John 13: 12 last sentence
Genesis 32: 24-28, 31; 14: 18-23
1 Corinthians 6: 11
On Lord’s day in the reading on John 13 we read that the Lord, having washed their feet leaves this question, “Do ye know what I have done to you?”. I would just like to leave that on all our hearts, dear brethren. It is not what He has done for us exactly. These persons the Lord was speaking to were apostles. He is not speaking to them about their sins being forgiven, but He says, “Do ye know what I have done to you?” It is something we all have to experience, a blessed experience, and it leaves its mark. That is what I want to call attention to. The Lord comes and He serves you; He washes your feet. The chapter would tell us He does it through the saints, through the ministry, through many ways, but He says, “Do ye know what I have done to you?” Well, it left its mark on them, I am sure. I think they would speak about this often, ’Do you know what He did to me?’ Could we each say that, what He has done that has changed us? Paul knew it very well, the kind of man he had been, he knew what the Lord did to him. He took him from being an insolent, overbearing man to be one who exemplifies the true grace of God.
So here is what He does to Jacob, a man whose history is most interesting, much like our own in many ways. He spent a very large part of his life living to himself, as we would say. He did well, but the Lord took him in hand and did something to him and he became a far better man. He had prospered in his business and had great possessions, but it did not bring him satisfaction. The Lord had done something to him earlier, as He has done to us all earlier in our lives perhaps; He put in His claim to Jacob, but Jacob went on his way through his own wisdom. But God here is bringing him back. He does that to us in His grace. He goes after us to bring us back to Bethel. That is where Jacob is coming back to, he is coming back to enjoy the fellowship, coming back to God’s circumstances and God’s arrangements, instead of living to himself. And God meets him here and He touches him. He knew from this moment what God had done to him. Instead of being a man who lived on his own abilities, here he is, a dependent man. God makes him that. From this time on, Jacob walked with a staff. Wherever he went, you would see Jacob going on his staff, day by day. It says, “the sun rose upon him”. What a morning, dear brethren! A new man whom God had touched, taking away the arrogance and the pride of nature: and “the sun rose upon him”. Did the sun not rise on the world? Of course it did! But Scripture does not say that, it says, “the sun rose upon him”. What warmth that must have felt to Jacob’s soul. Here he is a new man with the sun rising upon him, limping on his thigh, staff in his hand, and God says, ’Israel will be your name’. He knew what God had done to him; he knew, and it left its mark.
Well, in Abram you get the same thing. It is like the believer going on in his path and the world says, ’Well, let us join together’. It says these men were coming to meet him. He had been successful and they would like to join with him, but someone else met him. Melchisedec the priest of the Most High God blessed him, and you can see that Abram’s whole outlook is different to theirs. The world comes to tempt him. He says, ’You cannot add anything to me’. They set out great things for him. They will offer you great potential and great possibilities, but it is a beautiful word from Abram. “And Abram said to the king of Sodom, I have lifted up my hand to Jehovah, the Most High God, possessor of heavens and earth”. That was the one who had touched him. He says, ’What can you give me?’. He says, “if from a thread even to a sandal-thong, yes, if of all that is thine, I take anything ...”. He was made independent of the world and all its resources and all that the world could give. Abram would not be drawn into these things; will you? How often we get tempted. Matters arise and we are attracted to the things that the world would offer us and temptations abound, but here Melchisedec, “priest of the Most High God”, met him with bread and with wine, heavenly resources. So he was able to stand against all these temptations, and He says, ’What can you give me?’. There was a man who had been touched, and he goes forward. As Jacob went forward to Bethel, here is Abram going on to the promised land. He is not going to see the fulness of it but he is already linked with the One who is “possessor of heavens and earth”; all the resources of heaven are available to him. That is what He is doing for us. He has opened the whole wealth of divine purpose that we may come into it.
Well, may our hearts be exercised each of us to go over these things in our hearts, because it is very personal. You may have been brought up through grace in an area where the fellowship is known, but you must have this touch for yourself, “what I have done to you”. Jacob got it, Abram got it, and Paul is writing of it to these Corinthians. He says, ’You were once these things’, “but ye have been washed”. God had done that. They had been set up here in all their dignity. This is Jacob being transferred from Jacob to Israel; he is set up as a prince. Paul is saying, ’You once had your life in the ways of the world, in its fashions, in its customs and all the things that engaged you’. But Paul says, ’See what God has done to you’. “Ye have been washed”. Oh, they would be careful, like these apostles who had their feet washed, not to go back to these bad habits, those things that would bring “pollution of flesh and spirit”, 2 Cor: 7: 1. He says, “but ye have been washed”: not only washed by the blood for our sins, but we have been washed like that feet-washing we have been speaking about, by the cleansing power of divine grace. It says the Lord Jesus came “not by water only, but by water and blood”, 1 John 5: 6. The water also remains in its efficacy to keep us from the temptations of the world and the pollution that is all around us and the customs that may easily attach to us. We are washed from these things, dear brethren, that would be defiling. Paul had to remind them, “ye have been washed, ... ye have been sanctified”. This means you have been set apart. That is what God has done to you. “Do ye know what I have done to you?” He says, ’I have washed you, I have sanctified you’, and it says, “ye have been justified”. These are very beautiful things. It is fine to know them in your own heart. Things of the world may still appeal to you, but you know that you have been washed. That is what God has done. The temptations come to join their ways of doing things, but it says, “ye have been sanctified”; you have been set apart. That is what He has done to you. Oh, what love that He should do that to me, wash me, sanctify and now it says, “ye have been justified”. That means you have been set up in God’s sight. The world may still have its condemnations. You think of these martyrs, what the world said about them, but went to the stake in the sense that God had justified them. You see that from the confessions that they uttered going to their martyrdom. They had the sense of what God had done to them.
Then he says, “in the name of the Lord Jesus”. What authority is in it, dear brethren, what authority in what He has done to you! In what He has done, there is great authority that can never be overthrown, “in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God”. That is what God has done to you. Paul says to these Corinthians later, “do ye not recognise yourselves?” 2 Cor 13: 5. There is a danger of that, that we take up the world’s customs and its ways and its fashions. Peter tells us that our very habits, our very deportment, are to be different because we know what the Lord has done to us. May we open our hearts to be formed by it so that it leaves us changed, and Paul is urging these Corinthians to come into the great wealth of blessing of what God has done to them “in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God”. Think of the whole divine economy active toward us that we may take on divine grace all for the divine pleasure. I often say to myself, ’Why did He save me?’. Why did He take us up? Infinite love! There is nothing in us. Paul is saying that, we were all like the rest of men, but God in His own grace did something to me. He did something to every one of us. May we make room for it to develop! For His Name’s sake.
21st October 2008