It’s the day before Jesus will die on the Cross. He’s spending one more evening with His disciples – a very important evening. It’s time for the Passover Feast and Jesus is going to teach His disciples The Lesson of the C’s. What Jesus teaches them will serve them well in their lives and ministries. These lessons are for us as well.
“Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.” John 13:1
The Lord’s disciples were not recent converts – they were not on the fence about following Jesus – they had made a serious commitment to Christ. 11 of them (minus Judas Iscariot) had given up everything to follow the Lord. They had been with Him for more than 3 years and experienced all kinds of ministry. They were committed to Jesus and He loved them for it – He was going to love them to the end. What’s most important about this is that Jesus was committed to them. He was so committed that He died on the Cross to save His disciples from sin.
“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13
“And supper being ended, the devil having 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 to God, rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. Then He came to Simon Peter. And Peter said to Him, ‘Lord, are You washing my feet?’ Jesus answered and said to him, ‘What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this.’ Peter said to Him, ‘You shall never wash my feet!’ Jesus answered him, ‘If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.’ Simon Peter said to Him, ‘Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head!’ Jesus said to him, ‘He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you.’ For He knew who would betray Him; therefore He said, ‘You are not all clean.’ John 13:3-11
Jesus used this opportunity to teach His disciples that they were clean before God – all of them except one. Jesus was cleaning them on the outside by washing their feet, but what He would accomplish on the Cross the next day would clean them forever on the inside. He would make them spiritually clean and set them apart for their service to God.
“Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.” Ephesians 5:25-27
“So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, ‘Do you know what I have done to you? You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.” John 13:3-17
Jesus taught His disciples about the powerful connection He had made with them – and the connection they would need to have with each other and those they served. What a stunning example of a servant’s heart. We will experience our most powerful ministry in the lives of others as we “connect” with them through humility and service. That service begins with other believers – then will spread with great power throughout our community and nation. We are first “connected” to God the Father through God the Son – then we connect with each other in mutual love and works of service.
“By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:35
“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” John 14:1-3
Jesus had been a great comfort to His disciples. He loved them and spoke words of encouragement to them continually. He was about to leave them, but for a good reason. He was doing what He needed to do to prepare an eternal home for them – and He would be back!
“And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.” John 14:16-18
Jesus was not going to leave the disciples without continual comfort – He was going to send them another Helper. The Holy Spirit would live with them and be in them. And again the promise that Jesus would return for them. Very comforting.
“Philip said, ‘Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.’ Jesus answered: ‘Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves. I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” John 14:8-14
The heart of discipleship is continual communion with God. Jesus taught that lesson to the disciples many times before and used Philip’s question to remind them about the special relationship they had with God through Jesus. Philip should have understood by now – “‘Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time?” The disciples still had more to learn for the ministry Jesus was going to give them after His Death, Resurrection and Ascension to Heaven. They needed to grasp the concept of being “in” Christ and Christ being “in” the Father and the Father being “in” Christ. The disciples were “in” God because they were “in” Christ. God was going to do great things through the disciples – greater even than what Jesus did – and that because Jesus was returning to be with His Father in Heaven. Jesus would give the disciples anything they asked in His Name, “so that the Son may bring glory to the Father.” That’s the key – whatever brings glory to the Father. How could it be any other way?
“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31
“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.” John 15:1-8
Jesus reminded the disciples that He had made them clean through the Word He had spoken to them. Then Jesus told the disciples what they needed to do in their relationship to Him – continue. That’s the meaning of the word “abide” (Greek – meinate). Jesus used an example that was clear to the disciples. They were all familiar with vines and those who dressed the vines. They understood that the fruit of the vine was grown on branches attached to the vine. The fruit took nourishment from the branches that received nourishment from the vine. The disciples knew that the vinedresser pruned the branches of the vine so the branches would continually bring forth maximum numbers of fruit from season to season. They knew that branches that withered on the vine had to be cut and destroyed for the health of the vine and the production of maximum fruit.
What an amazing visual lesson Jesus gave His disciples that night! They would have the privilege of bringing glory to God by “bearing much fruit.”
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23
Jesus knew that the only thing that could take His disciples – then and now – through all the challenges of serving God was continuing in the special love relationship God designed for His children.
“As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you. You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you. These things I command you, that you love one another.” John 15:9-17
Love is the key to everything in the Christian life. We gain our life, our strength, our purpose, our hope – through love. We must abide in it – continue in it – every moment. With love we will have great success – without it great defeat.
“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 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, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.” 1 Corinthians 13:1-8
The Helper Jesus promised His disciples – the Holy Spirit – would be a great comfort to the disciples in their ministry. He would also be the One to do the work of convicting people about their sin and their need for the Savior.
“And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.” John 16:8-11
Another vital part of the Holy Spirit’s work in the lives of the disciples would be guiding them into all Truth.
“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you.” John 16:12-15
Jesus was just hours from His arrest, beating, humiliation and death – but what was on His Mind that evening was providing for His disciples. Yes, He was leaving them – but they would not be alone. You and I are not alone. Jesus is thinking of us right now – providing for us right now. We are united in Christ – united with each other – prepared for service to our Lord and Savior.
“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.” John 17:20-23
“Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”