John Chapters 13-16
E. L. Lovering, Ilfracombe
Subject - THE LAST DAYS, continued.
Study Portion - Chapters 13-16, inclusive.
The Grace of the Saviour
ch. 13. 1-20
and Lesson in Humility
THE LORD JESUS has now turned from the publicity of the crowd to the privacy of the chamber. Having loved His own, He loved them to the uttermost; they had disputed who should be the greatest, He would teach them the lesson of humility.
Note the details recorded by John - He riseth from supper, laid aside His garments, took a towel, and girded Himself; then He poureth water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel wherewith He was girded - Nothing is omitted, so great was the impression upon John of this act of grace. This was not the usual act of courtesy to an invited guest but the menial task of a slave.
Peter, true to his impulsive nature and readiness to speak, first blunders into refusal - 'Lord dost THOU wash MY feet?' -'Thou shalt never . . .', v. 8: then into the error of extremes desires hands, feet and head to be bathed. He mistook the symbol for reality, for the Saviour replied, 'He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet' - the dust of the road brings defilement, hence the need for constant cleansing.
Was Peter thinking of this supreme act of humility and grace when years later he said 'Gird yourselves with humility . . . humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God', 1 Peter 5. 5, 6?
The Greed of the Traitor
ch. 13. 21-30
and the Lord of Authority
The previous verses have revealed an unveiling of His grace, these a revelation of His government.
The presence of the betrayer was fully known to the Lord, but masked to the disciples. So near physically was Judas to the Lord and yet so spiritually distant. 'Ye are clean, but not all . . . for he knew who should betray him', vv. 10, 11; 'I speak not of you all; I know whom I have chosen', v. 18 Such was His perfect knowledge. Note in contrast the doubt and ignorance of the disciples - 'The disciples doubted of whom he spake', v. 22; 'When he had dipped the sop, he gave it to Judas Iscariot . . . and no man knew for what intent he spake this to him; some thought, that Jesus had said unto him, Buy that we have need of against the feast, or that he should give something unto the poor'.
Seeming piety and philanthropy may often pass for deeds of Christian love, but God 'looketh upon the heart'.
The Girdle of Discipleship
ch. 13. 31-38
and the Law of Charity
THE BOND OF DISCIPLESHIP
Here is a fellowship bound together by love, the one, singular law, alone sufficient and embracing - 'Love one another, even as I have loved you', v. 34 (R.V.).
THE BADGE OF DISCIPLESHIP
'By this shall all know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another', v. 35.
It was said of the early Christians, 'How these Christians love each other'. Can it be said of us today?
THE BOAST OF DISCIPLESHIP
Peter said, 'Lord why cannot I follow thee now? I will lay down my life for thy sake', v. 37.
How expressive, dramatic and almost ironic was the answer of the Master - 'The cock shall not crow, till thou hast denied me thrice', v. 38.
Was it to remind Peter that his boast was as meaningless and hollow as the mechanical repetition of a crowing bird? Three times Peter openly denied his Lord, yet three times in John 21 he confessed that he loved Him. 'The arm of flesh will fail you, Ye dare not trust your own.'
The Gift of the Spirit
Note the relationship of the Spirit to -
I. THE SAINTS
The Holy Spirit is the Comforter or Paraclete. This word embraces not only comfort but companionship - the Paraclete or Advocate is one called alongside to help, to plead our cause, ch. 14. 16. He will not leave them comfortless or orphans bereaved, He will come to them in the person of the Spirit, v. 18.
'We will come to him, and make our abode (home) with him', v. 23.
'The Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you', v. 26.
'The Spirit of truth . . . will guide you into all the truth', ch. 16. 13 (R.V.). That is not necessarily into new truth but into the fulness of the revelation of truth in Christ, who was Himself the Truth.
'Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid', v. 27.
'These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended', or 'that you may not be taken unawares' (Knox), ch. 16.1.
'Be of good cheer (confidence); I have overcome the world', v. 33.
Misdirected religious zeal would thrust them from the synagogues; they might even face martyrdom, yet they could have confidence since their Lord and Master had overcome the world.
2. THE SON
'He shall not speak of himself, but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak', v. 13.
This is not meant to imply that the Spirit never speaks about Himself, but that He shall not speak on His own authority. To know Christ the Truth, is to know the Spirit of Truth.
'He shall glorify me, for he shall receive of mine and shall show it unto you', v. 14.
'He shall take of mine and shall shew it unto you', v. 15. Literally, 'He shall take out of that which is mine'. Here is indeed 'a mine' of inexhaustible wealth, for 'all things that the Father hath are mine'.
3. THE WORLD
'When he (the Spirit of Truth) is come, he will reprove the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment', v. 8. The Sin of Man That is, sin in its root was the rejection of Christ, 'because they believe not on me', v. 9.
The Righteousness of Christ Perfectly expressed in His life among men - the holy and righteous one, Acts 3. 14. His return to the Father was God's seal and approval upon the life and death of His Son. Had He not departed to the Father, the Spirit would not have come, v. 7.
The Judgment of Satan 'The prince of this world is judged', v. 11.
In chapter 12. 31-33 we read, 'now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And
1, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me; this he said signifying what death he should die'.
The crisis of the cross sealed the doom of the devil. 'For this purpose the Son of God was manifested that he might destroy the works of the devil.'
The Growth of the Soul
This chapter has been dealt with in a previous article under the subject of 'The Wonderful Sayings' - T am the true vine'. We add now only the following -
Here is fruit, more fruit, much fruit, abiding fruit, vv. 2, 4, 5, 16.
The marks of true friendship (vv. 13-15) are seen in -
The Sacrifice of Friendship 'Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends', v. 13. A man can give no more than his life.
The Submission of Friendship
'Ye are my friends if ye do whatsoever I command you.' Implicit trust ask no questions, but obeys, v. 14.
The Sacredness of Friendship
'Henceforth I call you not bondservants, but friends', v. 15.
Not now slaves performing duties without explanation from the master, but friends enjoying the intimacy of the master's secrets, and so rendering obedience in the knowledge of his will.
'Ye did not choose me, but I chose you', v. 16 (R.V.). This does not refer to their election to salvation but to their call into fellowship with Himself. He had called them and appointed them for fellowship and service; it was for them to fulfil their obligations and bring forth fruit which should remain.
Their fellowship with Him and with each other was as intimate as that of the vine and its branches. A common life and love bound them together, let them love one another for they would receive none from the world - the world loves only its own.