Monday 29 April 2013

John 13.

There are many people who will not live in a house which is numbered 13 and some roads omit the number, going from 11 to 11a or 15a. The superstition originated from the story in this Chapter, not because of the number of the Chapter, but from the story contained in it.

Jesus entered the room with His 12 Apostles for the Last Supper, so making a total of 13, and within hours of doing so both He and Judas would be dead. Judas would commit the greatest betrayal in history as he left the room to ‘go out into the night’ (darkness) to sell out Jesus.

Jesus knew what he was about to do and told him to do it quickly, and when Judas had left Jesus told the remaining Apostles that the time for Him to be glorified had come. What Jesus meant by this was, this was the last time He would speak to them before He was to die. His glory is that He is on His way to the Cross, His work on this earth is over and the crucifixion will also bring glory to the Father.

We have to remember the paintings we see of the Cross only show a man having a painful death, but what the Cross really means is that our sins were being paid for. Jesus regarded His death as the most glorious part of His work on earth. He does not see death as a disgrace , punishment or humiliation, but a glorious event, glorifying both Him and the Father. We Christians then should also glory on the Cross.

Paul who had much to boast about, but wrote to the Galatians that only in the Cross did he boast.

Jesus then for the only time called His Apostles, ‘little children’; this was obviously an endearing term of affection, like a father who is about to go away from his family. Jesus noticeably waited until Judas had left before saying it. It is the end of a close relationship of three years and time to say goodbye. Jesus tells them He is leaving them and they cannot go with Him, and that leaves them devastated. They had only managed to stay together through His unifying spirit, otherwise they would have parted.

He then gave them the command that they were to love one another, and by that He was calling on them to stay together and be faithful to each other, something all Christians should to show an example to the world. So often Christians are seen to be fighting with each other, due to some following a false line of teaching and not obeying Scripture, when they should be seen as a happy family. This is a complete turn off to non believers.

Enormous damage has been caused to Christianity by the behaviour in Northern Ireland, where Catholics and Protestants have murdered and maimed in the name of religion, too often with the support of clergy on both sides. Nor does Christianity benefit from men and women who sing hymns in Church on Sunday and act unworthily from Monday to Saturday.

Peter professes undying devotion, but Jesus graciously tells him He is going where Peter cannot then go, but indeed would one day follow. When Peter said he would lay down his life for Jesus, our Lord knew perfectly well the weakness Peter would show and told him kindly what would happen. Whilst Peter betrayed Jesus, unlike Judas it was in a moment of weakness rather than the cold blooded action of Judas.

Sometime people let us down and hurt us and we get upset, perhaps even bitter. If we could only remember that we all act contrary to our better nature at times of stress, and many tragic breaches of relationships could be avoided if we could forgive.

I can relate to the feeling of the Apostles when they heard Jesus was leaving them. They had been in a three year intimate closeness to Jesus, and it is like the occasion when a Vicar gives notice he is leaving a parish and both he and the members are sad.

Prior to coming to Bedford, I spent the happiest and most rewarding three years of my life in a Church on the Wirral, where I had such a marvellous time with the loveliest congregation possible. When I gave notice I had to leave for family reasons there were tears and much sadness, but I still have such wonderful memories of three golden years. I am sure the Apostles had even more to grieve over.

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