Today’s full reading is John 13:1-19
The verses we’re focusing on are:
“Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father… During supper… 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.”
I love this chapter. I’m gonna’ put it out there — this is one of my personal favourite moments in the life of Jesus. Listen to the words Jesus says here and allow the rich implications of it drip like honey onto your lap… (too far with the enthusiasm?). Still, there is some great treasure to be mined here. The image of Jesus with a slave’s towel around his waist seems just about as shocking today as it would have done then. The saviour of the world, the creator of the world, God — dressed as a slave?
God is the God who slaves over us and slaves after us. Incredible.
Verse 1 — Jesus knew that where he was going wasn’t just death, or even ‘heaven’ but to the Father. From Jesus’ perspective this is how he saw things. For Jesus, to live meant to trust the Father and to discern his plan. Discerning that his plan meant to suffer didn’t seem to put him off since he understood that even in that suffering he would still have the Father with him. Plus, to die was to go and be with the Father – permanently, and that was Jesus’ greatest delight.
Reality for Jesus was defined around his Father.
The overarching emphasis of life and the underlying theme of life, has to do not with some mystical far off and remote ‘God’ but rather with the Father. The Father is a wildly different God to the ones invented by religion.
Verse 3 — The Father gave all things into his hands.
I watched a business coaching video this morning entitled: the ‘right sort of delegation.’
The ‘right’ way of releasing people to achieve their full potential and their company’s full potential, it said, was not to give people tasks and jobs but to give them authority. Releasing people into areas of responsibility empowers them and creates leaders rather than followers.
To say that the father ‘delegated’ the work of redemption to the Son isn’t right but it is true to say that the Father empowers and releases the Son in what he sends the Son to do. The Father, we learn here, gave Jesus authority over everything: you can’t get more empowering than that!
The Father trusted Jesus and told him so.
Jesus knew (verse 3) that the Father had blessed him, knew that everything had been given to him, and knowing it — he acted on it. It was not just the authority but the knowledge of the authority that enabled Jesus to act courageously. Knowing that his destiny was to be with his Father and knowing that his Father had empowered him and trusted him meant that he could reach down, pick up a towel and serve.
Knowing all this meant that he could identify with and so dignify even those in slavery.
Seeing our identity in our Father enables us to serve and it enables us to associate with people we might not otherwise want to. Knowing how the Father feels toward us, frees us from other people’s expectations of us. The Father’s love toward us gives us confidence and courage. How will that influence you today and your decision making today?
Do you see in this text the Father who Fathers you?
Father. Thank you. Thank you that you are one who empowers and releases us into what you made us for. Thank you that your Son came to serve and wasn’t afraid even to be associated with slaves. I want to know you like he does. I want to have such confidence in your fatherly affection toward me and my place of security before you that I am willing and able to serve and even suffer indignity for you. Amen.