Lord, thank You for the seniors who graduated – and we pray again for Jen and her family – that Your grace would be with them and help to meet their needs. Help them to find someone who can fix things quickly – prepare our hearts – help us to honor You in all we do – may You be pleased – and pleased with us as we offer our hearts to You. We need You to talk and to open our hearts and to address the issues we are concerned about. Help us to be challenged by You.
Grace is one thing the world lacks most
John 13: 2 The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. 3 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5 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.
The first half of this passage focuses on who we are – but the second half – Jesus came to Simon Peter – and Peter said to Him, Lord, do You wash my feet?
6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”
7 Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”
8 “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”
Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”
We need to understand a bit about foot washing to get this. In our society- this would be an uncomfortable thing. But this was normal activity for their culture – this had nothing to do with what is comfortable or uncomfortable. This was the norm – a servant would wash your feet when you entered a house. This was a type of purification – washing ourselves of the stains of this world – the stains of sin as we walk through the world. That is really what is going on here – a serving thing – a thing of humility and cleansing. Peter is rejecting Jesus His Master’s humble service of him. He is unable – Jesus is stepping down – lowering himself – and offering Peter something he doesn’t deserve. Peter is unable to receive grace from Jesus. We see this with Peter, and we see it with all of us, we are not able to receive extravagant love for the undeserving. The source of this inability to receive grace – what we don’t deserve – is pride and insecurity. The two are similar – an attitude – I don’t deserve it, I am not good enough – I can earn my own way – but that misses the point of grace.
John 13:9 “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”
10 Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.
Peter was bipolar before there was bipolar – FORGET IT or LET”S HAVE A BATH!
I have always focused on the concept of serving in this passage – Max Lucado brings it down to the area of forgiveness – and how grace and forgiveness go together. There are two aspects of forgiveness – Peter is clean because of his relationship with Christ – and we are forgiven of all of our sins because of what Christ has done – but we have this walking around in the world to do – don’t we – and we get dirty and need cleansing. There is our forgiveness, and then our practical, daily experience of grace. We need to understand our position when we come to Christ – there is no sin you can commit that is not instantly forgiven. We see this in God’s general nature.
Nehemiah 9:17b But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love. Therefore you did not desert them
You are a God of forgiveness – gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness, and you did not forsake them. This is who God is.
Dan. 9: 9 The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him;
It is His nature – for Him to not forgive would be to go against His nature. He is the author of forgiveness – something He created – we can forgive one another – because He first forgave us. It is this part of the divine plan and wisdom of God. God does not simply ignore our sin – He forgives it. There is a big difference between ignoring and forgiving. Sometimes we ignore – but God doesn’t. It is a big step, and we need to take that step.
The best way to understand God’s forgiveness is to study God’s word. I have problems with guilt – and the only remedy – the way to battle that – is to wash myself with the truth that God forgives me. The best way to do that is to know the Bible verses that talk about how God forgives us.
Micah 7: 18 Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy.
You see – in their culture, when this was written hundreds of years before Christ – the ‘gods’ did not forgive – they judged and took vengeance! All the other ‘gods’ are out to get you, but Our God pardons and passes over. He delights in unchanging love. In some unique strange way – when you do something wrong – He delights in loving you especially when you don’t deserve it. Our forgiveness is accomplished in Christ
Mat. 26: 27 Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. 28 This is my blood of the[b] covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.
Eph. 1:7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace
Our sins are forgiven because of the cross. It is only because of the cross that we can be forgiven – that is why He is the only way –
The nature of our forgiveness –
If you struggle with guilt – memorize and think about these verses!
Isaiah 1: 18 “Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.
A stain like a red spot on a white shirt – that stain that cannot come out has been taken out.
Isaiah 43:25 “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.
He does not remember our sins. If you bring them up to Him: I feel guilty! Why do you feel guilty? I did this yesterday – and God says, I don’t remember that!
Isaiah 38:17 Surely it was for my benefit that I suffered such anguish. In your love you kept me from the pit of destruction; you have put all my sins behind your back.
We like to take our sin and place it in front of us – to look and examine – to say, if we feel bad enough, something will change, but that never changes you – it only makes you do it more – it is the opposite of what we think – you do not begin to change in an area you struggle in until you understand your forgiveness – when you see that Christ died for that – you gain the power and motivation to be transformed.
Micah 7:19 You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.
What all these verses are doing – putting our sins where they cannot be reached or brought up again – the deepest part of the sea where no man can go! They had no hope of going down there to dig them up!
Psalm 103: 10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. 11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; 12 as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. 13 As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
How often do we think God deals with us according to our sins? He does not do that – that is grace – extraordinary love for the undeserving.
We do not get what we deserve from God - we get what we don’t deserve.
As far as the east from the west!
Completely separate! He has separated our sins from us – He has removed them – we sang that song – I’m forgiven – completely taken out of the way – we do not need to have guilt at all.
You might think – if I think that way, I’ll just do whatever I want! But no, grace changes us – it changes us to be who we were meant to become in Christ. It needs to be the focus of our attention – not like Peter who said, don’t wash my feet – but receiving the love and forgiveness.
John 13: 12 When he 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. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.
He is obviously and clearly an example of serving in this text – but there is also an example of grace and forgiveness in the text – and just as Jesus was able to forgive and cleanse them – he still washed Judas’ feet. We all have Judases in our lives! It might be a contractor who ruined your house, or your boss! But Jesus washed his feet and expects us to do the same.
To accept God’s grace is to accept the willingness to give it. Same with forgiveness.
Matthew 6: 11 Give us today our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’ 14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
Pretty heavy words – significant words that Jesus says. We already looked at the fact that because of the cross, our sins are forgiven. He is talking about that daily experience of forgiveness. If we are unable to forgive someone – we are unable to receive God’s forgiveness in our lives. We will not be able to accept that same freedom – but in judgment – waiting for the shoe to drop. But it comes from our ability to forgive others.
He tells a story in this book – Victoria Ruvolo – Can tell about pain…
Victoria Ruvolo doesn’t remember the 18-year-old boy leaning out the window holding, of all things, a frozen turkey. He threw it at her windshield. Crashing through the glass, it shattered Victoria’s face like a dinner plate on concrete.
John 13:14-15 says: “Since I, the Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. Do as I have done to you.”
Victoria Ruvolo did. Months later, she stood face to face with her offender in court. No longer cocky, he was trembling, tearful, and apologetic. Six months behind bars, five years’ probation. Everyone in the courtroom objected. He sobbed, and she spoke: “I forgive you. I want your life to be the best it can be.”
"I told him 'Just do something good with your life,'" she remembered. "And then I hugged him."
The reduced sentence was her idea. “God gave me a second chance at life, and I passed it on” she said!
“If I hadn’t let go of that anger, I would be consumed by revenge.”
Her mishap led to her mission – volunteering for the county probation department. “I’m trying to help others.
"I'm trying to help others, but I know for the rest of my life I'll be known as 'The Turkey Lady," said Ruvolo with one of her frequent smiles.
"Could have been worse," she said. "He could have thrown a ham. I'd be Miss Piggy!"
That is what this verse is here – it has transformed this woman’s life – maybe you haven’t had a circumstance like that – but all of us have been injured – maybe yours has been really bad – and God says – forgive us as we forgive.
How do we do that? For God to forgive us, how hard was it? He didn’t just ignore our sin – but forgiving our sin meant the cross.
Here is what we need to remember – when we forgive, we are like God – that is who God is – it is a miracle – to forgive someone who has wounded you significantly is a miracle – and only God can do that miracle in your life – God is doing something great to transform you. We carry these things for decades – have you ever been around someone who has done this – a wounded person who releases and forgives – it is transformational. Forgiving pleases God – but it is also good for us.
“Forgiving is an event inside a heart that hurts, and it happens only when we don’t want to hurt any more” – L.B. Smedes
False narratives – forgiveness is critical in changing our false beliefs. When we are unwilling to forgive – our spiritual progress stops. Every time we remember the wrong that has been done to us – the pain reoccurs. Forgiveness begins the process of removing the pain. It is a process – a choice – I’ve got to forgive, because God has forgiven me. Sometimes it takes time – sometimes it is instant –
Only the offended can decide to forgive. This means – the person who is offended makes that decision – no one can force it on them – you can make a child say I’m sorry – but you can’t force them to be sorry. – and a person won’t decide until they are tired of hurting MORE than they want revenge. We have to get to that point.
When we forgive someone, we surrender our right to get even.
If someone commits a crime against you – it is okay for the court to go through its process. When we forgive, we rediscover the humanity of the person who hurt us – our tendency is to dehumanize the person – but we need to see them as loved by God – in His image.
We forgive persons for what they do, not for what they are. You may need to forgive someone for sinning against you – not for being a sinner.
When we forgive people – we desire their well-being – from wanting to see them hurt to seeing them do well
When we forgive - we become open to what God wants in our relationship with that person.
There may not be reconciliation – because it may be harmful to be around them – but there is forgiveness.
When it comes to relationships with other Christians – I may disagree with them – but I will break bread with them – Can I sit down and take up the bread and cup? That may be the test.