Serving the Betrayer

Over the next few weeks, we’re going to reflect on John 13-17. Sometimes referred to as the “farewell discourses,” these teachings are unique to the book of John. I’ve chosen to dwell here for two reasons. First, it fits the Easter season. I hope these blogs enhance your own contemplation of this holy season. Second, John arranges this material as Jesus’ final message to his followers before his death, resurrection and ascension. This is what he wanted most for them to know before he was crucified. Jesus also drops hints throughout these chapters that his words aren’t meant for the twelve alone, but for all the believers who would come after them. That’s us!

Most of John 13-17 is comprised of teaching by Jesus, but the whole section kicks of with a significant action: Jesus washes the feet of his disciples. Before continuing on, take a moment to read the account in John 13:1-11.

Many of us have learned about this powerful and symbolic moment, likely with an emphasis on just how dirty feet were in that time and place and just how low of a job foot washing was for Jesus to perform. This was a job for the lowest servant, certainly not for a rabbi. This fact accounts for the characteristically visceral response of Peter, who at first is appalled by Jesus’ actions. It’s likely that Peter was offended on two fronts. One, that his rabbi would embarrass himself like this and, two, that his rabbi would expect him to do the same. After all, the expectation of disciples was to emulate the actions and teaching of their rabbi. Jesus was teaching them that he expected them to serve others, even if it meant taking the lowest position available, that of a foot washer.

What bookends this section is what gripped me most as I re-read the passage recently. After remarking on Jesus’ love for his disciples, John records that this scene occurred “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… rose from supper… ” (13:2-3) Here follows the familiar story. Then at the end of the story, John tells us that Jesus “knew who was to betray him; and that’s why he said ‘Not all of you are clean’” (13:11).

These statements about Judas seemed out of place for me at first, but then I realized the extent of Jesus’ selfless love and service. He served Judas, in a selfless and even humiliating way, knowing full well what the end result would be: betrayal. Honestly, if I knew that my sacrifice on someone else’s behalf wouldn’t make one positive difference in their life, I wouldn’t do it, but Jesus sets a different example. His love for his disciples, his love for everyone isn’t dependent upon what they do or believe. And we are to follow the example of our rabbi. Our love and service of others isn’t merely a means to an end, it is an end in itself. Hopefully, when we love and serve others, it will result in positive life change or in them turning to faith in Christ, but Jesus’ example shows us that he considers people to be worthy of love even if they don’t.

Lord, I pray that you would stir our hearts to see people as you see them, possessing intrinsic value bestowed upon them by you. Overcome our fears by the power of the cross. Embolden us to serve, love and sacrifice on behalf of others if for no other reason than that you love them. 

Sean's Picks

In a couple of my recent sermons, I've referenced the biblical concepts of righteousness and justice. Here's another great video from the Bible Project that explains these ideas really well:

Missions Spotlight:
Jennifer Marmolejos (YoungLife)

We were blessed to have Jennifer Marmolejos join us for Quest on Sunday to share an update about her ministry with YoungLife. You can watch the recording of that update by clicking here.

Here are the latest prayer request pertaining to Jen's ministry:
* YL Service project with the Walter Hoving Home to fall into place this Spring! This is a wonderful ministry that has housed and helped thousands of women reclaim their lives from drug and alcohol abuse.
* Somerville high school adult connections for Young Life to launch there in the Fall. I've connected with a local mom in that town who was a YL kid back in the 80s and has been praying for Young Life for her kids and wants to help pioneer YL at Somerville HS (which is a town away from Bridgewater, isn't God just so in the details??)
* Summer camp requests dates to be APPROVED for WL and YL.
* Over our YL and WL leaders & for new leaders as some graduate this Spring.
* Wisdom, protection and discernment for me in this associate area director role.
* For Christian and I as we are embarking on a new journey!

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