Rabbi’s Reflections – Saturday, May 29, 2021

Shabbat Shalom,

Daily Bread, reading plan by Lars Enarson (https://www.thewatchman.org/)

Sat 29 May 2021 18th of Sivan, 5781 Parashat Beha’alotcha

Nu 11:30-12:16Zec 2:14-4:7Eph 5:1-20

Note from David Harwood:  This is from Day 3 of a devotional I wrote on leadership. It is used in conjunction with God’s True Love in a class on God’s Love and (I was told) in a class on pastoral ministry at the FIRE School of Ministry under Dr. Michael Brown’s leadership. 

I taught this at a Tikkun gathering many  years ago and it really affected me. I hope it encourages you, too.

Next week, God willing, I’m going to begin a series on hope.

Also, if this meditation encourages you, I exhort you to purchase ($0.99) the book on Kindle. It is titled Leaders, Do Unto Others (Messianic Version): Brief Meditations on Leading and Learning and Loving. Here is the link… https://www.amazon.com/Leaders-Unto-Others-Messianic-Version/dp/B088Y1DN7L 

You can also listen to this on Podcast 20 of Love and War with David Harwood. Here’s the url: https://loveandwardh.podbean.com/e/episode-20-meditation-on-john-131-4/ 

Thank you for reading.  David Harwood.  End NFDH.

Yeshua’s Great Demonstration of Love by David Harwood

Getting Up From Supper 

One of the most compelling narratives in Scripture is the retelling of the Last Supper. A lasting image has been the picture of Yeshua, the Son of God, washing his disciples’ feet. Let’s take a closer look at where John introduced this act, Yeshua’ final instructions, and his prayer for the Emissaries, starting in John 13:1-5:

Now before the Feast of the Passover, Yeshua knowing that His hour had come that He would 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, the devil having already put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, to betray Him, Yeshua, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come forth from God and was going back to God, got up from supper, and laid aside His garments; and taking a towel, He girded Himself. 

Then He poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. (John 13:1-5)

Notice the timing. Yeshua did not wash their feet before the meal. It is written that He “got up from supper”. They were already reclining. Most likely their feet were already clean, after all, they were in the middle of their meal. Take a look:

(Yeshua) got up from supper, and laid aside His garments… (John 13:4a)

In the past I taught that this was a great demonstration of love (because that is what the Scriptures teach). Yet, what I really thought was that the virtue clearly exhibited was humility. How was Yeshua washing their feet an incredible demonstration of love? Take a look at this lineup of the demonstrations of the love of Yeshua.

The incarnation… incredible love! 

The cross… incredible love! 

Washing feet… incredible love. …Really? Yes.

If Yeshua didn’t wash their feet to prepare them for the Seder, then what provoked this? Why this abrupt change? Why did Yeshua get up from the supper? Something more foul than the stench of dirty feet pervaded that room. The seeds of the Apostolic community’s destruction had germinated and needed to be uprooted.

Dining with the Devil

During supper, the devil having already put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, to betray Him… (John 13:2)

The devil had left an imprint in the heart of Judas Iscariot. The word “devil” translates “diabolos.” Properly, the word means “slanderer.” That spirit was actively at work in that upper room (Mark 14:15; Luke 22:12).

The Synoptic Gospels report Yeshua’ temptation in the wilderness. John’s Gospel does not. The matters addressed in the Temptation are settled in John. He wrote that Yeshua knew His origin, authority, direction, destiny and the timing of that destiny’s fulfillment (John 13:1a, 3). Yet, present at the Seder was a heart conformed to the Slanderer’s corrupt perspective. The meal’s ambiance was tainted with a satanic attitude. 

Certainly, the Messiah was aware of Judas’ heart and the power of such infernal influence. Earlier that week Judas cloaked his covetousness with contagious “compassionate” complaints.

Now when Yeshua was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, a woman came up to him with an alabaster flask of very expensive ointment, and she poured it on his head as he reclined at table. (Matthew 26:6-7)

But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” (John 12:4-5)

And when the disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, “Why this waste? For this could have been sold for a large sum and given to the poor.” (Matthew 26:8-9)

Judas’ polluted heart (John 12:6) produced an atmosphere of diabolic defiance and temptation. 

In the wilderness, Satan tempted Yeshua: “Who are you? What are you? Prove it. Worship me, and Your reign can begin right now!” This attitude was present at the table. 

The Messiah was aware of Judas’ identity from the beginning:

Yeshua answered them, “Did I Myself not choose you, the twelve, and yet one of you is a devil?” Now He meant Judas the son of Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the twelve, was going to betray Him (John 6:70-71).

There, partaking of the covenant meal, about to have his feet washed(!), was the spiteful slanderer. He played innocent (John 13:21-22), but his calculating enmity and hate-filled hypocrisy could not be concealed. Yeshua knew Judas and his traitorous true intentions. 

Judas’ presence was not the only problem at this banquet. One thing John charitably omitted was what may have been the immediate background to the Messiah washing their feet: the ludicrous argument mentioned in Luke’s Gospel. It happened right after Yeshua instituted what is known as “the Lord’s Table”.

[Yeshua said,] “But behold, the hand of the one betraying Me is with Mine on the table. For indeed, the Son of Man is going as it has been determined; but woe to that man by whom He is betrayed!” 

And they began to discuss among themselves which one of them it might be who was going to do this thing. And there arose also a dispute among them as to which one of them was regarded to be greatest. 

And He said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who have authority over them are called ‘Benefactors.’ But it is not this way with you, but the one who is the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like the servant. “For who is greater, the one who reclines at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at the table? 

But I am among you as the one who serves. (Luke 22:21-27) 

Perhaps it was then that (Yeshua) got up from supper, and laid aside His garments (John 13:4a).

Why Did Yeshua Demonstrate Humility? Why Did He Wash Their Feet? 

In the light of Luke’s report, it is evident that the apostolic community had no small difficulty with pride, position seeking and the resultant mutual animosity. They argued with one another about who was most important. That was extremely bad behavior. It was also ironic; they were some of the most important people who ever lived. They had an extraordinary destiny and they needed one another to fulfill their calling. 

Through washing their feet, our Messiah guarded their destiny. He preserved them as a community. He loved them individually, and He loved them corporately. 

He loved their present. He loved their future. He loved what they were and what they were about to become. 

He loved them as the nucleus of mission, as preservers of the Word of the Kingdom and as the earthly nexus of Heaven’s activity amongst Israel and the nations. 

He loved them enough to call them to be the foundational people of the Messianic Community. Their relationships would become the pattern for the Community of Believers throughout the ages.

And they were being derailed! 

It was as if all their training was for nothing. 

Yeshua had discerned Judas as he schemed. With dismay He watched the disciples argue. Things were going downhill fast. 

Would His purposes for them be defeated? He would not give up on them; He loved them “to the end”. What was He to do? 

I can imagine His grieved heart calling out to Father for wisdom.

Yeshua’s Prophetic Response

Then, in a moment of prophetic insight, Yeshua “got up from supper” and through the most humiliating, low status, least skilled, “taken for granted” labor, He changed the dynamic of the meal. A bowl and towel became the means of direct divine intervention. It was a shocking symbolic act they would always remember that would help to form them forever. 

He did not love them by washing dusty feet. The Lord loved them through washing their feet, preserving God’s purposes for their lives.

When one reads John 13-17 one is struck by the reality Yeshua saw. He had His eyes on the disciples’ future life together. They were to be the dwelling place of the Spirit and were about to confront the spiritually enhanced wrath of the satanic world system. How could they stand if they were motivated by the “boastful pride of life” (1 John 2:16b)?

They were called, like Yeshua, to be the dwelling place of the Spirit. 

What type of community might sustain the active and abiding Presence of Holiness? Only a group thus branded. They would remember what Yeshua did for the rest of their lives. It became the pattern of their relationships.

Also, they would model it. They would disciple others. They would walk in the fullness of who they were, but would lay aside their dignity to preserve the Messianic community. The Emissaries would lay down their lives, not because they highly valued humility, but because of the great love with which they loved one another.

The Messiah did not want the community He was forming to fall apart. He would not recline and allow these men to be disqualified because of their pride and position seeking. He “got up.” He intervened. When He washed their feet, Yeshua loved them by giving them a foundation for their future relationships.

Yeshua Demonstrated Humility Because He Loved Them

Through washing their feet, Yeshua brought the crucifixion into every day interaction. He demonstrated a fundamental motive of true leadership: sincere love for the Body and the members who comprise it. 

The Emissaries were faced with a choice and didn’t know it. 

Would they be like Judas or Yeshua? 

Would they be fixated on self-interest (maneuvering for status, authority, hierarchy, worldly advantage), or would they be discipled by the Messiah? By washing their feet, here’s what I hear, in the Spirit, Yeshua is saying to these men:

“I love you and want the best for you. I don’t want rancor, selfish ambition, position seeking, cynicism or bitterness in your corporate life. That will destroy you. It is best for you if you love one another so much that you’re willing to humbly serve one another. That will preserve you.

“Just in case there is any confusion about what I want, look to My example. You ask, “What is love?” Let this be the demonstration of the type of love which preserves community. Look at what I did. You can do this. You can do this continually.

“Don’t be offended. Don’t give up on one another. Don’t throw in the towel; take up the towel. 

“Get up from supper.”

There were two opposing spiritual influences present at the Last Supper. There was an undercurrent of conflict as the adversary viciously sought his opportunity. 

Yeshua alone really knew what was going on. 

The Messiah saw the state of the disciples, and looked beyond His resurrection and ascension to the time the community would no longer have His physical presence. With inspired strategic love, He abruptly washed their feet. 

Then Yeshua said, 

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another” (John 13:34). 

Let’s “get up.”