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Free Daily Bible notes by Rev Stephen Thompson

John 13:6-11: Dirty feet.

John 13:6-11: Dirty feet.

“6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”“No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”“Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”10 Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.” NIV

You have to smile at Peter, don’t you? I know that in smiling at him we are regularly smiling at ourselves, but I have to admit he makes me smile. You see the contours of a real, larger than life character appearing on the page. The Biblical portrait of Peter bursts out in vivid, flawed realism.

Initially, Peter was resistant to having his feet washed by Jesus (6, 8a). It didn’t seem fitting and proper to let the Master be the slave in these circumstances. He wasn’t having that.

Jesus’ words of reply (7) to Peter’s initial shocked question (6) apply to many circumstances in life. I remember someone sending a bereavement card to my family after my mum died in her early 50’s. It made reference to this verse. Life throws up many mysteries.

After Jesus had corrected Peter’s faulty thinking (8b), typically the disciple was enthusiastically ‘all or nothing ‘ in his response; wanting to do the right thing: ”Then…not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!” (9). But  in the East in those days, a person might bathe in the morning. When they arrived at a home where they were visiting they wouldn’t need a bath. It’s just that their feet would have got dusty and dirty on those hot, dry roads (10a). Jesus reminded Peter about this.

When someone becomes a Christian they ‘have a bath’, you might say. They are thoroughly washed and cleansed by Jesus. But on this Christian ‘walk’ our ‘feet’ get dirty. They need regular washing. We must learn to ‘keep short accounts’ with God (1 John 1;6-10). We are truly grateful for the once-for-all bath, but we will keep offering our ‘feet’ to Jesus for His cleansing work: ”…what we need day by day is the regular washing of those parts of ourselves, our personalities and bodies, which get dusty and dirty. When Peter objects to Jesus washing him, this reflects his objection (in Mark 8.32 and elsewhere) to Jesus going to the cross. Neither he nor the others have yet understood what it is that Jesus has to do, and why.” (Tom Wright: ‘John for everyone’,pp.45, 46.)

John 13:1-5; 12a: The drama of salvation.

John 13:1-5; 12a: The drama of salvation.

“It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”“No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”“Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”10 Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them.” NIV

Many years ago, I read in a book by the leading evangelical Anglican rector, John Stott, that there is a strong parallel with Philippians 2:5-11 at this point in John 13. Jesus ”got up from the meal”, just as He got up from His heavenly throne. He ”took off his outer clothing”, just as He divested Himself of His heavenly glory. Then He ”wrapped a towel round his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped round him.” This reminds us how Jesus, the second Person of the Godhead, ”emptied himself”; He made himself of ”no reputation”. He took ”the very nature of a servant” and ”humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross!” He did all this to wash our souls, to cleanse us from sin. ”This is our God, the servant King.” This is what God is like, and ‘He calls us now to follow him; to bring our lives as a daily offering, of service to the                        servant King’ (12-17).

So the drama of salvation is beautifully painted in this breathtaking scene, including His exaltation to the highest place (12/ Philippians 2:9-11).

If we cannot marvel at these truths, I wonder if anything will ever cause us to wonder. But we must go beyond standing and staring at the glory. This has to make a difference in our daily lives and relationships (12-17). We are called by Jesus to emulate Jesus, and we need to believe that anything He asks of us He will also enable. Such a life may seem beyond you. In fact, if you feel that, you probably do have some understanding of what the Master is requiring. But you also need to be sure that He will equip you to follow in His steps.

Whatever the truth you are being shown, it is in the doing of it that you will find the blessing (17).

”So let us learn how to serve, and in our lives enthrone him; each other’s needs to prefer, for it is Christ we’re serving.’ Graham Kendrick.

John 13:2, 10,11: One step ahead.

John 13:2, 10,11: One step ahead.

 “It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”“No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”“Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”10 Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.” NIV

It is impossible to make sense of the evil in the world without reference to that malevolent personality we call the devil. He is not merely an influence; a force for badness. He is a real, intelligent being who can ‘prompt’ people to do wrong (2). Even though he is unseen, his presence cannot be always hidden.

”The devil had already put the idea of betraying him into the heart of Judas…” (Tom Wright). 

Wright says Judas allowed ”the devil’s whispered suggestion to gain a foothold in his imagination…notice how evil creeps in between the cracks at the very moment when love is going to the limit.” ‘John for everyone’, p.45.

You may be aware of ‘ideas’ planted in your heart by the arch-imposter – things you are thinking and feeling that you know to be wrong. Don’t play with them. Don’t toy with them. Declare war on them in the Name of Jesus. Nail them to the cross. Do it to them before they do it to you! Don’t allow sinful thoughts to nest in your soul and hatch their poisonous eggs.

Take heart though. Whatever Satan plans to do, Jesus is one step ahead of him. He knows what is going to happen, and what He permits He uses for His glory.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, help me when I see things inside me I should not tolerate. Enable me to be ruthless in identifying and rooting out those ‘seeds’ planted by the evil one.

John 13:1: Endless love.

John 13:1: Endless love.

“It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.” NIV

”There is no creature, regardless of its apparent insignificance, that fails to show us something of God’s goodness.” Thomas a Kempis.

Nothing takes Jesus by surprise. It is significant when we read that ”It was just before the Passover Festival.” Jesus was about to die as the ultimate ”Passover lamb” (1 Corinthians 5:7). His death was no accident. As we have seen many times in this gospel, the Father was in control. All Jesus’ movements, in life and death, were according to a Divine timetable. His dying was a deliberate act of sacrifice. The climax of His ministry was not a simple, straightforward tragedy, however it appears on the surface. It was a leaving of ”this world” to ”go to the Father”. Death is like this for every believer. It’s the ultimate house move. It’s moving home.                                                                                                                       There are many things we can say about the cross. In addition to being able to assert that:

  • it is significant (full of Old Testament sacrificial resonance); and that
  • It is under God’s sovereign governance;

We can also say:

  • it shows God’s heart. A preacher said, ”We talk about wearing the heart on the sleeve; God wore His heart on a cross. Calvary displays ”the full extent” of Jesus’ love.

I like the translation that says: ”Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.” That challenges me like this: ‘Do I have a love that goes the distance with people?’ It’s easy to give up on difficult people and allow distance to grow between you. But this is not the way of Jesus.

”It must become a spiritual discipline to look for the good in people buried beneath the pettiness, resentments, and ambitions that irritate us about each other.” From ‘Subterranean’ by Dan White Jr.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, please help me to love like you.

John 12:37-50: Stubborn blindness.

John 12:37-50: Stubborn blindness.

“37 Even after Jesus had performed so many signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him.38 This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet: “Lord, who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”39 For this reason they could not believe, because, as Isaiah says elsewhere:40 “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, so they can neither see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts, nor turn—and I would heal them.” 41 Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about him. 42 Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not openly acknowledge their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved human praise more than praise from God. 44 Then Jesus cried out, “Whoever believes in me does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me.45 The one who looks at me is seeing the one who sent me. 46 I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness. 47 “If anyone hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge that person. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. 48 There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; the very words I have spoken will condemn them at the last day. 49 For I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me to say all that I have spoken. 50 I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.” NIV

”Jesus is the window into God.” Michael Green.

John makes a remarkable statement about Isaiah (41), but it is even more a staggering assertion about Christ. It probably refers to the vision of God’s glory the prophet saw, recorded in chapter 6 of the book that bears his name. John says that in fact he ”saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about him.” To see Jesus, is to see the Father (44, 45; 14:9).

I find it helpful, in looking at verses 37-41, to see that it first says ”they…would not believe in him” (37) before it says ”they could not believe” (39). There are ‘none so blind as those who will not see.’ You can’t see if you won’t see, and in the previous section Jesus had warned about making the most of ”the light” while they still had it (35, 36). There can come a time when our hearts are so hardened that we cannot repent, and ultimately all must face judgment (48). 

Yet again though, Jesus was not met with wall to wall spiritual blindness (42). There were ”many even among the leaders” who believed. However, it was a response without backbone. Something was lacking. As Bishop J.C. Ryle said, a soldier is not ashamed of his uniform.

John 12:31-36: The wondrous cross.

John 12:31-36: The wondrous cross.

“31 Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up[a] from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33 He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die.34 The crowd spoke up, “We have heard from the Lawthat the Messiah will remain forever, so how can you say, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up’? Who is this ‘Son of Man’?”35 Then Jesus told them, “You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. Whoever walks in the dark does not know where they are going.36 Believe in the light while you have the light, so that you may become children of light.” When he had finished speaking, Jesus left and hid himself from them.” NIV

Come with me, and let us ”survey” something of ”the wondrous cross”. See:

  1. The necessity of the cross: There is a ”must” about it (34b; see also 3:14,15). There can be no work of saving the human race apart from the cross.
  2. The glory of the cross: (32, 33, 34; see also verses 28-30). In John’s gospel, the cross is repeatedly spoken of in terms of lifting up. Of course, someone crucified was physically lifted up on a stake (33). But there is more to it than that. What,to men, was the ultimate in shame, Jesus saw as the utmost in glory. ”May I never boast (glory) except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ…” (Galatians 6:14).
  3. The achievement of the cross: What Jesus achieved on the cross may be expressed in a number of ways. Here are two of those results (31): a.) the judgment upon all the world’s sin – and Jesus drank the cup of God’s anger against sin to its dregs, being substituted for us; b.) victory over Satan. The devil may not yet be driven out of the world, but Jesus won the decisive battle against him at the cross. The day Jesus died was ‘D day’. The final triumph is not in doubt.
  4. The magnetism of the cross: ”And I, as I am lifted up from the earth, will attract everyone to me and gather them around me” (32). Jesus wasn’t saying that everyone will be converted. We have to compare Scripture with Scripture, and not interpret one part of the Bible to the hurt of other parts. God’s Word does not say that all will be saved,but we can expect many to be drawn to the crucified Lord.
  5. The opportunity presented by the cross: It’s an opportunity that will only exist for ”just a little while longer” (35). If you do not respond to ”the light” God shows you while you still have the chance, you may find that a day comes when you want to search for Jesus, but you are unable to find Him (36b).

 As I have written these notes my own heart has been ‘strangely warmed’.                                I pray it is so for you.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, once more I find myself asking that you will keep me near your cross.

John 12:27-30: Man of sorrows.

John 12:27-30: Man of sorrows.

“27 “Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name!”Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.” 29 The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him.30 Jesus said, “This voice was for your benefit, not mine.” NIV

Isaiah saw Jesus as ”despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and familiar with suffering” (Isaiah 53:3).

Have you ever felt so troubled that you didn’t know quite what to say? Jesus can sympathise; indeed, empathise (27). ”Right now I am storm-tossed. And what am I going to say?” The Message. Perhaps your heart is weighed down as you read this? Well, Jesus knows, and He cares. He is not sitting up in heaven watching impassively as you are buffeted by winds and waves of trouble.

”For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathise with our weaknesses…” (Hebrews 4:15).

In trouble, you can follow His pattern, and just raise your eyes towards heaven and say, ”Father…” (27).

But in Jesus’ own case, He knew He would not ask to escape from the net (27b). The shadow of the cross falls over the whole passage from (20-36). Jesus was well aware of His destiny. He knew why He had come into the world. As He began to feel the darkness closing in more and more He would not request an exit strategy.

There is such help here.

You find yourself in trouble, and it may be that God does want to save you from it. He often does – but not always.

It may also be the case that He has a great destiny for you in your trial. Whether in or out of trouble ( and ”In this world you will have trouble…” 16:33) it is always right to pray that God will glorify His Name in your life. When Jesus prayed this prayer (28a), it was clear that the Father had answered it (29), and it is for our ”benefit” that He did.

Pray it again! It’s a prayer the Father always delights to answer.

”Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name…” (Matthew 5:9).

John 12:20-26: Who do you want to be like?

John 12:20-26: Who do you want to be like?

“20 Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the festival. 21 They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. “Sir,” they said, “we would like to see Jesus.”22 Philip went to tell Andrew; Andrew and Philip in turn told Jesus.23 Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. 25 Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.” NIV

”Entrance to the kingdom of God is free, but the annual subscription is all you’ve got.”

I want to be like Andrew (22): I remember some words written by a commentator on John’s gospel. He said Andrew is mentioned only three times in this gospel, but on each occasion he is bringing someone to Jesus (see 1:40,41; 6:8,9 and here!) In that sense I would like to be like Andrew. My desire is to see many people come to know Jesus through my life and ministry

But most of all, I want to be like Jesus (23-26). Who would not desire the honour God the Father puts on those who truly serve Jesus the Son (26b)? To live under Heaven’s smile is a prospect to be coveted.However, here’s the challenge I face. Do I really want to be like Jesus in His death? The only way to have the effectiveness of Andrew; the only way to produce ”many seeds” (24b) is to fall into the ground and die. You have to die to the life you want and embrace the life Jesus calls you to. This cannot be done without pain. But it leads to a rich harvest.

”When Jesus bids a man come follow Him, He bids him come and die.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

So what will such dying mean for you today? I realise that the call to die must be answered every single day and many times a day. In which area(s) of your life do you need to feel the nails and thorns in order to live the resurrection life with Jesus? There are no doubt certain things you don’t want to do, but you know God wants you to do them. It won’t be easy, but the Holy Spirit will help you to go to the cross, just as He did with Jesus (Hebrews 9:14).Where your will crosses God’s will, there you experience a crucifixion – and the other side of it there will be a glorious resurrection.

It’s been said that Christianity does not mean pinning the cross, like a badge, to your old way of life; but nailing your old life to the cross daily.

PRAYER: Lord, help me to do the things I know I need to do today, even though they may be painful. Enable me, please, to do the right things, trusting in you.

John 12:17-19: Word of mouth.

John 12:17-19: Word of mouth.

17 Now the crowd that was with him when he called Lazarus from the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to spread the word. 18 Many people, because they had heard that he had performed this sign, went out to meet him. 19 So the Pharisees said to one another, “See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after him!” NIV

A song says ”It’s only words…”

But words are important. They are powerful. The Bible has so much to say about words.

It says, for example, that ”The tongue has the power of life and death…” (Proverbs 18:21a).

It says, for example, that ”…men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken.” (Matthew 12:36).

It says for example that ”Not many…should presume to be teachers…” Because those who teach will be ”judged more strictly” (James 3:1).

It says so much about words.

And words are important in our testimony about Christ. There has to be a vital combination of both life and lip. So here are two thoughts from today’s reading:

  1. Persevere in witness to Jesus (17): ”continued” – there was consistency in their speaking. They did not give up, even though hostility buzzed around their heads like mosquitoes. There were people who were not happy about what they were doing (19), but they would not be silenced.
  1. Persevere in verbal witness to Jesus (17, 18): ”continued to spread the word”… Listen to the impact: ”because they had heard…went out to meet him.” (See also John 4:30/39-42).

You never know what impact you may have. The Pharisees may have been exaggerating in their frustrated exclamation (19), but see behind it the ”Many people” (18) who were being impacted. These outstanding results came from persevering verbal witness to Jesus. As our church’s youth pastor reminded me in a recent conversation, the seed is the Word. ”Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how.”  (Mark 4:27). There is life in the seed; there is power in the seed. So let’s keep sowing.

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