INTRODUCTION TO JOHN 13-16, #679
The first 12 chapters of John dealt with the public ministry of Christ, where we see more of an evangelical ministry going out to the unconverted to draw them to salvation, but in John 13 through 16 we find that the ministry is no longer a public ministry to the lost, but it is now a ministry to the family of God.
JOH 13:1 clearly begins a new section of this fourth Gospel. John's Gospel reveals two things at its beginning in connection with Christ's mission and ministry. The first principle we see taught is that His own nation rejected the Person of Jesus as the Messiah. JOH 1:10-11 says, "He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not." Chapters five through 12 reveal this sad reality.
The second principle taught was that all those whom the Father had given Him, not only received Him, but they came into a family relationship with Him. JOH 1:12-13 says, "But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God."
JOH 6:37-39 says, "All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out."
The Lord Jesus ended His public ministry and hid Himself from those who rejected Him. There comes a time when there is no longer a day of repentance. JOH 12:36 says, "While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light. These things spake Jesus, and departed, and did hide himself from them." Now that His public ministry has ended, chapters 13 through 16 tell how Jesus revealed His personal love in His office as mediator for the souls of His chosen people. The revelation of His Father and His Father's love becomes the theme of John 13, 14, 15 and 16.
We read in JOH 13:1, "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." He starts to show His inner circle what love He had for them. Even as He hung upon the cross of Calvary, He was able to say, Father, forgive them, they do not know what they are doing. He was praying for His inner circle. He was praying for those whose names were written in the palms of His hands, those whose sins nailed Him to the tree, because if you have any part in Christ, then it was you who nailed Him to the cross. It was your sins. It was not nails that held our Saviour to the cross. It was His love and your sins.
The Lord teaches these lessons to His own children, as He said in JOH 15:15, "Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you."
Do you want to know what it is to have fellowship with the Father? Do you want to know what it is to have fellowship with the Son? Then listen to what it says in COL 1:10-12, "That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness; Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light." To be made meet means to be made fit in character.
As our heart and will become molded into the will of the Father, we start seeing the communion and the union between us and the Father. We start understanding that harmony, when our will is totally dissolved in His will. This character building takes place as our eye is fixed on the Person of Christ. As we see Christ in His tranquility before the Father our frustration is taken away.
JOH 13:3-6 says, "Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God; He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded. Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet?" The Lord told him in verse 8, "If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me." As long as Peter did not understand his need to have his feet washed by the Lord Jesus Christ, he could not come into that union and communion with the Father.
The Apostle Paul's ministry was centered on this principle of looking to the Person of Christ as his example of self-sacrificial love, self-denial, esteeming the other ahead of himself. 1CO 2:1-2 says, "And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified." The apostle who was brought up at the feet of Gamaliel (in all the doctrines of the Pharisees) lays all aside for the excellency he sees in the Person of Christ. He says in PHI 3:7-8, "But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ."
When the Apostle Paul was converted, he had childlike faith. He could trust God for everything. He said in 1CO 2:3-5, "And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power. That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God." The Holy Spirit applies the Word and gives a blessing to your soul. Your eye is not on the preacher. You see the Person of Christ. Your soul is fed with the Bread of Life, not with the person.
Up until the time that Jesus crossed his path, Paul's human wisdom had been the object of his worship. We read of his memorable journey to Damascus in ACT 9:27, "He had seen the Lord in the way." All of a sudden now it is no longer the person of Paul. Paul's self-centered religion was brought to the dust, and it brought him to where we read in ACT 9:6a, "And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" Paul's views, wishes and attractions were brought under the control of a new affection as soon as the Person of Christ was revealed to him.
As we grow in grace we are going to learn in a greater or lesser degree in the same school where Paul and Moses learned. HEB 11:26 says, "Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward." All the money in the world has no value by comparison to being able to identify with Christ.
When we start coming into the inner circle, we start seeing such a beauty, not to be ministered to, but to minister. Everything we suffer in this life becomes so small by comparison. Take a look at 2CO 4:17, "For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory." He was talking to the Apostle Paul. He had been beaten and left for dead. He had been stoned. He had been imprisoned and He had been whipped, yet he had light afflictions compared to what Christ suffered for him. Our afflictions are so light by comparison to what Christ suffered for us. They are to make us fit in character, to remove all iniquity, to make us fit for the inheritance of the saints.
Verse 18 says, "While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal." As we see that the afflictions in our lives only work together for good, they become such light afflictions and no longer cause us to grieve.
Paul expressed the same revelation of the Person of Christ by faith where he spoke of Moses in HEB 11:27, "By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible." He had his eye fixed on the Person of Christ, and as long as our eyes are fixed on the Person of Christ there is nothing in this world that can interfere.
The Apostle Peter, when he was in the boat, said to Jesus, Bid me that I come unto thee. So Jesus said, Come, and he started to come, and he was walking on the water, but when he saw that the sea was boisterous, he began to sink. He began to sink because He took his eyes off of the Person of Christ. If you have a sinking feeling in the way that the Lord is leading you it is because you take your eyes off of the Person of Christ. If your eyes were fixed upon what Christ has suffered for you, then your afflictions become so light.
Salvation is to be reconciled with God. So many people think salvation means to go to heaven. Reconciliation has to take place in this life, and if it does not, we are not going to get it ever after. Many say they have accepted Jesus, but their walk of life shows no self-sacrificial spirit. The reproach of Christ is what we have to see. To love a person means not to look at the condition the person is in. If a person is in reproach and you do not love him because he is being reproached, you do not love that person. Love does not look at the condition of the person but at the person himself. This is what the Lord Jesus is going to lead you and me through. We are going to suffer reproach for His name, to prove that we love Him. The reproach of Christ is greater riches than if you had gained the whole world.
HEB 13:12-14 says, "Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate. Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach. For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come." We do not have a continuing city here. This is not our heaven.
To value the gifts of Christ, that is, the continuing city to come, is one thing, but to love His Person and therefore His gifts is what Moses is speaking of in EXO 33:14-15, "And he said, My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest. And he said unto him, If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence." If you love Christ you are willing to take reproach for His name. Moses did not even want to go into the Promised Land if he was not going with the Presence of God, because that Presence, being reconciled with God, was salvation to Moses.
Many people want to go to heaven, but do they love Christ, or are they looking for something that will feed their own vanity and give them an escape from the consequences of sin? Our prime concern should not be that our sins are forgiven. Our prime concern should be, am I in fellowship with Christ, because if our sins are forgiven, fellowship with Christ becomes the effect.
REV 21:22-23 says, "And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof." Christ is the temple of heaven. If Christ is not the center of our affections, what are we going to do in heaven? The entire substance of heaven centers on Christ. If He is not the object of our desire to go to heaven, heaven would only be a hell because He is the light, a light shining into a conscience that is naked and open before Him and revealing that lack of love.
The natural man looks at heaven as a paradise of enjoyments, a place to escape the consequences of sin. If they could remain in this world, where they have the cherished things of sin, they would not even care to die to go to heaven. Christ is in heaven. If you have not come into communion and union with Christ, when the gate of heaven stands wide open, how will you enter in, when He is the light and you have loved darkness rather than light?
Oh my friends, what folly it is to have our affections centered on the inheritance rather than on the Person of Christ. I want to illustrate this for you. Suppose you had a large estate and you had people coming to you wanting to know if they could get part of your inheritance, and that is all that they were after. But they see that your sidewalk is full of snow and they do not bother to shovel it for you. They have not done one thing to show that they cared for you. All they are after is to see if they can get a hand on that inheritance.
Can you picture heaven with Christ sitting on His throne, and everyone wants to have the inheritance, but they have no desire for a personal relationship with Him. Do you see why they are not going to enter heaven? Unless we have been reconciled to Christ and the Father, we will not enter heaven.
2CO 5:19-21 talks about how God was reconciling Himself. "To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." Reconciliation comes from two sides. You are not reconciled to the Father until your heart of rebellion is broken and you are willing to come back into His service as a child in that Father-Son relationship.
I want you to see the folly of thinking that we can have the inheritance just because we seize upon the death of the Son. So many people want to claim the sacrifice of Christ as the basis for their salvation without the fruit of repentance. MAT 21:38-39 says, "But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance. And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him." They were going to seize on the inheritance by the death of the Son.
See how our Saviour used this to illustrate the condition of those who seek the gifts of Christ yet have rejected His Person. MAT 21:40-42 says, "When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen? They say unto him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons. Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?" They did not want to come into reconciliation with the will of God, but they wanted to seize upon the death of the Son for the inheritance. Do you see how Satan will destroy souls in hell with that principle?
We can have the greatest faith, but if love is not the center of that faith and if the Person of Christ is not the object of that love, it avails nothing. 1CO 13:2-3 says, "And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing."
This is the blessed principle our Saviour taught His own (whom the Father had given Him) in John 13 through 16. The lesson of self-sacrificial love will never be rightly understood outside the blessed example we see in the Person of our Saviour.
Do you want to know how to find Jesus? The Lord is showing us the road that leads to that inner circle relationship of communion and union with Christ and His Bride.
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