Text: John 13:21-30, 36-38
Summary: While there are many potential disappointments in this life, if you keep following the real Jesus, you will never be disappointed.
21 After saying these things, Jesus was troubled in his spirit, and testified, “Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” 22 The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he spoke. 23 One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was reclining at table at Jesus’ side, 24 so Simon Peter motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. 25 So that disciple, leaning back against Jesus, said to him, “Lord, who is it?” 26 Jesus answered, “It is he to whom I will give this morsel of bread when I have dipped it.” So when he had dipped the morsel, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. 27 Then after he had taken the morsel, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.” 28 Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him. 29 Some thought that, because Judas had the moneybag, Jesus was telling him, “Buy what we need for the feast,” or that he should give something to the poor. 30 So, after receiving the morsel of bread, he immediately went out. And it was night.
36 Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered him, “Where I am going you cannot follow me now, but you will follow afterward.” 37 Peter said to him, “Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” 38 Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the rooster will not crow till you have denied me three times.
Father, teach us about your Son. We want to know the true Jesus. We want to follow the real Jesus, not a false Jesus, not a different Jesus, but the true Son of God. We want to meet You, not just once, but every moment of our lives until that final day when we get to see You face-to-face. Teach us about how to follow You, the real You, with full trust, full love. Thank you, Lord. In Jesus Name, Amen
Is there one word that came to mind when you read John 13? I asked some of the people who came earlier to think about one word and it’s not in the text. At least my word is not in the text. What’s one word to describe Jesus? I’ll be very impressed if we are on the same page about this one word.
Consider the disciples and their response. What is going through their minds as they are witnessing what is unfolding in John 13? Jesus is washing the disciples’ feet and then Judas is going to betray Him. Peter is claiming that he will follow Jesus to death, but he ends up denying Him. So what is what is one word? Anybody? There’s no wrong answer.
Well, this week I thought of a word that maybe you’ve never thought of and applied it to Jesus. It is the word “anomaly.”
Jesus is an anomaly. What is an anomaly? Reading some definitions, it is something that deviates from what is standard, normal or expected. I think that applies to this chapter.
It contradicts the norm. There is no precedent. There is no repeated pattern. It is a one-off. It is an outlier because it doesn’t fit in the customary order or structure of things. Therefore, it defies easy explanation.
I think that captures Jesus quite well, especially in this chapter. Have you ever had somebody in authority wash your feet at work or at school or family? Other than maybe in our church setting, has anyone ever washed someone else’s feet?
And yet Jesus as the Master is washing His disciples’ feet. I think the reason why Judas ends up betraying Jesus and the reason why Peter ends up denying Jesus is because they had a certain picture. They wanted to put Jesus in a box. They had a certain picture of how they thought life of following Jesus would pan out.
And it wasn’t panning out and they were disappointed. Disappointment can manifest in different ways. In Judas’ case, he outright betrays Jesus. For Peter, it was denial and he almost walked away, too.
But they were putting Jesus in a box. And if Jesus is in a box, is that Jesus? Can you say you’re following Jesus if you put Him in a box? Because if you’re disappointed, you’re saying that your picture and reality do not match and you are feeling justified in your disappointment. So if your picture of your life doesn’t match your reality and you are disappointed, are you following Jesus? Haven’t you put Him in a box?
We think, Jesus should fit into the box of my career and my career should pan out a certain way. Jesus should fit in the the box of my finances and my finances should pan out a certain way. Jesus should fit in the box of my personal life and things should pan out a certain way. And when it doesn’t, you’re disappointed.
I want to ask, if you’re disappointed today, are you following Jesus whom you’ve put in a box?
The one point for today is that while there are potential disappointments in life, if you’re following Jesus, the true Jesus and you trust in Jesus, then you will never be disappointed. You will never be disappointed if you’re following Jesus.
2 Cor 11
3 But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. 4 For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough.
There is such a thing as a false Jesus and a different spirit and a different gospel. I think much of what passes for Jesus or the gospel today is just our box, that Jesus needs to make my life pan out the way that I envision so that there will be no disappointments in life.
Why did Judas betray Jesus? I’ve been sitting on this one, and especially, Peter. I’ve been sitting on these two disciples. Why did they, and actually all of them with the exception of John who stayed with Jesus to the end because John loved Him, but everybody else, and specifically, Judas and Peter, why did they betray/deny Jesus?
I think for Judas it was very simple. He was the Treasurer. He had control of the money bags and throughout the three and a half years, we have to assume he was taking money. And why would he do that? Because he thought, I’m following Jesus. This person who multiplies bread. I mean, if Jesus wanted to, He could create his own Wonder Bread company and sell bread and make millions of dollars. I mean, is there any shortage of money if you follow a man that can can multiply food?
And Judas is probably frustrated. Why does Jesus feed and heal thousands of people, and then, He doesn’t take their information? He doesn’t try to gather them. Because these people are a money pot. Gathering those same people who have been healed and and fed and delivered, why wouldn’t you gather them? They will give you all of their money if you just asked.
And this mindset aligns perfectly with a false gospel that exists today. It’s called the prosperity gospel, and it teaches that if you follow Jesus, He will make you prosper financially. If you look at Jesus’ life, was He rich? No. Yet, why has there been a ready acceptance of a false Jesus, a false gospel that promises what greedy churchgoers want, which is more money?
Judas had this picture of how life of following Jesus would pan out. He put Jesus in this box of prosperity. And there was such a gap between this picture and reality, which caused disappointment. And maybe the last straw was a bunch of women like Mary breaking jars of ointment or pure nard and anointing Jesus.
Judas didn’t care about the poor. He didn’t want that money for the poor. He wanted that money for himself. And Judas is so frustrated — Jesus, why can’t you tell this woman not to waste her money and give it to us? That probably was the last straw. And Judas knew from that point on, I will not be rich following Jesus. And so I got to exit. I got to get off this train.
What about Peter? Why did Peter deny Jesus? It says in verse 36.
36 Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered him, “Where I am going you cannot follow me now, but you will follow afterward.”
And this one Jesus obviously is going to heaven and Peter and the disciples. They cannot follow right this moment, but they will follow so Jesus already knows that Peter is going to turn he’s going to he’s going to deny he’s going to potentially walk away. But Jesus will restore him and and Jesus already knows the future. He already knows Peter is going to turn.
It says you will follow me afterward and then verse 37.
37 Peter said to him, “Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” 38 Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the rooster will not crow till you have denied me three times.
And I used to think Peter was a coward. Is he lying here? I don’t think so. He says, I will lay down my life for you. He’s not lying because in Luke 18, when Jesus is being arrested, it says in verse 10 that Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant and cut off his right ear. So Peter was more than willing to lay down his life for Jesus. He is not a coward. He is not afraid to die.
But what is happening here? What’s the picture that Peter has of Jesus? Peter is bold. He is brave. He’s willing, and you see the proof in John 18, he is willing to go down fighting with Jesus. But what’s the picture that Peter has of Jesus? Jesus is like a reigning Lion of Judah. He is a military leader. He is undefeatable. And if He fights and I fight with Him, I am willing to die with Him. But I mean, there’s no way we can lose. That’s the picture that Peter had of Jesus Christ.
And this picture is not entirely wrong. It was a partial picture. In salvation history, the Lion of Judah has not come in His fullness. We have not seen Him in His unveiled glory. He is coming and when He comes a second time, it will be exactly what Peter envisioned, that He is going to be a ferocious Lion who will trample His enemies. And if you’re on His side, there is nothing to fear.
When Jesus told Peter to put away his sword, the picture that Peter had of Jesus is being shattered. I thought Jesus would look this way, that He was like a military general. I thought He was this Rambo, this bodybuilder who nobody could take down. Why is He allowing Himself to be arrested? It just doesn’t make sense. Yet Peter had a certain picture of Jesus. He put Him in a certain box of military general, thinking, we will overthrow Rome and all of our enemies will be defeated. While that is true but not at present, Jesus was revealing who He was. And as soon as that picture was destroyed, Peter was utterly by himself, and that’s why he felt fearful.
Because remember this whole section in John Chapter 13 is about following. Jesus says, won’t you follow Me?
And Peter said, yes, I will follow You. He was willing to follow but he was following the wrong Jesus. He had the wrong picture of Jesus. Jesus is saying, will you follow Me while I’m being arrested? Will you follow Me as I’m being spit upon? Will you follow Me and risk your life and die alongside of Me while I look so weak? You’re so confused and nothing makes sense. And He asks, will you follow Me there?
See, once Peter’s conception of Jesus was shattered, the disappointment set in and it could have gone in one of two ways. He could have outright betrayed Jesus and said, I will not follow this man ever again. Or like most of us, we will silently deny Him and no longer follow the real Jesus, and instead, follow the Jesus of our own making.
And so if you are disappointed with your life because things are not working out in your career, your finances, or your personal life the way that you envisioned, perhaps you stopped following the real Jesus. Because if you follow the real Jesus, I guarantee you will never be disappointed.
Like when you get married, you have a certain picture of your spouse-to-be and any married couple — me and Jackie can testify, DY and Elaine can testify, that once you get married, you really see the other person for who he is and you see yourself for who you are.
And my unsanctified self as a 25 year old saw many flaws in Jackie and she saw many flaws in me. I had a certain picture and this picture while you’re dating is this perfect spouse who will meet all my needs and will never disappoint me. She will always be there for me. It’s like you just want a dog that does everything you say and is by your side and keeps you company. Never nags. Never fights. Like a robot, something perfect who obeys our orders. When disappointment sets in, it’s because the picture of that spouse is being shattered.
But if you follow the real Jesus, why will you never be disappointed? Because the more you get to know Him, the better He gets. There’s nobody like that — the more you get to know Him, you’re shocked and surprised but in a good way. For example, I love movies that have twists like Keyser Soze. I love that scene. I won’t give it away. But I love that scene from Usual Suspects.
Don’t watch this movie, but I also love the line, “I see dead people” from the Sixth Sense — I watched it before when I was an unsanctified Christian. I liked this movie but I don’t recommend it. It had such a twist. I love movies like that where you think it’s going to go a certain way and then a twist happens and everything changes. You look back and you can see the movie from a totally different perspective. And Jesus is doing that in John 13. All the disciples had a certain picture and there’s a twist.
What is He doing? He’s shattering all the boxes. He’s saying, I don’t fit, don’t put Me in a box. I don’t fit. I’m iconoclastic. You can’t put me in a box because I don’t fit. You can’t easily explain me. That’s why there are some people who try to put Jesus in a doctrinal box and say, this is what you need to believe. And I’m thinking, what are you trying to do? You’re trying to explain the infinite Son of God. Can you do that? We just know based on our experience of Him a little bit at a time. We don’t define Him. We don’t say, these are the tenets you need to believe about Him. We just know experientially a little bit at a time and every time it just surprises me.
I had a certain picture of Jesus early on in my Christian life. It was this conquering King. I assumed that if I followed this conquering King, the ministry that I’m involved in is always going to flourish. Wherever we go, we’re going to conquer, and every season is going to be fruitful.
What I’ve learned over the years is that Jesus takes us on a very specific journey and it doesn’t pan out the way that I had envisioned years ago. Jesus as our Shepherd knows how to lead His sheep. I trust Him. He knows how to lead me. He knows how to lead you. And along the way what He’s going to do is demolish these boxes. And if you really get to know the true Jesus, you will never be disappointed.
Circumstances can be disappointing but you yourself, if you follow Jesus, will never be disappointed because He gets more and more beautiful by the day. I want to follow a leader like this. There’s been no leader in my life who has done this for me except for Jesus. Everybody in authority wants to exert their power and tell you what to do and boss you around. Jesus always shows by example. He always leads first through His own life.
He won’t tell you to wash somebody’s feet unless He first does it. He won’t tell you to preach until He preaches. He won’t tell you to heal until He heals. He won’t tell you to cast out a demon until He shows it to us first. Everything He asks us to do such as making a disciple, He shows us first.
He’s showing over the course of these 3.5 years what it takes to make a disciple of Christ. And it’s not opening a huge school. It’s not holding these big events. It’s life on life. Very intimate. Somebody who really knows you and you can forgive that person. You can wash their feet. I mean, you can’t wash the feet of strangers in a crowd. You have to wash the feet of a brother or sister you’ve been in the trenches with. And they’ve served you and you have eagerly served them. You have forgiven them because they have forgiven you. You’ve done life together. Jesus is showing us — this is how you are to love one another. Very messy, very intimate.
And so if you’re disappointed in life today, I think that just might be a symptom that you’ve lost touch with Jesus. Because if you are following Jesus, you cannot be disappointed. Even if circumstances are not going the way you expect, I can trust my Shepherd. He is leading me.
And if there’s something in me, a wrong picture of Jesus, He will be trying to demolish that wrong picture. I can try to fit Jesus into a box and get disappointed and frustrated and say, Jesus, how come You’re not coming through. And Jesus is like way over there. And He says, why did you stop following me?
Maybe Peter could have literally followed Jesus all the way. And maybe his personality is different from John, like he has to say something. He has to be in the front lines. And so him following close to Jesus during His arrest and trial probably would have meant, he’s going to die, too. He could have followed Jesus to death.
But he was so disappointed. He was stripped bare and he stopped following Jesus. It’s about following Jesus. When your picture of Jesus is ripped apart, you either will rediscover Jesus and start following again the true Jesus, or you will fall deeper and deeper into despair. And you are going to complain, Jesus, how come You’re not coming through? The problem is you’ve stopped following. Jesus has kept moving and He’s asking us to keep following Him even though life doesn’t make sense.
So if you’re in a place in your life where things don’t make sense, welcome to the club. You’re in a good place. Jesus is trying to deal with the picture that you have of Him which is not right. And He’s inviting us to keep following Him. Keep trusting Him, keep believing in Him, keep loving Him. And you will come to know that as long as you have the real Jesus, you have everything you need. You will not be disappointed.
That’s it’s not a new job that you need. You need the real Jesus. It’s not about the job. If you have Jesus, you have everything you need. Whether single, or a good marriage, or bad marriage, in every case, if you have Jesus, you have everything you need
Father, thank you so much for sending Jesus. When we see Jesus, we know He is not of this world. We know He is not from this world. He is not like any person we’ve ever met. You are so different. You’re so other. You’re so holy. You are the righteousness of God embodied. Jesus, you lived and fulfilled the perfect will of God and you glorified your Father.
In John 13, You ripped apart many boxes that the disciples had put You in. No wonder they’re so confused. No wonder they’re betraying You, or denying You, or running away from You. You’re showing your true character, that You came to die on a cross for our sins. The strongest Person who ever lived, so weak upon that cross. You endured the suffering, the scorn, the shame even though You are the King of kings. Everyone should have bowed down to You, but you allowed us to spit upon You and nail You to a cross. You washed the feet of your disciples.
We’ve never met anybody like You. And we want to follow the true Jesus. If we’ve been following a false Jesus of our own imagination, Father, we pray that you would rip up those boxes. If we received a different gospel based on what is preached in many churches, we pray that You would purge that false gospel out of our hearts. We want to meet the true Jesus who was poor yet rich, who was weak yet strong, who defied all explanation.
We don’t even try to explain who You are. We just know that you are the Son of God, the King of kings, the Lord of lords, the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the Bright Morning Star. One day when you return, everybody in heaven, all the angels, everybody on the earth, all believers and even non-believers, and even those under the earth, all the demons as well as Satan himself, every creature will bow down to King Jesus because that is who You are.
Lord, as You’re leading us, perhaps You lead us in unexpected places and we’re surprised and confused and there are twists along the way. Lord, this is part of the journey of sanctification because in the end, we want to follow the real Jesus however You lead us.
After he denied you 3 times, Peter was restored and he followed you faithfully, zealously to the end. He was forever changed because he met the resurrected King of kings, Lord of lords. We asked, O Lord, that each of us would meet the real Jesus today. So that we, too, would be forever changed — fearless, never disappointed, totally satisfied, no longer troubled, so content, so bold. Please, Lord, we need to meet the real Jesus. Meet us, Lord.
As we partake in the Lord’s Supper, nourish us and meet us. We want to encounter You. Thank you, Lord. In Jesus name, Amen