Friday, 17 October 2014

Under Pressure Yet In Control

Reading John 13 this morning, I am deeply moved by two outstanding yet subtle observations. Firstly, Jesus knew exactly what was about to happen. Secondly, the one non-Galillean disciple did not know that Jesus knew what had been going on - or what was about to happen! I see Jesus at this point in a totally new light. Just as in friendship (and especially in courting the idea of whether to marry a person) you never really get to know someone until you see them up close and under pressure! In fact, the more pressure they are under, the clearer the picture you'll have of who they truly are. In John 13, The Christ is under pressure. He is minutes away from being grievously betrayed. And it is at this point that we see an even clearer picture of the most exquisitely unique being who has ever been among us.
During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him,  Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
John 13:2-5
Someone in Christ's innermost circle of trusted leaders has been working behind the scenes to undermine Him. Added to this, he has been stealing from the group's treasury for his own personal expenses. And in addition to these crimes, he has now all but sealed the deal to have his Master brutally tortured and executed. All this has been done in secret. Or so he thought. Just minutes before he cashed in on his wicked scheme, the One he was about to demise, now half-naked so that the ordour and grime didn't spray onto his clean garments, took his betrayer's aching, tired, dusty, smelly feet, and began to caress them with a warm, wet sponge, then dry them with a towell. It was a scene that only an outside observer could have fully appreciated for the betrayer didn't even notice it happening! Why? He was too engrossed in a heated discussion about why he would be the greatest in the Kingdom to come-
¶ A dispute also arose among them, as to which of them was to be regarded as the greatest.
Luke 22:24
As Jesus removed the animal manure from the festy feet of Judas, He knew full well what His betrayer was about to do. Upon reflection of this profound moment, John opens this chapter with an introductory statement about what we are about to read.
¶ Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.
John 13:1
Later, as his betrayer was securing his blood-money, Jesus would leave that dining room for a garden aptly named, The Press. It was in the midst of an olive grove and it was where the harvested olives would be pressed to produce an oil used for medicinal purposes. In their tongue, it was referred to as Gethsemane. Shortly, Jesus too would be harvested and His life would also be pressed, and He too would then produce a healing oil (that it is still flowing today). The thought of what was about to happen to Him, being orchestrated by Judas Iscariot as He knelt there in prayer, caused His capillaries to dillate and exude blood through His sweat glands. Jesus was under the most intense and literally unimagineable pressure. Yet He remained composed. He breathed His prayer of renewal of dedication to His Father and entrusted His soul to the One who was worthy of it. To His disciples, seeing Judas leave the room and the door closing behind him, He began to speak sweetly and softly in a manner they had not previously heard. John carefully takes the next three chapters to retell these words. When you read John 14, 15, 16, read them quietly and softly - the way Christ tenderly uttered them. They begin with these startling words that only made sense two months after they were uttered.
So, after receiving the morsel of bread, he (Judas) immediately went out. And it was night.
¶ When he had gone out, Jesus said, "Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. 

John 13:30-31
Jesus in Gethsemane
After Judas left, Christ declared that His disciples would now see Him begin to be glorified. Jesus had an utterly different perspective from others! He spoke intimately with them about waiting for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. He was concerned about them. Truly strong men, when under pressure, keep caring for others - especially those they are responsible for. Weak men, when under pressure, blame others and lash out at those they should care for!
"By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."
John 13:35
No matter what dark hour you are facing - no matter what kind of pressure you are under - Jesus understands. No matter how lonely you feel, the One who begged those whom He considered His closest friends - yet was let down by them in His hour of greatest need for them - knows what you're going through. Even when it feels like no-one understands at all, Jesus "knowing all things" knows what you are going through. You can experience His comfort, His care, His friendship, because He - more than anyone else - knows how much you truly need it. When He looks you in the eye through the mist of your tears and tells you, "Trust My Father", He alone is qualified to say it - and He knows what He's talking about. Far from being under pressure and feeling out of control, because He trusted His Father, He was both under pressure and enjoying the peace that comes from knowing that God is in control.
"Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me."
John 14:1 
Ps. Andrew

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