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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Wasted waters

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By The Preacher

1. Not all Clean

Sometimes we waste precious waters washing the feet of folks whose hearts are already sold.  The cleaning power is not all in the water or in the washer.  Holy motions become mere rituals when hearts are far from acts.

In the closing moments of His ministry on earth, Jesus stooped to wash the feet of His disciples.  At the end of that precious process, this was His solemn announcement: _“ye are clean, but not all.” As if it had not been said clearly enough, it is repeated in the next verse: “Ye are not all clean” (John 13:10, 11).

They had all been washed, were all wet and dried, all physically clean in their feet, yet what had worked for Peter and the other disciples had not worked for Judas in the same service, under the same unction.  The ‘impartation’ that had so thoroughly cleaned Peter had failed to be effective on Judas.  Why?  The heart.  It had been wasted waters on the feet of hardened Judas, but waters which were nonetheless going to stand someday as the eternal witness of profound love refused (Matthew 26:24).

2. From Thoughts to Acts

The rituals matter little where the heart is out of order.  Sometimes we waste waters on the felt feet of folks whose hidden heart is unclean. No matter how they are washed, even Jesus cannot clean some folks who have wilfully let Satan into their soul.  We read of Judas, first how he opened his heart to the evils of the devil (John 13:2), and next how the very devil himself whose thoughts he had been housing stepped into the heart pre-furnished for him by the evil thoughts allowed (v.27): “the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him … Satan entered into him” (John 13:2, 27; 1 Samuel 18:8-10).  First, the devil thoughts; next, the devil himself.  Whoever hosts Satan’s thoughts against you may sooner host the very Satan against you – to your regrettable Golgotha.  Dark thoughts unchecked lead to acts regretted (Proverbs 4:23).

Judas had not yet done the deed when Jesus said he was not cleaned.  The betrayal was still a plot in the heart, yet Jesus said he was not clean – or could not be cleaned.  Judas was unclean not from what he had done with his hands but from what he had allowed in his heart.  Thoughts defile no less than acts (Matthew 15:18-20).  His body was washed but his soul remained unreached and unclean (John 13:10, 11). 

3. Untouched by Tenderness

Jesus gave Judas all the chance to voluntarily rescind his evil, confess and be saved, but he seemed determined on his dark path.  Jesus washed his feet.  That was a touch of tenderness on feet that were soon to walk away to betray Him and walk Judas himself into his doom.  It was tender love in contrast to the wickedness seething in Judas’ heart against his loving Washer.  It was love strong enough to melt a proper conscience.  Somebody else might have shuddered and said, “How can I proceed with such evil against an innocent man who has always done me so much good!”  Not that Judas on that day.

I am sure that Jesus looked into the eyes of Judas while He washed his dirty feet.  Did Judas look away nervously?  Did he with steeled eyes look blankly past the face of the Master, with the bloody coins guiltily clanging in his roguish bag?   Did so much tenderness touch that disciple, who also was empowered by the Master and sent out to cast out devils (Matthew 10:1)?

Jesus proceeded to say, after washing their feet, _“ye are clean, but not all” (v.10).  If nobody else understood what that meant, Judas did.  Still, he hardened his heart.  Then Jesus went on to preach His profound message of loving one another as a sign of true discipleship.  Even that farewell sermon on love wouldn’t move that man with Satan’s foothold in his heart. 

4. Proximate Devils

After all the discreet entreaties had failed to persuade Judas to repent voluntarily, Jesus proceeded to announce plainly: “one of you shall betray me” (John 13:21).  If anything before had not made sense, Judas would have known at that point that he had been caught.  Still, he hardened his heart, the heart to which he had let in the devilish thoughts.  The disciples wondered of whom Jesus could be speaking; who of them was capable of such devilry against such a loving Master.  Judas also joined to ask, “Is it I?” when he knew that he was the one (Matthew 26:25).  He played along.

As the anxiety mounted, Peter, sitting far off, motioned to John who was next to Jesus at the dinner table, nudging him to ask the Master of whom He spoke.  John whispered into the ears of Jesus, “Who’s it, Sir?” Jesus said back to John, certainly in a whisper too, “The betrayer is he to whom I shall presently serve the sop, after dipping it.”   While John still watched, Jesus dipped the sop and served Judas something to eat.  The Master serving a disciple?  That was show of exceptional care, but even that couldn’t melt the hardened heart of Judas (vv. 22-26).

That Jesus could so serve Judas with the sop suggests that Judas might have been sitting next to Jesus, or was very close.  At least, closer than Peter.  John on one side of Jesus and Judas the Treasurer on the other.  Judas drew so close not because he loved the Master, but because he wanted to spy on Him, to hear every word that He would speak, so as to report properly back to his clients – the murderous Pharisees.

Not everyone who draws close to you does so out of devotion.  Some will do so for their advantage.  Not every intentionally proximate person is a friend.  Some are devils.  Discern your proximities.

5. The Discreet Master

Why did Jesus not confront Judas to his impudent face, instead of speaking indirectly by so many means?  Judas’ mind seemed so made up that even outright confrontation might not have changed the resolution.  In fact, a confrontation might have resulted in a blowout, with dedicated disciples like Peter cutting off the head of Judas before he had the chance for another betrayal. That was certainly not what Jesus wanted.  Besides, it would be to Judas’ penitent credit if he voluntarily owned up and sought help.  Judas seemed determined not to hear. All the same, he was going to be offered the chance to repent, many chances to repent (Revelation 2:21), but all of which he was sadly to refuse, to his doom.  At least the Master had done His part.  Mercy was offered but was refused.

Finally, as if in resignation, Jesus said, “Let this one alone.  You cannot change his type.”  Then, apparently turning to Judas, He said in effect, “That thing you want to do, which you seem so bent on doing, which no sermon and tender touch and loving gaze from Me has been able to deter you from, go ahead and do it.  Since you have made up your mind so firmly, fine. I am ready, too.”  The message was coded.  The others at the table presumed that Jesus was sending Judas the treasurer to go buy something for the evening service or give charities to the poor (vv. 21-28).  Judas understood.  Rather than then cry out for help, he left promptly, before Jesus would let the cat out of the bag to the other disciples, or before Jesus should get out of reach and his 30 pieces of silver deal would have flopped.  That was not the first time Judas was to walk out on Jesus and the rest of the disciples.  The most recent instance was during a service in the house of Mary and Martha.  See Matthew 26:6-16; note especially verses 14-16: “Then… from that time….”

6. The Journey into Darkness

Judas “went immediately out: and it was night” (v.30).  He walked out from the light of the Master’s blessed presence into night; into a darkness from which he was never to recover.  Jesus had been so respectfully discreet in handling Judas’ backsliding that even after Judas had stepped out to meet his bloody clients, Jesus did not call him out as the would-be betrayer (v.31). Exceptional leadership.  If it had been me, that is when I would have let not just the cat but the elephants out of the bag, and Judas would have been to blame for whatever happened to him thereafter from the rest of my faithful fans.

Jesus would seem to have wasted His water on the stubborn feet of a man whose heart had been made up for the devil.  But they were not wasted waters, because Someday they would be the witness of the Master’s persistent love that Judas resolutely resisted, to his doom.  In his life was fulfilled the prophetic warning of Solomon: “He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy” (Proverbs 29:1).

7. Many Rivers to Cross

Altogether, there were four things that Jesus did to draw Judas’ attention to his error and rescue his soul.  Firstly, Jesus washed his feet – the touch of tenderness.  Secondly, He revealed plainly that someone in the team had an evil plan against Him. So, in case the wordless touch had not made sense, He added voice to His message.  Thirdly, He personally served Judas a meal – initiating a connection, a call. Finally, He preached a message on love for one another.  After all those four efforts had failed (to say nothing of the loving look into Judas’ evil eyes), Jesus seemed to have surrendered, and said, “You may go ahead with your plot.”

That final cryptic nudge could have stopped someone who was willing to be helped, but Judas seemed long gone.  How do you help somebody who does not want your prayers?  How do you rescue someone suicidally determined to drown?  What does the Scripture say?  “If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land” (Isaiah 1:19).   Judas was unwilling and disobedient.

Humanity has often blamed the Master for not doing enough to save Judas, as He seemed to have done for Peter.  From this story, you may agree with me that Jesus tried His best, throwing out several lifelines, but which Judas was sadly unwilling to catch.  Why?  Maybe because the betrayal was going to be his determined revenge against Jesus for the ‘embarrassment’ received in the house of Mary, and the expensive perfume that Jesus had frustrated him from stealing then for his greedy purpose (John 12:6). Maybe the thirty pieces of silver were going to be his cherished compensation for what Jesus had made him to lose recently at that last service. (See John 12:1-6 and Mark 14:1-10; note especially verse 10 of Mark 14 for the conclusion to the episode, and what led to Judas walking out on Jesus and the other disciples during that service.)

If Judas had thought badly of Jesus, he was to regret it later and confess that he had betrayed “innocent blood” (Matthew 27:4).  At least he himself vindicated the Master at last.

Usually, someone does not fall into such perditions until they have obstinately crossed the many rivers of restraint that God would often mercifully put in their way.  Remember Prophet Balaam (Numbers 22-24).  Also, Pharaoh and his hosts did not ultimately drown in the Red Sea until he had persistently refused the cautioning voice of ten previous plagues.   “He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck…” – you can complete the rest … (Proverbs 29:1). God does not destroy anyone before they have been warned, whatever might be the nature of the warning (Daniel 4:1-9; Jonah 1:2).

• A Prayer

O Lord, “sanctify and cleanse” me “with the washing of water by the word” (Ephesians 5:26).  May Your water never be wasted on me.  Amen.

The Preacher can be reached ar +2348035115164; info@thepreacher.info;  

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