Family Bible Study lesson for June 17: Focusing on the Cross
June 1 2001 by Catherine Painter , Matt. 26:26-29; John 13:1-3,18-21 26-27,30

Family Bible Study lesson for June 17: Focusing on the Cross | Friday, June 1, 2001

Friday, June 1, 2001

Family Bible Study lesson for June 17: Focusing on the Cross

By Catherine Painter Matt. 26:26-29; John 13:1-3,18-21 26-27,30 The undertaker called, "Pastor, we've received a body - welfare case. Will you take the service?" "Yes," Jack answered.

"Could you spare some clothes? The man's your size."

"I'll do that."

"And could you donate a church cemetery plot?"

"I'll see what I can do."

I picture Jesus stooping to wash His disciples' feet.

Sacrifice and love (John 13:l-5) The Lord's Supper is my favorite service. I climb the stairs by faith to the Upper Room, finding it large enough for Jesus' disciples and their modern counterparts who join them.

Charles Dickens said, "It's disquieting to do anything for the last time." Jesus' hourglass is running out. Perhaps He thinks, "I'll leave my body to Joseph of Arimathea, my clothes to Roman soldiers, my mother to John and my soul to the Father."

"And to us?" we ask.

Not a tombstone reading, "Here lies Jesus of Nazareth," but an experience based on a Passover meal Jews have celebrated for 13 centuries. God knows a way to stamp Passover indelibly on their memories - not reading or memorizing but reenacting it. His object lesson involving all five senses contains three obligatory foods: lamb, to represent expiation of sins, bitter herbs to remind of bondage and unleavened bread to signify the haste in leaving Egypt.

Between Andrew and Thomas, I recline on my couch. Jesus reads about Passover from Exodus l2.

Dim lighting frees me to study the faces without staring: Judas will betray; Peter will deny; James and John vie for chief places in the kingdom and all will flee at Jesus' arrest in Gethsemane.

"Jesus knew ... He ... was returning to God" (v.3). We expect to read, "so they washed His feet." Instead, "He ... poured water ... and began to wash His disciples' feet" (vss.3-5). He had waited for a volunteer; none came forth, perhaps fearing to appear less than others, therefore less in the kingdom. I wonder what He waits for me to do (Matt. 20:27)?

He washes Judas' feet, and I think, "If ever a person should weep, it's he." Then I remember the dust on my own life and extend my feet, hoping He'll wash my mind and will also.

Prophecy and fulfillment (John l3:12-20) Jesus asks, "Do you understand what I have done for you" (v.12b)? He charges them to wash each other's feet, quoting Psalm 41:9: "He who shares my bread has lifted up his heel against me." No one looks toward Judas; instead they gaze inwardly, asking, "Is it I" (Matt. 26:22 KJV)? Jesus speaks another of His "I am" statements, associating Himself with the Father.

Rejection and betrayal (John 13:21,26-27,30) Jesus identifies His betrayer as "the one to whom I give this piece of bread" (v.26). At this, "Satan entered into him" (v.27b). How? By Judas' leaving the door of his heart ajar. His treachery revealed, he leaves, and John adds, "It was night" (v.30b). It always is when a soul goes away from God. We hear his steps descend the stairs, then into hell, for Jesus says, "None of them is lost, but the son of perdition" (John l7:12 KJV).

John Bunyan wrote, "Hard by the gate of heaven there is a by-way to hell." Judas took it, not by leaps, just misguided steps.

Theologians debate whether Judas was predestined to betray. No. Had he been, we would praise him for doing God's will. Judas betrayed by choice. God's foreknowledge and predestination are not the same.

Judas went to hell by refusing God's pardon (see Isa. 1:l8, 1 John l:9), and Jesus speaks his epitaph: "It would be better ... had he never been born" (Matt. 26:24). Tempted to ask, "Jesus, why did you choose Judas?" I ask instead, "Jesus, why did you choose me?"

Covenant and forgiveness (Matt. 26:26-29) Jesus now institutes the Lord's Supper. Unable to bear being forgotten, He says, "Do this in remembrance of me" (Luke 22:19).

After more trips to the Upper Room I learned what Jesus wanted to teach me - that if I'll stoop to wash another's feet, He'll lift me to Himself; for hard by the gate of hell there is an open door to heaven. See you there!

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6/1/2001 12:00:00 AM by Catherine Painter , Matt. 26:26-29; John 13:1-3,18-21 26-27,30 | with 0 comments
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