A Call to Christ-likeness

Gospel of John #35: an exposition of John 13:18-35. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, August 21, 2011.

They had gathered for an evening meal.  It was a fairly lively evening in the beginning.  There was laughter and the usual joking and good natured teasing.  The food was good, the fellowship sweet, and the mood was festive.  Those gathered had no idea murder and betrayal was on the agenda that evening.  In the midst of love, fellowship and camaraderie lurked the dark, twisted heart of a betrayer.  In a matter of hours the fruit of this betrayal would lead to the horrifying murder of their leader.  The laughter and noise of the dinner was silenced as our Lord declared, “One of you will betray me.”

Betrayal.  Is there an uglier word?  The word itself implies treachery, seduction, violation of confidence and deception.  Is there any greater evil than to betray love?  Betrayal demands intimacy.  You cannot be betrayed by a stranger.  Your in no danger of an “acquaintance” betraying you.  No, you can only be betrayed by one who has feigned love and support long enough to gain your confidence.  One who has gotten close enough to you to gain your trust.  Such hatred, such cold-blooded, calculated animosity can only be described as John describes it, “Satan had already put it in the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him.”  Our text this morning is found in the 13th chapter of John’s Gospel.
Text: John 13:18-35
We have entered into the “Holy Place.”
Our Lord’s public ministry is over.
For the last few days he poured all his energy into the 12.
Teaching them, equipping them, preparing them for what was to come.
Their world is about to be shattered.
All Hell is about to break loose.
In love and kindness Jesus is preparing them to stand firm in the midst of adversity.
They’ve already been shaken by his words.

He’s already told them he is going to die.
They had to have wondered – “Does this mean I’m going to die as well?”
But they entered Jerusalem to shouts of, “Hosanna!”
Perhaps things are changing.
Maybe it won’t be so bad after all.
Then he said, “The hour has come for the glorification of the Son of Man.”
Messiah’s hour has come?
The kingdom of God is about to be established?
But then – “…unless a grain falls into the ground and dies…” – glory and death?
“I’m telling you if you hold onto your life you’ll lose it…let go and you’ll keep it – forever!”

I’m telling you their heads were spinning.  They struggled to make sense of it all.  The pieces just did not fit together.  It was just not possible.  Then as they gathered in that upper room for the meal Jesus did a remarkable thing – he washed their feet.

Knowing his hour had come…
Knowing all things had been given into his hand…
Knowing he had been betrayed…
He washed their feet – all of them including Judas!

He then commanded the 12, and us in turn, to do as he did – love sacrificially.
That brings us to our text this morning where we learn another shocking truth.

Here is one of the problems we have when reading the Scripture.  We know the story.  We know that Judas betrayed the Lord Jesus but you have to understand – it was a shock to those around that table.  No one suspected a thing!  Judas gave every appearance of a genuine believer.  He was numbered among the 12.  He was on the “inside.”

John, under the inspiration of the Spirit put this Gospel together.
Throughout he shows us these contrast.
Light and darkness.
Flesh and spirit.
Life and death.

Here is another great contrast: the black-hearted actions of Judas over against the loving concern of Jesus.  This whole account ought to give us pause.  If you’ve learned nothing else from our study of John’s Gospel you ought to have learned, “His ways are not our ways, neither are His thoughts, our thoughts!”

Working our way through this text we are going to learn…
Thesis: The proof of genuine discipleship is not in how much you know but in how accurately you reflect the character of Christ.

In a day of shallow commitments and minimal standards we would do well to learn the value of this exchange.  Often our criteria for determining who is in the family inaccurately reflects God’s standard.

Look back at verse 18.
“I know whom I’ve chosen…and one of you has lifted his heel against me.”
How long had Jesus known about Judas?
From the beginning!
Yet how did Jesus act toward Judas?
With love, kindness, grace and mercy.
It says something that none of the others had any idea.

I’m afraid I’m not so gracious.
I’m afraid my actions and attitude would have made it clear to all!
“Boy, have you noticed Rod really doesn’t care for Judas.”

So why is Jesus telling them now?
Answer 13:19.

Now I want you to see two extremely important principles within our text.

  1. Familiarity with Jesus is no assurance of a relationship with the Savior.  (13:21-30)
  2. Christlike love is the hallmark of genuine believers.  (13:33-35)

Only those who have been gloriously change can do this.
Only those who have been brought from death to life can pull this off.
Because you can only do that when you die to self.
You’re going to have to die to get there!

The proof of genuine discipleship is not in how much you know but in how accurately your reflect the character of Christ.

Familiarity with Jesus is no assurance of a relationship with the Savior.
Christlike love is the hallmark of genuine believers.

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