The Opening of a New Economy

John 13:1‑8  •  22 min. read  •  grade level: 9
JOH 13:1-81Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end. 2And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him; 3Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God; 4He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. 5After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded. 6Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet? 7Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter. 8Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me. (John 13:1‑8)THIS is the beginning of an immense subject, never declared before, and which never will be again. It is in the central part of this gospel, a group of chapters is formed, which is peculiar and singular, as applying only to ourselves, as in Christ. The Lord (as about to depart out of this world) takes an entirely new position before God. So they speak to us of a rejected Christ on earth, and an accepted Christ in heaven; and therefore cannot belong to a previous people or time, or to a time and people yet to come. Jesus has been here, and is departed, and this gives things their present character to “His own," whom He has left behind in the world. We find in this group of chapters, therefore, a new economy—or, the formal “revelation of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost." No other Scripture so declares, and brings out the Trinity, in relation and operation to us, who are one with Christ-or, “our part with Jesus," where He is gone. The revelation " of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost " in this distinctiveness, is the groundwork of Christianity; and their order of development is the formation of a new economy; otherwise, what has just been stated of this group is not true; and it does not apply exclusively to us. Nevertheless, these chapters are formed on the fact, that Jesus goes to the Father, and further, He that is gone to the Father, is the Son, and He who is to come down from the Father, and the Son, is the Holy Spirit. These changes of place, and of Persons, were necessary for the carrying forth the purposes of the Godhead-glory, and for unfolding God's counsels with Christ. We are united “in grace," by God the Father, in these hidden purposes with Christ, where He is, and have thus a new calling, and portion with” the Son of his love."
Another thing is obvious, that this change of place, by the departure of the Son to the Father, as the appointed center and Head over all things, and being nevertheless the glorified Son of man, into whose hands the Father had given all things; that such relations as these, must necessitate a change of administration. There could be no new economy, except as springing out of the fact, of this divine revelation from heaven, and these new relations “with his own," who are not after the flesh. In the other gospels we find Jesus, as the son of Abraham and David; and introduced by genealogy. In this, we have the account of the Son coming out from God into the world, and of Jesus “knowing that his hour was come, that he should depart out of the world unto the Father," and of our having " part with him " there, as His own whom He leaves behind, with the assurance of His " love to the end." When He comes, we are to go out, and up with Him to the Father, and the Father's house! In this gospel “the Son” is presented in incarnation; and so we read “the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, &c." And further, “that grace, and truth, came by Jesus Christ." Up to John 12, He has presented Himself, and been denied in all His titles and rights, as the King of Israel. Yet, though rejected and refused then, He has overcome every adverse power, by His death and resurrection, which He could not overcome in His life. “The death he should die," is the one great object before Him in chapter 12., for as " the light and the life," He closes Himself up, and in verse 36, we are told, " Jesus hid himself from them." Israel, and the world, have lost Him, and “his own” have got Him, for observe in the first verse of chapter 13. we have " the departed one," with the Father in heaven, as ours, and He owns this new company as his own," and as one with Him there.
Besides this new revelation, and these heavenly relations, in this new economy, the Holy Ghost comes down to us, and dwells in us, to maintain this fellowship with the Father, and the Son—and to be the constituent power in operation, through living and loving affections, as well as for devotedness, in all that flows out by act and deed. May He deepen in our souls these realities of grace, and gladden our hearts by the fact John is anointed to give us out these new unveilings from above, and declare to us this divine relationship "of Father." Christ departs out of this world, to the Father; otherwise this relationship would be limited to Himself, had we only the account of His incarnation and birth into the world, as given us in chapter 1., by which He stood alone, as " the only begotten of his Father:, But here the Son is divine, and made flesh; He is the Son, in the bosom of the Father. This precious revelation of the Father and the Son, and of the relations of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost,, are the forefront of John's gospel. God is the Father, and Christ is Son of the Father; and in ' chapter xiii., we are viewed as in this relation of sons-and are the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus, and joint, heirs. It is not any longer a question of Israel and the Jews. After this anticipative departure, and His own exaltation, He puts us into this relationship, through death and resurrection. As He said to Mary in chapter 20., " Go tell my brethren, I ascend to my Father and your Father; to my God and your God." The Father is only revealed in this new economy. The Son has intercourse with the Father in chapter 17., outside, and beyond the world and its history, about the men whom the Father had given Him-" Thine they were, &c." With Him, in this gospel, there was no question of times or seasons. His times were according to the Father, who kept them in His own hands. It is otherwise with men who have twelve hours in the day, and who count their purposes and projects “under the sun," accordingly. Our Lord says to His brethren after the flesh, in chapter 7., " Your time is always ready; I go not up yet unto this feast." Beloved brethren, it is not merely that we are brought into relationship with the Father, but there is the truth peculiar to His own, that " we have part with Jesus," where He is gone! Christ departs as the Son, to the Father. " He came from God, and went to God." And I desire that this unexampled fact may take hold of our souls, for next to the mystery of His incarnation, comes this important and central truth of Christianity —and all else, which waited on this " departure of the Son." “If I go not away, the Comforter will not come, but if I depart I will send him." It is this mission of “the Holy Ghost, the Comforter," which is the crowning glory of this present dispensation, and he characteristic of the new creation, as distinguished from the old. God then "breathed into man's nostrils the breath of life," and he became a living soul. This was the order in the original, or Adam creation; but now He associates Himself with those on earth, by redemption, and the gift of eternal life in His Son, and the baptism of His holy Spirit. " The Comforter will not come, if I go not away; " and, moreover, " it is expedient for you that I depart." Besides this, when I ascend, it is “to my Father and your Father, my God and your God." He loved His own which were in the world, and He loved them unto the end.
There are two instances where He speaks of “His own" in this gospel, in the 1st chapter verse 11, we read” He came unto his own, and his own received him not." There, they were His own “after the flesh," His own nation, Jews. As the Messiah, He is seen in this prophetic character, and so in chapter 12., when He rides into Jerusalem, Jesus presents Himself as Christ, " the King of Israel." They were responsible to Jehovah, for owning their Messiah, the Son of David, “as his own according to the flesh," and to such Jesus said,” While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light." These words spake Jesus, and did hide Himself from them, " breaking asunder his staff, beauty, and bands," as the Shepherd of Israel, and refusing “to feed the flock of slaughter." As Jews (and as a nation) they have lost their Messiah; He has “hid himself from both the houses “of Israel. The vail is judicially " upon their hearts," and their sun has gone down, " till the morning without a cloud " shall arise, with healing in His beams—in their millennium days. But in chapter 13., we who are called out " to have part " with the departed One, discover our peculiarity of position, which is brought out to us, in and with the Son, who is gone to prepare a place for us, in the Father's house. He has put us into relationship with the Father, and having done so, He now departs and leaves us, as " His own " in the world, with the promise that He will come again and receive us to Himself, &c. He will likewise, assuredly come again to the Jews, His own " after the flesh," that they may have all their promised blessings upon the earth, and in Immanuel's land. We are heavenly, and we pass by a different calling, into the everlasting glory of Christ and of God.
He loved “His own which were in the world, and he loves them to the end." We are the objects of this new and peculiar love of Jesus. He opened the wellsprings, likewise to us of the Father's love, and shows His own delight in us, as the members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones; not as an earthly Messiah, but as the Son. He will come for us, “to present us in the presence of his Father, faultless, and with exceeding joy." But further, the Lord says to Peter, "If I wash thee not, thou halt no part with me." Part in what? “All that the Father hath is mine, therefore said I “he ' the Spirit of truth ' shall take of mine, and show it unto you." The Father hath given him all things, and all is put into His hands, and it is in this we have “part with Him." No one is competent “as a witness," to descend from the Father, and the Son, to declare and to tell us this, but the Holy Ghost. There is thus in these chapters another revelation of God, in " the Son of His love," consisting in new relationships-a divine economy-and another ministry from the Father, through the Son, and by the Holy Ghost. The old-dispensation was through angels, at Mount Sinai, “the law was given by Moses," but since then, Christ's own ministration, is “grace and truth." Beyond this, Jesus enters upon a new and loving service, “that we may have part with Him," where He is. So He rises from the table, and girds Himself with a towel, and washes the disciples' feet, to keep them personally clean. Sometimes the question is asked whether this act is advocacy, or priesthood? Neither, strictly speaking, as I judge, for it is His own personal love to ourselves, though His personal glory and love are the basis of every office He sustains. We have advocacy, “if any man sin," in John's Epistle, and priesthood for infirmities, in the epistle to the Hebrews, but here it is unfailing, and personal love, “He loved them unto the end." This difference will be plain, if you take an earthly illustration, when the Royal family see the Queen in her state-robes, which are suited to maintain Her Majesty and the dignity of the Throne, they, as her subjects, recognize her in that official character, and do her homage and reverence. But do you not think they like to be with her when, as their mother, she is at home with them, and all state is put off, and they enjoy her personal love? We cannot do without Christ in His official character, as both Advocate and Priest; but neither priesthood as such nor advocacy, come into this chapter. It is the personal love of Christ “to His own." It is consistent, too, with the one great object, viz. “that we may have part with Christ," for this is personal. Mark these verses: the 3rd shows the mind and heart of the Lord. “He knew his hour was come," that " God had put all things into his hand," and " that He came from God, and He went to God." Let us get these thoughts into our hearts, about His person and Himself, fresh and full, from His own love, and we shall then be astonished at this wonderful Lord who calls us, keeps us clean, and blesses us in the full enjoyment of all His personal love. It takes our breath away, as we think of it, were it not that He draws us to His breast to learn it, in communion with Himself! It was Jesus knew what was needed, and rises from the table. His actions are equivalent to His words; He does not ask them, but this is what He does. We are outside this chapter, if we introduce sin, and guilt, or cleansing by blood. There is no question of sins, it is a question of ministry “by the word, and by the Spirit; “as represented by water, and the towel. He shows forth thus His personal love to His own. Beloved brethren, we have communion with, and participation in, all He has! He came from the Father, to reveal the Father, and He has gone back to the Father, because " He has accomplished the work that was given him to do."
The grave of Lazarus lay in the pathway of Jesus, as " the resurrection and the life," and this was a mighty triumph over death and corruption, as bringing to naught the power of Satan. So was “the transfiguration" on the mount, in the other gospels by Matthew, and Mark, and Luke; in manifestation of the righteousness of Him, who there and then, reached the highest place out of heaven, and was accredited by the voice from " the excellent glory." In John, our Lord is acting as " the word that was God," and in this title, as well as in others, " He gets glory for God," out of the vast ruin that lay around him, day by day, till at Bethany He reached the lowest place, where the enemy's power was at its worst in corruption. But only to say, "loose him, and let him go." Jesus showed " the glory of God," at the grave of Lazarus-if He had not done this, He would not have left us a proof, that He was personally above all the power of Satan, and higher than sin and death, and corruption. He says, " If ye believe, ye shall see the glory of God," and in His title of " the resurrection and the life," He could say to Lazarus, " Come forth." Christ in His power and love, is ever watchful over His own, and stands between them and the foe, at all times. The Devil has done his best, and his worst, to break asunder the relation of Adam with God, and the disciple with Christ. After the sop Satan entered into Judas at the supper table, he is always “the adversary." It was then Jesus washed His disciples' feet, and it was there Satan tempts Peter to say that the Lord “should never wash his feet." In the same way, he tempts people now, by saying they are too bad and sinful to have, and enjoy those things which Christ says are theirs. Satan puts it into the heart of Judas to betray the Lord, but eventually by this act, “the wise shall be taken in his own craftiness," through our Lord's triumphant resurrection. It was in this stronghold of death and corruption, God had been glorified down to the lowest, and the devil been defeated, at Lazarus's grave. This is why, in John's gospel we have no account given of the temptation in the wilderness; because His divine glory in righteousness, or in authority, are supreme everywhere, and in everything. Instead therefore of the transfiguration on the Holy Mount, where Jesus reached the highest place under heaven, as in the synoptic gospels: here we have the social circle of Bethany instead, and Lazarus one of those who sat at the table with Him. Mary and the box of ointment, “speak of His decease " as really as Moses and Elias did at the top of the Holy Mount; and they alike declare a divine secret, for His cross and death, which opened another, and a very different path, to " glory in the highest," by means of His baptism of blood. He is anointed “for his own burial," by her-and Judas was the tool of Satan! It required the wickedest man on earth to betray such an One as Jesus, and to betray Him with a kiss. Judas alone could take, and make the step which leads Christ to His highest glory. Man in himself was not wicked enough for this, without being filled with Satan. If grace, which hands the sop, does not break the flesh down, the disciple must become a traitor to Jesus, by means of the perfection of love. The devil became a usurper against God, by the very goodness of God. If the sop when dipped, does not make sin terrible in our sight, and expel it, Satan will come in, and wickedness, superhuman and diabolical, will be done. Christ went to death, to overcome the flesh, the world, and the devil (as well as " to put away sin, by the sacrifice of Himself") and it is by means of the cross, that God has condemned sin in the flesh, and the flesh itself, by death, and raised us up together with Christ.
The 13th chapter opens out to us thus, the character of His ministry, as "the departed One" to the Father, and by the towel, the water, and the basin. We are kept morally for communion-in this “part with Him" by the word and the Spirit. The Spirit, from the Father and the Son, is the Holy Spirit, and witnesses to the delight of the Father and the Son, and their mutual love to us. In the presence of such marvelous grace, one asks, "Where, and what are we?" He never parts company with, or from, His own. What manner of love is this? These chapters are full of this grace, and they show the new relations and operations of the Holy Ghost too, by which this love is maintained in fellowship with us, and that “His own " are the objects whom Christ loves. Another thing in this group is this—that in no other gospel is there any mention made of “The Father's house." What new people is this, that the many mansions above are opened out to? What has He gone to do for us, that we should not be orphans? He has left us the assurance that He will come again, and receive us to Himself—that where He is, there we may be also. Besides this, there is the kingdom glory, for all Christ's rights and titles have been refused by the world. God will in righteousness, put all this right by judgment upon His enemies, when the Church is gone up. There are many mansions, for nothing under the sun could be either a home, or a rest for us, as " One with Christ." There is nothing good enough for "His own "—nothing, but our being caught up, to meet the Lord in the air, and our presentation by Him to the Father, and then our happy settlement in " The Father's house." He said, I will not leave you " orphans," I will come to you, for these disciples had preached " the kingdom as at hand," and expected it too. As yet, they had earthly hopes as Israelites; but a believer in a rejected Christ, in an ascended Lord, and the glorified Son of Man, has no expectations outside the " departed One " at His second coming, and is now an orphan." Looked at under " the light of the sun," his hopes are not in Israel's restoration; for the veil is upon their hearts, till they nationally turn to the Lord; and till that day comes, they must abide " without a king" in Jerusalem, and without seraphim and priest.
The climax of the world's history, which will be the worshipping of the beast, together with the acceptance of the antichrist, and the false prophet, must yet be manifested to reach the full-blown blasphemies "against God and His Christ," upon which the apocalyptic judgments will then be poured out, and which they will then set aside. In the meanwhile the Spirit in living power, has a dwelling-place in us, or we should be orphans, and "without hope," because our portion is with our risen Lord, and where He now is; our only home is there. The devil tries to eclipse this bright light of the Father's house and home, by making the present world attractive and ensnaring-or else by making persons skeptical. People pray for the Holy Ghost " to be poured out," as if this were the hope of the Church; but this should not be, for the Holy Ghost has come to prepare the heart of the Bride, for the shout of her Lord, and to enter upon those relations in heaven, which are formed by the Father, for " the many sons He is bringing to glory." Nevertheless, man and this creation have never been given up; only the scaffolding, as well as the various types and shadows, must give place, and come down, when "the building made without hands" is to appear. Heaven and earth " which are now," shall pass away, Peters says, that the elements shall dissolve with fervent heat. Paul says all shall be shaken, but we " receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved," &c. My word shall remain, and " I will come and receive you unto myself, that where I am, there ye may be also. I will not leave you ' orphans,' for the Father's house belongs to the children of this economy." Thus we see these chapters of John cannot apply to the Old Testament saints, nor to the dispensation which preceded Christ; nor to the millennial kingdom and its throne of glory, which follows this; but they apply to a believer who owns a rejected Christ, and is come out to have part with Him, where He is. To all His saints who love this oneness there is a special circle of intimacy, and for the exercise of Christ's love (See John 14:19-2319Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also. 20At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you. 21He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. 22Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world? 23Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. (John 14:19‑23)). There are two abodes—we " have part with Him " in the Father's abode, where He is—and to the man who keeps his words, " He and the Father will come, and make their abode " with him. " His own " have had to part with Him, for a time. Meanwhile, there are the operations of the Spirit, to make " this indwelling " vital to us; and these are wonderful links, which we must know and understand, in order to enjoy. He thus manifests Himself unto us, moreover, as He does not unto the world, for these are inward ties in life, with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ. The Holy Ghost, too, makes His abode with us, though not visibly; but it is real, vital, spiritual, and understood, and known to us. In chapter 16:9, there is another, and a very opposite relation, and effect of the Comforter seen, viz., “to convict the world “of sin, righteousness, and judgment to come. It is as Comforter to us, but as convicter of the world, and as a witness and evidence against it, that He appears below. The Lord gives us to see and feel His hand in grace (See chap. 16:12-15), so that we may be confident in His love and intimacy with us. He will keep my feet clean, and lay my head at rest on the unfathomable depths of His love— without a thought about security against judgment of sin—for we are redeemed by His precious blood for all that, and made whiter than snow. Finally, we must observe the energy and reciprocity of this sweet love; for John, the beloved disciple, who rested on the Lord's bosom, was swifter of foot, and " did outrun " all, when there was a question of the Lord's empty tomb by His resurrection. It is as beautiful as it is perfect, to see that the Lord on his part, commits to him His own mother.
Thus, the disciple brought up upon the breast, was the quickest of eye, likewise, for it was John who saw and recognized the Lord on the shore, at the sea of Tiberias, on the morning of that eventful fishing.
And now let us close these meditations by this, viz., that the confidence, and repose, and rest of love, are as precious between Jesus “and the beloved disciple," as were the energy and reciprocity by act and deed by John previously. What a proof of it was this: “When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour, that disciple took her to his own home." It is thus, the wondrous circle of the mansions, and houses, and homes, and abodes of love, above and below, are made perfect in this blessed gospel; between the Father and his children, or Jesus and "His own," or the Lord and His disciples!