John 13:1-11 | The Suffering Servant | Andrew Gutierrez
Topic: Worship Gatherings Passage: John 13:1–13:11
Please open your Bibles this morning to John 13. Obviously every single word of Scripture is inspired, every single letter, every single part of a letter Jesus said. But I’ll be honest that ever since we started John 1, I’ve had my eyes set on John 13. It’s an exciting time, as Dave reminded me this morning. We’re going to the upper room together.
And it’s as if Jesus in our day and age was preaching a message in John 1 through 12 to the entire world or the entire city of Prescott, the courthouse where thousands are gathered. But then now he goes away for a private retreat with those who are his disciples, and there’s a small room and a small group of people, and he teaches them as one who loves them till the end. And we’ll be in the upper room for a little while together—John 13 through 17.
But it’s exciting to be starting this portion of John—really the second part of John—the first part being Jesus’ public ministry, this part being his private ministry. And for chapter 13, I’ve entitled this series “Love and Betrayal.” The reason is, you see a lot of love in this passage, namely from Christ to us. And you also see a lot of betrayal. Satan in the heart of Judas. But you also see a temporary betrayal from one of Jesus’ own disciples who actually did love him—Peter. So we’ll see a lot in this chapter that we call “Love and Betrayal,” but for the morning we will look at verses 1 through 11 of chapter 13.
Alexander Maclaren said this about the upper room discourse: “When these verses are examined with proper reverential excitement, they will accomplish great good in our lives.” And I would add, in our church. So my prayer is that this study through the upper room, chapters 13 through 17, would really change our church little by little as we come reverently to these verses and respond rightly.
I’ve entitled the message this morning “The Suffering Servant.” The suffering servant. Follow along as I read John 13:1-11.
Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.” For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “Not all of you are clean.”
The suffering servant.
If you would answer the question, what would God in human flesh do right before he died? If you would answer that question, what would God in human flesh do before he died? If you were to answer that question in one word, what would that one word be? Pray? Hope? Long? I would submit that the best way to answer that question about what God in human flesh would do right before he died, that the best answer would be serve.
Right before Jesus dies, he is seen serving, because he loves. This loving servant-mindedness from our Lord. We know based on our study in John so far that he has been increasingly in these final days before his death troubled in spirit. Troubled in spirit. He’s concerned. He knows—it’s not about the nails, by the way. It’s not about the beard being ripped out. It’s not about the crown of thorns. He was about to suffer the wrath of God for everyone in human history who would ever believe in him. That’s what he was going to endure. He is troubled in spirit.
And what dominates his actions in his final hours of his life is service. Not selfishness, but service. He serves when he prays for us in John 17. He serves when he teaches us, when he teaches by his own words and when he teaches in action, like we see in chapter 13. He serves when he puts his mother into the care of John while he’s on the cross. He’s constantly serving, even till his dying breath. As he washes the disciples’ feet, he is serving. Jesus is the one who serves while he is suffering.
This morning I want to look at three examples of what our suffering servant shows us in the final hours of his life. Three examples of what our suffering servant shows us in the final hours of his life.
1. The Sovereign Love of Jesus
In verse 1 through 3 we see the sovereign love of Jesus. The sovereign love of Jesus. Amidst betrayal and the adversary’s threats, John shows us that he loves his own and that he’s in control. There’s a lot of threat in verses 1 through 3. But the threat is not as strong as his sovereign love, his all-authoritative love for his own.
Verse 1 of chapter 13 says this: “Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.” To the utmost.
So this is right before the Passover feast. We’ve known that for a few chapters, haven’t we? We’ve known that these are the final days of Jesus’ life, and it happens to be the week of the Passover. And Jesus is, not by coincidence but by divine decree, going to die on Passover. Why? Because he is the ultimate Passover lamb. He’s the one who covers sinners in his blood so that they would be made clean while he absorbs the wrath of God and the justice of God.
So Jesus is going to die on Passover. This is just a few hours, something about twelve to fifteen hours before he dies. Jesus knew his hour had come. We see that in verse 3. “Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God.” So Jesus knows that it’s time for him to die. This isn’t a surprise to Jesus. The devil didn’t just kind of wiggle in at some point when Jesus was at this kind of crescendo of his ministry, and then the devil took it all down surprisingly. That’s not the way it worked. Jesus has always known what would happen.
In verse 11 it says that he knows his betrayer. He knows who it is. The rest of them don’t. He does. Back in John chapter 6 it says that Jesus knew that Judas would betray him. So he’s known this for a long time—ever since the foundation of the world, in fact. Remember, Jesus is on a divine mission. It starts in heaven, moves to earth, and then goes back to heaven where he will be rewarded for his work.
And we learn in these first few verses that he loves his own that have been given to him by the Father. Remember chapter 6. The Father has given a chosen group of people to the Son, and this makes it clear. Jesus loved his own, loved specifically his own that were given to him by the Father.
Now his own are a mess. Thomas won’t believe until he sees the nail marks on the fingers. We learn that later on in John. Peter denies him three times after saying clearly, I will never deny you. Jesus says, you’ll do it and you’ll do it more than once and more than twice. His own are a mess. Their love may waver. The threats of the enemy might be real. But the love of Jesus—mark it—the love that Jesus has for his own does not ever waver.
I think some people need to hear that this morning. Your love may be cold and fickle. My love may be cold and fickle. The love of Jesus Christ never ever wavers. It’s not dependent on circumstances. It’s dependent on his immutable, unchangeable character. Therefore it’s solid and secure and constant.
Verse 2: “During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him,” so we learn quickly in that little parenthetical statement, it’s suppertime. The devil has put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray Jesus. This is kind of setting the stage for what’s gonna happen next. It’s kind of giving us all the background information before we get to the rest of the upper room discourse. This is what’s going on in the upper room.
The disciples—all they notice is food and lounging and eating. That’s all they notice at this point. But behind the scenes, the devil is putting it into the heart of one of them who had been with him for three years to betray Jesus. There’s a lot going on that they can’t see.
Jesus gets up during supper. Verse 3: “Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God”—that’s when he got up. Jesus knows what Judas will do before Judas even does it. Jesus knows that the Father had given all things into his hands. He had given him all rule and power and authority. Jesus knows exactly what’s going on. He knows about all the threats. He’s always known about them. He’s always known when they would come. He’s known how they would come, and he’s known that God’s purposes are bigger than any threats. He knows all of this.
Remember chapter 5, verses 22 to 27? He says that he has the authority. Jesus has the authority to judge and to give life. The Father gave the Son the authority to judge and to give life. He’s in control of everything. No matter what Satan does, no matter what Judas does, no matter what Peter does, no matter what Thomas does, he’s in control of everything. He is sovereign alone.
As Jesus completed his mission on the earth, the Father handed over to him all power and authority over life, kingdoms, nations forever. This is what Jesus earned. Jesus is said in the Scripture to earn all of this wealth and privileges and the nations. You could say that because Jesus came, lived a perfect life, died on the cross, rose again, went back to the Father, when he went back to the Father, that was the place where he received all of these blessings because of what he had done. You can see that in Philippians 2. The Father greatly rewarded him for what he did.
So the nations of the world are known as the reward of his suffering. He suffered; he owns them. And this is what’s happening here. Jesus knows that all things have been given to him by the Father. He knows that he’s in control. He knows that he has all the power. He knows that he can raise up to life. He knows it all.
That’s why heaven sings this song—Revelation 5:12: “Worthy is the Lamb.” He’s worthy because he earned something. “Worthy is the lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” He’s worthy because he earned it. And Jesus knows here that he’s in the process of earning this power and great reward.
So, if the devil is threatening to kill him and to harm his followers, we need to understand that Jesus has the authority to judge and to give life. And if that’s true, then we can trust Christ in any spiritual battle that we are in. The greatest spiritual battle in all the world is for the souls of man. And the cross is where Jesus would earn them, the cross and the empty tomb. If Satan can threaten at that moment and cannot overcome Christ who sovereignly loves his own, then what do we have to fear?
At the greatest, most hot part of the battle, Satan was defeated. There’s nothing for us to fear. Satan can bruise the heel; Christ will crush the head. Satan can be allowed to do harm; Christ will conquer him and restore his own. Satan responds to new information, and then he operates, changes tactics. Christ knows everything, and the plan is unfolding just as the Father has intended.
I read this morning, came across a prayer this morning in Valley of Vision. It’s called “The Servant in the Battle.” Listen to this prayer. “Oh Lord, I bless you the issue of the battle between thyself and Satan has never been uncertain, and will end in victory. Calvary broke the dragon’s head, and I contend with a vanquished foe, who with all his subtlety and strength has already been overcome. When I feel the serpent at my heel may I remember him whose heel was bruised, but who, when bruised, broke the devil’s head.”
This is what believers say. We know that the devil is a threat. He can do certain harm. But he cannot separate us from the love of Christ.
In response to the threat of evil forces and false teachers, the apostle John later writes to the church these words. 1 John 4:4: “Little children, you are from God and have overcome them [these threats], for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” These verses in John 13:1-3 are meant to give us steel in our bones. They’re meant to strengthen us when we fear spiritual failures. Our Lord sovereignly is in control. He loves his own, even to the end.
The greatest threats to our salvation, the greatest threats to our salvation are our own flesh and the devil. Our own flesh and the devil and his control of this world system. Those are the greatest threats to our salvation. Isn’t it good to know, based on this passage, that Christ has overcome both of them by his sovereign love?
Do you fear like you’ll ever deny Christ? Peter denied Christ and was brought back because of the love of Christ. Do you ever fear what Satan could do to you? Christ is sovereign over whatever Satan does. There might be some this morning who, maybe the thing you need to hear most in this message are these words: “[H]aving loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.” He loved them to the end.
2. The Humble Service of Jesus
We learn something else about our suffering savior as he faces death. We learn secondly about the humble service of Jesus (verses 4-6). The humble service of Jesus. In the act of foot washing, Jesus teaches us that service is to be done humbly. Service is to be done humbly.
Jesus, knowing all of these things, knowing that he’s going back to the Father where he’d come from, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, gets up in the middle of dinner, “rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. [Verse 5] Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him.”
So Jesus—everyone’s eating, people are talking, maybe pottery is clanking together—all of a sudden Jesus gets up and goes and takes off his outer garment, or rolls up his sleeves, as we might say, takes off his coat, his outer garment, and he gets into the posture of a servant, a household servant. He takes a towel, wraps it around his waist because that’s what he’ll dry the disciples’ feet with, and takes what would really be two basins. And it says that he poured water over their feet. He would pour water over their feet, and under their feet would be an empty basin so that the water would collect in the empty basin, and then he would wash their feet and then dry them. That’s what Jesus is doing at this time.
Now, for as much talking as might have been going on during dinner, I can assure you at this time, nobody was talking. Why? Because not even Jewish slaves were required to wash people’s feet. It was below a Jewish slave to do this. They would get a Gentile slave to do this type of work.
And the one who created heaven and earth, the one who gives breath to every single person, the one who has created every blade of grass, the one who controls every molecule in the universe forever, got down and washed filthy, dirty feet. That certainly was below Christ, and he embraced it.
Jesus lowered himself in order to raise his disciples up, to serve his disciples. This is the character of Jesus. This is the character of God. It’s rather humiliating, but Jesus humbles himself in order to serve.
You see this in a number of places in the New Testament—Mark 10, Philippians 2, 2 Corinthians 8, here in John 13. Jesus is constantly serving, constantly serving people who should really be serving him. Jesus demonstrates that true service is humiliating.
The service of Jesus shows that he will pay the price for what his disciples need. They needed clean feet; he’d be the one to do it. We also need to be clean. We need to be clean, and he’ll get dirty to make that happen. We need to be rescued from sin; we can’t do it of ourselves, so he’ll come down to live the life that we couldn’t live, die the death that we should’ve died, in order to save us. He’s constantly working and suffering in order to give people what they need. That’s true service. That’s what he’s doing.
When I think about the service of Christ—and I’m not saying this to flatter you; I’m saying it to commend you—I think of our church. I want you to think about this. So much service goes on week after week after week after week. It’s normal that I would hear about an act of service that’s been going on for months that I never knew about at our church. This is a normal reality for Canyon Bible Church of Prescott.
And I want to take this time really to commend those of you who serve so faithfully. We have men and women who show up on Wednesday nights to serve at mid-high and high school ministry. I won’t ask for a show of hands, but how many of you would want to do that every Wednesday night? But we have people that do that faithfully, and they don’t get paid to do it. They do it because they love those students.
We have women who work in the home and take care of children constantly, day and night, and then come here on Sunday and at least once a month, sometimes more, take care of other people’s children so that you could be in here singing and learning. That’s normal in our church.
We have men who work full-time jobs who really, because they don’t do it normally, teach Sunday School to children and sometimes will put in twenty to thirty hours to teach lessons because they want to get it right and be faithful to the students, to the children. That’s service. It costs you something to give somebody else what they need.
We have people who constantly open their homes for small group ministry, and that’s not easy. Cleaning house because people are gonna be in it every single week. Not easy. We have people that do that all the time.
We have people in men’s and women’s ministry who study to prepare lessons, sometimes forty, fifty, sixty hours for one lesson because, again, they want to make sure they’re saying what they’re supposed to say and serve you and I. This is what happens in our church all the time.
He won’t like that I say this, but your music leader who led music this morning has been out of town for two weeks away from his family. He shows up here, early Sunday morning, to lead us in music. His wife should also be commended. She’s really lived as a single mom for a couple of weeks, in a sense. But she serves because of her love for the church.
And I’m just listing a couple. There are many, many others. Security team, who’s constantly watching out for us, not just on Sunday morning but also at women’s Bible study. This is just normal, and these are just kind of the formal ministries. There are also lots of informal ways that people are serving that we would never see.
We have a group of people, when they hear about a need in the church—financial, moving, whatever it may be—they seek to meet it, because they work and they will be low so that someone else can be high.
Where do they get this from? Their Lord. You might call this extraordinary, amazing. You know what I would call it? Normal. Normal Christianity. Normal everyday life.
You know, this kind of normal Christianity doesn’t show up in Christian magazines or in Christian television features. We might not have the most acreage. We might not have the most satellite campuses. We might not have the most gymnasiums or whatever it may be, but I think the true mark of a thriving church is the number of manned towels and water basins there are. There are needs, and we have people with towels and water basins willing to wash dirty feet in the name of Christ.
You know that there’s a famous stat that twenty percent of the people in the church do the work of the ministry. I went through our church membership list, and to the best of my ability based on what I know—and I know there are people serving in ways that I don’t know—but just from what I know, I came up with our number. Seventy-one percent. We’re not normal in that regard, and I praise the Lord for that.
In a sense actually, we are normal. We’re what normal Christianity should look like. Seventy-one percent of our church members are serving actively, and it may be higher. This is just like Christ.
2 Corinthians 8:9 says, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.” He became poor so that we might become rich. He died so that we might live. He suffered so that we wouldn’t, for all eternity. This is the heart of service. You give yourself for the good of others.
Jesus speaks now for the first time in this account in verses 6 through 11. He speaks for the first time and teaches us about our need of being cleansed. So we’ve just seen Jesus—the sovereign love that he has, the sovereign love of Christ. We’ve seen the humble service of Jesus. And finally, we see the necessary cleansing of Jesus.
3. The Necessary Cleansing of Jesus
The necessary cleansing of Jesus—verses 6 through 11. Verse 6. He’s making his way around the disciples, washing their feet. Thomas. Judas would have had his feet washed by Christ. Then he gets to Andrew, James, John, and verse 6—Peter.
“He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, ‘Lord, do you wash my feet?’” The “you” and “my” are emphatic here. Lord, do you wash my feet? There’s something wrong here in Peter’s eyes.
“Jesus answered him, ‘What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand’” (John 13:7). As with so many things Jesus did, they made sense after the resurrection. After the resurrection, the disciples go, oooohhhh. Right now Peter doesn’t get it. He doesn’t get it.
“Peter said to him, ‘You shall never wash my feet.’ Jesus answered him, ‘If I do not wash you, you have no share with me’” (John 13:8). Peter tries here to forbid the Lord from doing something. Again. Lord, you’ll never be put to death! We know how that ended. Jesus said, get behind me, Satan.
McGregor, one commentator, said this (I love this quote): “Peter is humble enough to see the incongruity of Christ’s actions but proud enough to dictate to his master.” So Peter’s so humble that he sees, Lord, this isn’t right. True. Humble thought, Peter. Lord, you will not do this. No, that’s pride, Peter. He’ll do what he will do.
Peter doesn’t want this washing to happen, and Jesus tells him that it needs to happen. Peter might not want it, but what Peter doesn’t know and understand is that he needs it. He needs it. Here we learn that there is more than just a physical foot washing going on here. When Jesus says to Peter, no, if you don’t have your feet washed, you do not become a partaker with me, have a share with me, share in my inheritance, have communion with me, have a relationship with me. So Jesus is obviously saying more than just, if I don’t wash your feet, you won’t be in heaven with me. It’s more than just the feet here and cleaning of feet.
Washing is a picture of being clean from sin, being cleansed of sin. This is in the Old Testament and later on in the New as the apostles write referring to these moments. They write about being cleansed from sin, washed from sin.
Listen to Titus 3:3-5. “For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, [and you can almost see a picture of that with Jesus with a towel and a washbasin] he saved us [now you picture a cross] not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by [note] the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit.”
Peter needed to be washed of his sin and needed to be renewed by the Holy Spirit to live the life he was supposed to live. We need to be washed by Christ. We need our sins washed away so that we can live as we were intended to live. Everyone needs that. And that’s what Christ is saying. You need me to wash you. If I do not wash you, you’re still unclean and have no share with me.
What does it take to get into heaven? Perfection. You’re imperfect. So let me wash your imperfection away so that you can be perfect and come be with me. That’s all grace, all a gift of God.
Verse 9: “Simon Peter said to him, ‘Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!’” Peter doesn’t do anything halfway. Nothing halfway. All right then, pour the whole thing over me. I understand what you mean; pour the whole thing over me.
Jesus keeps teaching. “Jesus said to him, ‘The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you’” (John 13:10). The first part of that verse, Jesus is saying that you don’t need to be made clean entirely again. You’ve been born again, in the words of John 3. You don’t need to be born again, again, and again, and again and again.
I love those two words. “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean.” Every Christian, whether you’ve been a Christian for ten minutes or ten years, every Christian is completely clean. In other religions, you see people working their way into different levels of spirituality. Not in Christianity. You’re saved in Christ; you’re completely clean. What if I sin horribly this week and feel horrible about it? Completely clean. Tell me who else offers that. No one. Not only offers it, but can actuate it, actually earned that status. Christ. Christ alone.
Every Christian is completely clean in the eyes of God. Christian this morning, when you think of how God views you, do you think he views you as completely clean, positionally before him? You can stand there on judgment day because you are in Christ and stand there confidently, and not one ounce of that is because of anything you’ve done. You stand there confidently because you’re with Christ. Apart from him, I don’t deserve to be here, but with him I fully deserve to be here by his righteousness, because I’m completely clean.
That’s the message of the gospel. Not our own works. His divine initiative, his divine power, his divine righteousness is what brings us complete cleansing.
You know, Jesus is teaching here that you are completely clean, but your feet still get dirty. Positionally before God, you are clean, but day to day in practical living, you’re not always completely clean. But in the standing of God, the way he views you, you are secure. You are clean. You’re destined for heaven (see Colossians 3:1-4). You’ve been seated with Christ at the right hand. You are there.
But we go through this world getting our feet dirty, don’t we? The picture here is, in the time of the first century, you know, you were invited to go to someone’s house to eat a meal, and so you would wash. You would bathe at your house. And then you would put your sandals on and go a few blocks maybe to their house to eat.
Well, when you get there, you don’t need to take another bath again because you’re clean, but you need your feet washed because you’ve been tracking through the street with dirt, manure, things like that. You need to have your feet washed. That’s what Jesus is teaching. And he’s teaching that his disciples are completely clean; they just need their feet washed every now and then. That’s what Jesus is teaching.
So a believer is always completely clean in the sight of God—our positional righteousness—but a believer must still confess their sin and be forgiven on a practical day by day living out of that Christian life. That’s practical righteousness.
It’s like those of you who are married. When you get in an argument with your spouse or when you sin against your spouse—you yell or get angry or say something you shouldn’t or don’t do something you said you’d do—when there’s a rift in the relationship, you’re not less married. You’re still as married as you’ve always been. You’re still married.
If you’re at the store buying something and you’ve just had an argument with your spouse, and someone says, hey, you know, how you doin’? You don’t say, oh, a little less married; we had this fight. No, no, no. Uh, we’re struggling through some stuff, but she’s still Mrs. Gutierrez, and I’m still Mr. Gutierrez. That’s the way it is. The standing is still there. But the relationship—there’s a rift. A Christian understands that.
John again, later in his epistle 1 John, he writes to believers and says that if this isn’t your experience, that you would kind of regularly acknowledge your sin that you still live in and still perform, then you might not even be a Christian, because Christians know, I still sin. I’m still secure, but I still sin.
Listen to 1 John 1:7-10. “But if we walk in the light [here’s our normal pattern of living] as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” So if the pattern of your life isn’t to be walking in the light of Christ, to be doing what he says, if that’s not the pattern, maybe you’re not in Christ. But for Christians, the pattern is to walk this way. And his blood cleanses us from all sin. And it’s as if someone says, well, shouldn’t there not be any sin in the Christian’s life? Well, there shouldn’t be, but there is still.
Verse 8: John says, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us” (1 John 1:8-10).
So a Christian, if they are a Christian, regularly deals with their sin. I’ve been prideful. I’ve been impatient. I’ve been lustful. I’ve stolen in this regard. I’ve done this or that. A Christian knows that. They know the pattern of their life might not be that; they know they’re forgiven, but they still come before the Lord regularly, confessing—that’s the word John uses in verse 9, “If we confess our sins”—which means to agree with God about what we’ve done. God knows it. We know it. We might as well just say it to him.
That’s the way a Christian lives. I am secure, I stand with Christ, I am locked into heaven; and I still sin, and I want to confess because I don’t want there to be any rift in that relationship between me and him. That’s the idea that Jesus is talking about.
But you don’t need to be born again, again and again and again. You don’t need to keep rededicating your life to Christ. You dedicate it once, and you confess your sin the rest of the time, knowing that it’s forgiven because you are locked in with him. That’s what Jesus is teaching.
But in the eyes of God, the believer is completely clean. Jesus tells them that all of them are cleaned and are completely cleaned. He also tells them that not all in the group are cleaned. Who’s he referring to? Judas.
Those of you who are clean, those of you who have been washed—you’re all completely cleaned. But not all of you in this room are clean. He’s known all along that Judas would be the one who would betray him. Again, we saw that in chapter 6, verse 64.
Remember, Jesus is showing the group that they need to be washed by him. When they are washed by him, he considers them to be washed completely. We are the same. We need to be free of the stain of sin. We’ve sinned. We’ve got the stain of sin on our clothes, and we’re trying to scrub it before we get to the judgment seat, and guess what? Nothing we do can get that sin off. And if he sees that sin, we’re in torment forever, punished forever.
But Christ comes on his own initiative, while we were dead in trespasses and sins, while we were alienated, hostile in mind, and engaged in evil deeds (Colossians 1:21-23), Christ comes and washes that stain, ironically, with his blood. His blood washes us completely from sin.
How do we need Christ to serve us? We needed Christ to suffer the wrath of God that was aimed at us. And Christ willingly came and did that so that we’d be clean. How is it that we get heaven? Christ came and endured all of the wrath of God for us, and we’re completely clean.
I want you if you’re a Christian this morning to believe that you are completely clean. There’s a pastor named Matt Chandler, and he gives this great quote, and he says, God does not love a future version of you. If you’re a believer, God loves you now, till the end. There’s a special love that he has for his own that is a securing love. He loves you now, to the end. That is as strong as it ever will be. Nothing can add or take away from that. You are completely clean if you are in Christ, and it’s not because of how you did last week.
But we also, wanting to get the full understanding of what Jesus teaches, we also need to believe that we must constantly confess our sin to have our feet cleaned. Because we may be secure in his love, but there’s still a rift in the relationship sometimes based on our own doing, not based on what he’s done. So we admit that. I’ve done this. I’ve been prideful in this way. I’ve dishonored you in this way. He wants us to do that. He wants us to do that.
That’s why we awkwardly do that in our service on Sunday mornings. Whereas maybe in some places they don’t want you to ever mention sin, we will mention it here, and we’ll mention our own sin as being a problem this last week.
Josh led us in a prayer of confessing our own sin to the Lord. You know what it is? It’s not us washing ourselves again. That’s not what we’re doing on Sunday mornings. We’re collectively having our feet washed and saying, I’ve tracked through this world and made some missteps this week. I know I’m completely clean, but I need to come and make this right before you before I start singing anymore and before I claim to want to hear what you have to say. I’m acknowledging I’m still not what I should be.
And if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from most unrighteousness. You know; you’re talking to me. I know. Don’t misquote that verse! Pastor, don’t do that! He cleanses us from all unrighteousness. All of it. Past, present, future. Little, big. All unrighteousness.
Our heart should regularly be honest about what we’ve done. Sometimes we’re so proud that we may sin, but we want to tell people who know it why we sinned. Well if you wouldn’t have blank, then I wouldn’t have done that. That’s not a confession of sin.
If you wouldn’t have tempted me, I wouldn’t have sinned. I’ll remind you, Christ was tempted and did not sin. Same Holy Spirit that ministered to him ministers to us. There’s never excuses for sin. The excuse for sin is, I’m a sinner. That’s it.
There’s something freeing about that, right? To be able to say, I’ve been impatient. I’ve been angry. I’ve been so opinionated, I’ve dominated our conversation in anger and not even let you speak. I so believe the best about my own opinions and the worst about anybody else’s.
There’s freedom in saying all of that. Because we know it’s been forgiven and that Christ will keep changing us. But to just kind of keep living that life and making excuses for it—doesn’t fool him. Agree with God about how sinful we’ve been and enjoy forgiveness.
I say it here all the time. Conviction of sin should lead to confession and repentance, which leads to joy. There’s something special about knowing there’s nothing between God and I. Everything that I know I’ve done I’ve said to him and said to others. And he forgives me. There’s nothing in between us. Conviction of sin leads to confession which leads to joy. Believers, know that you are completely clean and keep confessing sin to Christ.
In Jesus’ final hours, he starts this upper room discourse, and immediately in verses 1 through 11 we start to learn some things about him in the face of death. We learn that he’s the sovereign loving one. We learn of the sovereign love of Jesus. We learn of the humble service of Jesus and the necessary cleansing of Jesus. We need to hear all three of those parts of this account.
Now I want to finish by asking you this: Why do people refuse gifts? Why do people refuse gifts? I think there are really two reasons. One, they don’t care for the gift. No thanks. I don’t want it. It’s kind of ugly. I don’t want it.
Secondly, pride is a reason that people refuse gifts. We don’t like feeling like we need something. Have you ever felt awkward when someone pays for your meal? Why? Well, it feels weird to admit that that’s like really a blessing to us. Like, man. That costs nineteen dollars. I need nineteen dollars. But when we—no, no, no—we say no because we don’t like to feel like we need something. We like to be self-sufficient. I can totally cover nineteen dollars. Oh, that’s such a gift. I need nineteen dollars. Pride oftentimes is a reason we don’t accept gifts.
Humble people know how to accept a gift. Thank you. I really needed your help. I couldn’t do that the same way on my own.
So we refuse gifts because we have little regard for the gift or because our pride keeps us from admitting we need the gift. Same way with Christ. Same way with Christ. People refuse Christ because they think little of what he offers. They think he offers a life full of constraints. I can’t watch these movies; I can’t go to these places. Phew. They think little of the gift. They have no idea that he’s offering a relationship with him for eternity.
Or, they refuse the gift because they don’t need him. I’m a good person. Look at people all around the world. Watch the news for a little while, and you tell me who’s a better person, me or the people on the news? Me. We refuse the gift of Christ, the gift of salvation, because we think little of it and because we think that we don’t need it.
My prayer is that as we go through John 13 through 17, we’d understand more of what he offers, what he calls us to, that we would see his love, that we would embrace the gift that he offers us—eternal life.
If you are not a Christian this morning, I started out this message by saying this was a message given, this was a series of chapters given in an upper room just for his disciples. The last paragraph in chapter 12 before this chapter was a final call for people to believe in all that he’d been saying. And then, in a sense, he shut the door and spoke to them no more as many of them rejected, and he turned his ministry to his disciples.
By the grace of God, if you are not in Christ this morning, you’ve got to hear what the people back in the first century who rejected Christ didn’t get to hear. You’ve got to hear how he loves his disciples. You’ve got to hear the rustling around as you’re listening in to that upper room but still on the outside. You’re listening to him—a towel being grabbed, a basin being gathered. And you hear maybe disciples near the door on the other side of it say, I can’t believe he’s washing our feet. You’ve heard this.
Christ is loving to the end. Christ is serving his people. Christ can conquer their greatest enemy. Christ brings them into a relationship with him. Christ will wash them with the washing of regeneration. Christ will do all this, and you’re still on the outside, but you can hear what’s going on in the inside. By the grace of God, we’ve got the Bible which shows what went on in the upper room. What greater love could anybody be looking for than this love? Love so amazing, so divine demands my soul, my life, my all. Let’s pray.
Lord, you are so gracious to your own. I’m trying to conjure up words that express our gratitude at how deep your love is, and they fail me. Maybe it’s best to say that we rejoice and praise you, that you love your own and you love us to the end. We worship you for that reality. We praise you for serving us while you were suffering.
Father, may these truths change our hearts to be more like you, to sing louder for you, to worship you more faithfully, and to demonstrate your love more faithfully to others. We pray this in your name, Lord. Amen.
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