“A story of the very last evening” John 13:1-17

John 13 1-17 2015Presented at World’s Day of Prayer at St. Paul’s.

Good evening and welcome at St. Paul’s. Today, this evening I want to tell you a story. I know, you have heard this story, you have read it, and probably many times, but I want to share with you anyway, for there are things that can slip our eye…

This is a story about the most unusual man who have ever walked among us. About Jesus Christ. This story is about one evening in His life. Actually, about the very last evening in His life. The very last evening in His life.

Later on that evening He will pray. He will pray as no one has ever prayed before,  sweeting blood from fear, terrified about what is going to happen.

He will pray to His Father, He will beg to change His fate if possible, to take away His cup if possible, to spare Him from what was coming. From the most violent death. The death on the cross.

But there was no other way. The Father couldn’t change His fate. The price would be too high. Too many of their loved ones would die. He couldn’t change anything.

Later of that evening He will be arrested. Innocent. He will be dragged to His enemies, accused, humiliated and beaten … by those whom He came to save. To whom He wanted to give eternal life.

That was the last evening in Jesus live. For on the next day He will be murdered. He will be crucified, left naked hanging on the cross for the foolish mob to laugh at Him. The very next day He will died.

So this is a story about His last evening which He spend together with His friends. His disciples, His students.

You know, they had spent together three long years. It begun when John the Baptist baptized Jesus. That was John who showed to his disciples „See, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.”

So they followed Him. They had been together since. Days and nights, traveling, welcomed and rejected. Seeing Jesus doing things which no human being could do.

This was the last evening they could spend together. Here they were… His chosen ones. What a strange company. Really strange.

Brothers Peter and Andrew, and also James and John, all of them fishermen. John…John  was His beloved disciple. He will live a long life. Till the end of the first century. He will write the Gospel according John. Yes, the same one we have in our Bibles.

There were Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector. Why was He called to follow Jesus? A tax collector?! Jesus had this strange taste choosing His disciples.

He still has. He doesn’t care who you are and where you come from. Follow me… this is how He invites everyone.

Matthew the tax collector will also write his gospel account. There was James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus.

They all were there. Jesus knew that this was the last time He saw them. All that they had together will be taken away. And on that evening „ … Jesus showed them the full extent of his love.” (John 13:1)

Things were different then and many things don’t make sense to us anymore… Unless we learn to see them as people saw them those days.

Let’s take this washing of the feet. Doesn’t make much sense to us. Right? What a big deal. Yes, you show your humility and readiness to serve others and that’s it.

It was different then. O, very different. That was the most derogatory task. Only slaves were expected to do it. Not even all slaves. Only pagan slaves. The lowest among the lowest.

Disciples were expected to serve their teachers. Yes. To do everything for them, except – washing of the feet. This is how this simple act was perceived back in the first century. And this is what happened on that evening.

„Now 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.”

„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.”

What thoughts were running through His head? He knew what was going to happen with Him, sure, but He knew also what was going to happen with His beloved brothers.

This night they all will flee. They will be scared. They will be shocked. They will feel lost and unprotected. Of course, later they will meet Him again. That will change them forever.

They will be brave beyond measure sharing testimonies about Jesus. They will travel to far, far countries. They will go through a lot of dangers so that only more people could learn the truth.

Here they were, siting totally unaware about their destinies.

Peter, he will be crucified in Rome. But he will refuse to be crucified the way his Lord was crucified, he will be crucified upside down. Andrew, the brother of Peter, he also will be crucified in Greece. Phillip, crucified upside down.

Bartholomew, his skin will be stripped off and the he’ll be crucified in Persia. Thomas, he will be stabbed to death in India. Matthew will be killed by axes, James the son of Alpheus beaten till death, Judas the son of Thadeush crucified, Simon the Zealot crucified…

John will be the only one who will die peacefully. He will suffer His share, be sent into exile, but He will remain as a living witness until the New Testament is written.

Why? Why should they die? Because they wanted all people to know the truth about this man, Jesus Christ. The most beautiful news this world has ever heard. The news about God’s love.

How could they endure this? How could they have so much courage, to deny themselves and to follow Jesus. May be because they have experienced what Jesus did for them, how much He loved them…

So He was washing their feet and praying for them. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, „Lord, do you wash my feet?” Jesus answered him, ‘What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will …”

Peter said to him, „You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, „If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, „Lord, [wash] not my feet only, but also my hands and my head!”

Jesus said to him, „The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.” For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, „Not all of you are clean.”

When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, „Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.”

Judas Iscariot was among them. Judas who was thief and who will betray Jesus just a few hours later. Jesus washed His feet! He washed Judas’ feet! He knew what he will do and He washed His feet!

This was Jesus way. He came to serve, He came vulnerable, to be rejected, to be betrayed, to suffer. Why? For He loved us, He loved you more that His life.

Now you have heard this story. The story of the last evening in the life of the most unusual man, Jesus Christ. What next?

Once you have heard about Jesus love, you can’t go on as if nothing has happen. For this is how much He loves you. If you were there He would have washed your feet. When He gave up His life, He gave it up also for you.

When He rouse again, He did it for you, so that you could live with Him. Now, go and do like Jesus disciples did, share this testimony for you know that His love can change lives. Blessed you are if you do it!

This was a story about our Lord!

Thanks be to God!

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