to be salt to this world and to each other. And if we do it to honor Christ, the world will say that is so wasteful.

Here was a woman who wasted her beauty on the beauty of Jesus Christ. Her future as a wife and mother was bound up in that alabaster jar. It was her dowry given for marriage. She considered honoring Jesus so important that she poured out her beauty, her future, her everything upon his dirty feet, his dirty hair.

To give your life to Jesus Christ as a living sacrifice. To give Him your future, your reputation, your desires, and your dreams is a beautiful thing to God. It is considered your obligation as a follower of Jesus Christ. But if you want to do something really beautiful to Jesus, you must waste something. You must do something so ‘irrational’ that even disciples will say, “what a waste.”

4. She did what she could.

This single woman, who a few days before had been scolding Jesus for not coming sooner to heal sick Lazarus. She even blamed Jesus for his death. Now she was so touched by His compassion and love, that she was willing to give Him her future. Here was her dowry, reserved for the day of her betrothal, and now she was willingly pouring it upon her Savior.

She did it willingly, sacrificially, but most importantly, she did it! There was no delay, no hesitation, no doubt. If she had waited but a week, Jesus would have been dead.

Parents, Grandparents, are you doing anything wasteful for your family. Are you doing anything wasteful for God? What you can do should always be a waste. We do not limit our discipleship by what is rational or even prudent. We do what we can. We waste our lives, our possessions for the sake of the gospel.

5. She demonstrated the Gospel.

How did a foolish, wasteful act by an obviously desperate single woman display the Gospel? Why was this seemingly foolish act so important that Jesus said it would be told alongside the Gospel for the rest of time? The Gospel will be proclaimed throughout eternity.

  • She died to her future.
  • She broke the bottle of her substance
  • She poured out her life to be united with Jesus
  • A sweet fragrance covered the Savior and filled the room.

What is waste?

Waste means giving more than necessary. If something costs a dollar and you pay $5, it is a waste. If a pint will be enough to paint, a gallon would be a waste. Waste means you give something too much for something too little. If someone is receiving more than he is worth, that is a waste.

But the action of Mary would go wherever the Gospel is preached. Why? Christ wants all those who respond to the Gospel to waste themselves on Him.

Adoniram Judson

Adoniram Judson labored in Burma in the early 1800’s. He was bright, ambitious, and could have been very successful in his life. Instead, he chose to be a missionary for Jesus Christ.

Life in Burma was beyond hard. This was a ‘hard’ mission field. It was six years before his first convert. The hardships he and his family experienced were deadly.

Adoniram buried two young wives and six young children, victims of the diseases and rigors of Burma. He was imprisoned to the point of starvation and death. He was tortured mercilessly. He labored long hours suffering from fever, headaches, poor eyesight, all due to the conditions he lived in. He had only one furlough in 38 years. After being imprisoned for 17 months, and upon being released experiencing the death of his wife and infant, and hearing of the death of his father, he even suffered a crisis of despair and lost faith.

“God is to me the Great Unknown. I believe in him, but I find him not.[4]

He even dug a grave in the tiger infested jungle and for 30 days would retreat there and contemplate his wasted life. He despaired to the point of desiring death. As God and some Burmese worked to pull him out of his despair, his faith slowly returned. The next year (1831) saw a miraculous outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit as hundred turned to Christ.

  • It took Judson 12 years to make 18 converts.

When Judson began his mission in Burma, he set a goal of translating the Bible and founding a church of 100 members before his death. When he died, he left the Bible, 100 churches, and over 8,000 believers.

Adoniram Judson “hated his life in this world” and was a “seed that fell into the ground and died.” In his sufferings “he filled up what was lacking in Christ’s afflictions” in unreached Burma. Therefore his life bore much fruit and he lives to enjoy it today and forever. He would, no doubt, say: It was worth it.

In the world’s view, giving yourself to Christ and serving as a Pastor or a Missionary is a waste of ability. If someone of great natural ability surrenders that to serve the Lord, his friends will say “such a waste”.

Are you experiencing the power of the Gospel? Are you more in love with Jesus today than last year, or even 20 years ago? Would He say you have done a beautiful thing for Him? Would He say you have done what you could?

What are you willing to waste for the sake of Jesus Christ?

Don’t let your love of money harden you. Don’t let your love of status or reputation blind you. Don’t let men influence you as to what is proper. Do you want to see the glory of Jesus Christ? Do you want to hear Him say, “You did what you could”? Then ask Him what you can waste for Him.

John 12:36 While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.” 


[1] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1993), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 246.
[2] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1993), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 246.
[3] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1993), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 814.
[4] Anderson, To the Golden Shore, 398-399.