Jesus Passed Through Gethsemane

The Path Through Gethsemane

© 2023 C. O. Bishop

John 17:1-18:1; Matthew 26:36-56; Luke 22:39-54; Mark 14:27-50


We noted that between the time of John 13:30, when Judas Iscariot left Jesus, and went to betray him to the Chief Priests, to the time of the crucifixion and burial was less than twenty-four hours.

In John 14-16, Jesus had to prepare the disciples for His own departure, and give them solid teaching as to what they should expect regarding the Holy Spirit and His future ministry to the Church. But, beginning in chapter 17, we see the path Jesus walked with the disciples, approaching Gethsemane, and the coming betrayal.

The High Priestly Prayer of Jesus (John 17:1-18:1)

John chapter 17 is frequently called the “High priestly Prayer of Jesus.” This is because He was about to function as the High Priest for the entire human race. As you may remember, the Old Testament High Priest entered within the veil in the temple, once a year, bringing a substitutionary sacrifice for himself, first, and then for the sins of the people of Israel.

The Divine Substitute

Jesus entered once for all time, bringing His own blood as our substitute, but no sacrifice for himself, as His perfect life precluded the need. He brought a sacrifice for the sins of humanity that would take away the sins of all who placed their trust in it. He brought no sacrifice for himself, because He had no sin, so no need for a sin-offering for Himself.

The Old Testament sacrifices served as a substitute, in place of the condemned sinners. Because He is our substitute, there can be no substitute for Jesus. It is good to keep that in mind: There is no substitute for Jesus.

Eternal Life in the Here and Now

Notice in verse 3, Jesus confirms that “…this is Life Eternal, that they may know Thee, the one true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.” Eternal life is not found in any creed or ritual, or pageantry, or in pious works of any kind: It is found in an ongoing relationship with Jesus.

Interestingly, entering into that relationship is what ensures eternal life, but to experience it on a daily basis requires continually engaging in that relationship, not just knowing about Him, but in knowing Him in an ongoing relationship.

Set Apart By the Word

Further, in verses 14-17, He states that His having given His Word to the disciples is what set them apart for Him, so that they were no longer part of the World system. John 15:3, agrees, where He said that they were “clean, through the Word” which He had spoken unto them. But He goes on to say that we are to be continually sanctified (set apart…made holy to God) through the Word of God. Jesus said, “Sanctify them through thy truth. Thy Word is truth.”

Jesus prayed for the Unity of the church in verses 18-23. It might be easy to assume that He only was praying for the eleven Disciples, as they were the ones with Him at the time. But in verse 20, you can look and see where Jesus prayed for the future believers. He said He was praying for those who would believe in Jesus through the words of the disciples.

Jesus Prayed For You!

Look at it! Jesus was praying for YOU! He knew the future, not just in a general sense of what was coming, as if He were predicting the weather, but rather on an individual basis! He knew you before He created you! Jeremiah 1:5 says that before He (God) formed Jeremiah in his mother’s womb, He knew him and ordained him as a prophet to the nations.

Jesus was praying for you! And, in verse 24, He specifically declared that He wants you to be with Him throughout eternity, and to see Him face to face; to behold Him in His glorified state, which He had before the Creation, and which Peter, James and John briefly glimpsed on the Mount of Transfiguration. That is what Jesus has planned for you! Take it personally!

At Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36-46)

In John 18:1, we saw that Jesus and the Disciples crossed the Brook Kidron, and went to a place called Gethsemane where there was a garden Jesus liked. Matthew 26:36-46 encapsulates what happened there.

All eleven disciples went with Him to the Garden of Gethsemane, but Jesus had Peter, James and John go further with Him, to pray. He left the three of them to themselves, too, only asking that they “Watch with Him” in Prayer. He went a little further, and He fell on His face before the Father, and He prayed, in agony for what was to come.

What was the Agony of Gethsemane?

Luke 22:44 states that he was in such agony of Spirit that “His sweat became as it were great drops of blood falling to the ground.” Please take note that it says the sweat was “like” great drops of blood: it does not say he was sweating blood. Many readers ignore the comparison made, here, and interpret the scripture wrongly. But, regardless of the nature of His sweat; what was the source of His spiritual agony?

We think of it mainly in terms of the physical pain that He was to endure, but in Hebrews 12:2 we see that he “despised the shame” and He endured the agony of the Cross with Joy for what would result. So, if that is how He felt about the physical torture of the Cross, for what cause was he agonizing in prayer, at Gethsemane? (Look at Matthew 27:46.)

Separation From the Father

When Jesus cried out, “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken Me?” He was quoting Psalm 22:1. In that Psalm, David was prophetically describing the crucifixion. You see, none of the things described in Psalm 22 ever happened to David. It was all about Jesus. And Jesus poured Himself out for our benefit, even enduring separation from the Eternal Father for our sake.

It is difficult for us to understand how the Trinity could separate itself like that, especially since Isaiah 9:6 says that the Son shall be called the Everlasting Father. But that is what happened. And, no, I do not have to understand it. I only need to see it as a fact, and respond in faith. As a teacher, I am required to faithfully teach what God says. I am not required to understand it all.

How Much do We Understand?

In Daniel 12:8 Daniel complained that he did not understand the prophecy God had just given him. But, in the next verse, we see God’s answer: He effectively said, “Write it down and run along, Daniel! That prophecy was not for you but for the people of the future!” It comforts me, to see that I’m in “good company.” It is OK to not understand everything God says.

But, when we consider the separation Jesus faced, there are some things to remember. He saw it as a horrible, unbearable thing. We tend to take it lightly, because we have never experienced the fulness of a relationship with the Father in the same way that Jesus did. He was the Eternal Son, forever in the presence of the Father.

Another thing to remember: as horrible and as unbearable as Jesus saw that separation to be; for Him, it only lasted for three hours. For us, that separation would have been eternal, had Jesus not taken our place at the Cross. He became our substitute, to endure God’s rejection of Sin…our sin, on our behalf!

His soul-felt, spiritual agony was in the fact that God the Father turned away from Him, because Jesus had become the sin of the whole human race. 2nd Corinthians 5:21 says that He (who knew no sin) became sin, for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. That is our new position: “In Him.” And the result is that God the Father sees us as the righteousness of God…in Him. That separation and actually becoming the Sin that He hated, was what Jesus was dreading, there in Gethsemane.

Through Gethsemane (Matthew 26:47-56; John 18:4-13)

After we saw Jesus agonizing in the dark night of Gethsemane, anticipating the Cross, and we saw the disciples unable to stay awake and pray with Him, we see Him awakening them and then turning to face the advancing enemies.

There is an interesting incident, here, involving the soldiers who were sent to arrest Him. These were not Roman soldiers, but rather the temple guards under the authority of the priests, at this point. Rome became involved later in the story. But verse 47 says there was a great multitude carrying swords and staves, sent from the chief priests, and the elders of the people.

Confronting the Mob

(Notice that Israel was involved as a nation in what was about to happen, despite the thousands who had individually believed in Him.) But, in John 18:4-8, we see that Jesus stepped forward to confront the mob, and asked “Whom do ye seek?” They answered, “Jesus of Nazareth.”

And Jesus said, “I am He.” You will notice in your Bible, in John 18:5, that the word “he” is in italics, indicating that it was not in the original text. Many conjecture that what Jesus actually did was to quietly say His Name, the Great “I AM,” of Biblical History. There are other passages, where the same sentence structure is used without such dramatic results, but: look what happened, here! The whole mob fell backward to the ground!

What Happened?

Something special happened there! They came with swords, torches, and clubs to take Him as if He were a criminal. All He did was speak His Name, and He dropped the whole crowd on their backs! (Please don’t get the idea that they were “slain in the Spirit” or any such thing. This was not a “spiritual blessing:” They got body-slammed! These were the enemies of Christ, getting a warning of the unspeakable Authority and Power of the Incarnate God they were rejecting.)

Also, notice this: He reminded them why they were there, asking again, “Whom seek ye?” Then they cranked up their collective courage and they arrested Him. And, they bound His hands, though He had just knocked them flat with His Word! How strange! He did not need His hands, to manage that crowd. But that is what they tied up.

Judas’ last Move

At some point in this exchange, Judas identified Jesus by greeting Him with a kiss, which is where we get the phrases “the Judas-Kiss,” and “the Kiss of Death.” In Luke 22:48, Jesus commented on the gross inappropriateness of using such an intimate greeting to betray the Son of Man.

But after that point, He ignored Judas and faced the mob, and dealt with them alone. We see in Matthew 26:56, and in Mark 14:50 that after His arrest, all His disciples fled. On the other hand, we see that some of them trickled back, circled around, and followed at a distance, to see what would happen to Him.

What happened to Him, of course, was the trial, the condemnation, the scourgings, the abuse, and finally, the crucifixion, and a brutal, agonizing death. We will look at all of that next week.

What About Gethsemane and Us?

In the meantime, what do we do with the Story of Gethsemane? Is it just a “Biblical drama” for us to vicariously experience, empathizing with Jesus and clicking our tongues over the disciples failure to watch with Him? Or is there something deeper for us to learn, here?

For one thing, I think it is important for us to see that Only Jesus can prevail over the darkness. He is the Light of the World, and only Light overcomes darkness. The darkness of the fear, alone, at Gethsemane, was too much for the disciples. The trial and all that followed was completely outside their ability.

Zechariah 13:7 foretold that the shepherd would be smitten, and the sheep would be scattered. In Mark 14:27 Jesus said the fulfillment of that prophecy was at hand. He said that the disciples would be scattered when He was arrested, and He cited that specific prophecy from Zechariah.

How can we Stand?

We are no more capable of withstanding the attacks of the enemies, in our own strength, than they were! The eleven disciples, who knew Him face to face, still fled from the enemy, and failed to stand fast. We confess that we cannot serve in our own strength. But that does not deny that we are called to “press on, and go ahead and serve!” We are called to be His ambassadors and to function as His representatives, here on Earth. But we are not called to do it on our own!

Remember that the Jesus who is living in you is the same Jesus who knocked down a mob of soldiers just by speaking His name! Does that mean we should expect to “knock down soldiers?” No, it means that we are not to fear the results of standing for Jesus.

Count the Cost!

It may be costly. It may be painful, and we may be rejected by all that know us. It was costly and painful for Jesus as well. Remember that the disciples who were scattered and fled, that night, were later transformed by His Spirit, and they preached fearlessly, in public. It turned out to be costly and painful in each of their lives as well, but they lived through the hardship with Joy, knowing they were working with Jesus.

Set your heart on the goal of working with Jesus. Experience the Joy of knowing that what you are doing today will be valuable for eternity.

Lord Jesus, raise us up to be your disciples. Fill us with Your Spirit, and strengthen us with Your Joy. Let us be increasingly aware of your presence and Leading in our daily lives. Pour your love through us to the world around us and let us feed them with the Bread of Life.

Jesus taught about The Indwelling Holy Spirit

The Indwelling Holy Spirit

© 2023 C. O. Bishop

John 14:16-16:15


One of the things Jesus had to do in the few hours he had left with his disciples, was to teach them what to expect regarding the Holy Spirit. He was also preparing them for His own Departure, but, since He was leaving, they needed to know that the Holy Spirit would take the Place of Jesus in their lives, and actually indwell them.

John 14:16, 17

16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; 17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.

This is a key passage, because in it we learn three things:

  1. The Holy Spirit is the Comforter (parakletos) who takes the place of Jesus as our comforter, protector and guide.
  2. The Holy Spirit will remain with us Forever! (No qualifiers, here!)
  3. The Holy Spirit is with us, and (since the day of Pentecost) He is in us.

He is God!

The Holy Spirit is God. We see that in Acts 5:3, 4, where Peter accused Ananias of having lied to the Holy Spirit, and then he clarified the accusation, by declaring, “You lied to God!”

He is a Person

He is a Person; specifically, the third person of the Godhead. In Colossians 2:9, we see that “in Him (Christ) dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead, bodily.” Paul warns us not to grieve the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30) as He is the one sealing us in Christ until the day of redemption. He is not a “force:” (a force cannot be grieved.) He is not a feeling: Feelings have no authority and they cannot speak to a group of people, as in Acts 13:2, and, as God, send the servants of God out on a mission.

The Indwelling is permanent

In the Old Testament, no one was permanently indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Certain prophets were evidently temporarily indwelt by the Holy Spirit, but He gave no guarantee that He would stay, and David specifically begged that the Holy Spirit would not be taken from him, in Psalm 51:11. The New Testament believer has no need for such a “fear of abandonment.” Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would be with us forever.

Also, the Old Testament servants of God were frequently said to have the Holy Spirit upon them. Only in a few cases does the scripture suggest that He was in them. But Jesus made that New Testament distinctive very clear: the Holy Spirit was (already) with the disciples, but He would soon be in them! The New Testament, proper, began on the day of Pentecost, in Acts chapter 2.

John 14:18-21

18 I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. 19 Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also. 20 At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you. 21 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.

This is another important passage, because, along with verse 23, it underscores the truth of the Trinity. Jesus had just said that he would leave them and that, in His place, the Holy Spirit would come and indwell them. But, in verse 18, He says, “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. And, in verse 19, He says that He is in the Father, that we are in Him (the position of believers is “In Christ!) and that He is in us! So, in the person of the Holy Spirit, we are also indwelt by Jesus Christ Himself!

John 14:23

And in John 14:23, He states that He and the Father would come and make their abode with the believer. As the Third Person of the Godhead, the Holy Spirit fully includes the entire Godhead, just as we read in Colossians 2:9, that Jesus, (God the Son,) fully included the entire Trinity.

John 14:28

Finally, in John 14:28, Jesus reminds the disciples that the Father is greater than the Son. (Bear in mind that in Isaiah 9:6, we see that the Son shall be called the Everlasting Father!)

Do I understand this? No! I accept it by faith, because God says it is so!

God has the authority to make statements that I cannot understand. I can either accept them as truth, even though I fail to understand them, or I can reject them, claiming that they “don’t make sense!” As a teacher of God’s Word, it is critically important that I teach what the scriptures actually say, and not try to make them palatable by “filtering out the hard things.” I have to be faithful to teach the whole Word of God, even when it seems hard to understand.

John 15:26, 27

26 But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me: 27 And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning.

Something was going to change: when the Holy Spirit came, the disciples would testify about Jesus, because the Holy Spirit would testify about Jesus. Remember Jesus had already told them they would be scattered, and flee, when He was arrested (and they were, and they did!) But now He tells them that when the Holy Spirit finally came, something was going to change.

In Acts 1:8, 9, He told them the same thing, just before he physically ascended, back into Heaven. He said “But ye shall receive power (“dunamis”…strength; ability) after that the Holy Ghost has come upon you, and ye shall be witnesses unto Me both in Jerusalem and in all Judaea, and in Samaria and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”

We are Called to Speak, and Called to Do, as He Does

The Holy Spirit speaks of Jesus. That is one of His character traits. He glorifies Jesus, in Word and in deed. And as He indwells us, He calls us to do the same. We have a problem, though: we still have our old sin nature, and we have to overcome a lifetime of habitual self-serving, in order to cut loose from our slavery to self and sin, and to freely follow the leading of the Holy Spirit.

In Galatians 5:16, we are admonished, “Walk in the Spirit and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.” That is the only way we can serve God, and be free from our old slavery to sin. Jesus told His disciples, in John 15:5, “Apart from Me ye can do nothing.” It was the literal truth.

John 16:7-11

Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: Of sin, because they believe not on me; 10 Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; 11 Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.

Jesus reminded them that it was necessary for him to end His earthly ministry, in order that the Holy Spirit could be completely free to indwell all believers individually. As God, He is omnipresent: He is in all places simultaneously. But Jesus chose to live His earthly life under the same physical rules that restrict each of us. So, while He remained in His earthly body, Jesus was bound to a single place and time at any given moment. He could only be in one place at a time.

Jesus is Omnipresent again, now.

Now, however, He is free to live in every single believer, in the Person of the Holy Spirit. He is free to act through each of us, and speak through each of us, to Glorify the Father by the Church.

Having finally come, the Holy Spirit has two separate spheres of influence: He lives in us, where He teaches, guides and protects us. But His service toward the World is completely different: He “Reproves the World of Sin, and of Righteousness, and of Judgment.”

By the Holy Spirit, especially as witnessed in His people, the World sees sin for what it really is. They may or may not respond in repentance, but they know sin, and by the same means, they know righteousness, and judgment. They can see that the judgment of God is coming.

John 16:13-15

13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. 14 He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. 15 All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you.

The rest of the work the Holy Spirit does, is in teaching the believers: Jesus said that the Holy Spirit will guide us into all truth. He does not speak independently from the Written Word of God, but always within the context of God’s Word. He guides us so that we can see what is ahead. He receives all that Jesus is, and says, and does, and He delivers it to us at a level where we can understand it, or at least put it into practice.

He makes the whole Church to Function as it Should

He is the one who administers the Gifts of the Spirit, and He empowers the teachers and leaders He has given. The Holy Spirit is the one who fills the Body of Christ and makes it functional as a whole, rather than being just a cluttered pile of disconnected parts.

Notice, too, that, if the Holy Spirit is the One who is functioning, then the result will be that the actions and words will glorify Jesus, not the humans involved, nor even calling attention to the Holy Spirit Himself. He works to glorify Jesus. He does not speak of Himself, but of Jesus.

This parallels the story of the Servant in Genesis 24, who spoke only of the Son, and sought the Bride. He continued speaking of the Son, until Rebekah was able to look, for herself, to the bridegroom, and see Isaac. The Holy Spirit will glorify Jesus until we see Him face-to-face!

Ministry of the Spirit

In the outworking of the New Testament, we begin to see details of the change Jesus promised: We see the gifts of the Spirit laid out in 1st Corinthians 12. We see the unity of the Spirit, in Ephesians 4:3-5. And we see the Fruit (singular) of the Spirit, described in Galatians 5:22, 23.

We see that there is One Body of Christ with many Members. We see that there is One Holy Spirit, who works differently through each believer, in the various gifts, but they are always in keeping with God’s Word. (If they are not, then it is not the Holy Spirit who is at work.)

We see that the Unity of the Spirit (in that One Body of Christ) is created by the One Holy Spirit, but is to be maintained by the believers, collectively, by walking in obedience to Him.

We see that the Fruit of the Spirit has nine aspects, but that they all are to be there, in season: it is just one fruit, with nine characteristics, all of which have to be there.

Just the Facts!

This is not the “heady, psycho-babble” that typifies much of the foolishness taught today, about the gifts of the Spirit. It is simply the facts, as laid out in the Word of God. And, as we continue walking in the Spirit, the Lord raises us up as His servants and coworkers, so that the Gifts He has given find a place to function, and we rejoice to serve with Him.

Do I have to understand all the things God says about the Holy Spirit, in order to be aware of His leading in my life? No, I do not! If I am willing to obey Him and trust Him to lead me, then He will open doors before me and offer tasks for me to fulfill that will honor Him and please Him. He will direct our paths, if we are willing to follow His leading.

When we know the “general truths,” such as the fact that He has called us to be His witnesses, and that He has called us to leave our old ways of life behind, and commit ourselves to following Him in His Holiness, then we can start doing what we know to do, and looking to Him to lead us into a further walk with Him.

In Closing:

I want to close with one small point, in John 14:26. “26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

Notice that it says the Holy Spirit will teach us, but it goes on to say, “He will bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.”

Jesus primarily speaks to us through His written Word. Peter confirmed this, in 2nd Peter 1:19,  saying “We have also a more sure word of prophecy, whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn and the daystar arise in your hearts.”

If the written word is the primary way Jesus talks to us, and if we are not spending much time in the Word, then He can’t say much to us…and “we aren’t giving the Holy Spirit much to work with,” in terms of bringing it to our remembrance. We can’t remember what we never heard or never read. We need to feed on the Word, to be prepared to follow His leading.

Lord Jesus, empower us by Your Holy Spirit, and raise us up to walk in your footsteps. Teach us to understand Your Will and to obey from the heart.

Jesus Prepared His Disciples for His Departure

Preparing His Disciples for His Departure

© 2023 C. O. Bishop

John 13:31-16:33


Judas received the sop from Jesus and was possessed by Satan. From that moment, there is a countdown, headed for the Cross. Jesus only had a few hours left with His disciples, and He had to accomplish several things:

  • Jesus had to prepare the remaining eleven disciples for His departure. He assured them of His return, so they knew that they had not simply been abandoned.
    •   He had to teach His prime commandment, which covered all the others.
    •   He had to prepare them for His death, to prevent despair when he seemed to be defeated.
  • Jesus had to teach them what to expect, regarding the Holy Spirit who would soon indwell them (Who is He? What will His ministry be? How could they know His influence as opposed to that of other spirits?)
    • He had to make sure they understood that His commands could not be carried out in their own strength, but that He would have to work through them.
  • Jesus had to pass through Gethsemane and betrayal by Judas, to face the trial and the Cross.
    • He knew his disciples would flee, and abandon Him in that event, and He had to prepare them to know that their failure was not a surprise, but only proof that they could not function without Him.

The Prime Commandment

John 13:34, 35 teaches the undergirding strength of the whole Church. Empowered by the Holy Spirit, we are commanded to continually relate to one another in the Agapé Love. He had already taught that the Agapé love (being committed to the well-being of those around us) is the single most important evidence of the Truth of the Gospel, and its reality in the lives of Believers.

Jesus said, “A new commandment I give unto You, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

Do you suppose they truly understood Him at that point? It is possible, but, I rather doubt it, because they had not yet been indwelt by the Spirit of God. They heard the words, and they understood the meaning, but probably could not imagine how the command could be carried out.

Preparing to Leave

Peter caught on immediately that Jesus was getting ready to depart, but he did not understand what was happening. He asked, “Lord, whither goest thou?” Jesus understood that Peter genuinely desired to go with Him, and He gently replied, “Whither I go, thou canst not follow me now, but thou shalt follow me afterwards.”

Of course, Peter was confident of his strength and abilities. He assured Jesus that he would gladly lay down his life for Him. But, Jesus knew the truth: He knew the limitations of His human followers. He said, “Wilt thou lay down thy life for my sake? Verily, Verily, I say unto thee, the cock shall not crow, till thou has denied me thrice.

Preparing them all for His departure

Jesus did not belabor the doubts Peter had, but told the whole group they should not be disturbed by His departure: He assured them that He was going away to prepare an eternal dwelling place for them all. He promised that he would return and take them to Himself; so that, wherever He was, they would also be. He also said they did know where He was going, and how to get there.

Thomas was thoroughly confused: he said, “No, we do not know where You are going, so how could we know the way?!”  Jesus replied with the famous statement, “I AM the way, the truth, and the Life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me.” (Did they understand His meaning? Possibly so, but I suspect they simply accepted it by faith, and they waited to learn the meaning.)

Assuring Them of His Deity

Philip asked Jesus to show them the Father. Jesus replied by saying, “Philip, you have known me all this time! How are you now asking me to show you the Father? If you have seen ME, you HAVE seen the Father!” I’m sure that rattled their brains! It certainly rattled my brain for a few years, as I tried to grasp the Deity of Christ.

I can accept the fact that Jesus truly is “God in the Flesh.” I hear His words, saying “the Father is greater than I.” But when I see the prophecy saying that “the Son shall be called the Everlasting Father,” I find that it is beyond my comprehension. I expect that it was a struggle for the eleven disciples, as well.

The Promise of the Spirit

We will not spend much time on the Holy Spirit, in this message: He is the subject of many messages.  Next week, we will concentrate on all that Jesus said about the Indwelling Holy Spirit. For now, take a look at John 14:16; “And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you forever.”

The Holy Spirit will be with you forever. In this passage, He is also called the Comforter…the Greek word is “paracletos,” meaning “One called alongside to help.” He is our Comforter and our Guide, who helps us through all of the tough, hard, painful times in Life.

If you remember the story of Abraham’s Servant, in Genesis 24, bringing home the Bride to Isaac, you can rest assured, that in the same way, the Holy Spirit is “Bringing home the Bride,” to Jesus: He will not leave you, and He will not lose you!

A New Relationship

Jesus said, in John 16:15-17 that He would no longer address the disciples as His servants, but rather, as His friends. He said that servants do not know the plan of the Master. But Jesus was revealing the plans of the Father to His disciples, as friends, and partners in the work.

He reminded them that they did not choose Him, but that He had chosen them, personally, and by name. They were intrigued by Him but, until He revealed it, they had no idea what He was going to do in their world. He chose them for a purpose. Verse 16 says that He chose them and ordained them to go and bring forth fruit…and that their fruit should remain. (Notice that this is not about the Fruit of the Spirit, which has lasting value, but it can easily be set aside by our sin.)

Eternal Fruit

Jesus wanted the disciples to “bear fruit” in the sense of reproducing among the peoples of the World. He reminded them that they were to Love one another, and then He warned them that the World would not respond favorably.

He said, “If the World hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.” He said they were no longer “of the World,” so it was impossible for them to “fit in,” now. Because we are “no longer of the World,” we can expect that world will reject everything we teach, and all that we stand for: it will reject us because it rejects Jesus Christ.

He warned that His disciples would be persecuted for the sake of their relationship with Him. He said whoever hates Jesus, hates the Father, too. In John 5:23 we saw that the reverse is true as well: Jesus said, “He that honoreth not the Son, honoreth not the Father who sent Him.”

A Dangerous, but Priceless Association

Because the Disciples were now “in Him” (as we will see in John 17:21-23) and He was to be “in them,” the World would reject them in the same manner as they rejected Him. He warned them that the time would come when anyone who killed a disciple of Jesus would imagine that he was doing service to God.

This was fulfilled in the person of “Saul of Tarsus” (who eventually became the Apostle Paul”) and in the lives of other unbelieving Jews who violently attacked the believers, and who assumed that, in doing so, they were “fighting the good fight,” and honoring God. God eventually took hold of Saul, and He used him (as Paul) to lay the foundation of the Church throughout the Mediterranean world.

But all down through history, the false churches and world religions have frequently taught that “torturing and murdering Christians is a good way to serve God.” Thousands of persons whose only offense was to confess that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was their Savior, were tortured to death, burned at the stake, and fed to savage animals for the entertainment of the World.

And such treatment is on the rise again, worldwide. This was not some “passing fancy” that only the first-century believers might endure. It is the “conflict of the ages,” and it will culminate in the Great Tribulation. Yes, we know who “wins,” but in the meantime, we need to be prepared to “suffer the consequences of Faith.”

The Legacy of Peace

In John 14:27, Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you. My Peace I give unto you: not as the World giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

This legacy of Peace that Jesus gave is a two-part package: We gain Peace with God, as we place our trust in Jesus, and are declared righteous by God. (Romans 5:1) The Disciples already had this peace: God declared them righteous by Grace, through faith. So, they are eternally at peace with God. But they still suffered doubt and fear, and Jesus moved to heal that fear.

We are called to experience The Peace of God, on a daily, moment-by-moment basis. That is what Jesus was bequeathing to His disciples. They would not fully experience it until the Holy Spirit came, in Acts 2. They feared for their lives and were hiding, until that time. But that was before the Holy Spirit was given. The new relationship blossomed on the day of Pentecost.

Before the Spirit was given, the eleven disciples fled when Jesus was arrested, and they were in grief: hiding, fearing that they would be the next victims of the evil leaders in Jerusalem.


But afterward, they boldly preached the News of Jesus: When they were arrested, beaten, and imprisoned, they counted it a privilege. They were not at all discouraged by such mistreatment. The result of their collective, courageous testimony was that thousands of other people received Christ as their Savior, and the ancient World was “turned upside down” by the change.

Since that time, everyone who believes is immediately indwelt by the Spirit of God, and that Legacy of Peace is immediately available to all who will lay hold of it by faith.

They Were Prepared, though they did not “Feel” Prepared

Jesus had given them the information and the encouragement that they needed. However, until the Spirit was given they were not able to put the teaching to use.

That is the case in our lives as well. Most of us know a good deal more of the Word of God and the promises therein than we can put into practical use. We find ourselves powerless to apply it in practice. But we were told in advance that apart from the Holy Spirit using us to reach into the lives of those around us, it simply cannot be done.

When Jesus said, (John 15:5) “apart from me ye can do nothing,” He was not exaggerating. He was speaking the simple truth.

We have been Prepared too: Now we are called to Walk!

We who have placed our trust in Jesus as our Savior, are already indwelt by His Spirit. But, as believers, we are commanded to “walk”in the Spirit. Day by day, and moment by moment, we are to ask Him to lead, and then follow His leading. It means, moment by moment, confessing when we sin, receiving His promised forgiveness, and then walking with Him again.

Next week we will spend more specific time reading about the ministry of the Holy Spirit, both in the World and in the Church. In the meantime, let’s try to apply what we already know. Step out by faith to live in obedience to your Savior.

Lord Jesus, teach our hearts to receive Your gift of Peace on a daily basis and to trust Your Holy Spirit to work through us to reach the World around us. Raise us up to serve You in the Newness of Life.

Judas the Betrayer

Judas the Betrayer

© 2023 C. O. Bishop

John 13:15-30

15 For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.

16 Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. 17 If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.

18 I speak not of you all: I know whom I have chosen: but that the scripture may be fulfilled, He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me. 19 Now I tell you before it come, that, when it is come to pass, ye may believe that I am he. 20 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that receiveth whomsoever I send receiveth me; and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me.

Calling out the Betrayer

21 When Jesus had thus said, he was troubled in spirit, and testified, and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me. 22 Then the disciples looked one on another, doubting of whom he spake. 23 Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved. 24 Simon Peter therefore beckoned to him, that he should ask who it should be of whom he spake. 25 He then lying on Jesus’ breast saith unto him, Lord, who is it?

26 Jesus answered, He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it. And when he had dipped the sop, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. 27 And after the sop Satan entered into him. Then said Jesus unto him, That thou doest, do quickly. 28 Now no man at the table knew for what intent he spake this unto him. 29 For some of them thought, because Judas had the bag, that Jesus had said unto him, Buy those things that we have need of against the feast; or, that he should give something to the poor.

30 He then having received the sop went immediately out: and it was night.

31 Therefore, when he was gone out, Jesus said, Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him.


We could draw numerous lessons from this text. But we are going to focus on the person of Judas, the Betrayer, and the “anatomy” of his decision to betray Jesus.

In verses 15-17, Jesus completed his teaching of how the the disciples were to cleanse one another and restore one another to fellowship. In verses 18-20, Jesus cited Psalm 41:9, a prophecy about the Betrayer, and He gave teaching about people’s response to the Gospel and to the ambassadors of Christ. There are several deep messages in the passage, and we may come back to them later. But today we will focus on the question of who the betrayer was and how he came to be what he was.

In verses 21-30, Jesus was disquieted, and “troubled in Spirit,” because He knew what a catastrophe was about to finally overtake Judas. He was compassionate toward Judas. He had known all along who Judas really was. He knew, despite His having chosen Judas as a disciple and having fed him on God’s Word for three years, that Judas was going to betray Him.

So, why is He troubled in Spirit, now, when He has known for years what was going to happen?


In some cases, God has chosen a person for a specific “role” to play in history. We then assume that the person “never had a choice.” It is more accurate to say that God knew from eternity-past what kind of choices they would make, and He arranged for them to be “in the right place at the right time,” to make that choice. He provided a destination. Let’s see some examples:

Pharaoh’s Choice in his Chosen Role

Pharoah (in Exodus chapters 1-12) is one such example. This Pharaoh continued to rebel against God, until Egypt was ruined by the plagues. The Bible says he initially hardened his own heart against God’s Word. He hardened his own heart against Moses and against the command to let the people of Israel go. That was his choice.

But, as the plagues became catastrophic, the Bible then says that “God hardened Pharaoh’s heart.” All his counselors and advisers eventually protested against him, because the destruction was so bad. They said, “Are you the only one in the country who does not know that Egypt is destroyed? You are fighting against God!” He rebelled further than any sane, normal person would have gone.

Why? Because, in Exodus 9:16, God says He raised that man up for the specific role he was then playing. God had chosen him as an “insane rebel” and God raised him to “be the Pharaoh” at that time. He did so, specifically so that He could show His glory to Israel and thoroughly judge Egypt. And God saw to it that the foolish Pharaoh would maintain that “insane rebellion” to the end. The Pharaoh and his chariots followed the Children of Israel into the Red Sea, where he was drowned, along with his entire army.
That was his destination.

God’s Choice

God is not cruel, capricious, or despotic, as His enemies commonly assert. The God of the Old Testament (our Creator, Savior, and Judge) is Jesus! He is the “Sinner’s friend,” and the Holy Messiah who calls the lost human race to be reconciled to Himself. The Creator God, in His plan for the redemption of the human race, had to show the result of rebellion and sin. He knew who he could “count on” to carry that rebellion to a ridiculous, insane conclusion.

We laugh at Pharaoh, today, because we see the insanity of his choices. But rebellion against God is always an “insane choice.” And, we do it every day! We want what we want, and we choose to go our own way. We know that His choice will always be wise and perfect, but we still choose to do “something else.”

Jeremiah’s Choice in his Chosen Role

The prophet Jeremiah had an assigned role to play, too: and he still had to choose to play that role. In Jeremiah 1:4-10, God told Jeremiah what his role was to be. He made it clear that Jeremiah was “hand-picked.” He was chosen before he was conceived, to be God’s messenger. But Jeremiah was not happy with that choice, and he tried to “beg off.” God rebuked him for the “attempted rebellion.” Jeremiah unhappily complied with God’s demand. He obeyed, though often weeping.

Jeremiah did have a choice. Had he chosen to just “do what he wanted,” he could have said, “send somebody else!” Jeremiah did not want the role he was given. But after his initial protest, he responded faithfully in every case. God was glorified through Jeremiah’s struggles, grief, and inner turmoil. God sustained him through the abuse he suffered, and we received the “Book of Jeremiah.” (Jeremiah arrived at his destination and his eternal reward with God.)

Jonah’s Choice in his Chosen Role

You remember that Jonah was commanded to go and preach in Nineveh. Jonah had a choice, and he ran the other way! God used circumstances, a major (supernatural) storm, and a gigantic sea-creature, to bring him to a point of repentance. And God brought him to a specific destination.

Jonah eventually changed his mind about his choice. He repented, (that means “changed his mind“) and we know the rest of the story. But he could have chosen to continue in rebellion. God would have used someone else to deal with Nineveh, but Jonah would not have survived the encounter. Jonah would have died in the belly of the fish. Instead, he finally chose to obey God, after three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish. A prophecy was thereby produced. Jesus pointed it out as a picture of His own “three days and three nights in the heart of the Earth.” (Matthew 12:40) (So he arrived at his “destination,” too, but under God’s chastening.)

Judas’s Choice in his Chosen Role

We can’t be sure exactly when Judas began to make his choice. We do know that he was unregenerate and hiding his sin: He was pretending faith. Perhaps he thought that all the other disciples were just as phony as he was, and that they, too, were “just going along for the ride,” hoping to see the kingdom restored in Israel. (And they did harbor that hope…that is a good hope to have. But their hope was in the Person of Jesus, not just in the “coming Kingdom.”)

In John 6:70, Jesus predicted the coming betrayal, saying, “Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?” And, during the “foot-washing lesson,” in John 13:1-17, Jesus warned (v.10, 11) that they were “not all clean” and John pointed out that it was because Jesus knew who was going to betray Him.

In the Gospel of Matthew, the betrayal is mentioned fourteen times all told, either predicting it, commenting about it, or, (in Judas’s case,) confessing the deed. In Matthew 26 alone, there are nine references to that betrayal. So, it isn’t just an “historical fact:” it is serious enough for us to spend some time looking at it.

The Foundation of his Betrayal

The “foundation” of Judas’s eventual betrayal of the Lord was laid in his own unbelief. We don’t see it clearly, at first: he is just “one of the twelve.” But, in John 12:4-6 Judas criticized the worship offering brought by Mary of Bethany: He said it “wasted money that could have helped the poor.” But John, reflecting on that incident, revealed the real problem. Judas did not care about the poor: He was a thief,and (ironically) he was also the treasurer for the group! He wanted that money himself.  Regarding that same incident, Matthew 26:6-13 says the other disciples agreed with Judas about the “waste.” Jesus rebuked all of them collectively.

But, in Matthew 26:14-16, immediately after that same incident; Judas alone went to the chief priests and volunteered to betray Jesus for money. His unbelief had allowed his rebellion to grow strong, and his values to become entrenched against those of Jesus. When he complained (along with the others) that Mary’s gift was a waste of money, Jesus rebuked them all, fairly gently. While the others accepted the reproof and learned from it (as we see later,) Judas remained indignant, and he offered his services to the Enemy.

The longer a person “plays the game,” pretending faith (for whatever reason) the greater the danger is, that, eventually, they will absolutely reject the Lord. Now, in John 13:2, we see that Satan  (in this verse, called “the devil”… “the accuser”) had “put into the heart” of Judas, to betray Jesus. The idea originated in the Pit, just as so many other wicked human ideas in history have originated there. But, at every step, Judas made a choice. His hand was never forced.

The Son(s) of Perdition

In John 17:12, Jesus referred to Judas as “the Son of Perdition.”…”The son of destruction.”

[I used to think this just meant “being lost,”… “the son of lostness,” because the Spanish and Portuguese word “perdido” means “lost,” and I assumed they were the same idea. But the New Testament Greek word is “apoleias” and it is only translated as “destruction, perdition, and damnation.” It means eternal condemnation in Hell!]

Does that mean that Judas was “Born to be destroyed…born to spend eternity in Hell?” Does it truly mean that he had no choice?

Not exactly: God knew, before the Creation, what each of us would do, and He provided a payment for all our sins, through Jesus, at the Cross. We choose to believe His promise, or we choose to reject it. Judas is no exception. Salvation was offered to him exactly the same as it was offered to the other disciples. Unlike them, Judas rejected it. And he arrived at his destination!

Another Son of Perdition

In 2nd Thessalonians 2:3, we see one more person called “the Son of Perdition.” In that passage, it is the Antichrist. But here is a sobering thought to consider:

In John 3:18, Jesus said, “He that believeth on Him (the Son of God) is not condemned: but, he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”

The whole world is under the same judgment as Judas and the Antichrist! We were all the “children of wrath” according to Ephesians 2:3. Anyone you know or meet, who has not trusted in Jesus as their Savior, is already headed to the same place as Judas and the Antichrist! We were all lost together, when Adam sinned. No one is “more lost.”

The ground is level at the foot of the Cross!

“Selling Out Cheap”

Once Judas decided to “sell out” Jesus, he “sold out cheap.” It was about a month’s wages: thirty pieces of silver. After he realized the enormity of his error, he tried to return the money to the chief priests. But they rejected it. He found no place for repentance. Only remorse.

Don’t sell out cheap! What can this world possibly offer that is superior to the Reward of God? Some sins have long-term effects. In reality, all sin has long-term effects, but we usually are unable to see the connection between our “small choices” and their eventual consequences.

But Jesus offers us Eternal Salvation through His Shed Blood. The consequence of persistence in rejecting that offer, is eternal loss, just as it was for Judas. We need to keep in mind the consequences of sin, and reach out to others while there is still time.

Lord Jesus, raise us up as Your ambassadors: Give us a passion for lost souls that overcomes our personal fears of rejection. Give us Boldness, Grace, and Wisdom to reach souls for You.

Keeping it Simple

Remember the Simplicity of the Gospel         

Acts 17:15-18:11; 1st Corinthians 2:1, 2; 1:17


Sometimes we seek to add grace to our words through dramatic wording and affected intonation. We philosophize and reason, persuading men of the logical necessity of God’s existence…when God makes no such plea himself. We think of slick presentations, sneaky ways to “slip the gospel in there, sideways”, and clever answers to give to common remarks.

We conjure up dramatic stories, or we recite real accounts from the news, re-cast into spiritual terms. We forward tear-jerker items from the internet. We pray for “opportunity” to come and knock down our door, while we are fearful to tap at the door of those in need.

I think it is important that we remember the simplicity of the gospel, and preach it that way—simply. The results may not be dramatic, but they will be honest—no one will be convinced by the cleverness of our words, but rather by the truth of God’s Word, and the conviction brought by the Holy Spirit.

Two examples in scripture—one negative and one positive:

Paul had arrived in Athens after a VERY rough time in Philippi, and thereafter, in Thessalonica and Berea. He was undoubtedly still in a good deal of pain from the beatings he had received a few weeks earlier, in Philippi, as well as perhaps distressed at being run out of several towns in a row, and now being separated from his traveling companions.

But Paul did not hesitate, or “take a sabbatical”—he went about his standard practice of meeting with those in the local synagogue and telling them about Jesus. (I am quite sure I would have “taken a break”.)

Preaching in Athens

He also would share with folks in the “Agora”—the marketplace, since that was a normal place to discuss things of interest and importance. Here in Athens, the local philosophers (specifically two groups: one group given to seeking pleasure, another in the other “ditch”, denying self, but claiming self-sufficiency) overheard the various conversations and asked him to make a public address. They hustled him up to Mars Hill, the Areopagus, and put him on the spot, so to speak.

Sermon on Mars’ Hill:

Paul responded as one perhaps ought to, in speaking to those given to philosophy—he gave them a message based on philosophic thought. It was true, but it “arrived” at the truth, rather than simply stating it. He approached them from the point of view that there were things in their world that they could not understand, and that he was the messenger of “the God of creation,” whose ways are past understanding.

That was well and good, and this short sermon has been long regarded by teachers of homiletics as a brilliant example of extemporaneous preaching. (Perhaps it really is.) But let’s look at Paul’s sermon, the results thereof, and Paul’s response to those results. That will be “example one.” Then let us look at the message he preached in the next town, (“example two”) and see what differences there were.

Read Acts17:15-18:11

 Notice that it was not Paul’s idea to “take the floor”, so to speak, at the Areopagus. He was taken there by those who said they wanted to hear…but their interest waned when it turned out he was speaking of spiritual reality. Both groups of philosophers avoided such reality…one group, called the “Epicureans” denied the possibility of “finding truth by reason” (they are partly right), and they devoted themselves to having fun; enjoying pleasure. The others; the “Stoics”, were very works-centered, self-centered, and proud of their self-repression, yet they claimed the self-sufficiency of Man. (Seems we still have a lot of both of these sort of folk today.)

When Paul began speaking he spoke in philosophic terms—they were probably quite pleased to hear his first few paragraphs. But then (as the saying goes,) he “quit preachin’ and went to meddlin’”. When he touched on the subject of the resurrection, they immediately lost interest. Some just got a good laugh, mocking him, while others, a little more polite, said they would “hear him again” sometime.

Key transition:

Notice that the next verse does not say, “but Paul departed…” as if he left despite their interest. It says “So Paul departed from among them”. Perhaps he only said, “Skip it!” and went back to the synagogue. We aren’t told. But we are told, in the next verse, “after these things Paul departed from Athens.”

Paul saw that the spiritual climate there was very cold…so he left. A few did believe, but not enough to begin a church, evidently—there is never a mention of his having founded a church in Athens. One way or another, Paul left Athens and went to Corinth.

Starting Over In Corinth

In Corinth (“example two”), he gamely began again, teaching and preaching in the synagogues, to both Jews and believing Greeks. He did so every week, up until Silas and Timothy had caught up and joined him there. Then he really “pressed home” the central point of his message, that Jesus is the Messiah: the Christ.

At this confrontation, most of the Jews became stirred up, and they turned against him. Paul immediately stated that he had done his duty by them, and would waste no more time on them, but rather, would concentrate on reaching the Gentiles. He moved next door, literally, to the house of a man named Justus, and, amazingly, the head Rabbi from the synagogue followed him, as well as his whole household. They believed the message!

So…What was the message? Philosophy? “Good times coming?” The Resurrection?

I don’t know all the details, but the central message was the person of Christ, and Him Crucified. How do I know? Read 1st Corinthians 2:1, 2 … Paul underscores the difference—he says “I came not to you with excellency of speech or with wisdom, declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Christ and Him Crucified.”

What a change! Why would he drop all the philosophy of Athens, and center on the simplicity of the Gospel in Corinth? I believe he looked at the apathetic results in Athens, and he didn’t want it to ever happen again. He specifically states (Read 1st Corinthians 1:17) that he was sent to preach the Gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ be made of none effect.” Is that a possible result of preaching? Can I make the Cross of none effect? (Evidently so!)

We need to re-think our ideas about sharing the Gospel. Perhaps we need to think of the simplest ways we can tell someone about Jesus, instead of the “slickest.” (This is not “salesmanship.”)

What is the Gospel?

Paul states the Gospel in simplest form in 1st Corinthians 15:3, 4; “…how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures.” The death, the burial, and the resurrection of Christ as full payment for our sins, and the fact that all of it was the fulfillment of specific prophecies is as simple a message as we can make it.

But we tend to look for ways to “dress up” the message, draw pretty “word pictures,” and find slick sales techniques by which to “slip the Gospel to someone surreptitiously”…not to confront. Paul set a pretty clear example here; he confronted. So did Jesus, in John 3:3—he minced no words, speaking to Nicodemus: “You must be born again!” Again in John 14:6; “No man cometh unto the Father but by me…”

Can’t we take those examples to heart? Can’t we deliberately look for the simplest ways to lead people to the Savior? It would make our lives much easier, and purify our message as well. We are not to leave out any of the central points of the Gospel, but we are not to embroider it, either. We are to be direct, and kind, but firm in the truth.

Pat James, was stopped on the street, once, by the unbelieving son of an (apparently) unbelieving man who had recently died. He asked whether Pat believed his dad had “gone to a better place.”

Pat shocked him by replying very bluntly, “It doesn’t make a bit of difference what I think… what matters is the truth. And I only know one place to find that kind of truth—it’s God’s Word, the Bible! And the Word of God makes it very clear that there are only two possibilities once we leave this world. And the determining factor as to where we go is “What did we do with Jesus?” I can’t tell you for sure where your Dad is…but I can tell you for sure what God says about the issue.” The young man was taken aback, and said “Whoa!…That’s really heavy!” He stared off into the distance and finally said, “I’m going to want to talk with you some more about this sometime…”

Now—did he ever come back for more? I don’t know. But Pat did not give him false hopes—he very bluntly told him the truth, without condemnation. And he offered hope. That’s all we can do, too. Look for opportunities to tell people about Jesus, His sacrificial death for our sins, His burial, and His resurrection. If you want to include the second coming, that’s fine…but believing the message of the Cross is what saves—not having a “hope for heaven.”

Preach the Cross. Preach Christ and Him Crucified. Preach Salvation. Preach Truth.

Don’t worry about the results. Just make sure that what you preach is the real Gospel!

What else can we learn from Paul’s example?

  1. He knew that his primary reason for existence was being an ambassador for Christ. If I have something else that I consider to be more important than my service to Christ, then my priorities are wrong. It’s just that simple!
  2. He let nothing deter him from being that ambassador. Not personal rejection, political pressure, or physical discomfort. If I am willing to “fall down on the job” because it isn’t easy, then I am unfaithful and unreliable. Period. (And I have failed many times!)
  3. He was teachable—he learned from experience. Even though Paul was taught personally, by Revelation from Jesus, he was not blind to learning opportunities. I need to be alert to those learning opportunities as well.
  4. He knew when to quit preaching and move on. You can’t feed people who aren’t hungry. When you can see that a person is not interested, share with someone else. That sounds cold, but it follows the example of both Paul and Jesus.

If we can each learn at least these four lessons from Paul, it should transform our experience as Christians. Please consider what might occur if you truly saw your “assigned task” in life to be an ambassador for Christ twenty-four hours per day, seven days per week. (You are, by the way: 2nd Corinthians 5:20 “Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ…”)

What might change, if you made that your primary concern in life, and let nothing turn you from that single task?

If you aren’t receptive to those first two lessons, the other two simply don’t matter. Whether you are “teachable,” and whether you “know when to move on,” are irrelevant questions, if you are not first committed to the tasks of evangelism and discipleship.

I pray that God will use His Word to change each of our hearts.

Lord Jesus, teach our hearts to have the right priorities: strengthen our desire to serve You faithfully as Your Ambassadors.

“If I Wash Thee Not:” (What did Jesus mean by this?)

“If I Wash Thee Not”

© 2023 C. O. Bishop

John 13:1-11


1 Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.

Chapter thirteen begins with a peculiar comment: John 13:1 concludes, “…He Loved Them to the End.” We might take that in several ways, I suppose, but we must consider the context, that He was about to be offered up as our sacrifice: we can see that He did not just say, “All right, fellows: I’m going to be preoccupied for the next few days, being tried, crucified, buried and resurrected! You all can just take a break: I’ll meet you in Galilee next week!

No; He loved them to the end! He included them in everything right up to the point where they were separated from Him by force. 1st Corinthians 13:8 says,Love never fails.” The Agapé Love personified in Jesus did not fail, at any point. (It never has!) But in the next several verses, we see something else that is rather strange:

Why did Jesus Wash the Disciples’ Feet?

And supper being ended, the devil having now put 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 was come from God, and went to God; He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.

From a historical, Biblical perspective, and especially from the disciples’ point of view, it was culturally and relationally out of place for Jesus to take on the clothing of a servant, and to wash the (dirty) feet of the disciples. (Keep in mind that, without “indoor plumbing, closed sewers, concrete sidewalks,” etc., all city streets were truly filthy, and anyone walking anywhere arrived there with dirty, smelly feet.)

How did they Deal with Dirty Feet?

As a rule, then, a courteous host at least supplied water, with which a guest could wash his own feet. In a wealthy household, the homeowner might assign their lowest servant to do the “dirty work” of washing the feet of the guests.

But one would never expect a respected Teacher to set aside His position as “Master,” and take up the position of that lowest of servants. Peter saw the “discrepancy,” there, and he tried to refuse. But Jesus told him that submission to this cleansing was absolutely necessary.

Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet? Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter. Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.

How could He deal with Peter in such a “harsh-sounding” way? What was really going on, here?

Why does this passage begin with the fact that Judas had already received the notion to betray Jesus? It says Satan had given him the idea…perhaps he wasn’t committed to it, yet, but he was getting there. (…the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him;)

 Why was that even part of the story, here? And why does John remind us, in this place, that Jesus knew He came from God and was about to return to Him? This whole passage raises some questions!

Context is Important:

Jesus knew exactly what was going on in the hearts of each of His disciples. He knew which ones had believed, and which had not, as we saw in John 6:64. He also knew that Judas had received from Satan the notion to betray Jesus, and that he was already beginning his plans to do so. Finally, He knew His own origin, and His own destiny…which is more than we can say.

So, within that context, Jesus set aside His position as “Teacher” and “Master,” and took upon Himself the form of the lowest of servants. (That is nearly an exact demonstration of what we see in Philippians 2:5-7.) Then, He began to cleanse the disciples’ feet; removing the accumulated dirt of their journey, however small or great. He was not suggesting that they were unclean, as a whole, but just that, in the process of normal living, they had picked up something unclean. They needed to clean their feet.

Understanding the Cleansing

Peter resisted the offered service, saying he would never allow Jesus to wash his feet. But Jesus said that without such a cleansing, he could not share in the walk with Jesus. Then Peter reversed his stance, and asked that he have his head and hands cleansed as well. Possibly Peter was beginning to understand the cleansing…that it was in reference to sin, not “just dirt.” Maybe he realized that his thoughts and actions were faulty, not just where he had walked. We can’t be certain, but that seems to fit what Peter said.

Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.

But Jesus corrected that thinking, as well: The believers did not need a bath, again…they only needed to wash their feet. So… let’s think through what that means: You see, Jesus went on to say that not all of them were clean.

10 Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye (plural) are clean, but not all. 11 For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean.

How are We Cleansed?

As we read in John 6:64, Jesus knew who believed, and who did not. And that faith is what made the believers “clean.” But unbelief had left the unbelievers “unclean.” How do we know? Skip ahead to John 15:3… (after Judas had left, in John 13:30), Jesus told the eleven remaining disciples, that they all were clean. How were they clean? He said “Now ye (plural) are clean through the Word which I have spoken unto you.” They were cleansed through the Word!

In Ephesians 5:26, we see that Jesus cleanses the Church with “the washing of water by the Word.” And Psalm 119:9, says that the way a young man can “cleanse his way” is to “take heed thereto” according to God’s Word. No matter whether the Word is applied by another brother or sister, or by our own reading in the Word, Jesus, as the Living Word, is still the One doing the cleansing! This is not a “physical process,” such as soap and water, nor is it truly “self-help.”

What is our Part in the Cleansing?

Yes, we are told to “go to God’s Word,” for wisdom, and we are told to “apply God’s Word to our own lives” and to “take heed to God’s Word, as unto a light that shines in a dark place.” (And the World is a very dark place! We need His Light!)

But, regardless of how we go to the Word, or the Word comes to us, Jesus is the One who cleanses His Church. Why? Because He is the Living Word, and He uses His Written and Spoken Word to cleanse His Church.

What is the difference between “Washing” and “Foot washing?”

All the disciples in John 15:3 had been cleansed (fully washed) by the Word. Yet, in chapter 13, He said that though they had been washed, and thereby they were clean, they still needed to wash their feet. (One did not usually sit down to a meal in someone’s house with one’s feet still reeking of filth from the street.) What is the significance, then, of that comparison?

Jesus said they had been cleansed by the Word which He had spoken unto them. He spoke all the same words to Judas Iscariot! Judas was there for all the miracles, and he heard all the same teaching that the other disciples had heard. So, why was Judas different?

Judas did not believe in Jesus as his Savior. He did not believe that Jesus was really who He claimed to be. So, he had never been “washed” by the Word and he was “not clean.” He had one last chance to repent, in chapter 13, but he pressed on to his destination, and finally, in John 13:30, we see him committed to the betrayal of Jesus, and he left. And the scripture says, “…and it was night.

But the other disciples, though they had all been washed by the Word, through faith, still had a sinful nature, and they would continue in failures, both small and great. Peter wept bitterly over his terrible failure in denying the Lord, after he had boasted that he would die before he would deny the Lord. So…was Peter still clean? As a matter of fact, yes, he was! But he had dirty feet!

Where do we find answers to our questions from John chapter 13?

In 1st John 1:5-10, we see a passage, dealing with “sin in a believer’s life.”

This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.  If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that 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. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all. (The Holiness of God is pointed out, here, compared to light. Sin is compared to darkness in contrast to the Light of God.)

Contrasting Light and Darkness: Righteousness and Sin

The result of seeing the moral and Spiritual Light of God’s Character, is that if we “say” that we have fellowship with Him (Meaning we are walking in light) but are clearly walking in darkness (sin) then at best, we are fooling ourselves. He does not sugar-coat it, though: He says, “we lie, and do not the truth.” (Whether it is only lying to ourselves or to another person, it is still a lie.)

Then He says, “if we walk in the light, as He is in the Light, then we have fellowship with one another, and his blood cleanses us” on an ongoing basis. But he says, “if we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.”

So, if Peter had continued to deny that his feet needed washing, he would be deceiving himself, and contradicting Jesus. The result would have been that fellowship was broken. He had already been cleansed, and that was not in question. The fellowship was the issue. A sinning believer, though eternally secure in their position in Christ, cannot have fellowship with Him and is acting just as if he had never been cleansed.

Salvation and Fellowship

Verse nine says, “If we confess our sins (agree with God about them) then He is faithful and just, to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Peter agreed with Jesus about his need, and submitted to cleansing, on a fellowship basis. He had already been cleansed positionally. His condition was that he needed his feet washed.

What about Judas? Evidently he fell under verse 10: “If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His Word is not in us.” Believers are permanently indwelt by the Living Word of God! Judas did not believe. He was not cleansed. God’s Word was not in Him.

Years ago, I had a friend, right here in church, crying in pity over “Judas losing his salvation.” But Judas did not “lose his salvation;” He was never saved! Jesus said so! Furthermore, in John 17:12, during His high priestly prayer, Jesus called Judas “the Son of Perdition.” The only other person in the Bible called “the Son of Perdition” is the Antichrist! (2nd Thessalonians 2:3)

If you have heard the Good News of Jesus’s completed work at the Cross, and if you have believed God’s Promise: you have trusted in His shed Blood as the full payment for your sins, then according to Jesus’s promise in John 5:24, you are already cleansed, Your sins already have been taken away. You are already saved. So, you have eternal life now! You do not need to wait until you die to “know for sure.”

But How do we regain fellowship when we have sinned?

1st John 1: 9  This should be a “memory-verse” for every believer.

This is how we regain fellowship when we find that (again) we have sinned. There is no need to remain out of fellowship, feeling the burden of guilt. Confess your sin to Jesus and be cleansed!  If you have wronged someone else, then you may need to deal with that, as well: But there is no “waiting for an appointment,” with God. Go to Him immediately, and be freed from guilt! Go back to enjoying your relationship with your Savior!

Do you think Peter was “feeling good” about his relationship with Jesus, after he had denied that he knew Him? Of course, not! He went out and wept bitterly! But, in 1st Corinthians 15:5 we see that Jesus had a “private talk with Peter,” before he met with all the disciples together. (What did they talk about? Evidently it was private, as we are not told anything about that meeting beyond the fact that it happened.) But after that, we see Peter in fellowship with Jesus again… at least until the next time he needed correction. And the same is true of each of us!

So,  How do we “wash one another’s feet?”

Looking ahead to verse 15, we see that Jesus told us to imitate what He had just done. Does that mean we should physically get soap and water, and go wash people’s feet? (There are churches that practice this, but it misses the point.)

No, we go to another brother (or they come to us) in full humility and gentleness, showing a sinning brother or sister that he or she needs his or her “feet washed;” That they are out of fellowship. That they need to confess their sin, repent of their hardness of heart, or whatever the issue is. (This is not attacking or criticizing one another!)

A Personal Example:

I had a brother come to me in Bible School, when I had become bitter and cold toward God. In total gentleness and humility, that young man begged me to repent. Initially, I rejected his plea, but I knew it was God speaking to me, and after a few more minutes of conversation, I was convicted by the Word, and my stubborn resistance crumbled. I finally prayed with him, confessing my bitterness and anger, and I was restored to fellowship.

Jesus says that we are to do this for one another. And we have already seen the need in our lives for such cleansing. So, we need to be receptive when someone shares a concern with us. Will “they always be right?” Not necessarily, but if our hearts are closed to them, then, just as Peter was initially wrong to reject Jesus’s ministry toward him, we will “always be wrong.”

What is your Motive?

This is a matter of mutual care: we are not to be “attacking one another.” And both parties need to see it that way, or it will have no fruit. Galatians 6:1 makes this abundantly clear: we are to seek restoration. We are not there to “Straighten each other out.”

Humility, gentleness and a genuine desire for restored fellowship are the key…and we need to constantly be aware that we could be mistaken. Perhaps we are wrong in our perception. This is not a “sly way” to criticize others, camouflaged by “pious concern.” Check your heart. Why are you really wanting to speak to them?

This is a tough subject because we are proud people. We are touchy and oversensitive, and usually quite blind to our own faults. But Jesus said we need to deal with our own issues, before trying to correct someone else. So, take this teaching cautiously: Don’t seize upon it as a license to go around “policing” other people. They have the Holy Spirit. Let Him do the convicting.

Lord Jesus, correct our proud hearts and give us a deep, genuine love for the believers around us. Help us to pray for one another, and not to criticize. Fill us with Your Love, for Your glory and honor.

What is the Basis for Judgment and for Salvation?

Judgment and Salvation

© 2023 C. O. Bishop

John 12:44-50

44Jesus cried and said, He that believeth on me, believeth not on me, but on him that sent me. 45 And he that seeth me seeth him that sent me.

46 I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness. 47 And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.

48 He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day. 49 For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak. 50 And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak.


This is a powerful passage: It identifies and equates

  • Jesus with the Father, (he that seeth me seeth him that sent me) and
  • His Word with the Father’s Word, (even as the Father said unto me, so I speak.) and
  • His Father’s Word with Eternal Life. (His commandment is life everlasting.)

In terms of logical order, and in light of the fact that He has already been identified as the Living Word, He has just made the claim that He is Eternal Life. Later, we will see that this is a pretty close approximation of what He was getting at.

Identifying with the Father:

Jesus will increasingly identify Himself as “being One with the Father” and make statements to the effect that “If you have seen Jesus, then you have seen the Father.” He had already claimed to be deity, using God’s personal name to identify Himself, in John 8:57, when He said, “Before Abraham was, I AM.” The Jews correctly understood that claim and sought to kill Him for blasphemy.

But we have observed before, that if someone makes such a claim, and there is no question that this is really what they said, then there are only three real possibilities:

  1. They are a liar and a blasphemer, because they knowingly and falsely claimed to be God. (This is what the Jews assumed about Jesus, and they sought to kill Him.) Or…
  2. They are mentally disabled, in some way, so as not to be accountable for what they say. (No, they are not God, but they also cannot be blamed for their words, as they are not in their right mind. They are rather to be pitied.) Or…
  3. They really are God, in which case they should be prepared to prove it. And Jesus spent three years proving it over and over! So we have to respond accordingly. We have to make a choice!

Identifying His Word With the Word of the Father

Jesus cried and said, He that believeth on me, believeth not on me, but on him that sent me.

We sing about this, every Christmas: “Word of the Father, now in Flesh appearing!” (O Come let us Adore Him!)

When we read John 1:14, where it says, “And the Word was made Flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His Glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father) full of Grace and Truth!”, we meditate on something almost unimaginable.

God’s Spoken Word

We tend to find the idea just too much to grasp that God’s spoken Word, who, in verse one, already had been identified as being God, could take upon Himself physical life. I try to understand the fact that God’s Spoken Word became a human child, growing up as a human man, and becoming our sacrifice forever. We struggle with these concepts, unless, by faith, we also accept the truth that , “In the Beginning, God created….” You see, in Hebrews 11:3, we read that God spoke the world into existence (including every form of life, whether spiritual or biological.)

If His spoken word can cause an entire universe, and everything in it, to spring into being, then it seems a very simple thing that His Spoken Word could be, itself, made to take on physical, biological life. (“In Him was Life, and the Life was the Light of Men…”)

When Jesus Spoke, the people were hearing the Voice of the Father… He is the voice of the Father…the first and final communication of God!

God Spoke To Us!

Hebrews 1:1, 2 says, “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners, spake in times past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son, whom He hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also He made the worlds.”

Yes, He spoke through a variety of prophets over the millennia; but now, His final communication has been revealed! God the Son, the Living Word, has been manifested to the world, and we all have choices to make regarding that revelation.

Jesus assured His audience that He only spoke exactly what God told Him to speak. They were literally hearing the “Word of the Father, now in Flesh appearing!” So, if they believed Him, they believed God the Father. Genesis 15:6 says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as Righteousness.”

And that is how people have always gained a relationship with God, down through the ages! When we choose to believe God, rather than believing the World, rather, even, than believing our own corrupt thought-patterns and self-deceit, we embrace Him as our only Hope. And, just as He promised the thief on the Cross, we can expect to be with Him in eternity.

Romans 10:17 says that “Faith cometh by hearing, and Hearing by the Word of God.” We each had to hear His message before we could believe it. And that is what we owe to the people of the world around us, as well. That is why Paul said, in Romans 1:14, “I am debtor both to the Greeks and to the Barbarians; both to the wise and to the unwise.”

Identifying His Father’s Word with Eternal Life

“Jesus said, in John 12:50, “And I know that His commandment is life everlasting…” But, this is not the only place where He makes such comments.

In John 17:3, Jesus said, “And this is Eternal Life, that they may know Thee, the One true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.” The word translated as “know,” here, is the Greek word, “ginosko.” It means a personal, experiential knowledge…not just “knowing a fact.”

We gain that relational, experiential knowledge of God, initially, through believing Him, so as to receive Him as our Savior. But faith leads to more faith, and we grow in that experiential knowledge, as we learn more of His Word, and as we believe and Obey Him through His Word. And, in that way, we get to experience eternal life in the here and now.

One Promise, Two Conditions, Three Clauses

In John 5:24 Jesus said, “He that heareth my Word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath eternal life and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto Life.”

Do you see how precious that promise is? He said, if you Hear Him and Believe Him (those are the only two conditions,) then you have eternal life now! You do not have to “wait until you die, to find out for sure.” (There are many people who insist that “you cannot know for sure that you have eternal life;” but we see that not only Jesus says that you can know, God says He wants you to know!

1st John 5:11-13 says “And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life; and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.”)

Permanent Security

Further, He promised that, if you hear Him and believe Him, you will never again be condemned by God! That is a great source of assurance for broken, damaged, and wounded spirits like ours, who have been hammered by condemnation from human disapproval, spiritual onslaughts, and self-doubt. God says, (Ephesians 1:6) that once you have entered into this relationship by faith, you are “Accepted in the Beloved!” In Ephesians 1:7, He says you have redemption, and the forgiveness of sins! All of this is present tense! In Romans 8:1, He says, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus!” And Jesus said there never will be again! (…and shall not come into condemnation….)

God says, once you belong to Him, He is eternally on your side, and you are permanently connected to Him. He will never let you go! (Hebrews 13:5 says, “…He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor will I ever forsake thee.”)

And Jesus says that you have permanently crossed over from death into life. Jesus confirmed this in John 10:27, 28, when He said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me, and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish!”

(That’s a pretty amazing Promise!)

Equating Jesus’s Words with Eternal Life

In John 6:63, (among other things,) Jesus said, “…the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.”

In that specific context, the people had been arguing with Jesus about the teaching He had just given regarding the bread of Life. They were especially upset after He told them that “He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood hath eternal life.” I can understand why they were confused and arguing: people today are still confused and arguing about that verse. Some teachers claim that it means that you gain eternal life by taking Communion. At one time, C. S. Lewis actually taught this, in his book, “Mere Christianity.” (I hope he later changed his mind.)

But the answer becomes pretty clear, when we read verse 63, where Jesus said,“It is the Spirit that quickeneth (that means, “gives life”); The flesh (anything “you can do” with your body) profiteth nothing: the Words that I speak unto you, they are Spirit, and they are Life!

Jesus then went on to say, “But there are some of you that believe not.” (John comments, saying, “Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray Him.”)

The WORD Is Spirit and The WORD is Life!

Can you see the connection, here? Jesus said His words were Spirit and His Words were Life. And he concluded that there were some who had failed to believe…showing that their disbelief (failing to receive His Word) was what barred them from receiving the Eternal life He was offering to them.

He is the Word! Back in John 1:12, it says, “But, as many as received Him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.” God chose this way for sinners to approach him. One great thing about this God-ordained path to approach Him, is that it cannot be forced by anyone else, and it also cannot be prevented by anyone else. No government (well-meaning or not) can establish a state religion and force people to believe. And no Government (or any other authority) can prevent people from believing.

What is Our Part in the Plan?

The only thing they can try to control is the spreading of the Gospel: the preaching of that message of Eternal Life. And sharing that message is our God-assigned task. That is our part in the Plan of God for the salvation of a lost world. So long as we are here on earth, we are called to be His witnesses, and His Ambassadors. We only have this one life in which to join Jesus in the work of reaching the World He died to save.

Lord Jesus, fix in our minds the urgency of telling people how they can have eternal life. Raise us up as your witnesses, and ambassadors, offering the Word, the Bread of Life, to the lost souls around us. Don’t allow us to continue in complacency.