Robert E. Surgenor
JOHN LEANING - HIS COMMUNION
Having noticed last month the cleansing of Christ in the upper room, the Lord now moves to the betrayer, quoting Psalm 4 1:9, but not in its entirety. David said about Ahithophel, Bathshebaís grandfather, "Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me." One can understand Ahithophelís attitude to David after what he did to his granddaughter and her husband. However, when the Lord takes this verse, referring it to Judas, He omits, "Mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted." The reason being that the Lord was omniscient and knew all about the intent of Judas from the very beginning. Thus the first part of Davidís utterance could not apply to the present situation. The lifting up of the heel is quite interesting, for such an act is most despicable. When one stands in front of a man and kicks him, that is quite open. There is nothing hypocritical and treacherous about such an act. However, when you walk by an oncoming individual, greet him with a smile, and then when he is past, lift up your leg and thrust your heel into the small of his back, that indeed is deceitful, crafty, and sly. Such was Judas!
Upon quoting the prophetic Psalm, John records that the Lord was troubled in spirit (vs. 21). There are three occasions where John records the troubling of Jesus. These troublings can be linked with the meal offering of Leviticus 2. In relation to a friend, the Lord was troubled in His body. The world observed this. ĎJesus wept" (11:33). Thus we have the meal offering baken in a pan, meaning a flat plate, in full view for those near or distant (Lev.2:5). In relation to the enemy, the Lord was troubled in His spirit. This was seen only by His disciples, those who were near to Him (13:21). The meal offering baken in the frying pan, with its sides allowing only nearby ones to observe, typifies this (Lev. 2:7). However in John 12:27, we read our Lordís words, "Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour." Thus our Saviour was troubled in His soul. This was seen only by His Father, reminding us of the meal offering baken in the oven, unseen by all mortals, but closely observed by the eye of God (Lev. 2:4). As we meditate upon Him, we can in some degree, understand His troubling in body and in spirit. However, when it comes to the intensity of His vicarious sufferings on the Cross, we must step aside and exclaim like Sankey sang, "None of the ransomed ever knew, how deep were the waters crossed. Nor how dark was the night that our Lord passed through, ere He found His sheep that was lost." The troubling of His soul was for the heart of God alone to fully appreciate and understand.
So cunning was Judas that after the Lord indicated a betrayer, "the disciples looked one on another, doubting of whom He spake" (vs.22). Some have wondered that since the Lord knew all, why was Judas ever chosen as one of the twelve? The reasons are manifold, but we will expose you to three. (1) It was the will of God and Christ was always subject to the divine will. (2) Judas would serve later as an impartial witness to Christís innocence "Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood" (Matt. 27:4). (3) It would serve as a solemn warning, that it is possible for hypocrites to be amongst us. It has happened more than once, that a person breaking bread in an assembly for years has discovered they have never been born again. John and others were godly men, yet Judas fooled them all. Here is the man that called Jesus, "Master," but who never, even once, called Him, "Lord."
Immediately, Peter is anxious to know of whom the Lord spake. You will notice though, that he didnít ask the Lord personally, but spoke to John. Notice the divine account. "Now there was leaning on Jesusí bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved. Simon Peter therefore beckoned to him, that he should ask who it should be of whom He spa he. He then lying on Jesusí breast saith unto Him, Lord, who is it? Jesus answered, He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it. And when He had dipped the sop, He gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon" (vs. 23-26).
It is interesting to notice that Johnís feet were in the hands of Christ, before his head was in the bosom of Christ. It is John who is nearest. to the Lord. One cannot enjoy communion with the Lord with unwashed, defiled feet. It is John who delighted in the fact that he was a disciple whom Jesus loved. Have you ever quietly sat down in this world of turmoil and trouble and meditated upon the fact, that even though you are so insignificant in the society of men, yet you are a purchased possession of God and that you are dearly loved of the Lord? John delighted in the very fact that Jesus loved him. Many years ago, a servant of the Lord, George Gould Sr., was at a large conference in the mid-west. When mealtime arrived a food line formed cafeteria style. However, quite unconcerned about eating, old brother Gould was seen sitting quietly on the sideline, his eyes closed and a peaceful smile on his face. A brother went over to him and asked what he was doing sitting alone instead of being in line to eat. The old man sweetly replied, "Iím just sitting here, letting the Lord love me." How often do you sit and quietly enjoy the fact that the Lord loves you? Iím sure such meditations would make all of us sweeter and easier to get along with regarding our brethren.
It is John who hears His voice. It is John who experiences intimate communion with the Lord, and thus hearing His Lord he passes on the message to Peter. The picture I see is this. It is the man that leans on the bosom of Christ that is the effective messenger for Christ. Intimate communion with oneís Lord is far more important than ministering to saints or winning souls for Christ. After all brethren, if we lack intimacy with the Lord, then our ministry and gospel preaching will bear little weight. John was not a man that spoke bushels of words with only spoonfuls of thought. His words were with authority and power.
There are seven references to Judas in John 13 and in four of them we see the Lord seeking to rescue him through his conscience. We see the final act in verse 26, Jesus dipping the sop (a special morsel of lamb) and giving it to Judas. Such was the act of a host to the honored guest. However, there is no favorable response on the part of Judas. John records three interesting nights. (1) The night of salvation, (3:2). (2) The night of selling, (13:30). (3) The night of self-will, (2 1:3). Having received the sop, Judas went immediately out and it was night. The price under law, that Judas received for the Lord, was that of a gored slave, "thirty shekels of silver" (Ex. 21:32). This was the value that Israel placed on our blessed Lord. I am afraid that today, men would sell Him for even less.
Now that Judas has left the room, the Lordís supper, although not mentioned, is instituted. There would be no unbelievers at such a gathering. That rule holds good even today. There is a seat, apart from the circle, for the unlearned and the unbeliever (1 Cor.14). The Lord now addresses His own in new terms. He calls them "little children" (vs.33). This particular word in the original language is never used in the other gospels. Thayer tells us this particular word is a term of kindly address by teachers to their disciples. Also do we not see that it is little children that are so dear to their parents; that are so dependent on their parents; that are so forgiving; that are so tender in their hearts? I believe that the Lord would have us like little children in this respect.
Having classified us as little children, He gives us a commandment superior in quality to the old. "That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another" (vs.34). His love for them would be the inspiration for their love to others. The greater my appreciation of His love to me, the greater I will love my brethren. Brethren that are super-critical of Godís people are only manifesting that they are not really enjoying, or entering into the love that Christ has for them. This love to each other, so unnatural to the world, has a tremendous effect on the ungodly. The Lord says, "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another" (vs.35).
When the late Clay Fite died, his body was laid out and his funeral service took place in New Creek, West Virginia. After three days, his remains were sent for burial to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he had lived. The undertaker spoke to me in these words. "I have been in business for over twenty five years and have never experienced anything quite like this. During this manís viewing, I never heard a swear word, I never had to empty an ashtray and I felt like God was in my funeral home. This man was a total stranger in town and yet people from many states came to view his body, and what is most amazing, all these people seemed to love one another, they seemed like one big family." Turning him to John 13, I was able to show him why we all love one another. The viewing of brother Fiteís body preached volumes to the wondering director. What a good testimony!
Brethren, let us keep our feet clean; abide on our Lordís bosom; and love one another. Then the world will behold a difference between us and those that go down to the pit.