Sunday, September 25, 2016

Judas, an example of rebellion, John 13:18-30

Last week we looked at the washing of the disciples feet as what I called an animated parable of Christ-like love, or sacrificial love.  And according to Christ, that kind of love is supposed to be the defining characteristic of the church.  Jesus said in vs.35 that “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

So I would suggest to you that this Upper Room Discourse is really a discourse on the foundational doctrines of the church. The disciples constitute the church. Jesus is no longer publicly ministering from this moment on.  He has retreated from the crowds and taken the disciples apart to the Upper Room, and for the next few chapters, we have the record of detailed instructions for the church.  Those who are saved, who have been set apart.  

These next four chapters then, through chapter 17, are essential doctrines of the church, to enable it to survive after Jesus leaves Earth.  And so it is fitting, that as the church’s main characteristic is that they should love one another, that there would be this animated parable of Christ washing their feet, to be an illustration of how to love one another.

But in today’s passage, we see another illustration of a characteristic of the church.  And that is illustrated by none other than Judas.  Today we are going to take a different approach from the usual verse by verse exegesis.  I am not interested in merely regurgitating the historical facts of Judas’s treason.  I think everyone here is probably very familiar with the facts of Judas’s betrayal.  

Perhaps what we aren’t so familiar with however, are the spiritual applications taught by this event.  So I am not going to focus on expounding historical details, but instead I would like to show you the spiritual lessons that Judas’s betrayal teaches concerning the church.  Because I think that is one of the major reasons that John includes this information for us.  He is not writing a day by day biography.  None of the gospel writers really do that.  They were not writing a biography of Jesus, but they were writing a gospel.  The gospel is an account or testimony given to reveal the good news about Christ that leads to salvation. So what is included in them is selected for that purpose.  And that is especially true in John’s gospel.  

So to that end, I would point out first of all, that Judas is a type.  A type is a person, or thing or event that symbolizes a truth or doctrine or person.  Though Judas was an historical figure and the facts given here are true and happened as presented, I believe he also serves as a archetype for a certain kind of individual that is present in the church.  

And I find evidence for this theory right here in Jesus’s statement in vs.18, “I do not speak of all of you. I know the ones I have chosen; but it is that the Scripture may be fulfilled, ‘HE WHO EATS MY BREAD HAS LIFTED UP HIS HEEL AGAINST ME.’”  Jesus is quoting from Psalm 41:9, which says, “Even my close friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.”  Jesus is correlating Judas’s act of treason with another act of treason committed 1000 years earlier in the life of David by a counselor known as Ahithophel. Ahithophel was a highly regarded counselor to King David, whose words were thought of as the voice of God. That’s how highly thought of he was.  But when Absalom rebelled against his father, Ahithophel also rebelled against King David and went over to Absalom.  And though I don’t have the time to go into all of that this morning, I will say it’s interesting to note that when the rebellion went wrong, Ahithophel committed suicide by hanging himself.  He suffered the same fate as Judas.  

So Jesus is quoting from the Psalm to show that Ahithophel was a type of Judas.  And so I think it is fair to say that in turn, Judas represents a type of a certain kind of person in the church.  The church is presented often in the Bible as a place for demonic activity, and false prophets to arise, and for all kinds of error to occur.  One great example is Jesus parable of the mustard tree in  Luke 13:19 in which He spoke of the kingdom of heaven, which is the church, “It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and threw into his own garden; and it grew and became a tree, and THE BIRDS OF THE AIR NESTED IN ITS BRANCHES.”  

At first blush, that sounds like a good thing.  The tiny little mustard seed grew so huge that the birds made nests in the branches.  But when you consider it, you realize that it is not a good thing.  Because mustard seeds do not naturally produce giant trees, but bushes. So the tree is abnormal.  It has become a monstrosity.  And the birds sound innocuous enough, until you remember the parable of the sower, where Christ identified the birds of the air as the devil and his angels.  So you have a picture given by Christ of the church which would grow and spread beyond it’s intended size, to encompass even the devil and his angels who would find refuge there.  

Now that’s quite an alarming picture of the church.  On the one hand, we just had this beautiful picture of sacrificial service and love that should exist in the church as we imitate Christ’s love for the church, and now on the other hand this grotesque picture of abnormality and demonic activity, which results in rebellion, and treachery, and which undermines Christian fellowship.  

So I shouldn’t even have to point out that even in this passage this demonic activity is going on right under Jesus’s nose.  Right in the midst of His most trusted insiders, the 12 disciples, one of them was a devil. One of them was under demonic influence to destroy the church even as Christ is administering the rites of the Passover, which was the precursor to the Lord’s Supper.  In fact, as Jesus gives him the morsel, it says that Satan entered into him.  

Let that be a lesson to all of us.  Simply because something happens in  a church, or during a church service, does not mean that everything that happens there is of the Lord.  That’s why we are told to test the spirits.  There are birds in the branches, and sometimes, there are demons in the rafters.

And I would point out another noteworthy thing.  None of the disciples knew that Judas was the one who would betray Him.  Jesus knew it, of course.  In vs.21, Jesus “became troubled in spirit, and testified and said, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, that one of you will betray Me.’”  But notice the response of the disciples.  Vs.22, “The disciples began looking at one another, at a loss to know of which one He was speaking.”  

The disciples were clueless as to who Jesus was referring to.  In fact, the other gospels tell us that they began to search themselves, asking, “Lord, is it I?”  They would have never guessed it was Judas.  Judas after all was the treasurer. He carried the money bag.  You know, Matthew had been a tax collector.  He had been basically an accountant by trade for the Roman Empire.  If there was a natural choice to be treasurer you would think it would have gone to Matthew.  But instead it was given to Judas.  

And I believe it was because Judas was above reproach in the eyes of the others. Literature and media often portray Judas as an evil looking character, scheming, conniving with features you would expect from such a person.  But I would suggest the exact opposite.  I would suggest that Judas was quite literally what we might call a handsome devil.  He was sophisticated.  He was educated.  He was of a more noble Judean heritage than the rest of the disciples who were thought of as low brow Galileans.  Judas was considered philanthropic, caring for the poor, trustworthy, above reproach.  And yet he was used by the devil to conduct the most nefarious treachery known to man.

The Lord Jesus, of course, knows all of this in advance.  He knows the heart and plans of Judas.  He knows He is an imposter.  A poseur. And yet Christ is more than accommodating to Judas.  Christ never calls him out, or reveals him as a thief.  Christ never publicly condemns him for his hypocrisy.  And that is what Judas was, a hypocrite.  The Greek word for hypocrite means to be an actor on a stage.  Doing what he does to be seen of men, to gain their applause and acclaim.  And if we are to believe the accusations of the world, then the church is full of them.  Judas must have been a very good actor.

In some respects, Judas is presented here as a foil to Christ.  He is darkness, and Jesus is Light.  He is of the devil, Jesus is of God.  Judas’s motives are selfish, Jesus’s motives are unselfish.  Judas’s sin is pride, Jesus’s virtue is  humility.  Judas is the black backdrop against which the brilliance of Christ shines.

The life of righteousness of Jesus caused contrition in the disciples, but it caused frustration in Judas.  But Jesus’s kindness towards Judas only served to embolden Judas to be even more conniving.  He thought he was getting away with it.  He may even have thought he was justified in his actions because of some perceived failure of Christ. He continued to harden his heart until he conceived of the most vile treachery the world has ever known.

The application to the church should be obvious.  There are going to be people in the church who appear to be the icons of virtue.  And yet they are unredeemed.  They are unsaved. Or they are living in rebellion. Judas is a picture of how possible it is to be apparently so close to God, and yet be so far away from Him spiritually.  In fact, it’s possible to be in the church and be used as an agent of Satan to spread dissension. The prophet Samuel said in 1Samuel 15:23, “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.”  

Matthew Henry said it this way; “We are not to confine our attention to Judas. The prophecy of his treachery may apply to all who partake of God's mercies, and meet them with ingratitude. See the infidel, who only looks at the Scriptures with a desire to do away their authority and destroy their influence; the hypocrite, who professes to believe the Scriptures, but will not govern himself by them; and the apostate, who turns aside from Christ for a thing of naught. Thus mankind, supported by God's providence, after eating bread with Him, lift up the heel against Him! Judas went out as one weary of Jesus and his apostles. Those whose deeds are evil, love darkness rather than light.”

Jesus gave the reason why Judas rebelled and rejected the love of Christ in vs.20, which was because he did not receive Christ.  In the first chapter of his gospel, John says, "As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name," (John 1:12). So it is possible to be a member of a church, a visible disciple, called a Christian, and regarded as a Christian by other Christians, and still not have your heart respond to Jesus and surrender to his will. Such rebellion spurs dissension in the church, and the result is often the same as happened to the disciples; in just a few hours they are scattered.  That is the strategy of Satan to overthrow the church from within, and that is why rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft.

I want to you to see something else in that statement from Christ in vs.20, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who receives whomever I send receives Me; and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me.”  The primary meaning of “receives” is to accept Christ as your personal Lord and Savior.  That is what John 1:12 says constitutes salvation.  That is the means of becoming the sons and daughters of God.  But there is another aspect here of receiving that Jesus mentions.  And that is, that he who Christ has sent acts as the representative of Christ.  So that when you receive them, or their teaching, you receive Him.  I believe that Jesus is referring not only to the apostles, but to those He will send to the church after His resurrection. 

And Paul speaks to that in Ephesians 4:8; “Therefore it says, ‘WHEN HE ASCENDED ON HIGH, HE LED CAPTIVE A HOST OF CAPTIVES, AND HE GAVE GIFTS TO MEN.’”
Then Paul tells us what those gifts are which He gave to the church in vs.11, “And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.”  

So in the foundational years of the church Christ gave the apostles, and in these last days, Christ has given us pastors. Now that should serve to emphasize how important it is to go to a church where you know the pastor has been called by God.  He is the representative of Christ to the church.  He is to accurately give God’s word to the church, so that the church might grow in relation to Christ. To raise up mature Christians.  

Going back to the parable of the mustard tree, there are many churches to pick from today.  There are many who are claiming to be pastors and teachers.  But I would suggest that on a grand scale, there are not many that are sent by God.  There are not many that are called by God.  And though James warns us that not many should become teachers, for they shall incur a stricter judgment for their words, yet the evidence suggests that there are more teachers than ever.  But the Christ and the apostles warned the church that this was to be. 2Peter 2:1 says,
“But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies.”

But the hearer also has a responsibility to receive the truth and walk in the truth.  We reject the truth at our peril.  I doubt that Judas conceived of his treason when Jesus first chose him to follow Him and become a disciple. I’m sure that Judas had every nothing but good intentions at the beginning of Christ’s ministry.  He was probably excited.  He was attracted to Jesus and the whole idea of the kingdom of heaven.  But little by little, he started rejecting certain truths, rejecting teaching that he found incongruent with his own ideas.  We know from scripture that he began to criticize Jesus and the way He did ministry.  He undoubtedly found fault with the way Jesus called people out in public. I”m sure his gentrified upbringing found such outbursts embarrassing.  And so for three years though he walked with Christ externally, internally he was rebelling against Him.  It was a slow decent into apostasy. Remember what Samuel said, “rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft.”  It opened the door to demonic influence.

MacLaren says in his commentary: “Again, any evil is possible to us, seeing that all sin is but yielding to tendencies common to us all. The greatest transgressions have resulted from yielding to such tendencies. Cain killed his brother from jealousy; David besmirched his name and his reign by animal passion; Judas betrayed Christ because he was fond of money. Many a man has murdered another one simply because he had a hot temper. And you have got a temper, and you have got the love of money, and you have got animal passions, and you have got that which may stir you up into jealousy. Your neighbor’s house has caught fire and been blown up. Your house, too, is built of wood, and thatched with straw, and you have as much dynamite in your cellars as he had in his. Do not be too sure that you are safe from the danger of explosion.”

Well, what safeguard then does the church have?  How can we defend against these demonic influences and baser tendencies among us? Well, I would suggest the best safeguard is to not think too highly of yourself.  Humility is the opposite of pride.  And Jesus showed in washing the disciples feet the importance of humility.  Of putting other’s needs before your own.  Sacrificial, Christ-like love is the antidote for the poison of the serpent’s attack on the church.

But there is another necessary hedge against pride, and that is illustrated in the disciples’ question, “Lord is it I?”  The disciples exhibit a wholesome recognition of the evil which is possible in us all. They do some soul searching to see if there was any wicked way within them.  None of them looked at another and thought, “I bet he is the betrayer.”  But all of them save Judas looked in their own heart and recognized their weaknesses, recognized their sinful tendencies, and came to the Lord with a contrite heart.  

Our defense against rebellion is recognizing that all sin has a common origin, and that is living for myself instead of living for God.   Putting my agenda before God’s agenda is idolatry.  Putting my needs ahead of others is iniquity.  And from such seemingly inconsequential beginnings, a monstrous tree might grow that harbors the very demons themselves.

I think there is an apparent dismay in the disciples response, in Peter’s question to John, and John’s question to Jesus, that indicates how distressed they are by Jesus’s words.  They are heartbroken over the possibility that one of them would betray Christ.  And I think that kind of brokenness is indicative of the right kind of heart in the church that keeps one from rebellion.   

That attitude is found in Eph. 5:8 which says,  “for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light, (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.”  That last phrase I think is key.  If you love the Lord, you will try to please the Lord.  I believe the disciples strove to please the Lord.  They didn’t always do things right, but they had the right attitude.  They loved the Lord and tried to please Him.  Judas was about pleasing himself.  He wanted to serve himself.  But a child of God walks as Christ walked, imitating Him, and tries to please HIs heavenly Father. 

And that is something that has to be learned.  That goes back to the job of the pastor/teacher of Ephesians 4, he is teaching and edifying the saints so that they grow in maturity, they grow in Christ likeness, to ultimately please the Lord, to ultimately glorify God.  And the church needs to receive such pastors that preach the truth as having been sent by God.  To reject the truth is to reject Christ’s counsel.  Rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft.  

Well, I’m out of time and I feel like we have only scratched the surface here.  But let me just try to summarize a couple of things in closing.  A frequent debate in theological circles is whether or not Judas was a Christian.  And I would just answer that this way.  Only God knows the heart.  Jesus knew the heart of Judas.  But one thing is evident to us and that is that the disciples certainly believed that Judas was a Christian. They thought he was above reproach.  He was the best of them, or so they thought.  It reminds me of 1 Cor. 10:13, “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man.”  Don’t let yourself think that you are above the sin of rebellion. Don’t let yourself be blind to the possibility that you may have put yourself back on the throne of your life.  

As Jesus dipped the bread into the paste to hand it to Judas, we should see in that action a choice that we all have to make, sometimes even on a daily basis.  On Jesus right side was Judas.  He had given Judas the place of honor at His table.  And on His left side is John.  After taking the sup, Judas was entered into by Satan.  He went into the darkness after eating the morsel. That is a picture of eternal damnation.  John on his other side represents the beloved of God.  He calls himself the disciple whom Jesus loved.  He doesn’t leave Jesus’s side.  He is spoken of as practically sitting in Christ’s lap.  HIs relationship is marked by love for Christ, closeness to Christ, fellowship with Christ, dependency, leaning on Christ.  That is the type of person that Christ loves.  Those who lean on Him.  Who look to Him for communion, and for Lordship. 

Two men, two choices, two types of relationships, two outcomes.  One goes into eternal darkness and damnation, and one goes into eternal Light and Life.  One hangs himself in remorse, one lives in a spirit of repentance.  It reminds me of the two thieves on either side of Jesus just 12 hours later as He hangs on a cross, dying for rebellious sinners.  One man cursed Christ and died, going into everlasting darkness, and one man received Christ as Lord and lived with Him in Paradise that very evening and still lives today.  

 F. F. Bruce said, “Satan could not have entered into Judas had he not granted him admission. Had he been willing to say "No" to the adversary, all of his Master's intercessory power was available to him there and then to strengthen him. But when a disciple's will turns traitor, when the spiritual aid of Christ is refused, that person's condition is desperate indeed.”  

Today everyone here is pictured as one of the two men on either side of Christ.  You are either like John or you are like Judas.  There is a choice before each of you as to which you will consent to. If you renounce your sin, and receive Christ as your Lord and Savior, then you will receive the blessings that Jesus spoke of earlier. “If you know these things, then you are blessed if you do them.”  

Jesus has come to earth to give us an invitation.  You can either enter into His kingdom, or you can reject it in favor of your own.  But you have to choose.  You can’t have both.  I pray that you don’t reject the truth.  "As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name,"

Sunday, September 18, 2016

An animated parable about love, John 13:1-17

What we have presented to us in the first 17 verses of this chapter, is what I have called an animated parable. A parable is a story that is given to illustrate a spiritual truth.  And so what Jesus is doing in washing the disciples’ feet is providing a living illustration, or an animated parable in order to teach a spiritual truth.  

Now that is important to understand.  Because the illustration is not the object of our attention, but the illustration serves to present an object lesson.  There are some that take from this text the idea that we need to practice foot washing as an ordinance of the church.  And while that in of itself may not be particularly bad, I don’t believe that is what is being taught here.  The foot washing is simply to teach an object lesson about Christ-like love.  

Agape love, or Christ-like love, or sacrificial love is really the principle being taught here. Notice how many times we see the word love in this text we call the upper room discourse.  In the next 4 chapters which is the record of the upper room discourse, you will see the theme of Christian love presented again and again by Jesus.  He defines love. 

For example; in chapter 14:15, Jesus says, "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.”  And in vs  23 Jesus answered, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.” Then in chapter 15:10, He says, "If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love.” And in vs .12 He says again,  "This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.” Finally, in vs13 He gives the grand summary of sacrificial love; ”Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.”

I was listening to a PBS broadcast the other day, and someone was attempting to define love according to their understanding of it, and they said, “for me, love is caring.”  That was the way they defined love for themselves.  And the world has done quite a job of redefining what love is.  But God has defined love as He intended it to be.  And that love is illustrated by sacrifice, particularly the sacrificial love of Christ, who laid down His life for us.  He has defined love in Christ.

Now in this opening section we find Jesus and the disciples in the Upper Room, and right at the beginning John declares Christ’s love, and then we see this illustration, this animated parable of Christ-like love.  And again I would remind you that the public ministry of Christ is over.  He warned the Jews in the last chapter that He was soon to depart and their opportunity would be passed.  So as John begins this passage, we see that Jesus has left the public arena, and is in the Upper Room with just the disciples.  These are “His own” which John speaks of in vs 1.  These are the true believers.  And so in chapters 1-12 we have the public ministry of Christ, and now in chapter 13 to the end of the gospel we see the private ministry to the disciples.  So it is safe to assume that this animated parable is intended for saved people.  It’s not a parable to teach unsaved people, but an illustration to teach saved disciples.  

Vs. 1 says that it was during the Feast of the Passover.  We all are familiar with the Passover, aren’t we?  It was the Jewish festival which commemorated the Israelites deliverance from Egypt, when God sent the angel of death throughout the nation of Egypt, and killed the first born son of every family.  But for the Jews, God gave them the opportunity to slay a lamb and sprinkle the blood over the doorpost, and in response, the angel of death would pass over that house and not touch the first born son.  The judgment upon Egypt then also served as the means of salvation for the Jews.  And once a year, the Jews were commanded to celebrate this feast.  Every family would provide a lamb to be slain, and would eat the Passover meal as a memorial to God’s deliverance.

So it was the time of the Passover.  And according to the plan of God, it was also the appointed time of Christ’s sacrifice.  He would become the Lamb of God which was slain for the salvation of the world.  This was the appointed time.  Throughout the three years of Christ’s ministry, He was constantly saying His time had not yet come.  But now, John notes in vs.1, Jesus knows that His hour had come.  The appointed hour when He would lay down His life, and return to His Father in heaven.

So John says, “having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.”  The idea there is not just to the end of His life, but that He loved them to the uttermost.  He loved them completely.   It speaks of the ultimate fulfillment of His love for His own.  It speaks of an eternal love which continues even after He has gone to the Father. And it speaks of the ultimate expression of love, the ultimate sacrifice.  As He says later in ch.15, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down HIs life for His friends.”  He would make the ultimate sacrifice for His friends.  

Now Jesus would illustrate this love, but in such a way so that the disciples might imitate Him, and so commemorate His love for us, by loving one another.  Jesus is going to illustrate agape love to the disciples.  But before He does so, John tells us that the devil has put it into the heart of Judas to betray Christ.  The question is why does John make that particular point at that particular moment?  Well, I believe it is to illustrate that though God loved the world, yet the world does not all love God.  It is a reminder that not everyone believes, and even within the church, there are those who do not believe.  Even in the church, there are wolves in sheep’s clothing.  

So Judas is the premier example of self love, which is pride.  It’s the opposite of Christ-like love. But we will come back to Judas in a future message.  For now, let’s just focus on the parable that Jesus provides.  Basically, vs.3 indicates that Jesus knew full well that His hour was at hand, He knew who was His, He knew who would betray Him, He knew that God had already given Him the authority to lay down His life and take it up again, and in the fullness of that knowledge, He was going to spend this last night with His disciples reinforcing certain principles so that they would be better equipped to handle their mission once He was gone.

So in vs.4, Jesus “got up from supper, and laid aside His garments; and taking a towel, He girded Himself. Then He poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded.”  Now the first principle that is being taught here is humility. 

Humility is a hallmark of sacrificial love.  The more humble you are, the less interested you are in yourself, the greater your capacity to love someone else.  Humility and love are related to one another proportionately.  The lower you go in self esteem, the higher you are in concern for others.  The more you sacrifice your priorities, the greater you will sacrifice for others.

In its purest form, biblical love is completely unselfish.  That’s not true of human love. Human love is based reciprocation. We turn the Golden Rule around as if we say,  I’ll do unto you if you will do unto me.  There’s a reciprocal quality in human love that is really selfish at it’s root. But for the Christian, love in its purest form is completely unselfish.  True Christian love is not based on reciprocality. Paul summed all that up by one statement, “Love seeks not its own.” 

Judas is presented here in this passage as one that is governed by pride, by self love. He is hanging around Jesus, feigning love but in reality he just wants to get rich from his relationship.  But that attitude has reached it’s zenith.  He has sold Jesus down the pike for a few pieces of silver.  So Judas’s self love is the ultimate contrast to Jesus’ humility. 

But there is another stark contrast to Christ’s humility as well.  We have to go to Luke 22 for this one. In Luke 22 we learn that the disciples during the Passover are arguing over who is the greatest.  This is probably an argument that has been going on for some time among the disciples.  You will remember that in Matthew 20 it records that just a few days before James and John had asked Jesus if they could be seated at His right and left hand when His kingdom was established.  So this is probably an ongoing dispute among all the disciples, each trying to be first, each trying to be the chief disciple, all of them vying for prominence in anticipation of when the kingdom comes to fruition.  

The problem is that in spite of everything Jesus has said regarding His death, the disciples still don’t understand what’s going on.  Their paradigm of the Messianic Kingdom is so entrenched, that they cannot fathom what Jesus is talking about when He said the grain must fall into the earth in order for it to bear fruit.  They can’t seem to get it.  So they just discard the parts of Jesus’ teaching that they can’t understand, and persist in their wrong theology.   That sounds like a lot of Christians today, I’m afraid. Many people don’t understand the spiritual nature of the kingdom, and they are so entrenched in the prosperity doctrine that they simply discard a lot of what the Bible says in order to maintain their theological predisposition.

So Jesus is there in the Upper Room just hours before His death, and He wants to teach them the true nature of the Kingdom. To do that, He lays His garments aside and girds a towel around His waist and starts to wash the disciples feet.  This was the job of the lowliest of the household servants.  It was customary in that culture for the servant to wash the feet of people as they entered the house.  Contrary to Leonardo Da Vinci’s painting of the Last Supper, they were not sitting on benches or chairs.  They would lie back on pillows around a low table.  Actually they would recline on their left sides so that they could eat with their right hand.  And consequently, their feet would be near the next guys head.  So particularly before a meal, but also just as part of polite hospitality, when you entered the house you would remove your sandals, and these water pots would be near the door.  A servant, usually the lowest ranked servant in the house would wash the person’s feet.  That was the custom, and it was especially important at dinner.

But this had not been done in the Upper Room.  There were no house servants in attendance.  So as the disciples are fighting for the choice seats around the table, which were usually determined by rank or importance, Jesus gets up, and starts to wash the disciples feet.  Now this was undoubtedly an awkward thing for the disciples.  They know that this is not something that He should be doing.  He was their Lord, their Rabbi.  He was the Messiah.  But none of them dared to take His place, for fear of seeming less important than someone else. 

And as I said earlier, Jesus is using this to teach them by example what Christian love is.  It starts with humility.  It starts with putting others needs above your own.  And that is what Jesus is illustrating. 

When Jesus got to Peter though, he objected.  Peter said to Him, “Lord, do You wash my feet?” I think that there is an incredulity to Peter’s objection.  I think he realizes that this is backwards.  Peter knows he should be washing His Master’s feet.  But Jesus responds, “What I do you do not realize now, but you will understand hereafter.”  

What Jesus is saying is that this is an object lesson that is not understood now, but when the Holy Spirit comes, they will understand it.  That is the way it is with spiritual truth.  We are given the Holy Spirit, Jesus said in John 16:13, to guide us into the truth.  He said, “When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth.”  The natural man cannot understand it, so God has given us the Holy Spirit to give us spiritual discernment.  1Cor. 2:14 “But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.”  Once the Holy Spirit came, then suddenly Peter and the apostles understand the scriptures, and they understand the truth of Christ.

Peter though I believe really loves the Lord.  But Peter loved the Lord with a passionate, human love.  It was a love based in emotion.  And as a result, we see Peter make some critical mistakes.  It’s good to have passion, but agape love must be tempered by spiritual discernment.  It needs to be based on truth.  It’s not enough to be passionate, or to be emotional.  But we must worship Him in Spirit and in truth.  Peter had the passion, but he was missing the truth.1 John 3:18 says “Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.”

But passionate Peter says, ““Never shall You wash my feet!” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.” Simon Peter *said to Him, “Lord, then wash not only my feet, but also my hands and my head.”  First, he says Jesus will never wash his feet.  He knows that is not the proper order of things for the Messiah to wash His disciple’s feet.  But when Jesus says, “if I don’t wash you, you have no part with Me,” then suddenly Peter says, “then wash my hands and my head.  Wash me all over.”  Peter wants fellowship with Christ.  So if fellowship is contingent upon washing his feet, then he thinks how much better it must be to be washed all over?  But unfortunately, Peter is missing the point.  

So Jesus responds, “He who has bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you.”  Now let’s make sure we understand the significance of what Jesus is saying.  When a person in that culture took a bath, it was not located in the bathroom of their house.  Houses were not equipped with bathrooms and bathtubs or showers.  So it was necessary to often go to a pool or stream or if they were in a village or town, there would often be a bathhouse.  After bathing, they would of course be clean.  But as they went back to their home, wearing their sandals, their feet would get dirty again.  So as we talked about earlier, they needed to have their feet washed upon entering the house.  

Now remember, Jesus is teaching to His disciples, who are already saved, who are believers.  And the principle He is teaching is this, that when you are saved, you are washed, you are made clean by faith in Jesus Christ.  That is a one time cleansing.  That salvation is not what is pictured here in this foot washing.  What Jesus is picturing is the need for daily cleansing, for daily confession of the sins we commit as we walk through this sordid world.  We have been made clean by the blood of the Lamb,  the coat of righteousness which belongs to Christ has been given to us in exchange for our sins.  But now every day, as I go through this world, I find myself getting dirty, I find that the things I wish to do I don’t do.  I sometimes inadvertently sin.  Sometimes I might even deliberately sin and then regret it.  So every day I need to have my feet washed.  If I am going to be in fellowship with Christ, if I am going to be in communion with Christ, and that is not going to be hindered in any way, then I need to confess and be cleansed of my daily sin.  I don’t need to be washed all over again from head to toe, but I need the sinful dirt that I pick up in my walk taken care of, so that I might have sweet communion with Jesus.  

So Jesus says, If I don’t wash you, then you have no part with Me.  What is meant by part?  Well in Luke 10:42 when Jesus visits Bethany, Mary and Martha are there in the house, and Mary is sitting at Jesus’s feet listening to Him, and Martha is in the kitchen.  And in response to Martha’s complaint about Mary, the Lord speaks regarding the position of the two women. He says, “Martha, Martha, you are careful and troubled about many things, but one thing is needful and Mary hath chosen that good part which shall not be taken away from her.”  The good part then is to sit at our Lord’s feet in communion with him and to hear his word. So the term “part” there has reference to communion, not to the receiving of life, but the communion in life.

Now how is this principle of foot washing related to Christ-like love?  Well, remember how Christ defined love in chapter 14:15, Jesus says, "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.”  And in vs  23 Jesus answered, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.” Then in chapter 15:10, He says, "If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love.”

So love is defined as keeping His commandments, and keeping His word, and that results in abiding in His love. Abiding means communion,  fellowship,  intimacy.  So in like manner then,  when we sin, we break His commandments, don’t we?  And when we sin, then we break communion with God.  We break fellowship with God.  So it is important that we are cleansed from the sin which so easily besets us, as Paul said, in daily confession of our sins before God.  

This principle is extrapolated by John in his later epistle; 1John 1:6-9 which says, “If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth;  but if we walk in the Light as He Himself 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 that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  

The same principle is expounded in 2Cor. 6:14 “Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness?”  Partnership can be translated communion, or fellowship.  When we sin, we need to have our fellowship restored.  We are saved, we have been washed, but our feet need to be washed so that we might have communion restored with God.  

That’s what David prayed to God after his sin with Bathsheba.  David said in Psalm 51, “Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities.  Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. ...  Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy] free spirit.  And then David said, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.”  Now David was saved when he sinned against God.  David was saved when he sinned with Bathsheba, when he arranged the death of her husband Uriah.  But he did not have a right spirit within him, he did not have sweet fellowship with God.  Because he knew that he had sinned against God.  He needed confession, he needed restoration, that he might have the right communion with God again.

Finally, there is one more application that can be made from this illustration of Jesus washing the feet.  It too speaks to the principle of Christ-like love.  And this application is made by Jesus himself in vs. 12, Jesus said, “Do you know what I have done to you?  You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a slave is not greater than his master, nor is one who is sent greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.”

The application is pretty simple. We are to imitate Christ. Ephesians 5:1 says “be imitators of Christ.”  So if you love God, you will love your neighbor as yourself, even as Christ loved us.  That was the commandment Christ gave in Matt. 22:37-39  And He said to him, " 'YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.' This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’”

Jesus is illustrating in this example how you love your neighbor.  We just explained how you love God- you keep His commandments.  And now this is the second commandment, you love your neighbor as yourself.  You give the same regard to others as you would give to yourself.  In fact, Jesus is showing that you give preference to your neighbor.  The disciples knew that washing feet was needed, but they didn’t want to have to stoop to wash their neighbors feet.  They didn’t want to have to humble themselves to a lower position than the other disciples.  But Jesus showed that He was willing to humble Himself and become their servant, so that they might be benefited.  

Paul says in Philippians 2:5-8 “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:  Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon himself the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:  And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”  

Now that is often quoted as a great doctrinal statement on the humility of Christ, but notice that Paul says “let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.”  That is exactly what Jesus is saying here in John 13.  As He did for them, so we are to do for one another.  The servant is not greater than the Master.  And if you call Jesus your Lord, as you should, then you must do what He commands us to do.  That is humble ourselves, empty ourselves of pride, of self love, and love the Lord your God with all your heart, keep your heart in constant communion with Him, don’t let any sin stand in your way of fellowship with God.  And then love your neighbor the way Christ has loved you.  Give up your life, your preferences, your prejudices, for the sake of your brother or sister in the Lord.  

And even one more level of love is presented here.  Love your enemies.  Jesus gave the same treatment to Judas that He gave to the other disciples.  Imagine Jesus, knowing that Judas had already plotted to betray Him, and yet Jesus washes Judas’s stinky feet.  What humility.  What an illustration of what Jesus preached in the Sermon on the Mount when He said, "You have heard that it was said, 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.'  "But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matt. 5:43-44)

And then Jesus said in vs.17,  "If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.”  I could quote a lot of verses to illustrate this truth, but I will just pick one. In chapter 15:14 Jesus said,  "You are My friends if you do what I command you.”  That simply means that you will know the love of God.  You will know the fellowship with Christ, the joy of your salvation.  You will know the sweetness of communion as He abides in you, and you in Him. That is the blessing that comes from loving God and loving your neighbor.  That is the blessing from being a servant to the brethren.  I will leave you with one last word from Christ in Matthew 20:26, “but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

Sunday, September 11, 2016

The last invitation, John 12: 36-50

Just the other day I was driving behind a great big John Deere combine tractor which was going down the road, moving from one field to another field to harvest corn, and it reminded me of a verse of scripture, which to my mind is one of the saddest verses in the Bible.  It is found in Jeremiah 8:20 which says,  "Harvest is past, summer is ended, and we are not saved.”

Every year around this time it seems that this verse comes to mind.  Once Labor Day passes, it is obvious around this town that the summer season has ended.  The opportunity for so many people to hear the truth preached has passed.  They go back to there homes and lives on the other side of the bay.  Obviously, we are still out here preaching the word, but for many folks, their opportunity has passed.

And I cannot help but wonder how many of those people were saved?  I wonder how many people that are here today are truly saved.  I can’t tell by looking at you whether you are saved or not.  You all  look like fine, respectable people from here.  But God doesn’t look at us as man does, as he looks on the outside, God looks at the heart.  He knows those who are His.  And He knows those who are not.  

Today’s text is really the last time that Jesus preaches publicly to the multitudes.  This is really the Jews last opportunity to respond to the gospel of Christ.  John said in vs.36, “These things Jesus spoke, and He went away and hid Himself from them.”

And John goes on to explain I think, why Jesus hid Himself from them.  Because as it says in vs.37; “…though He had performed so many signs before them, yet they were not believing in Him.”  They had plenty of opportunity to believe.  Jesus had done many tremendous signs in Judea.  The seven signs that John records in HIs gospel were but a fraction of the total number of miracles that Jesus did in His ministry, and many of them had been in Judea. John 20:30-31 says,  “Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.”  However, John says here in this passage that just a few days before His crucifixion they had not believed in Him. Harvest was past, summer was ended, and they were not saved.

It’s possible that for many people in His audience, it was simply a matter of procrastination.  They believed in Him to some degree, they recognized that He was doing incredible things, that He spoke like no man had spoken, they believed that He could be the Messiah, but they had not committed themselves to Him.  They had not decided to walk with Him, to follow Him, to become His disciple.  Maybe someday, they might have thought.  Maybe someday I will leave everything and follow Jesus.  I know that I should.  But right now I’m young.  Right now I have a good career opportunity that I want to pursue.  Right now I have a girlfriend that I really like and I don’t want to take a chance on losing her.  But one day I will.  One day I will become His disciple.  

But I think in most cases, it was just simply a matter of unbelief.  It was just a matter of rejecting the truth because it wasn’t convenient.  It didn’t fit with what they wanted to believe.  So when you reject the truth in favor of another way, you are an unbeliever.  You are unsaved.  There are not many paths to God.  There is not such a thing as your understanding of God, versus my understanding of God.  There is no such thing as worshipping God as you understand Him.  Jesus said that God is Spirit, and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.  And He also said, “I am the way, the truth and the life, no man comes to the Father except through Me.”  We must believe in God as He has manifested Himself to be.  Nothing less will suffice.  Jesus said, You MUST worship Him in spirit and in truth. 

So they rejected Jesus, and consequently they were still dead in their sins, they were still unsaved.  And they would suffer the consequences of their decision.

But the fact they had not believed in Him did not affect the purpose and plan of God.  God’s purpose was to manifest Himself in the person of Jesus as Hebrews 1:3 says, “He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature.”  And His purpose was to redeem a chosen people from the earth to become His church, the bride and body of Christ.  

So John illustrating that fact quotes from Isaiah 53, one of the most famous Messianic passages of the Old Testament.  He quotes in vs.38, “LORD, WHO HAS BELIEVED OUR REPORT? AND TO WHOM HAS THE ARM OF THE LORD BEEN REVEALED?”  John says that this rejection of Israel was to fulfill Isaiah’s prophecy of Isaiah 53.  Now how was that prophecy fulfilled?  Well, because Isaiah 53 says that the Messiah would be rejected.  

For instance, in Isaiah 53:3 it says, “He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face. He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.”  Isaiah prophecies in this text that the Messiah would be rejected and despised.  Rather than being accepted and adored as the Messiah come to save the world, He would be rejected by the world, the very ones He came to save.  So this was being fulfilled in John 12.  The Jews for the most part had made up their minds.  The vast majority at that time rejected Him.  He didn’t fit into their plans, He didn’t fit their paradigm.  They rejected His message.

That’s what Isaiah is saying in that phrase “the arm of the Lord.”  The arm of the Lord is the power of the Lord.  And the power of God is the gospel.  Romans 1:16 says, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

Yet though the gospel was presented in power, by the very presence of God in the flesh, with all signs and wonders, they would not believe.  They chose to not believe. Because to believe means so much more than just an acceptance of certain facts, it is to follow, it is to humble yourself, to recognize your need for a Savior and confess Him as your Lord.  But they would not.  That’s why Jesus wept just a day or two earlier when He came into Jerusalem.  He wept over the city and said, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which kills the prophets, and stones them that are sent unto you; how often would I have gathered your children together, as a hen  gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!” (Luke 13:34)  They would not accept Him, they would not believe.

So then John says, because they would not, they could not.  That is the progression of unbelief.  They would not accept Him, so eventually they could not believe. Vs. 39, “For this reason they could not believe.”  Their hearts became hardened.  And again John quotes from Isaiah to illustrate his point, this time quoting  from Isaiah 6; “HE HAS BLINDED THEIR EYES AND HE HARDENED THEIR HEART, SO THAT THEY WOULD NOT SEE WITH THEIR EYES AND PERCEIVE WITH THEIR HEART, AND BE CONVERTED AND I HEAL THEM.” 

Many theologians want to get hung up on the doctrine of election at this verse.  But I don’t think that is what is being taught here.  I think it is speaking of the progressive nature of unbelief.  When you reject the truth repeatedly, there will come a point when you can no longer believe it.  Your heart becomes hardened to the point of becoming unfeeling, insensitive to the conviction of the Holy Spirit.  This is the danger of coming to church year after year and hearing the truth, but not believing it unto salvation.  Eventually, your heart gets so hard that you cannot believe.  Your capacity to believe is diminished every time you reject the truth.  You will not believe, therefore you cannot believe. John Murray said that if the Word of God does not quicken, it will deaden.  The fire that melts wax will harden clay.  

Blindness and hardness does not happen without involving the will of the people.  God’s hand is in the consequences of their choice.  Romans 1:18-22 describes this process of rejection; “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools.”  And so Paul then says three times in the following verses of that chapter, that God gave them over.  God gave them over to impurity, He gave them over to degrading passions, and He gave them over to a depraved mind.  He gave them over to the very things that they wanted, and as a result they became so deadened that they could not believe.  

We just looked at a similar passage in Ephesians 4 in our Wednesday evening study.  The same progression of unbelief resulting in a hard heart that is cursed to being unable to respond anymore.  Eph. 4:17-19  “So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind,  being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart;  and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness.”  Their futile minds and willful ignorance results in a darkened mind, a calloused conscience, living purely for sensual pleasure, and their heart becomes so hard that it is impervious to conviction.

It is a dangerous thing to reject the truth of God. It is a dangerous thing to quench the Holy Spirit. To harden your heart against the conviction of the Holy Spirit.  God is patient.  But there will come a time when the light goes out.  When He shuts the door.  Peter said that God was patient in the days of Noah. Noah was a preacher of righteousness, he said, for 120 years as he built the ark he was preaching the judgment to come.  And during that time God was patient, not willing for any to perish, but all to come to repentance.  But one day God told Noah to go into the ark, and the Bible says that God shut the door.  And the world was destroyed by the flood. 

You don’t know how much time you have.  As today our nation remembers 9-11, we should also consider that no one who went to work that morning, or got on a plane that morning, knew that would be their last day.  None of us know how much time we have.  None of us know when the Lord will return. But the Bible says that the world will mourn when they see Him who they rejected.  They will mourn and wail that they crucified the Almighty God, the Lord and Savior whose gift of eternal life they rejected.  The One to whom they would not bow.

Then John speaks of some who were sympathetic to the teaching of Christ, who believed in Him, but not unto salvation.  Notice vs.42 “Nevertheless many even of the rulers believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they were not confessing Him, for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue.”  I believe that this refers to the ruling party of the Sanhedrin, the religious rulers of Israel.  Some of them believed that He was the Messiah. Nicodemus is a classic example that we know of.  And he came to Jesus at night, afraid of being seen by the Jews.  But yet he said, ““Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.”  So there was a form of belief there, they believed that God had to be with Him in order to do the miracles that He did.  But yet they are not confessing Him publicly.  Now I believe the scripture indicates that Nicodemus did become a believer.  But it wasn’t until His crucifixion or perhaps even later.  Tradition says that he did eventually become a believer and he was persecuted by the Jews.  He had been very rich and because of his faith he became a pauper.  He suffered a lot of persecution in his family as a result of his eventual confession. 

But I think at this stage in Jesus’s ministry, we can suppose that there were many like him.  Many that had a degree of belief, but an unwillingness to confess Him as their Savior and Lord and follow Him.  And we know that means that they were unsaved, because vs 43 says, “for they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God.”  To love the approval of men is a hallmark of the unsaved.  1John 2:15-16 “Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.”

So we can know that they weren’t Christians, because he says, they were not approved by God.  That is what salvation is, being approved by God.  And how are we approved by God?  By our good works?  By our inherent goodness?  Because we go to church?  Or because we believe in God?  No, we are approved by God by being clothed in Christ’s righteousness alone.  Made faultless to stand before the throne, though faith in Him, by the transference of Christ’s righteousness to us, and by our sins being transferred to Him.  That is the only way to be approved by God.  Hebrews 11:1-2 teaches us that the only way to be approved by God is through faith in Christ.  It says,  “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.  For by it the men of old gained approval.”  But John says that these rulers were not approved by God because they did not have saving faith, that confessed Jesus as Lord, and renounced the world. 

And the supporting evidence of that fact is that John says they loved the world rather than the approval of God. They loved the approval of men more than the approval of God.  That is not evidence of being saved.  That is evidence of being lost. 

That is exactly what Jesus is referring to in vs. 46.  Jesus said,  "I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness.”  If you come into the light, you cannot remain in darkness.  That is a characteristic of being saved.  1John 1:6-7 says,  “If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.”  

Believing the truth of Christ means that you leave the course of this world, you come out from the darkness of this world, and you walk in the light, even as He is in the Light.  If you love the Lord, then you will reject the world.  If you want approval of God, then you will not care about the approval of men.  

Now in response to this rejection of truth, notice what Jesus does.  He cries out in one last attempt to reach these people with the truth.  One last attempt to turn them, to cause them to believe.  One last invitation to believe in the truth of the gospel.  And He does this by restating the great themes of the gospel which He has been preaching all along.  

First of all, Jesus restates clearly His unity with the Father.  He states His divinity, as being equal with God.  Vs. 44 and 45, ““He who believes in Me, does not believe in Me but in Him who sent Me.  He who sees Me sees Him who sent Me.” Jesus is emphasizing  His unity with God the Father.  He would tell Phillip later in John 14, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father.” Fundamental to our salvation is a the belief that Jesus Christ is God in the flesh.  No one less than God could possibly atone for a world of sinners.  So that doctrine is fundamental.  You cannot be saved without believing that Jesus is One with God, He was in the beginning with God, and He was God.  Without believing that you cannot be saved.

Secondly, He says “I have come as light into the world.”  Jesus stressed that He is the truth, and the need man has to leave the darkness and  follow Jesus as the source of light, the source of truth, resulting in life.  As we said earlier, you cannot remain in darkness.  You have to come out of darkness into the light of truth, and walk in the light, even as He is light.

Thirdly, He speaks of judgment to come. “And if anyone hears My words and does not believe, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him; the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day.”  The coming day of judgment is an important doctrine that needs to be emphasized today.  It is out of fashion to speak of judgment.  “Don’t judge!”  Or “Who are you to judge?” is the watchword of a superficial Christianity.  

And we are not the judge of who is saved and who is not.  I said that at the beginning of my message.  You all look alike to me from here. But God will judge the secrets of men’s hearts.  And Jesus said that we will be judged by His words.  The word of Christ is the law of God.  And you will be judged by God’s law.  

This is why we need a Savior. If there were no judgment to come, if there was no eternal damnation, then we would not need a Savior.  Jesus came from God not to judge us, but to save us.  He spoke the word of God which we will be judged by.  But Jesus came to be the sacrifice for our sin.  He came to take our place by offering Himself as our substitute. The judgment that was due to us has fallen upon Him.  Going back to Isaiah 53 we read, “But He was pierced through for our transgressions,He was crushed for our iniquities;The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed.  All of us like sheep have gone astray,Each of us has turned to his own way;But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him.”  Only by faith in Him, can we appropriate His substitutionary atonement for ourselves. To reject Him is to remain condemned.

And then He offers the invitation to salvation.  “For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak. And I know that His command is everlasting life. Therefore, whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak.”  Notice that  Jesus correlates the gospel of Christ with the law of God, and the law with the commandment of God.  And He says His command results in everlasting life, eternal life.  The word of Christ, the gospel, is the power of God unto salvation.  It is the means of believing unto eternal life.  Believe His gospel and you will receive eternal life. You will be delivered from the judgment which results in death, and instead be given eternal life. 

Today you have heard the words of God, the gospel of Jesus Christ.  It is both the word of truth and an invitation.  Paul said in Romans 10:9-10 “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;  for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.”  

Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as the children of Israel did.  Do not love the world and the approval of men as the rulers did.  Do not put off this invitation to life.  Today is the acceptable day of salvation.  You do not know if you will have tomorrow.  Today, call on the Lord while He may be found.  As Isaiah 55:6-7 says, “Seek the LORD while He may be found; Call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way And the unrighteous man his thoughts; And let him return to the LORD, And He will have compassion on him, And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon.”