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girl walking alone November 2 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): Mark 14:12-21; Matthew 26:17-25; John 13:1-30; Luke 22:7-14, 22-30

Love and Betrayal

Love and betrayal are two opposite extremes. How is love manifested? Love is often connected with emotions. We may feel “in love,” but emotions can be deceiving. Love is also expressed by words. Words of love are nice and may fill the sail of our soul, if they are sincerely meant. Other people express love by gifts. Gifts given are good expressions of love and are appreciated, but a person cannot buy love. Others feel loved when they are touched. Every person needs to be touched, but some touches are not expressions of love. Still others express and receive love by acts of service. Acts of service are much appreciated if they are done with the right motivations. Love is expressed in a variety of ways, but true love is manifested with an unselfish regard for another person, and this often involves sacrifices (the five expressions of love mentioned above are adopted from the book, The Five Love Languages, by Dr. Gary Chapman). Through his crucifixion, his sacrifice on the cross, Jesus offers us forgiveness, peace, and spiritual life (more...).

Betrayal, on the other hand, may start with love or a pretense of loyalty, but it manifests itself with actions which are deceptive, self-seeking, hateful, and destroying. Jesus is an example of ultimate love. Judas is an example of ultimate betrayal.

In today's Bible reading, Jesus, knowing that he is soon going to die, holds a last Passover meal with his disciples. He does not seek to be alone to sulk—he wants to be with his friends.

It was just before the Passover Feast.

Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love.

The evening meal was being served, and the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, to betray Jesus.

Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples' feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. (John 13:1-5, NIV)

What is this—the Son of God serving man? We can well understand Peter’s reaction: “Lord, you will never wash my feet!” (John 13:8, NIV). Jesus is the one to whom the disciples should be serving—he is their Lord and teacher! When he makes the accepting of his service a matter of identity with himself, however, Peter gives in. Why does Jesus take on the form of a servant?

First, as the Apostle John writes, Jesus wants to show them the full extent of his love. It is loving to perform a humble gift of service. Those who are parents of young children or adult children of elderly parents often perform this beautiful act of love. The disciples will always remember the Lord washing their feet. He could have arranged for a slave to do it. He could have asked one of the disciples to do it. After all, didn’t Peter, James, and John have a particular problem with pride? Instead, the Lord washes their feet. We can imagine him gently massaging their feet as he washes and dries them. Who can forget that? And Jesus washes twelve pairs of feet, even Judas’s feet. Does Judas also feel the full extent of his love? No, he is already making plans to betray him. Not all people are grateful and feel genuine love.

What is Jesus trying to teach the rest of his disciples by this act of service?

When he [Jesus] had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me 'Teacher' and 'Lord,' and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” (John 13:12-17, NIV)

Second, Jesus serves his disciples because he will be going away—in his absence the disciples might jockey for power. It will be difficult to express pride, disunity and hatred if they are washing each other’s feet and doing other acts of service for each other. In the same way, members of families, churches, and other organizations can also benefit by performing humbling acts of service for each other. Even if they do not feel like doing it at first, many times hard hearts melt as they meet the needs of others. There is joy and unity in serving.

Betrayal, on the other hand, is an act of hatred, division and ingratitude. Judas Iscariot had the unique privilege of living with Jesus every day. It is difficult to believe anyone could harden his heart when walking with God, but it does happen. Indeed, there are “Christians” who come from godly families, go to church regularly, and who play the part of being believers for years but do not have a real personal relationship with Jesus. In truth, they are unbelievers and deceivers. When times are tough they are the most dangerous to have in our congregation or family. They may betray us if it is beneficial to them. They need to be challenged to make a full commitment to Christ or be encouraged to move on. Perhaps this is why Jesus spoke so strongly to his disciples about the cost and commitment of discipleship. Are we fully committed to the Lord? Will we love and serve him or will we betray him?

Endnote: The Passover feast is a yearly feast held by the Jews in the first month of the year, Abib (Hebrew name) or Nisan, (March-April), on the fourteenth day. It was first instituted on the night the Israelites were delivered from slavery in Egypt. It consisted of a meal of yeast-less bread, bitter herbs, and perfect yearling lamb or goat (Exodus 12:5).

The blood of the animal symbolized symbolized the cleansing of sin [the lamb was roasted and then eaten]. Bitter herbs represented the bitterness of bondage in Egypt. And the unleavened bread was a symbol of purity. (Illustrated Manners and Customs of the Bible, by J. I. Packer, M. C. Tenney, p.404 © 1980 by Thomas Nelson publishers)

Lessons to Live By

  • Love is expressed in a variety of ways, but true love is manifested with an unselfish regard for another person, and this often involves sacrifices. Through his sacrifice on the cross, Jesus offers us forgiveness, peace, and spiritual life (more...).
  • Not all people are grateful and feel our genuine love. Some will betray us. We must bear with it.
  • Members of families, churches, and other organizations can benefit by performing humbling acts of service for each other. There is joy and unity in serving.
  • Those who cause division and hatred in a family or organization need to be challenged to make a full commitment to Christ or be encouraged to move on.
  • If Jesus, the Messiah and Son of the living God, their teacher and Lord, was humble enough to wash the disciples feet, we should be able to humble ourselves in service to others.

Focus Verse

John 13:14-15 (NIV) “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.”

Watch a video of Jesus washing the disciples feet

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A Look Ahead: At the end of the Passover meal, Jesus institutes the first communion service. The purpose of that ceremony is for us to Remember him. What are we supposed to remember? Find out in our Next Lesson.

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