Day 142

Take Time to Celebrate

Wisdom Psalm 66:1–12
New Testament John 12:44–47,13:1–15
Old Testament 1 Samuel 11:12–15,12:1–24

Introduction

‘A glimpse of heaven’ is how one twenty-seven-year-old woman described her experience of our annual church holiday (Focus). She also spoke about the year she missed it in order to go on an exotic holiday: each day she could only think of how she longed to be at Focus.

Focus is the time when the whole community comes together in a festival of celebration, worship, thanksgiving and praise. We often experience a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit. It is a time of spiritual growth when we listen to visionary and practical teaching from the Bible on how to live our lives. It is a time of laughter and fun as we meet together for a week-long party: playing, picnicking, singing and dancing. We make new friends as well as having a great holiday. It really is ‘a glimpse of heaven’.

It takes time but celebration is an important part of life.

Wisdom

Psalm 66:1–12

1 Shout for joy to God, all the earth!
2 Sing the glory of his name;
 make his praise glorious.
5 Come and see what God has done,
 his awesome deeds for humankind!
10 For you, God, tested us;
 you refined us like silver.
12 … we went through fire and water,
 but you brought us to a place of abundance.

Commentary

Celebrate God’s goodness

Do you sometimes feel like you have been ‘to hell and back’? Have you found yourself ‘pushed to the limit’? It may be that God is training you, like silver refined in the fire.

God had brought his people through very difficult times:

‘He trained us first,
passed us like silver through refining fires...
pushed us to our very limit,
Road-tested us inside and out,
took us to hell and back;
Finally he brought us
to this well-watered place’ (vv.10–12, MSG).

Don’t let these occasions go unmarked. Celebrate. Their celebration sounds a fairly noisy affair: ‘All together now – applause for God!’ (v.1, MSG). They sang praise: ‘How awesome are your deeds! So great is your power’ (v.3). They celebrated what God had done (v.5). They rejoiced and praised God in a way that everybody around could hear: ‘Bless our God, O peoples! Give him a thunderous welcome!’ (v.8, MSG).

Prayer

Lord, I celebrate your goodness. Thank you that you bring me through fire and water in order to bring me to a place of abundance.

New Testament

John 12:44–47,13:1–15

12
44 Then Jesus cried out, ‘Whoever believes in me does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. 45 The one who looks at me is seeing the one who sent me. 46 I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.
47 ‘If anyone hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge that person. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world.

13 It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.
2 The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. 3 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel round his waist. 5 After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped round him. 6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, ‘Lord, are you going to wash my feet?’ 7 Jesus replied, ‘You do not realise now what I am doing, but later you will understand.’ 8 ‘No,’ said Peter, ‘you shall never wash my feet.’ Jesus answered, ‘Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.’ 9 ‘Then, Lord,’ Simon Peter replied, ‘not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!’ 10 Jesus answered, ‘Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean.

14 ‘Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.’

Commentary

Celebrate Jesus

There will be times in your life when things go well. There may also be times when things go badly. But there is one thing you can always celebrate. Jesus died and rose again for you. Jesus said, ‘For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it’ (12:47). He said, ‘I have come… so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness’ (v.46).

The context of Jesus washing his disciples’ feet is set just before the Passover feast (13:1). There would have been great excitement in the air as hundreds of thousands came to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. This time of celebration foreshadowed the death and resurrection of Jesus, which we now celebrate especially at Easter.

When he had finished washing their feet, he said to them, ‘Do you understand what I have done for you?’ (v.12). What was it all about? What were they to understand? We can see four pictures from the passage:

  1. Love
    The act of Jesus washing his disciples’ feet demonstrated ‘the full extent’ of his love (v.1). This is a very striking contrast to what the world thinks of when people use the word ‘love’. It is far more than a feeling or an emotion; it is a decision to treat people the way that Jesus would treat them (vv.14–15).

  2. Service
    The roads of Palestine were unsurfaced and uncleaned. In dry weather they would have been inches deep in dust. In wet weather they would have been liquid mud.

    In a wealthy household, on arrival there would be a bowl at the door. The second lowest slave of the household would untie the sandals. The lowest slave would wash the feet.

    While the others are reclining, Jesus gets up, takes off his sleeveless tunic and strips down to a loincloth. Like a slave, he starts washing their feet. Jesus is taking the place of a person at the bottom of society, the last place, the place of a slave – the one who does the dirty jobs. This is a total reversal of the world’s model of leadership.

    Jesus, their ‘Lord and Teacher’ (v.14), reveals himself as the least one in society, the one who does the dirty jobs, the one who is in the last place.

    Jesus shows us that if you love people, you will be willing to serve them and that those who serve you should always be treated with the greatest respect.

  3. Humility
    Jesus uniquely combined absolute love (v.1) and absolute power: ‘The Father has put all things under his power’ (v.3a). In love, he chose to act in humility and serve his disciples.
    Those who seek their own glory (like Judas, v.2) are reduced to nothing. Those who exalt themselves are humbled. Those who humble themselves, God will exalt.

    Jesus reveals a new way of exercising authority through love, service and humility. In this dramatic way, he bridges the gap between those in leadership and those under their leadership.

  4. Forgiveness
    The washing and cleansing is a sign of forgiveness – cleansing from sin. Foot-washing is a picture of what Jesus is about to do on the cross for them (v.7). Through Jesus’ death for you, you are totally forgiven. Why then does Jesus teach us to pray regularly for forgiveness?

    I find the most helpful analogy and picture is the one given here. When Jesus moved to wash Peter’s feet, Peter said, ‘“No, you shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me”’ (v.8). Peter replied, in effect, ‘Well, in that case, wash my whole body.’ Jesus said, ‘Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean’ (v.10).

    This is a picture of forgiveness. When you put your faith in Jesus you are made totally clean and you are forgiven – everything is dealt with. You do not need to repeat this one-off act of repentance and faith that leads to total forgiveness. It is the equivalent of having a bath.

    However, as we go through the world we do things that tarnish our friendship with God. Your relationship is always secure but your friendship is sullied with the dirt that you pick up on your feet. Each day pray, ‘Lord, forgive me, cleanse me from the dirt.’ You don’t need to have a bath again, Jesus has done that for you, but a measure of cleansing may be necessary each day.

    In addition to our great Easter celebration, each week when we gather on the day of the resurrection (Sunday), we remember and celebrate these amazing events. Furthermore, every time you receive communion you are celebrating the death and resurrection of Jesus for you.

Prayer

Lord, help us to follow Jesus’ example, not just in words but also in actions. Thank you that you have given us so much to celebrate.

Old Testament

1 Samuel 11:12–15,12:1–24

11
12 The people then said to Samuel, ‘Who was it that asked, “Shall Saul reign over us?” Turn these men over to us so that we may put them to death.’ 13 But Saul said, ‘No one will be put to death today, for this day the LORD has rescued Israel.’ 14 Then Samuel said to the people, ‘Come, let us go to Gilgal and there renew the kingship.’ 15 So all the people went to Gilgal and made Saul king in the presence of the LORD. There they sacrificed fellowship offerings before the LORD, and Saul and all the Israelites held a great celebration.

12 Samuel said to all Israel, ‘I have listened to everything you said to me and have set a king over you. 2 Now you have a king as your leader. As for me, I am old and grey, and my sons are here with you. I have been your leader from my youth until this day.’
20 ‘Do not be afraid’… 22 For the sake of his great name the Lord will not reject his people, because the Lord was pleased to make you his own. 23 As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by failing to pray for you. And I will teach you the way that is good and right. 24 But be sure to fear the LORD and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you.

Commentary

Celebrate success

Saul began his reign as king with a honeymoon period. The Spirit of God came upon him in power and he prophesied (10:9–13). God gave him great wisdom in dealing with opposition. He knew when to keep silent (v.27).

Saul soon had to deal with ‘troublemakers’ (v.27). God is in the business of touching human hearts (v.26). But, as always, the Bible is realistic. Troublemakers were around the corner. Wherever God is at work in power, expect to find troublemakers as well.

When the people of God were facing appalling cruelty from a man who wanted to gouge out the right eye of every person, ‘the Spirit of God came upon [Saul] in power’ (11:6). God gave him a great victory and he had the wisdom to say afterwards, ‘No one shall be put to death today, for this day the Lord has rescued Israel’ (v.13). Instead they held ‘a great celebration’ (v.15).

In Samuel’s farewell speech, he spoke of how often God has given success to his people when they cried to him for help (12:8,10–11). He urged them to ‘consider what great things he has done for you’ (v.24). Many of these things came about as a result of Samuel’s prayer and he said, ‘As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by failing to pray for you’ (v.23).

Don’t get so bound up with your own needs and worries that you fail to pray for others. It’s very important that we pray for one another.

The passage for today ends with Samuel telling the people to ‘consider what great things he has done for you’ (v.24). Whatever else is going on in your life, look back, consider and celebrate your forgiveness, the gift of the Holy Spirit, the promise of glory and all the other great things God has done for you.

Prayer

Lord, today I want to look back with thanks and celebrate all the great things you have done for me…

Pippa adds

1 Samuel 11:6

‘When Saul heard their words, the Spirit of God came upon him in power, and he burned with anger.’

I don’t often think of the Spirit of God coming on someone and bringing anger. I normally think of the Spirit setting people free from anger and bringing joy or peace or deep conviction. But anger against injustice moves us from apathy to action.

Verse of the Day

1 Samuel 12:24

‘… consider what great things the LORD has done for you’.

Thought for the Day

Love is far more than a feeling or an emotion; it is a decision to treat people the way that Jesus would treat them.
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References

The One Year® is a registered trademark of Tyndale House Publishers. Used by permission.

Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version Anglicised, Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 Biblica, formerly International Bible Society. Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton Publishers, an Hachette UK company. All rights reserved. ‘NIV’ is a registered trademark of Biblica. UK trademark number 1448790.

Scripture marked (MSG) taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

Bible in One Year

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