Maundy Thursday and Jesus Washing the Disciples’ feet

Maundy Thursday is observed the Thursday before Easter Sunday and commemorates Jesus washing the Apostles’ feet and establishing the Lord’s Supper. footwashingJohn’s Gospel is the only Gospel that recounts the footwashing. In this post, I make a couple observations on John 13:1-30.

John 13:1-30 introduces a larger unit often called the “Farewell Discourse,” which covers John 13:31-17:26. As Jesus bids “farewell” to his disciples, he cleanses them through the act of footwashing. The Farewell Discourse concludes with Jesus praying for his followers to continue his mission. The discourse itself features Jesus preparing his followers for his departure by teaching them about their relationship to the Father, to Jesus, to the Spirit, to one another, and to the world.

The description of the footwashing is intertwined with Jesus’ predictions about his betrayal, something that the other Gospels recount with the institution of the “Lord’s Supper.” John’s Gospel places the footwashing at a meal, but does not include the explicit establishment of the Lord’s Supper. However, the act of footwashing symbolizes Jesus’ humble self-sacrificial service through his death on the cross – something also symbolized by the bread and cup of the Lord’s Supper.  In his commentary on John, Craig Keener (2003, 902-914) observes that the interspersing of the footwashing and its significance (13:3-10) with the betrayal (13:2, 10-11) point to Jesus’ impending death. The betrayal of a friend or close associate was a terrible act in all first-century cultures and the act was especially heinous because it took place during a meal. Eating together was a symbol of trust and unity. And yet, Jesus did not make a mistake in choosing Judas (6:70) since he was chosen to fulfill the prophesied role of betrayer, as the quotation of Psalm 41:9 in John 13:18 points out.

Jesus tells his disciples beforehand about this betrayal so that they would not doubt Jesus because of this betrayal. Instead, Jesus’ foretelling would cause them to believe “I am he” (13:19). At the most basic level Jesus was showing that he was a legitimate prophet of God despite Judas’ betrayal; Jesus was still aware and in control of the situation. Telling of the events before hand was one way prophets were shown to be from God (Deut 18:22).

Keener (2003, 914) also states this language of Jesus “choosing” the disciples echoes the language of God choosing Israel as he was creating a covenant community. The choosing of Judas and the crucifixion – they were all a part of God’s plan to draw together a new community/family of God. By introducing the idea of voluntary humble service through footwashing, John emphasizes that the betrayal and death were consciously taken up by Jesus in love and service to God’s people. The humiliation of the cross and its cleansing of sinners were foreshadowed in the act of footwashing.

Jesus’ footwashing also serves as an object lesson in humility. Footwashing was the task usually done by the lowest servant. It was certainly not to be done by a renowned teacher or leader. Jesus says in John 13:14-15  If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you.” Jesus clearly states that one purpose for washing their feet is to give them an example they should follow. Only through humble, Christ-like service could the disciples truly continue Jesus’ ministry and mission.

Ending on a note of application, we church leaders must receive Jesus’ cleansing like anyone else. It is through Christ’s sacrificial death (the Lamb of God) that we are cleansed and adopted as children of God (John 1:12; 29). Christian leaders must be converted and cleansed by Christ. Too many have seized the mantle of leadership without having received Christ’s cleansing. We must also pay close attention to Jesus’ example. Jesus calls us to servant-leadership that is ready to humble oneself in service to the other. This includes doing the tasks no one else wants – the task of the lowest servant like washing the feet. Too many have seized the mantle of Christian leadership without taking up the mantle of service like Christ. Christ-like leadership is servant leadership.

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Jesus as the Heavenly Temple in the Fourth Gospel.

The most recent edition of Bulletin of Biblical Research (28.3; 2018: pages 425-446) BBRcontains probably my last article that incorporates a large amount of material from my dissertation. Through many revisions, I was able to sharpen one of the main arguments in my thesis into an article length presentation. Below is the abstract/summary of the article. The full article can be read on JSTOR or by those who have a subscription to the Bulletin of Biblical Research. For those who have access to neither, but want the full pdf., leave a comment below and I can email you a copy.

ABSTRACT: The majority of Johannine scholars agree that the Fourth Gospel presents Jesus as fulfilling the temple. This article argues that the Fourth Gospel advances this fulfilment by closely associating Jesus with the heavenly temple more than the earthly. The thesis coheres with many previous studies but furthers the discussion by focusing on how the heavenly temple emphasis interacts with the temple-fulfillment theme. The Johannine Jesus embodied the more transcendent reality of the heavenly temple, and his return to heaven began the eschatological expansion of God’s temple presence through the Spirit. This argument is supported by (1) pointing to the pervasive importance placed on the heavenly temple in the first century, (2) examining specific temple-fulfillment texts and consistent motifs/terminology in the Fourth Gospel, and (3) showing how the correlation of Jesus with the heavenly temple better accounts for the post-resurrection fulfillment assumed in the temple-related texts.

Jesus Christ—the Fulfillment of all previous Sacred Places. Study 10.

All the history and temple theology that was covered in previous studies formed the background to Jewish beliefs in the first century. When Jesus of Nazareth began his public ministry around 30 C.E., he came to a people who carried assumptions and expectations concerning the temple. The first followers of Jesus incorporated these beliefs about the temple to describe and explain Jesus and his work. It may be helpful to review some of the assumptions and expectations concerning the temple that we covered in the previous studies. Some of those assumptions include: The temple was a gateway to God’s true heavenly presence. The tabernacle/temple was a way for God to manifest his glory presence to his people, a presence that began in the Garden of Eden. The temple was the place to offer sacrifice to maintain the covenant relationship with a holy God. Temple rituals were no substitute for a heart obedience to God, and God removed the temple when it became a mere religious/ritual token. In contrast to the destroyed temple, God would one day restore true worship among his people by giving them a new Spirit; through the Spirit, God could be present with his people no matter where they were located. Continue reading

Jesus as the new Bethel. Study 5, part 2 in the “Where Heaven and Earth Meet” series.

This study looks at how the Gospel of John appropriated Jacob’s encounter at Bethel to show Jesus as the typological fulfillment of that event. If you have not read it already, I suggest reading the first part of Study 5’s post from December 27, 2016. That post examines Jacob’s vision as it appears in the book of Genesis. jacob

Bethel was a place where heaven and earth met. This connection was vividly portrayed in Jacob’s dream with angels going up and down a ladder that stretched to the Lord in heaven. In the Gospel of John, Jacob’s ladder finds fulfillment in Jesus Christ. Jesus himself makes this claim to Nathanael, one of the several men who are deciding to become Jesus’ disciples. We read about this encounter in John 1:43-51. Continue reading

How Temple Theology helps us Understand the Incarnation.

In study 2 we reviewed the theology of the temple in Jerusalem. In particular we templestudied how Solomon’s prayer at the temple dedication (1 Kings 8) demonstrates a belief that God’s true dwelling was in heaven, despite being able to manifest the Glory presence in the temple. A parallel account of the temple dedication in 1 Kings 8 can be found in 2 Chronicles 5-7.

Study Series Intro: Over the next several months I will be posting a series of group bible studies on the Bible’s sacred places. Each study focuses on what these sacred places reveal about the character of God and how these places point to God’s ultimate self revelation in Jesus Christ.

Let’s review the temple dedication and Solomon’s prayer by reading 2 Chronicles 5:5-6:3; 6:18-21.

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Study Bible notes are helpful: A case study of the Wind-Spirit play-on-words in John 3:8

Study Bibles with reference notes have become very popular in the last few decades. While the common refrain of “my Bible says in the notes . . . ” has derailed many group discussions, Bible study notes do more good than harm. These notes often provide helpful cultural or linguistic information to help modern readers understand the author’s intended meaning. One example of this benefit is found in Jesus’ well-known interaction with Nicodemus in John 3.

John 3:5 Jesus answered, “I tell you the solemn truth, unless a person is born of water and spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 3:6 What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. 3:7 Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must all be born from above.’ 3:8 The wind blows wherever it will, and you hear the sound it makes, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (NET Bible)wind wheat

Those who have not studied Greek usually do not realize that in
this passage the English word “spirit,” “Spirit,” and
“wind”are translations of one Greek word: pneuma.
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Sermon on John 20:31. (Проповедь: Ин. 20:31)

Below is a copy of one of the sermons I preached in Ukraine. This sermon is also available as a PDF on the page devoted to John’s Gospel. (Вы можете скачать эту проповедь в файл PDF на странице «ЕВАНГЕЛИЕ ОТ ИОАННА»)biblia

Сие же написано, дабы вы уверовали, что Иисус есть Христос, Сын Божий,  и, веруя, имели жизнь во имя Его.

Введение: я преподaвал курс по Евангелию от Иоанна в Запороской Семинарии. Мы обсуждали многие вопросы, связанные с Евангелием от Иоанна: автор, структура, цитаты из Ветхого Завета, и многие другие вопросы, которые теперь у нас нет времени обговоривать. Поэтому я хочу поделиться с вами только одиним вопросом, который мы обсуждали в курсе – цель написания Евангелия от Иоанна. В отличии от некоторых других библейских авторов, Иоанн ясно сказал почему он написал своё Евангелие. Нам важно понимать эту цель, потому что Иоанн не просто собрал кучу случайных историй и учений об Иисусе, у каждого из которых была своя собственная цель. Но Иоанн имел общую цель. Все написано чтобы способствовать этой цели. Нам важно и необходимо понимать не только значение каждого отдельного стиха, но и общее значение и цель книги, потому что они оба содержат истины, они оба вдохновленны Духом Святым. Continue reading

Structure of John’s Gospel (English version)

I posted an outline of the Gospel of John in Russian a few days ago. You can find the English version below and as a PDF on the page devoted to John’s Gospel.biblia

Gospel of John Outline

 

Prologue: 1: 1-18        The eternal Word enters the world.

 

Part 1: Testimony and Signs (1:19 – 12:50)

1:19-34: John testifies Jesus is the Son of God.

1:35-51: Jesus Gains Followers.

 

From Cana to Cana, signs 1-3. (2:1 – 4:54)

2:1-12: 1st sign, water into wine.

2:13-22: 2nd sign, Clearing & Establishing the Temple.

2:23-3:21: Nicodemus, re-birth to eternal life.

3:22-36: John’s last testimony.

4:1-26: Messiah offers living water to Samaria.

4:27-42: Samaritan Belief & Testimony.

4:43-54: 3rd sign, healing a Nobleman’s Son.

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