Rev Dr Edgar Mayer – Living Grace Lutheran Church, Toowoomba – John 13:18-35 – Date: 9 March 2014 (#235)
For more sermons and other writings, please check the following homepage: www.livinggracetoowoomba.org
“God is good” and – in church – when we hear the affirmation, we immediately respond: “All of the time.”
Leader: “God is good.”
Chorus: “All of the time.”
Leader: “All of the time.”
Chorus: “God is good.”
Yet – in reality – the affirmation of God’s goodness is a persistent problem. Do you believe his love when life seems to fall apart? Do you believe the goodness of God when you lose your business, or get sick or your child dies? What does it take for you to give up and walk away from God who doesn’t seem to care or do anything about your pain?
There are answers in the Bible and I pray that – this morning – we can hear them. Jesus’ own death was an enormous problem to the disciples. The night before his death – at dinner – Jesus loved his disciples. He proved his goodness to them but it seemed to come at the expense of his strength:
John 13:4-5: Jesus got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
He himself had no doubts about his power and authority:
John 13:3: Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God.
However, his power and authority was not visible and if you were not careful, you could easily nurse contempt for a leader – a king – that performed the menial task of the lowest-rank servant. What good is a foot washing when you need the overthrow of a government or the breaking of a drought?
Then, it was not exactly a sign of strength that one of his closest followers walked away from him – even betrayed him to his enemies. How can anyone walk away from Jesus, the Son of God, unless they are convinced that Jesus was a fraud? According to Judas and his actions, following Jesus was not worth it and he lived with him 24/7 – for years. Did he know something that we don’t?
Finally, all the others ran away from Jesus when he was arrested and then Jesus did die – he was executed – which took hours hanging on a cross in weakness and shame.
Was Jesus good but simply mistaken about his identity? Would the disciples – and we today – simply have to acknowledge the evidence – the foot washing Jesus in his undergarments and his death on a cross (where he was dying naked) – and conclude that Jesus – on account of his lifeless body – was not the Son of God and not the hope of humanity?
There are times in our lives when reality presents itself like that. Jesus may be kind but he cannot do anything – so it seems. His death was an enormous problem to the disciples and it is the same problem that we face today when everything in our lives seems to come crashing down – health, relationships, finances and the hope of a better day.
Jesus knew that the circumstances of his passing and the cross itself were a problem and he addressed the issue – also for you. He was not just good and kind but also remained powerful and in charge. You never have to doubt either his goodness or power!
Jesus – before anything bad happened and before anyone could get worried – announced his betrayal to the disciples – he spelled it out for them – so that they would not be shocked when it happened but become even more certain that they could trust Jesus:
John 13:10-11: Jesus answered, “… And you are clean, though not every one of you.” For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.
John 13:18-19: I am not referring to all of you; I know those I have chosen. But this is to fulfill this passage of Scripture: ‘He who shared my bread has turned against me.’ I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I am who I am.
Judas was not one of the chosen ones. It’s not as if Jesus fought a desperate fight to hang on to Judas but couldn’t. From the beginning, there was something wrong which means that we can trust that Jesus is able to keep those that are chosen in his care and not lose them ever:
John 17:12: While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.
[Romans 8:38-39: For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.]
Jesus clarified that Judas was not chosen and he announced to the disciples – he prophesied to them – that one of them would betray him and then he spelled out why he gave them the prophecy: “I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I am who I am.” Bad news was to come but Jesus’ prophecy would turn them into good news – confirmation of his good plan and will. Jesus announced what would happen beforehand and rooted his prediction in the Bible. He only prophesied what was prophesied long ago. It would just come to pass now: “But this is to fulfill this passage of Scripture: ‘He who shared my bread has turned against me.’”
Do you know that God always prophesies trouble before it comes so that you would not despair but actually grow in your confidence and faith? You may have your expectations but listen to his words. Jesus spells out what is coming so that we are not confused but hang in there with him:
God prophesied Israel’s slavery in Egypt
Genesis 15:13-14: Then the Lord said to him, “Know for certain that for four hundred years your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own and that they will be enslaved and mistreated there. But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions. [Cf. Acts 7:6-7.]
Exodus 12:40-41: Now the length of time the Israelite people lived in Egypt was 430 years. At the end of the 430 years, to the very day, all the Lord’s divisions left Egypt.
[Exodus 13:19: Moses took the bones of Joseph with him because Joseph had made the Israelites swear an oath. He had said, “God will surely come to your aid, and then you must carry my bones up with you from this place.”]
[http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/2010/07/05/israelites-in-egypt: So what’s the deal? How long were the Israelites enslaved? The answer is given by Henry Ainsworth, a British theologian from the early 1600s:
Ver. 13. Knowing Know,] That is, know assuredly: see Gen. ii. 17. Not Theirs,] Meaning Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Canaan itself; wherein they were but strangers, Gen. xvii. 8. Psal. cv. 11, 12. and therein afflicted. Gen. xxi. 9. xxvi. 7, 14, 15, &c. but chiefly in Egypt. Four Hundred Years,] Which began when Ishmael, son of Hagar the Egyptian, mocked and persecuted Isaac, Gen. xxi. 9. Gal. iv. 29. which fell out thirty years after the promise, Gen. xii. 3. which promise was four hundred and thirty years before the law, Gal. iii. 17. and four hundred and thirty years after that promise, came Israel out of bondage, Exod. xii. 41. 2 (emphasis added)
When you think about it, this is an incredibly straightforward explanation that is provided by Scripture, but is ingeniously simplified by Henry Ainsworth: Israel’s (the nation) “affliction” (Genesis 15:13; Acts 7:6) started when Isaac was five years old and Ishmael mocked him (Genesis 21:9; Galatians 4:29).]
God prophesied Israel’s exile in Babylon
Jeremiah 25:9-11: I will summon all the peoples of the north and my servant Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon,” declares the Lord, “and I will bring them against this land and its inhabitants and against all the surrounding nations. I will completely destroy them and make them an object of horror and scorn, and an everlasting ruin. I will banish from them the sounds of joy and gladness, the voices of bride and bridegroom, the sound of millstones and the light of the lamp. This whole country will become a desolate wasteland, and these nations will serve the king of Babylon seventy years.
Jeremiah 29:4-14: This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”
Yes, this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “Do not let the prophets and diviners among you deceive you. Do not listen to the dreams you encourage them to have. They are prophesying lies to you in my name. I have not sent them,” declares the Lord.
This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”
God prophesied the sufferings of Paul
Acts 9:13-15: “Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your holy people in Jerusalem. And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.” But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”
[2 Corinthians 11:23-29: I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. I have laboured and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?]
Acts 19:21: After all this had happened, Paul resolved in the spirit to go to Jerusalem, passing through Macedonia and Achaia. “After I have been there,” he said, “I must visit Rome also.”
Acts 21:4: We sought out the disciples there and stayed with them seven days. Through the Spirit they urged Paul not to go on to Jerusalem. / Acts 21:8-14: Leaving the next day, we reached Caesarea and stayed at the house of Philip the evangelist, one of the Seven. He had four unmarried daughters who prophesied. After we had been there a number of days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. Coming over to us, he took Paul’s belt, tied his own hands and feet with it and said, “The Holy Spirit says, ‘In this way the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem will bind the owner of this belt and will hand him over to the Gentiles.’” When we heard this, we and the people there pleaded with Paul not to go up to Jerusalem. Then Paul answered, “Why are you weeping and breaking my heart? I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” When he would not be dissuaded, we gave up and said, “The Lord’s will be done.” [Ray Stedman and others (e.g.: Wolfgang Simson) think that Paul should have listened to the prophetic warnings and not go to Jerusalem: “Well, there is Paul's mistake. He did not observe what the Holy Spirit said plainly and clearly.” However, maybe the warnings were given so that Paul and fellow-Christians would not be surprised by the trials ahead.]
Acts 20:22-23: And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me.
God prophesied that suffering would come to all Christians
2 Timothy 3:12: In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.
Matthew 5:10-11: Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.
1 Peter 4:12-19: Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And, “If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” So then, those who suffer according to God's will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.
John 15:18-27: If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. Whoever hates me hates my Father as well. If I had not done among them the works no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. As it is, they have seen, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: ‘They hated me without reason.’
When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me. And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.
Exit Slide 4
God keeps prophesying to people about trials ahead
In 2004, I had my first (and probably most significant) prophetic dream. (Until then I never even remembered any non-spiritual dreams.) When I woke up in the middle of the night, I was wide awake and stirred up and instinctively knew that I had to write down the dream. I did and still remember the dream vividly today.
There was much in the dream that was symbolic which was confusing to me but Tatjana worked it out easily the next morning (e.g.: ironing board, seeds, coming down the stairs, library in heaven). However – at one stage – I was sitting in a train that was going to heaven and I asked the person opposite from me: “Why am I here?” To which she gave a reply that was absolutely plain and clear: “You’re the next to suffer as Christ.”
The next year all hell broke loose. On the one hand, God allowed me to write and lead the citywide program “40 Days of Church Unity and City Transformation” but, on the other hand, I came within a whisker of being expelled from the Lutheran Church of Australia. There were anonymous accusations by colleagues (this was not about the Holy Spirit but discipleship and the understanding that “blessings follow obedience”), a public censoring by the Qld president and a confrontation at the Qld pastors’ conference. In the end, all the trouble dissolved almost instantaneously but it took its toll.
My hope was that this had been the fulfillment of the dream and now I was done with the suffering part. However, there were other prophecies and other experiences along the way. (I do not want to contemplate the severity of Christ’s sufferings.)
In 2005, I received my first prophetic word which was wonderful but also talked about “much opposition”. In 2006, there was another prophetic word at the Toowoomba Prayer Summit and it talked about warfare and struggle and not being liked and opposition and being like Ezekiel the prophet whose face became like flint in opposition. At the end of this message, another pastor said: “I am glad that I did not get Edgar’s word.” It was an encouraging word but had some troubling aspects.
I give you three more instances which apply to Living Grace. In 2011, six men from the Solomon Islands came and said that God would be using this church but they also saw a decline of the church (because of witchcraft outside and inside the church) and then the church would begin filling up:
… They are members of a prayer network in the Solomon Islands which covers about twenty communities. They are from two different villages. The six men came to Toowoomba because God told them to come but no church in Toowoomba knew that they were coming. They ended up with Annie Cathcart whose newsletter they had been receiving. For about ten years they had been praying for Australia and then Toowoomba came on their radar screen …
Back at the church, James told me that they had a specific prophetic word for Living Grace. They had come with specific prophecies for two churches in Toowoomba and Living Grace was one of them. Privately, he told me that there had been witchcraft against the church from outside but also from inside the community. Therefore, there would be a decline in attendance but then they saw the church filling up and overflowing. Many people would be there. I sighed, “Not again.”
In the bigger prayer meeting in the church, James shared with everyone that one of their men recognized the church from a vision and he prophesied that revival was coming to Living Grace and that this was one of the churches that God was going to use in Toowoomba. They had come with prophetic words for two churches (the other one being Range Christian Fellowship with Alan Small).
Before the Sunday service, Karlee Peters comes up to me and wants to know whether the Solomon Island brothers are coming to Living Grace. She had not met them but heard about them. Then, she told me that the night before (leading up to Sunday) she had a dream where the Solomon Island brothers were in the middle of Living Grace and handing us a white baby. She gave me permission to share the dream with the congregation. When I did, she called out from her pew that she recognized two of the brothers from her dream. I think that it was Abel and Moses.
At the end of 2011, I would not have thought it possible for us to decline. God seemed to be doing so much among us but it did happen and now – hopefully this year – I am ready for the church to be fruitful.
Prophetic Word given by Adrian Saal (Sunday, 2 December 2012): … I was very restless last night … Luke 14: “A certain man was giving a big dinner and he invited many … everything is ready … all began to make excuses … Bring in here the blind, the poor and the lame …” And God is a God of seasons and the season that we are in … I noticed that Lake Eyre filled up twice … all the wild life started to go into the desert … something in them responded to the season and God is trying us to get us to respond to the season if we can see it … God doesn’t force us … We are in a season but whether we recognize it or not is another thing … The thing that steals the seasons of people in this moment is the cares of this world …
I have been waking up for the last three months and someone’s been knocking at the door of my room … at least a dozen times … The phone goes off and when I get there, there is no one calling me … And then, like it dropped in my spirit, this is God and he is knocking at my door.
Four days ago, the knock was not a light knock anymore. God belted on the door. It shook me and I felt like the door was saying to me for some months: I am knocking at the door of the church but people will not open the door to me because they do not recognize the season that I am in … And this world is a thief. It is the spirit of this world that is influencing people and they cannot even see it …
And then I had a dream and it is progressive and I do not understand it properly. But it has to do with the season that we are in. And this dream I cannot let go of it and I cannot … it just keeps coming back to me all of the time. And I found myself looking out on a horizon – a long horizon. And I was in a desert and I was looking towards the horizon. I thought it was a desert. And on the horizon, there was this snow-white cloud started to rise from one end of the horizon to the other. It rose that high (shows small distance between thumb and index finger). And you know when you get … when clouds rise and if you have ever been in the flat country where I come from out bush. It rises and then it builds up. This got to a certain height and it stayed at that height and it just kept coming towards me. And then as it got closer towards me it was so far away and then I looked and I saw that there were things in it at the front of it.
And I looked harder and as it got within a … into a place where I could view it I saw horses in front of it. And there/they (?) were like people in front of it but he horses kept coming and this horse … I can still see him now. This horse all of a sudden it got to a certain place and then suddenly I thought from here to the wall these things are going to run over me because when you … if you have ever been around thoroughbreds, they get full of grain when they are about to race and they are hot. Everything about them is just muscle and they have a purpose and nothing can stop them. And they run straight over you when you are in the road. This horse, that’s there. He stopped right beside me and he’s like bronze, almost plumb colour. And he’s this high (lifts up arm to indicate height of maybe eight feet) and I can still feel him there.
And he had chariots. They were chariots and there was lots of them. And it started off in the beginning there were lots of these chariots but they would disappear every now and then as they got closer and I didn’t know why. Until there were very few when this horse got to there it was all of a sudden beside me and I didn’t know what (it was like it was talking to me). It was looking ahead and it was heading somewhere and I didn’t know where it was going until I turned around and I saw where it was going and that’s what I’m goanna hold in my heart because unless we do the first part that part doesn’t matter.
You see you can walk into the vision or the vision can fall to the ground and you can miss it. And this horse was looking at me and he’s got eyes like (if you are around thoroughbreds, you know what they are like; they stare you down) and this heat comes off them, sweat comes off them. Its nostrils were firing and he kept looking at me like this (swiping sideways) and I’m thinking: You’re talking to me but what are you saying?
And then two weeks ago, I was in the house and it dropped on me. And the Spirit of God said: Get on the horse. It’s yours. There were places … These horses were pulling up and people wouldn’t get on and the horse would disappear. If you don’t get on the horse, you miss it. What surprised me when these horses were all there was that there were very few. Not too many people wanted to hop on them. And it was so surprising because the only thing that God has planned is good things but we substituted it for the world. God’s knocking on the door continually. He’s knocking on our door and I’ve watched an anointing shift from one movement to another simply because that church refused to say: “Okay God, we go with you.” It really got nothing to do with how you feel. It’s got to do with what God is doing …
Some months ago, the Lord showed me … God wants mercy and grace. God has shown me certain issues in here where they are operating out of … I can name people. If you want me to, that’s what the Bible says to do. That’s when it gets scary. And I am watching what God’s doing because you see when the anointing rises everything else rises including the holiness of God. When God allows me, if certain things aren’t dealt with in individuals’ lives, I believe God will allow me to get up here and I will walk up and I will say to you: Why are you doing this? And call you by name. I’m not some cheap magician. I listen to God … And what gossip does in church and I didn’t want to say this but starts to steer the church in another direction because it’s in the spirit and it cripples what God is doing and what that certain person is saying is: I don’t like you, Holy Ghost, what you are doing. You are so close to blasphemy. And that’s when judgement comes. There is a dagger in this church and people walk under it and I watch it appear on people occasionally. I can name you. Stop it. Hear the word of the Lord or God will revisit it in twelve months and that which spoils shall be spoilt by the spoiler and even the things that you have got God will take away. Hear the word of the Lord. This is what he spoke to me. I know this is heavy …
From: Herman Ruyters [mailto:Herman.Ruyters@rangeville.com]
Sent: Sunday, 28 April 2013 9:20 PM
Subject: Living Grace visit 28 April
… Val and I were blessed worshipping at Living Grace today … I
did see a prophetic picture this morning but did not think it appropriate to
share in public – that is why I am now emailing it to you. [I rang Herman
last week and he gave permission to share the prophecy with you now.] I
heard waves coming in and sensed that I was on a shore. The waves were
coming in in varying sizes but at a steady rate. Then the water receded
way out from the shore and after a while came back with a roar as a tsunami.
I believe that the waves were waves of the Holy Spirit but they did not make much impact on the landscape. The tsunami changed the landscape dramatically. Demonic strongholds were being demolished and a new era of the Holy Spirit's influence became clear.
Does it mean that we go backwards before making major inroads?
I got the impression that it was message foretelling what God is going to do in Toowoomba – a genuine inland tsunami that will change the spiritual landscape.
For your part with the leadership of Living Grace, I believe the Lord is saying that you will be like the sons of Issachar who knew how to discern the signs of the times.
I look forward to catching up with you soon …
Jesus prophesied the betrayal of Judas (and also the denial by Peter) to strengthen the faith of his disciples. He made this crystal-clear: “I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I am who I am” (John 13:19). However, it did not really work for the disciples and – so far – my confession would be that it has not really worked for me either. Somehow I am not hearing the words; therefore suffering keeps confusing me especially when it is located right in the middle of what Jesus is doing. It just does not make any sense that there should be opposition to something good that is from God – people getting healed, testimonies of salvation, spiritual gifts, joy and peace and hope and supernatural gold dust sparkling on the skin?
Maybe this morning, we can make an adjustment and let Jesus correct our expectations. Trouble will come – and trouble will come again at some stage – but it is okay because Jesus told us so beforehand so that our faith would increase rather than decrease. This is our life. There is always something to overcome but Jesus knows and he remains good and powerful.
If we have another look at Jesus’ prediction of betrayal, there are a number of interesting observations:
John 13:18-30: “I am not referring to all of you; I know those I have chosen. But this is to fulfill this passage of Scripture: ‘He who shared my bread has turned against me.’ I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I am who I am …” After he had said this, Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, “Very truly I tell you, one of you is going to betray me.”
His disciples stared at one another, at a loss to know which of them he meant. One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him. Simon Peter motioned to this disciple and said, “Ask him which one he means.”
Leaning back against Jesus, he asked him, “Lord, who is it?”
Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.” Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him.
So Jesus told him, “What you are about to do, do quickly.” But no one at the meal understood why Jesus said this to him. Since Judas had charge of the money, some thought Jesus was telling him to buy what was needed for the festival, or to give something to the poor. As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out. And it was night.
Jesus picked out an Old Testament prophecy and announced that it would apply now to him and his betrayal. Someone that shared the intimacy of fellowship around the meal time table would strike out against him. But how precisely did this happen?
Jesus began to be troubled in spirit which means that he sensed that something was not right. Something was coming against the peace of God which marks his presence and he announced again the prophecy: “Very truly I tell you, one of you is going to betray me.” The betrayal was close.
Then – in the Bible – follows a more detailed description of how Judas came to be the betrayer – the final stages of his development. The disciples sitting around the table closest to Jesus – Peter and John and a few others – heard the prediction and asked about the identity of the one that would do the deed. Jesus said that it would be the disciple whom he was giving this piece of bread, then he dipped it into a dish and gave it to Judas who took it and precisely then Satan entered into him to carry out everything that was on his heart.
What was happening here? I do not think that Jesus cursed Judas with the piece of bread that he was giving him. On the contrary, he was again offering him his friendship and love and provision. This is Jesus’ nature. However, this time was a more dangerous time for Judas because the season of grace was coming to an end. [Judas heard Jesus’ warning that one of them was going to betray him and he may or may not have been aware of the moment when Jesus handed him the bread (probably not because most disciples had no understanding) but human resistance to Jesus can so easily dig in and become incorrigible.]
Judas had nursed opposition to Jesus for quite a while (cf. John 12:6). He was close – even received the foot washing – but distant in his heart and unwilling to reverse his judgements. Now – as they were all around the table one more time – Jesus’ prophetic word set up the moment where Judas finally had to decide – either repent and belong or resist and betray Jesus. He may not have realized the seriousness of the moment but the prophetic word was spoken and it landed on him and worked on him because he continued to be stubborn at the wrong meal. Therefore, his own stubborn heart made the prophecy of betrayal come alive in him and seal his fate by allowing Satan to enter him.
[This is serious and still applies today. There are seasons of grace for our stubborn and unrepentant hearts but it is not wise to keep ignoring God’s pleas for repentance and prophetic warnings. Galatians 6:7: “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.”]
[As Judas took the bread with an unrepentant heart and stepped into the prophetic word, Jesus’ covering and protection was removed which handed him over to Satan (see John 17:12). See how this compares to 1 Timothy 1:20: “Among them are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme” (cf. 1 Corinthians 5:5). The handing over to Satan is not always final but can be a means for people to come to their senses and repent.]
Jesus prophesied what would happen so that the disciples would not lose their faith in the coming turmoil and – in God’s strange economy – the turmoil – the betrayal and Jesus’ death on a cross – actually served to glorify God. “When Judas was gone [to betray him], Jesus said, ‘Now the Son of Man is glorified and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will glorify the Son in himself, and will glorify him at once.” (John 13:31-32). Jesus’ death was not an accident but his willing sacrifice to atone for our sins. Therefore, it was an expression of his nature – crazy love – unconditional and without limits – and this kind of love would conquer Satan and his accusations and punishment of sins. Jesus said: “Don’t get confused by my suffering. It is your salvation and it is my glory. The cross is who I am: a loving God.” [And he set us up to be like him: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35-36).]
This is important because if we do not understand this, then we are not only losing our faith but miss out on the amazing privilege of receiving him in others (who may similarly suffer) and representing him ourselves:
John 13:19-20: I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I am who I am. Very truly I tell you, whoever accepts anyone I send accepts me; and whoever accepts me accepts the one who sent me.
“God is good.” [Congregation responds: “All of the time.”] “All of the time.” [Congregation responds: “God is good.”] Trouble will come but Jesus remains good and powerful always.
Exit Slide 6
John Piper (www.desiringgod.org/biographies/george-muellers-strategy-for-showing-god): George Mueller was a native German (a Prussian) … He spent most of his life in Bristol, England … the one he was known for around the world in his own lifetime, and still today, was the orphan ministry. He built five large orphan houses and cared for 10,024 orphans in his life. When he started in 1834 there were accommodations for 3,600 orphans in all of England and twice that many children under eight were in prison … He did all this while he was preaching three times a week from 1830 to 1898, at least 10,000 times. And when he turned 70 he fulfilled a life-long dream of missionary work for the next 17 years until he was 87. He travelled to 42 countries, preaching on average of once a day, and addressing some three million people …
He had been married twice: to Mary Groves when he was 25, and to Susannah Sangar when he was 66. Mary bore him four children. Two were stillborn. One son Elijah died when he was a year old. His daughter Lydia married James Wright who succeeded Mueller as the head of the Institute. But she died in 1890 at 57 years old. Five years later Mueller lost his second wife, just three years before he died. And so he outlived his family and was left alone with his Saviour, his church, and two thousand children. He had been married to Mary for 39 years and to Susannah for 23 years. He preached Mary’s funeral sermon when he was 64, and he preached Susannah’s funeral sermon when he was 90. It’s what he said in the face of this loss and pain that gives us the key to his life.
We have the full text of the message at Mary’s funeral and we have his own recollections of this loss. To feel the force of what he says, we have to know that they loved each other deeply and enjoyed each other in the work they shared.
Were we happy? Verily we were. With every year our happiness increased more and more. I never saw my beloved wife at any time, when I met her unexpectedly anywhere in Bristol, without being delighted so to do. I never met her even in the Orphan Houses, without my heart being delighted so to do. Day by day, as we met in our dressing room, at the Orphan Houses, to wash our hands before dinner and tea, I was delighted to meet her, and she was equally pleased to see me. Thousands of times I told her—”My darling, I never saw you at any time, since you became my wife, without my being delighted to see you.”
Then came the diagnosis: “When I heard what Mr. Pritchard’s judgment was, viz., that the malady was rheumatic fever, I naturally expected the worst. . . . My heart was nigh to be broken on account of the depth of my affection.” The one who had seen God answer 10,000 prayers for the support of the orphan, this time did not get what he asked. Or did he?
Twenty minutes after four, Lord’s Day, February 6, 1870, Mary died. “I fell on my knees and thanked God for her release, and for having taken her to Himself, and asked the Lord to help and support us.” He recalled later how he strengthened himself during these hours. And here we see the key to his life.
The last portion of scripture which I read to my precious wife was this: “The Lord God is a sun and shield, the Lord will give grace and glory, no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.” Now, if we have believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, we have received grace, we are partakers of grace, and to all such he will give glory also. I said to myself, with regard to the latter part, “no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly”—I am in myself a poor worthless sinner, but I have been saved by the blood of Christ; and I do not live in sin, I walk uprightly before God. Therefore, if it is really good for me, my darling wife will be raised up again; sick as she is. God will restore her again. But if she is not restored again, then it would not be a good thing for me. And so my heart was at rest. I was satisfied with God. And all this springs, as I have often said before, from taking God at his word, believing what he says.
Consider the many times that Jesus predicted that trials would come and that – this side of eternity – we will not be pain free. Therefore, trust him – like George Mueller. The God who previously answered 10,000 prayers is not abandoning you even though you bury your children and wife (not once but twice). God is good all of the time. Today – this morning – let the testimony of George Mueller be a prophecy over your own life: Turmoil may come and – (God forbid) – even touch your family but no good thing God will withhold from you. He will satisfy your soul. Amen.