A new identity
Text: John 13: 1-17
Text verse: John 13: 3
This section begins in a special way. It starts with a confession of Jesus’ love for his people. Love that is undeserved, never ending and unconditional.
The practice of this love is seen in what is happening here. Jesus washes his disciples’ feet. People who will soon deny, betray and forsake Him. What makes it so remarkable is that Jesus knew what was coming; that Judas would betray Him (John 13:11) and that Peter would deny Him (John 13:38). And yet it does not change his love for them.
It is so different from our love. It is as if we take a sin committed against us so much more personally. When someone insults you, for example, it feels as if the person has affected your humanity. How can you still love such a person? He made you look bad and breaks you down. Peoples’ sin hurts us so intensely because it questions our identity and may even negatively affect us.
Psychologists believe that your identity is determined by three basic questions, namely: Who am I? Where do I come from? Where am I going?
Sin against us is a direct attack on our identity. Insults affect your identity. It questions your humanity and your dignity. It’s like pressing on the thorn in your foot; it causes deep pain.
Similarly, insults cause deep pain because we are aware of our own sinlessness. It’s as if every insult pushes on that weakness, and therefore it causes pain, even if it is not the whole truth.
In this passage we see that Jesus loves his disciples in spite of all the sin that is committed against Him. The denial is a direct attack on His humanity.
How then does Jesus manage to keep loving us in spite of the suffering and hurt that we inflict on Him?
The answer lies in verse 3. Jesus’ identity is anchored in something outside of Himself. In verse three it says ... “Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God.” (John 13: 3).
Who is He? - The Father's Son.
Where does He come from? - From God.
Where is He going? - Back to God.
In contrast with us who seek our reputation within ourselves, Jesus’ identity is anchored in the Father. Jesus knows who He is and therefore He can see the insults and humiliation for what it is ... Lies! The truth is that He is the Son of God.
The most wonderful thing of all is that Jesus’ salvation also gives us this new identity.
Our past is full of sin, but Jesus has already paid for it. He gives us a clean slate. Therefore, Paul can say that he detaches himself from what is behind and extends to what is ahead (Phil. 3:13). In Christ we are now children of God. This is who we are now and we also know that our ultimate destination is an eternity with God.
This salvation makes a huge difference in how we can live our lives today. When someone insults me, I can see it for what it is … a lie! The truth is that we are children of God. Jesus’ death and resurrection are our proof and the Spirit is our guarantee.