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Today’s Reading

Devotional: John 13

The account of Jesus washing his disciples’ feet (John 13:1–17) is narrated to establish several points:

(1) Walking on dusty roads in open sandals took its toll. Many homes would assign the lowest of the servants to wash the feet of visitors. On this occasion, however, Jesus and his closest disciples are on their own, and no one thinks to take on the role of the humblest servant—no one, that is, but Jesus himself. The way John marshals the facts shows that, decades later when he is writing these lines, he is still awed by the dimensions of the deed. Jesus knows that it is time for him to go to the cross, “to leave this world and go to the Father” (John 13:1), but he is not self-absorbed. He knows that one of those whose feet he will wash is Judas Iscariot, who, sold out as he is to the devil, is in the process of betraying him. Jesus knows whence he has come, “that he had come from God and was returning to God” (John 13:3). All along he has “loved his own who were in the world,” and now he shows them “the full extent of his love” (John 13:1)—not only the footwashing itself, but the cross, to which the footwashing points (as we shall see). Knowing all this, loving like this, “he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist” (John 13:4)—it is as if every step has been indelibly burned onto John’s memory, and he can play it back, again and again, in slow motion. In the hush of the room, Jesus washes his disciples’ feet.

(2) Peter balks (John 13:6–11). The exchange that follows is multi-layered. On the surface of things, there is a form of humility that is actually proud. In one sense, the most humbling thing to endure in this setting is Jesus washing your feet. So there is a lesson in humility. But there is something deeper: “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand” (John 13:7); Jesus’ washing of his disciples’ feet anticipates, symbolically, the washing that is accomplished by the cross, the supreme self-humiliation that is displayed in the cross. Peter will understand such things only after the events. And then, in a moment of flip-flop enthusiasm, Peter wants a bath, and a third level is peeled back to view: a person who is already clean does not need a bath, but only to have his feet washed (John 13:10). And in some respects the disciples, with the exception of the son of perdition, are already clean. Here, then, is a picture of the “once-for-all” element in the cross (cf. Heb. 9:11–14, 23–26); we do not need a new sacrifice, but fresh confession (1 John 1:7, 9).

(3) And always there is the demand to be like Jesus. Reflect on John 13:12–17 and its bearing on us today.

Devotional: Revelation 14

In Revelation 13, we discovered that all those under the authority of the unholy triumvirate have a mark on their foreheads. This means that they can participate in the world order of the dragon and his beasts and be spared the wrath of Satan. Here in Revelation 14, we learn that God’s people also have something on their foreheads—the name of the Lamb and of the Father (Rev. 14:1). These people stand on Mount Zion with the Lamb and are spared all the wrath of the Lamb. By contrast, those with the mark of the beast must now face the wrath of the Lamb, drinking “of the wine of God’s fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath” (Rev. 14:10–11).

The imagery comes from quite a different vision, from Ezekiel 9, where Ezekiel sees God instructing a man dressed in linen to put a mark on the foreheads of all the people in Jerusalem who grieve over its sin. When the angelic executioners go through the city, bent on destruction and slaughter, they spare all those who have God’s mark on their foreheads. That imagery has now been adapted in two quite different ways in Revelation. Now everyone has a mark on the forehead. Either you have the mark of the beast, and you are spared the wrath of the beast but must face God’s fury; or you have the mark of the Lamb, which means you are spared God’s fury but you must face the sanctions of the beast.

So whose wrath would you rather face? You will face one or the other. Would you rather face the wrath of Satan, or the wrath of God?

The Lord Jesus taught us that the person to fear is the One who can cast both body and soul into hell (Matt. 10:28). Few passages are more terrifying about that prospect than Revelation 14. We are bluntly told that “the smoke of their torment rises for ever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and his image, or for anyone who receives the mark of his name” (Rev. 14:11). Few passages are more explicit about the eternal longevity of this punishment. The final graphic portrait (Rev. 14:19–20) is unimaginably horrific. In the ancient world, large stone vats with holes punched in the bottom were filled with grapes, and servant girls jumped in and tramped down the grapes, squeezing out the juice that ran out through the holes and was gathered for use in winemaking. But now in the wake of the final harvest, one must assume it is people who are thrown into this vat, for what flows out from “the great winepress of God’s wrath” (Rev. 14:19) is blood, flowing outward for 180 miles.

So, whose wrath would you rather face?

2 Chronicles 27–28

Jotham Reigns in Judah

27:1 Jotham was twenty-five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Jerushah the daughter of Zadok. And he did what was right in the eyes of the LORD according to all that his father Uzziah had done, except he did not enter the temple of the LORD. But the people still followed corrupt practices. He built the upper gate of the house of the LORD and did much building on the wall of Ophel. Moreover, he built cities in the hill country of Judah, and forts and towers on the wooded hills. He fought with the king of the Ammonites and prevailed against them. And the Ammonites gave him that year 100 talents1 of silver, and 10,000 cors2 of wheat and 10,000 of barley. The Ammonites paid him the same amount in the second and the third years. So Jotham became mighty, because he ordered his ways before the LORD his God. Now the rest of the acts of Jotham, and all his wars and his ways, behold, they are written in the Book of the Kings of Israel and Judah. He was twenty-five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem. And Jotham slept with his fathers, and they buried him in the city of David, and Ahaz his son reigned in his place.

Ahaz Reigns in Judah

28:1 Ahaz was twenty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem. And he did not do what was right in the eyes of the LORD, as his father David had done, but he walked in the ways of the kings of Israel. He even made metal images for the Baals, and he made offerings in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom and burned his sons as an offering,3 according to the abominations of the nations whom the LORD drove out before the people of Israel. And he sacrificed and made offerings on the high places and on the hills and under every green tree.

Judah Defeated

Therefore the LORD his God gave him into the hand of the king of Syria, who defeated him and took captive a great number of his people and brought them to Damascus. He was also given into the hand of the king of Israel, who struck him with great force. For Pekah the son of Remaliah killed 120,000 from Judah in one day, all of them men of valor, because they had forsaken the LORD, the God of their fathers. And Zichri, a mighty man of Ephraim, killed Maaseiah the king's son and Azrikam the commander of the palace and Elkanah the next in authority to the king.

The men of Israel took captive 200,000 of their relatives, women, sons, and daughters. They also took much spoil from them and brought the spoil to Samaria. But a prophet of the LORD was there, whose name was Oded, and he went out to meet the army that came to Samaria and said to them, “Behold, because the LORD, the God of your fathers, was angry with Judah, he gave them into your hand, but you have killed them in a rage that has reached up to heaven. 10 And now you intend to subjugate the people of Judah and Jerusalem, male and female, as your slaves. Have you not sins of your own against the LORD your God? 11 Now hear me, and send back the captives from your relatives whom you have taken, for the fierce wrath of the LORD is upon you.”

12 Certain chiefs also of the men of Ephraim, Azariah the son of Johanan, Berechiah the son of Meshillemoth, Jehizkiah the son of Shallum, and Amasa the son of Hadlai, stood up against those who were coming from the war 13 and said to them, “You shall not bring the captives in here, for you propose to bring upon us guilt against the LORD in addition to our present sins and guilt. For our guilt is already great, and there is fierce wrath against Israel.” 14 So the armed men left the captives and the spoil before the princes and all the assembly. 15 And the men who have been mentioned by name rose and took the captives, and with the spoil they clothed all who were naked among them. They clothed them, gave them sandals, provided them with food and drink, and anointed them, and carrying all the feeble among them on donkeys, they brought them to their kinsfolk at Jericho, the city of palm trees. Then they returned to Samaria.

16 At that time King Ahaz sent to the king4 of Assyria for help. 17 For the Edomites had again invaded and defeated Judah and carried away captives. 18 And the Philistines had made raids on the cities in the Shephelah and the Negeb of Judah, and had taken Beth-shemesh, Aijalon, Gederoth, Soco with its villages, Timnah with its villages, and Gimzo with its villages. And they settled there. 19 For the LORD humbled Judah because of Ahaz king of Israel, for he had made Judah act sinfully5 and had been very unfaithful to the LORD. 20 So Tiglath-pileser6 king of Assyria came against him and afflicted him instead of strengthening him. 21 For Ahaz took a portion from the house of the LORD and the house of the king and of the princes, and gave tribute to the king of Assyria, but it did not help him.

Ahaz's Idolatry

22 In the time of his distress he became yet more faithless to the LORD—this same King Ahaz. 23 For he sacrificed to the gods of Damascus that had defeated him and said, “Because the gods of the kings of Syria helped them, I will sacrifice to them that they may help me.” But they were the ruin of him and of all Israel. 24 And Ahaz gathered together the vessels of the house of God and cut in pieces the vessels of the house of God, and he shut up the doors of the house of the LORD, and he made himself altars in every corner of Jerusalem. 25 In every city of Judah he made high places to make offerings to other gods, provoking to anger the LORD, the God of his fathers. 26 Now the rest of his acts and all his ways, from first to last, behold, they are written in the Book of the Kings of Judah and Israel. 27 And Ahaz slept with his fathers, and they buried him in the city, in Jerusalem, for they did not bring him into the tombs of the kings of Israel. And Hezekiah his son reigned in his place.

Footnotes

[1] 27:5 A talent was about 75 pounds or 34 kilograms
[2] 27:5 A cor was about 6 bushels or 220 liters
[3] 28:3 Hebrew made his sons pass through the fire
[4] 28:16 Septuagint, Syriac, Vulgate (compare 2 Kings 16:7); Hebrew kings
[5] 28:19 Or wildly
[6] 28:20 Hebrew Tilgath-pilneser

(ESV)

Revelation 14

The Lamb and the 144,000

14:1 Then I looked, and behold, on Mount Zion stood the Lamb, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father's name written on their foreheads. And I heard a voice from heaven like the roar of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder. The voice I heard was like the sound of harpists playing on their harps, and they were singing a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and before the elders. No one could learn that song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth. It is these who have not defiled themselves with women, for they are virgins. It is these who follow the Lamb wherever he goes. These have been redeemed from mankind as firstfruits for God and the Lamb, and in their mouth no lie was found, for they are blameless.

The Messages of the Three Angels

Then I saw another angel flying directly overhead, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people. And he said with a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come, and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water.”

Another angel, a second, followed, saying, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great, she who made all nations drink the wine of the passion1 of her sexual immorality.”

And another angel, a third, followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, 10 he also will drink the wine of God's wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. 11 And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name.”

12 Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus.2

13 And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!”

The Harvest of the Earth

14 Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and seated on the cloud one like a son of man, with a golden crown on his head, and a sharp sickle in his hand. 15 And another angel came out of the temple, calling with a loud voice to him who sat on the cloud, “Put in your sickle, and reap, for the hour to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is fully ripe.” 16 So he who sat on the cloud swung his sickle across the earth, and the earth was reaped.

17 Then another angel came out of the temple in heaven, and he too had a sharp sickle. 18 And another angel came out from the altar, the angel who has authority over the fire, and he called with a loud voice to the one who had the sharp sickle, “Put in your sickle and gather the clusters from the vine of the earth, for its grapes are ripe.” 19 So the angel swung his sickle across the earth and gathered the grape harvest of the earth and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. 20 And the winepress was trodden outside the city, and blood flowed from the winepress, as high as a horse's bridle, for 1,600 stadia.3

Footnotes

[1] 14:8 Or wrath
[2] 14:12 Greek and the faith of Jesus
[3] 14:20 About 184 miles; a stadion was about 607 feet or 185 meters

(ESV)

Zechariah 10

The Restoration for Judah and Israel

10:1   Ask rain from the LORD
    in the season of the spring rain,
  from the LORD who makes the storm clouds,
    and he will give them showers of rain,
    to everyone the vegetation in the field.
  For the household gods utter nonsense,
    and the diviners see lies;
  they tell false dreams
    and give empty consolation.
  Therefore the people wander like sheep;
    they are afflicted for lack of a shepherd.
  “My anger is hot against the shepherds,
    and I will punish the leaders;1
  for the LORD of hosts cares for his flock, the house of Judah,
    and will make them like his majestic steed in battle.
  From him shall come the cornerstone,
    from him the tent peg,
  from him the battle bow,
    from him every ruler—all of them together.
  They shall be like mighty men in battle,
    trampling the foe in the mud of the streets;
  they shall fight because the LORD is with them,
    and they shall put to shame the riders on horses.
  “I will strengthen the house of Judah,
    and I will save the house of Joseph.
  I will bring them back because I have compassion on them,
    and they shall be as though I had not rejected them,
    for I am the LORD their God and I will answer them.
  Then Ephraim shall become like a mighty warrior,
    and their hearts shall be glad as with wine.
  Their children shall see it and be glad;
    their hearts shall rejoice in the LORD.
  “I will whistle for them and gather them in,
    for I have redeemed them,
    and they shall be as many as they were before.
  Though I scattered them among the nations,
    yet in far countries they shall remember me,
    and with their children they shall live and return.
10   I will bring them home from the land of Egypt,
    and gather them from Assyria,
  and I will bring them to the land of Gilead and to Lebanon,
    till there is no room for them.
11   He shall pass through the sea of troubles
    and strike down the waves of the sea,
    and all the depths of the Nile shall be dried up.
  The pride of Assyria shall be laid low,
    and the scepter of Egypt shall depart.
12   I will make them strong in the LORD,
    and they shall walk in his name,”
      declares the LORD.

Footnotes

[1] 10:3 Hebrew the male goats

(ESV)

John 13

Jesus Washes the Disciples' Feet

13:1 Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him, 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. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” 10 Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet,1 but is completely clean. And you2 are clean, but not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “Not all of you are clean.”

12 When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? 13 You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. 16 Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant3 is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. 18 I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But the Scripture will be fulfilled,4 ‘He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’ 19 I am telling you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am he. 20 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.”

One of You Will Betray Me

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,5 24 so Simon Peter motioned to him to ask Jesus6 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.

A New Commandment

31 When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. 32 If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and glorify him at once. 33 Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek me, and just as I said to the Jews, so now I also say to you, ‘Where I am going you cannot come.’ 34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Jesus Foretells Peter's Denial

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.

Footnotes

[1] 13:10 Some manuscripts omit except for his feet
[2] 13:10 The Greek words for you in this verse are plural
[3] 13:16 Or bondservant, or slave (for the contextual rendering of the Greek word doulos, see Preface)
[4] 13:18 Greek But in order that the Scripture may be fulfilled
[5] 13:23 Greek in the bosom of Jesus
[6] 13:24 Greek lacks Jesus

(ESV)