The forgiveness of Christ offered in advance
John 13:1-30 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
Now before the Feast of the Passover, Jesus 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. 2 During supper, the devil having already put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, to betray Him, 3 Jesus, 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, 4 got up from supper, and laid aside His garments; and taking a towel, He girded Himself.
5 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. 6 So He came to Simon Peter. He said to Him, “Lord, do You wash my feet?” 7 Jesus answered and said to him, “What I do you do not realize now, but you will understand hereafter.” 8 Peter said to Him, “Never shall You wash my feet!” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.” 9 Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, then wash not only my feet, but also my hands and my head.” 10 Jesus said to him, “He who has bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you.” 11 For He knew the one who was betraying Him; for this reason He said, “Not all of you are clean.”
12 So when He had washed their feet, and taken His garments and reclined at the table again, He said to them, “Do you know 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, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you. 16 Truly, truly, I say to you, a slave is not greater than his master, nor is one who is sent greater than the one who sent him. 17 If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them. 18 I do not speak of all of you. I know the ones I have chosen; but it is that the Scripture may be fulfilled, ‘He who eats My bread has lifted up his heel against Me.’ 19 From now on I am telling you before it comes to pass, so that when it does occur, you may believe that I am He. 20 Truly, truly, I say to you, he who receives whomever I send receives Me; and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me.”
21 When Jesus had said this, He became troubled in spirit, and testified and said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, that one of you will betray Me.” 22 The disciples began looking at one another, at a loss to know of which one He was speaking. 23 There was reclining on Jesus’ bosom one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved. 24 So Simon Peter gestured to him, and said to him, “Tell us who it is of whom He is speaking.” 25 He, leaning back thus on Jesus’ bosom, said to Him, “Lord, who is it?” 26 Jesus then answered, “That is the one for whom I shall dip the morsel and give it to him.” So when He had dipped the morsel, He took and gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. 27 After the morsel, Satan then entered into him. Therefore Jesus said to him, “What you do, do quickly.” 28 Now no one of those reclining at the table knew for what purpose He had said this to him. 29 For some were supposing, because Judas had the money box, that Jesus was saying to him, “Buy the things we have need of for the feast”; or else, that he should give something to the poor. 30 So after receiving the morsel he went out immediately; and it was night.
John describes the account of the Last Supper differently than the other gospel writers. He focuses on the washing of feet as opposed to the breaking of bread, His body, and the sharing of the cup of wine, His blood, through which Jesus established the New Covenant and what we remember in communion. In this account and in the others Jesus serves, with the washing of feet and offers the New Covenant, for the forgiveness of sin, to all twelve of His closest disciples, the apostles. He served and forgave, Peter who would deny Him, Thomas who would doubt Him and even Judas who would betray Him. Jesus came to serve and save, to forgive the sins of all. On the cross, in the midst of the pain and suffering which He endured, Jesus said: "Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing." (Luke 23:34) Ephesians 4:32 instructs us saying: Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. In Matthew 6:14-15 Jesus Himself says: “If you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.”
It is vital then that we learn to forgive as Jesus did. Jesus forgave in the midst of His pain and suffering. We tend to want to see how things work out, then depending on the outcome, we determine when and if we will forgive others. The forgiveness of God, the forgiveness Christ offered on the cross is unconditional. Romans 5:8 says: God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Jesus didn’t wait to see what the outcome would be, He didn’t wait for us to repent of our sin. While we were yet sinners He died for us. If we will be like Christ, then we to must forgive in the midst of the pain and suffering. Our forgiveness cannot be conditional on the outcome of the offense. Neither can our forgiveness require that others repent and ask for forgiveness. Our forgiveness of others is first and foremost between ourselves and God, as Matthew 6:14-15 says, we forgive that we will be forgiven. If they never apologize or repent, it is still necessary that we forgive, not for their sake, but for our own.
In Matthew 5:43-45 Jesus says: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.” Jesus never asks us to do something he has not already done and shone us the way to do it. If we will, like Jesus, forgive unconditionally, in the midst of the pain and suffering, not waiting for the outcome or for the repentance and apologies of others, then we must, like Jesus, determine to love and to serve others, to forgive them in advance. Jesus knew that Peter would deny Him. He knew that Thomas would doubt Him. Jesus knew that Judas would betray Him. He loved, served and forgave them in advance. Look at what it says in Luke 17:1-6: Then He said to the disciples, “It is impossible that no offenses should come, but woe to him through whom they do come!It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you,rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him.And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him.” And the apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.” So the Lord said, “If you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.” The disciples recognized that they needed increased faith to live the life of forgiveness Jesus called them and us to. Jesus says if you have the faith to forgive, you will also have the faith to have authority in your life. Perhaps the reason there is so little authority in the church today is that we have not learned or determined to walk in unconditional forgiveness.
Unconditional forgiveness is not the acceptance or tolerance of sin. Jesus says there is woe to those who bring offense. Jesus did not redeem sin, as to make it okay. Jesus forgave sinners. Judas, like Peter, Thomas, the rest of the disciples and we ourselves was offered the same forgiveness by Jesus, yet rather than accept he tried to pay the price for his own sin. It is not for us to determine the outcome of the sin of others. We should not accept of tolerate sin, but rather unconditionally love, serve and forgive sinners, praying that they accept the forgiveness of Christ.
Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit thank You for Your unconditional love and forgiveness, that You did not wait for me to recognize my sin and repent, but while I was a sinner You died for me. You forgave me even before I knew my sin. Because of what You have done, forgiving me, I choose to forgive others, for my sake and for theirs, that they too may know Your love, forgiveness and redemption. Amen.