In John 12:47 the Bible says, "And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world but to save the world." In this Bible verse two things are listed as being very important: the words of Jesus and then believing those words. Of all the words that have ever been written or ever spoken in the history of the human race, the most important words are the words that were spoken by Jesus. Of all the teachings that have ever been given, there are none greater than the teachings of Jesus. Sometimes we think about how wonderful it must have been to have been alive during the time of Christ and to have actually heard Him say those words. But for the people who were there and who heard but who did not believe, how hard their hearts must have been and how selfish and sinful they must have become.
But in spite of the failures of man in regards to this great opportunity, Jesus did not judge them or condemn them. He simply reminded them one more time that He came to save them and not to judge them. There will be a judgment, but now is not the time for the judgment. Be careful or you might become too condemning or too critical of the world around you. No one will escape the judgment. Leave it to God to determine when and how to judge someone. He has not yet judged them because now is the time of grace and of the offer of forgiveness and salvation.
Concerning the judgment that is to come Jesus said in John 12:48, "He that rejects me, and receives not my words, has one that judges him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day." Rejecting Jesus is the same thing as not receiving His words. If someone does not like to hear the words of Jesus, then that will tell you all that you need to know about their spiritual condition. When the judgment does come, our lives will be judged according to the teachings that Jesus gave. The proper standard for conduct and for a philosophy of life is the teachings of Jesus, because that is the standard by which we will ultimately be judged.
Jesus told us the reason in John 12:49-50 why His teachings and His words are so important. He said, "For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father who sent me, He gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak. And I know that His commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak." Some of the greatest failures involve the words that we use. Too easily we sin because of what we say or even by what we fail to say. "The tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity." This makes it even more amazing that Jesus always said the right thing at the right time. His words were like apples of gold in pitchers of silver. The reason that He was able to do so was because of His relationship with the Father. The better that we learn to walk in fellowship with God moment by moment, the better that we also will say the things that we ought to say.
In John 13:1 the Bible says, "Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that His hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end." We will never fully understand how much God loves us, but there are many reminders in the Bible. Near the beginning of the public ministry of Jesus, in John 3:16 we were told, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son." He started with love and He finished with love. The insults and the opposition and the unbelief did not cause Him to stop loving or to even love less than before. The love of God is an abiding love. Itís a love that will always be there for us. Paul said in Rom. 8:38-39, "For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other thing shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." It is in the nature of humans to doubt things, but there is one thing that you should never doubt because there are too many reminders both in the Bible and elsewhere: and that is the great, never-ending love of God for you. There is no greater force in the world than love, and true love never dies. Even though Jesus faced betrayal, rejection, and violence the Bible says that "having loved His own, He loved them unto the end."
In John 13:2-3 the Bible says, "And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simonís son, to betray him: Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He was come from God, and went to God." If you were going to try and find something in our society today that is similar to what Jesus experienced at the Last Supper, you would have to go into our prison system and to death row on an execution night. To someone who is condemned to die, we give a last meal. Sometimes we execute an innocent person, and then it is much more of a situation like that which Jesus faced. Some people go to the doctor and are given the news that they have a terminal illness. That is also something that is similar to a death sentence. Most of us do not know when we are going to die, so how do people who are on death row or people who have a terminal illness face death. One way would be to have the same attitude about death that Jesus had. The Bible says that Jesus knew that "he was come from God and that he went to God." If you believe, death is not the end. Itís simply crossing a threshold from this life to the next, which is far better. If you know that you are going to be with God, then you know that you have something to look forward to.
The first incident that took place at the Last Supper is described by John who spoke of Jesus and said in John 13:4-9, "He arose from supper and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. After that he poured water into a basin, and began to wash the disciplesí feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. Then came He to Simon Peter: and Peter said to Him, Lord, do you wash my feet? Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do, you know not now; but you shall know hereafter. Peter said to him, You shall never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash you not, you have no part with me. Simon Peter said to him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head."
When Jesus washed the disciplesí feet, He was taking upon Himself the task of a servant. It was just like Jesus to take the common things that were at hand and to use them to teach a spiritual lesson. Often that which is physical and material is symbolic of that which is spiritual. You only understand the world around you, when you are able to use the world around you to teach spiritual lessons. The growth of a tree can be an example of the slow but steady growth of the Christian life, a shepherd can be an example of the care and provision of the savior, and the eating of bread or the drinking of the fruit of the vine can be an example of the need of the soul for spiritual nourishment.
Jesus used the washing of the feet as an illustration of the necessity to be cleansed from sin. When Peter objected to being washed by Jesus, Jesus said, "If I wash you not, you have no part with me." The problem of mankind is the sin problem. Itís your sins that separate you from God, and you can only be united to God if your sins become cleansed by Jesus.
In John 13:10 the Bible says, "Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needs only to wash his feet, and is clean every bit: and you are clean, but not all." There are two basic meanings to the idea of being cleansed from oneís sins. At the time of salvation, of being born again, a person is forgiven of all their sins. They are cleansed and they are accepted by God. They never need to be cleansed this way again. But once a person is saved, on a daily basis they still need forgiveness and cleansing from God, not to decide their eternal destiny because that was already decided when they were born again, but in order to walk in fellowship with God. An example of this is what happened to people who lived in Palestine and wore sandals 2,000 years ago. On a daily basis their feet would get dirty, and they would have to wash their feet even though the rest of their body was still clean. A similar thing is said about regular cleansing from sin in I John 1:9. The Apostle John said, including himself, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." At any moment and at any time of the day or night, be ready and willing to go to the Lord and ask Him to forgive you and cleanse you. Then and only then will you be able to stay in fellowship with God.
He knows our frame that we are weak and that we are made of dust. After all, the goal of life is a very high standard, and itís easy to fail. The person who will walk the most consistently with the Lord, day after day and year after year, will be the person who is the quickest to always come to the Lord and say, "Iím sorry, please forgive me." Happy is the person who learns the importance of confession in order to stay in fellowship with God. You will either learn the lesson of confessing to the Lord whenever you need to, or you will drift away from God. The reason that we can walk in fellowship with God on a daily basis, is because of His forgiveness for us and not because of our goodness. Thatís the power of the blood of Christ. Not only did He pay for our past sins, but He also paid for our daily sins. I John 1:7 says, "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin."
In John 13:11-17 the Bible says, "For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, You are not all clean. So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said to them Do you know what I have done to you? You call me master and Lord: and you say well, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; you also ought to wash one anotherís feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. If you know these things, happy are you if you do them."
Jesus was teaching the lesson of forgiveness. We should be willing to forgive others, because God has forgiven us. There are many things that you can be certain of in this life, and one of those things is the fact that people will sin against you. They will offend you, they will wrong you, and they will hurt you. Sinners will sin. After having washed the feet of the disciples as a symbolism of Jesus forgiving them on a daily basis, Jesus is now teaching that His disciples must be careful to also forgive one another. Thatís what He meant when He said that; "you also ought to wash one anotherís feet." Remember that Jesus taught us the same thing in the Lordís prayer, when He told us to pray, "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us."
Jesus gave us two reasons why we should forgive one another. The first reason we already mentioned, which was to follow His example. He said, "The servant is not greater than his Lord." We are willing to forgive others because God forgave us. The second reason to follow the example of Jesus is given for us in John 13:17 when Jesus said, "If you know these things, happy are you if you do them." Jesus wants us to be happy. He told His disciples on several occasions to be of good cheer. And of course He told them to have faith, and if you have faith then you are a positive person and you look on the good side of things. Jesus also told His followers that He would give us life, and give it to us more abundantly.
The things that result in happiness are principally the things that you think about. Itís the way that you interpret what happens to you that will determine if you are happy or not. Happiness is principally a state of mind. If you have the right thoughts then you will be happy, and if you have the wrong thoughts then you will not be happy. Jesus said, "If you know these things, happy are you if you do them." He is talking about the principle of forgiveness. If you want to ensure that you will be a miserable person, then all you have to do is to not forgive people when they hurt you. You need to have a short memory when it comes to the sins of others. The most bitter and the most miserable and the most unhappy people in the world are those who do not forgive others. Thatís one of the reasons that some people as they grow older become more hard and more harsh. But one of the best ways to retain the joy and the positive attitude of your youth is to forsake the bitterness of revenge. Do what Jesus said to do and forgive those who have wronged you.
When you take revenge, you harm yourself more than you could possibly could harm another, because remember that your own happiness is dependent upon your state of mind. If the thoughts of bitterness and anger and revenge rule your mind, then those thoughts will take away your ability to be happy. You donít need to take revenge anyway. No one is going to get away with anything. The Bible says, "Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord, I will repay." Instead of being angry and vengeful, we should be compassionate towards those who now must suffer the consequences of their actions. You can read the newspaper every day and see that people do pay the consequences for what they have done. And if they are able to hide for a while, they still must eventually answer to the final Judge. How horrible their future is, except they repent and find forgiveness from God. Make sure that you forgive them so that you do not rob yourself of your own peace of mind and happiness. Jesus said, "If you know these things, happy are you if you do them."
Copyright; 2000 by Charles F. (Rick) Creech
All Rights Reserved