April 7, 2011 Devotion Sharing

Submitted by Gary Chang, Gracepoint Hsinchu

John 13:18-30
In verse 13:2 we read that the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot and here at v.27 we read that as soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him.  The lesson here is that you give sin or the devil an inch, he will take a yard.  In verse 2 when the devil was prompting Judas, he must have given in to the prompting and did not bring it into light through confession or silencing such sinful thoughts by nipping it at the bud.  As the result the sinful voice within Judas just grew louder and became more seductive, until at some point during this dinner Judas finally decided to give in to the temptation and decided in his heart to betray Jesus.  The process of getting there must have been a lot of deception fed to Judas.  Probably he was fed revisionist memories and his thoughts about Jesus became twisted and skewed in order that the devil can make the temptation to betray Jesus and the associated lies more palpable for Judas to accept.  This is the modus operandi of the devil in each person’s heart, that when we are tempted by sin, if we choose to tolerate such desires or thoughts for an inch, the sin will take a yard in through deceit, twisted thoughts and revisionist memories to lodge itself more firmly in my heart.  The final outcome of this pattern is that sin will cause me to choose to sin and give in, in which case Satan will have “entered into me.”  Though this is again and again Satan’s way of ensnaring us, it is powerfully effective.  And to counter it I need to be very vigilant in discerning sinful thoughts and desires and learn to just nip it at the bud through repentance, confession and/or refusal to go down that trail of thinking.  Judas did not start out wanting to betray Jesus, but it is the tragic outcome after he had tolerated and toyed with Satan’s temptations. John 13:31-32
In verses 31-32, Jesus repeats the word “glorify” five times regarding the cross.  What it reveals about his perspective and attitude is that the cross is not the emblem of shame, but the means through which God will be glorified.  Jesus’ focus is not on how horrible or painful the cross will be, or how shameful it would be to be stripped naked and have to endure it.  He did not focus on the fear and the intimidation of it all like we would.  Rather he focused on outside of himself: He focused on God and how through the cross death will be defeated, sin will be atoned for and God will be glorified and victorious.  In contrast, so often people focus more on the self as the reference point.  And had Jesus done so in this instance he would not have associated the cross with glory, but with fear and doom and suffering.  As a Christian, I am reminded from this once again the importance of being an other-centered instead of a self-centered individual in approaching the things in my life that may be like cross-bearing: to embrace physical suffering with the perspective not on how tiring or difficult it is, but on this can really honor God or be a blessing to the recipient; to embrace generosity with the perspective not on how I will have little left but on how others will be enriched; to face persecution from parents with the perspective not on feeling discouraged or down, but on how God’s name is honored through my choosing to stand firm and on how I am foiling Satan’s attacks by refusing to give in to self pity.

How did the cross of Jesus become “glory” for me? Basically, the cross of Jesus became “glory” for me when I realized that there is no glory in me.  I used to think that glory is all about myself being in the spotlight and exulted.  But when I am convicted by my sins and when I became a Christian, I come to know more and more of the glory of God’s love for man that conquers death and triumphs over sin.  And this glory that has saved the world and placed Jesus at the right hand of God is the “glory” of the cross.  When I realized that the cross of Jesus absolves my sins and washes me clean before God and has the power to transform even the most incorrigible of sinners, I realized that the cross is what is glorious and not me.  Because the more I know myself, the more I see how my heart is full of sin and my motivations full of self-centeredness.  So as I know more of myself and appreciate the cross more in my life, the cross becomes my glory more and more, while the self less and less.

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Submitted by Gina Han, Gracepoint Davis

John 13:18-30
“‘Troubled’ [vs.21] is the same verb used of Jesus’ agitation at the grave of Lazarus (11:33) and at the request of the Greeks to see him (12:27).  As ‘the hour’ approached, the bitterness of the betrayal Jesus anticipated became known. […] The quotation in 13:18, which the author cites as prophetic of Jesus’ feeling, contains in its context an allusion to ‘my close friend, whom I trusted’ (Ps 41:9). Among the sorrows contributing to the agony of the Cross was the voluntary and selfish defection of Judas.”[1]

Note the progression from Satan simply prompting Judas in 13:2 to Satan entering into Judas in vs. 27. What lesson is there for me? Satan never just stops at the little bit that I give into, when I am tempted. There is the saying, “Sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you want to pay.” It’s a slippery slope when I give in even a little to the promptings of Satan to sin. This is so tragic, what happened to Judas. He was part of Jesus’ own inner circle of trusted disciples, and ended up going down in history as the one who betrayed Jesus Christ. He didn’t want that, that’s not what he was envisioning for himself, but it all started at that one point of giving into that small prompting, that probably felt so harmless. But it’s foolish to do head-on battle with sin like this. I need to have a clear true picture of the power of sin, and the power of Satan, who is able to take one small inch I give into, and use that as a foothold to bring utter destruction and tragic consequences of sin into my life.

John 13:31-32
Jesus repeats the word “glorify” five times in these two verses regarding the impending cross.  What does this reveal about his perspective and attitude towards the cross? To Jesus, taking up his cross and dying to save lost sinners like me was the picture of glory. That was the picture of God the Father being glorified in Him. The cross – suffering, pain, humiliation, mockery, betrayal – if that’s what it took to save man from death and hell, and reconcile him back to God – then that was glorious!

How did the cross of Jesus become “glory” for me? That Jesus would go through all that for me, be the one to take my place on the cross, and suffer the punishment and consequences of my sin that I deserved, willingly, joyfully – looking ahead to how I could be reconciled back to God – what else is there more glorious, than that someone could love me like this? Knowing me like He does, with all my inner sins, thoughts, struggles, and yet loving me like this – this is not only glorious, it’s quite unfathomable, outrageous, scandalous – but because it’s the greatest thing I’ve ever heard, it’s also what I’m going to put my trust in each and every day, and though I don’t think I can ever fully understand it this side of heaven, I’m going to trust and believe it, and throw myself into the life that I could have as I live it in trust and obedience to Him.

In my daily life and dealings with people, when I give into the world’s idea of glory, which is exerting my own pride and self-centered perspectives, then I experience very less than glorious relationships, where there is no love, no mercy toward others, no joy and peace flowing from that relationship. But when I actively choose to die to my own pride, my own demands and selfishness, then I experience a peaceful, harmonious, life and joy-giving relationship with the people around me. God made us, He really does know how we tick, and what is the best way to live a flourishing abundant life of love. God is love. He is the author of love. And He showed what the greatest love looks like – it looks like dying. It sure often feels like dying. But that is the road to true life and love, true glory.

John 13:36-38
How did Jesus pave the road for me (and Peter who would deny him) to follow him to glory? Peter wanted to follow Jesus at that point, saying that he would lay down his life for him. To which Jesus predicted Peter’s denial of him. He did not understand then what it took to follow Jesus to glory – but Jesus knew that he would understand, after He first showed him through His own journey to the cross. That path to following Jesus is the path to the cross. The cross was about selfless, sacrificial love, which Jesus, who considered the needs of others above his own, demonstrated. In verses 34-35, he tells his disciples: 34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Jesus is all about love. And as his disciple, the way to follow him to glory is through the daily dying to my own needs and pride, out of love for the other. For a task-oriented control freak like me, it’s much easier to deal with my “to do” list, than to deal with people. To drop something I need to take care of, in order to show care and love for a person in need right in front of me is sometimes so hard to do. To hold my tongue in a situation to exercise my own control and preference, to defend and protect my pride, often feels like death. But I am still so worldly at these times, wanting to exercise my own “power” so to speak, to do what I want to do, to go with how I feel, than to pause, let go of my own pride, and think of how I can show care and love to the precious person right in front of me. But as I think of Jesus, who is leading me on to true glory, it’s something I want to daily commit to and strive towards, knowing it’s the only way to truly live.
[1] Frank E. Gaebelein, Gen. Ed. Expositor’s Bible Commentary CD, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1992) notes for John chapter 13.

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