In John 13:18-19 Jesus said, "I speak not of you all: I know whom I have chosen: but that the scripture may be fulfilled, He that eats bread with me has lifted up his heel against me. Now I tell you before it come, that, when it is come to pass, you may believe that I am he." Sometimes people suffer some great, unexpected tragedy; and then that tragedy puts a dark cloud over the rest of their life. It doesnít have to be that way because there is a purpose to all things. Jesus made sure that the disciples would be prepared for the tragedy that would happen to Him and to their dreams of thinking that the Messiah was going to set up the Kingdom of God right then and there, by telling them beforehand what was going to happen. The disciples already knew that the leaders of the Jews wanted to put Jesus to death, and now Jesus was telling them that it was going to happen because one of them was going to betray Him.
Even among the twelve disciples there was traitor. There was one who was not spiritual, and was capable of any despicable deed because he gave himself to selfish interests instead of giving himself to God. Similar things happen in church organizations today. If you understand this, it will help you to keep from becoming too narrow or too critical. The sheep and the goats are mixed together right now. They will not be separated until the kingdom of God. Some people say that it is very important to stay separate from those who do not believe what they believe. But such a separation is impossible to achieve, because right now the sheep and the goats are mixed together. Only God can separate the sheep from the goats, and He will not do it until the judgment.
The unbelievers will always find a way of mixing with the believers. You canít stop it from happening no matter what kinds of requirements that you put on church membership. People will join a church for many reasons, and someone may say that they believe without really understanding what belief is. Thatís one of the reasons that horrible things can happen even in church organizations. Just because itís a church does not automatically mean that there is not a child molester, or a thief, or something else in there. I Tim. 4:1-2 says, "Now the Spirit speaks expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron."
The fact that Jesus would be betrayed by one of the apostles would mean that He would be killed, and He would no longer be on the earth. It would be left to the true believers to spread the Good News. And just in case the apostles would be feeling insecure and incapable of carrying on the task once Jesus was gone, Jesus wanted to make it very clear that a word of testimony from a believer was just as good as if Jesus Himself had spoken the word. Jesus said in John 13:20, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that receives whosoever I send receives me; and he that receives me receives him that sent me." When people know that you are a believer in Jesus, they will treat you the same way as they would have treated Him. If they will receive you, they will receive Jesus; and if they will receive Jesus, they will receive the eternal God.
In John 13:21-25 the Bible says, "When Jesus had thus said, he was troubled in spirit, and testified, and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me. Then the disciples looked one on another, doubting of whom he spoke. Now there was leaning on Jesusí bosom one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved. Simon Peter therefore beckoned to him, that he should ask who it should be of whom he spoke. He then lying on Jesusí breast said to him, Lord, who is it?"
Jesus told the disciples that one of them was going to betray Him. Itís interesting to note that the disciples did not know that He was talking about Judas. Man sees the outward appearance, and only God sees the heart. As Peter and then another disciple asked Jesus who would betray Him, perhaps they recognized the capacity that each of them had to fail miserably. If you want to avoid falling, itís critical that you recognize the potential that you have to fall. If any man think that he stand; he should take heed lest he fall. One of the goals of life is to do what is right both to glorify God and to avoid the negative consequences of sin. And one of the important ways to accomplish that goal is to flee temptation, to get away from it, because of the tendency that you have to fail when tempted. In order to succeed you must be aware of your own weaknesses, so you can take action to compensate for them.
Jesus gave the disciples a hint as to who would betray Him in the following verses. John 13:26-27 says, "Jesus answered, He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it. And when he had dipped the sop, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. And after the sop Satan entered into him. Then said Jesus unto him, What you do, do quickly." There were a lot of things that Jesus said and did that the disciples did not understand until after Jesus rose from the dead. You cannot understand the true meaning of anything unless God by His grace gives you the understanding. Some people have the gift of understanding and can be teachers because of the gift that they have. They exercise their gift for the glory of God and the benefit of the believers, but they should never do it for money. Judas was motivated by the desire to obtain money and such material ambitions made him willing to betray the Christ.
The Bible says that Satan entered into Judas, and then it says that Jesus said to Judas, "What you do, do quickly." Even with Satan inside of him, Judas could not betray Jesus until Jesus gave him permission. God is in control. God even controls evil for the ultimate accomplishing of His divine purposes. That should be a source of great comfort to the believers. Jesus allowed Judas to betray Him, because the betrayal was an important factor in Jesus going to His death on the cross, and His death on the cross was essential for mankind to have the possibility of forgiveness of sins and salvation.
In John 13:28-32 the Bible says, "Now no man at the table knew for what intent He spoke this unto him. For some of them thought, because Judas had the bag, that Jesus had said unto him, Buy those things that we have need of for the feast; or, that he should give something to the poor. He then having received the sop went immediately out: and it was night. Therefore, when he was gone out, Jesus said, now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. If God be glorified in him, God shall also glorify him in himself, and shall soon glorify him."
Jesus called Himself the Son of Man because of His identification with mankind. Instead of condemning us for our sins, or embarrassing us, or criticizing us Jesus decided to die for us. He called His death and resurrection His glorification, and He said that God the Father would also be glorified through the things that were about to happen. The death of Jesus glorified God. Earlier Jesus had said that whosoever saves his life shall lose it, but whosoever loses his life, the same shall save it. Sins are primarily the exercise of selfishness and self-centeredness. The only way to avoid the sin of saving your life and the other sins that will surely follow, is to give your life to God and to Godís will.
Things will work out a lot better if you find Godís will instead of your own will. For Jesus, Godís will meant His eventual death on the cross. And Jesus said in John 13:33 about His death, "Little children, yet a little while am I with you. You shall seek me: and as I said unto the Jews, Where I go, you cannot come; so now I say to you." Because life is temporary, what Jesus said about Himself, may also be true about any of us or any of our loved ones. The next time that someone walks out of your home may very well be the last time that you see them. Knowing that could happen, should affect how you treat them.
Jesus told the disciples that He would be going away in order to prepare them for it. God does the same thing with us. One of the reasons for the things that you are now going through is so that you might be prepared for the future. Everything that you experience is an opportunity to learn a lesson so that you might be a wiser and better person because of it, and so that you might be better prepared for what lies ahead. And eventually you will even be prepared for what God has for you to do for Him when you get to heaven.
In John 13:34-35 Jesus said, "A new commandment I give unto you, That you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one to another." Love was an important part of the teachings of Jesus. Jesus said "for God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son." In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus told us to love our enemies. In the first verse of this chapter, the Bible says about Jesus, "having loved his own, He loved them unto the end." I Cor. Chapter 13 says that love is more important than any other gift. It says, "Now abides faith, hope, love; but the greatest of these is love." God is love, and it is not surprising that he wants His believers to learn how to love also.
This time Jesus told the eleven disciples to love one another. There should be a unity and a compassion and an affection that Christians have for each other that is closer and more binding than any other relationship that they might have with people on the earth. The Christian bond should be like a very close family, a spiritual family, because it is made up of people with the same spiritual Father. Everyone in the world who has been born again through Jesus is your brother or sister in Christ. No matter what is someoneís organizational affiliation, if they believe in Jesus, you have a kinship with them that should result in you loving them. If you truly love someone, it will be seen and understood by the way that you treat them or speak about them.
If itís the will of God and the commandment of Jesus that Christians love one another, then it will be the will of the devil to try and keep it from happening. One of the most shameful things of the age in which we live will not be found in the various sinful activities of the world, but will be found in the degree to which those of us who claim to be believers in Jesus have failed to obey this great commandment of His to love one another. The divisions, the separations, the hard feelings, and the inability to work together give witness to the massive and widespread failure to obey Jesus on this point. It has not gone unnoticed by the unbelievers when Christians have attacked one another. The unbelievers accurately observe the fact that many of the wars of Western Civilization over the centuries were based upon the hatred of supposed Christians for each other. No matter how much you may disagree with the doctrines of one side or the other, you are still commanded to love those with whom you disagree because Jesus said to love one another.
When Russia was under the control of the Communists, Christians of all denominations were often thrown into prison and faced horrible persecutions in that country because of their faith in God. There once was a Catholic and a Protestant who were in prison together and they found that in those harsh circumstances that they had much more in common due to their common faith in Jesus than they would have ever realized. When you throw away some of the externals of religion and some of the arguments made by theologians, you have a much better chance of obeying the commandment that Jesus gave to all of His followers to love one another.
In regards to Christians loving one another, Jesus said that "by this shall all men know that you are my disciples." Itís not so much those who are bold and who speak publicly the name of Christ, and itís not those who do the most good deeds in the name of Christ who are the best at being a witness to a lost world: but itís those who are the best at obeying this command of Jesus: the command to love one another. The world will be touched with the message of Christ only to the degree that those who deliver the message are viewed as being people of love and compassion.
Some of us have faith, and an understanding of the scriptures, and a desire to follow God, but we sometimes do not know much about love or loving other people because they are fellow-Christians. Peter reacted to what Jesus said about love in the same way that many of us would have: he changed the subject. The Bible says in John 13:36-38, "Simon Peter said to him, Lord, where are you going? Jesus answered him, Where I go, you cannot follow me now; but you shall follow me afterwards. Peter said to him, Lord, why cannot I follow thee now? I will lay down my life for your sake. Jesus answered him, Will you lay down your life for my sake? Verily, verily, I say unto you, The cock shall not crow until you have denied me three times."
Peter made the mistake that anyone who is impulsive will easily make: he boasted about doing something before he really had the character or the capacity to do it. Christianity is based much more upon the grace of God than it is upon the effort of the human. The salvation of our souls is based entirely upon Godís grace, and so is the possibility that we would be able to do anything for His glory. The believer should always say, "If the Lord will," or "Only by the grace of God will I do one thing or another." Itís not only what you do, but how you do it that is important. If you rely upon your own strength, you will be in big trouble just like Peter was. But if you rely upon God all things are possible.
Copyright; 2000 by Charles F. (Rick) Creech
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