Sunday, May 26, 2024

“I Am Telling You Now Before It Happens” [Matt's Messages]

“I Am Telling You Now Before It Happens”
Life in Jesus’ Name - The Gospel of John
Lanse Evangelical Free Church
May 26, 2024 :: John 13:18-38  

Jesus knew. 

Jesus knew what was going to happen to Him that very night.

We talked about this the last few times. John chapter 13 begins with the wordsJohn chapter 13 begins with the words, “Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love” (13:1). And He washed their feet.

Verse 3 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” (13:3).

Jesus knew!

John the gospel-writer wants to us know that Jesus knew exactly what was going to happen to Him that dark night before His death. None of this was a surprise, and in fact, all of this was a part of the plan. Jesus was choosing all of this. He was going into it with open eyes.

And verse 19 says that Jesus not only knew what was going to happen, but Jesus told His disciples what was going to happen ahead of time.  Look at verse 19, where our title for today’s message comes from. Verse 19.

“I am telling you now before it happens so that when it does happen you will believe that I am He.”

Jesus knew the future, and He predicted the future so that His disciples might believe. There’s that word again! Jesus is always working to build our faith in Him. Believe!

Knowing the future should make a big difference, shouldn’t it? Our graduating seniors have made some big plans for their futures. You can read about their accomplishments and their hopes for the future in the back  of your bulletin. And it’s exciting to see what might be!

But they don’t know exactly what will happen to them. They don’t know the future. And they probably understand that better than many of the rest of us did when we graduated because these seniors were freshmen in 2020 when covid hit and upended all of our lives so unexpectedly. They know that they don’t know the future.

But Jesus did know the future. He knew the details. And He told His disciples some of the dark details before it happened. So that they would file it away and when it came pass exactly as Jesus said, they were not thrown for a loop but instead believed.

“I am telling you now before it happens so that when it does happen you will believe that I am He.”

Those last words are “ego eimi” in the Greek, “I am” which has, as we’ve seen before (8:24, 8:28, 8:588:58) a least hints of Jesus’ divinity. He is the I Am. He is all that He claimed to be.

And because He accurately predicted the future, His disciples would believe in Him.

In today’s passage, I see at least four things that Jesus predicted were going to happen to Him that should build our faith and direct our steps in 2024. Four things Jesus knew and told His disciples in advance that make all of the difference for us today. Here’s the first one. “I’m telling you now before it happens...”


What a terrible thing to know was coming.

Again, this is the very night before His crucifixion. Jesus and his twelve hand-picked disciples are having an intimate dinner together in the upper room of a home in Jerusalem. They are reclining around a low table in the center of the room like spokes on a wheel. And Jesus has just gotten up, dressed down like a slave, and washed and dried all 24 of their stinky feet. Shocking!

Everybody is unsettled. There is tension in the room. Outside of the four walls, there were people that hated Jesus and wanted Him dead. Inside of the room, there was an agent of Satan at the table with our Savior.

The other disciples didn’t know that, but Jesus knew.

He has just told them that not all of them are clean. Their feet are all clean, but one of their hearts has not been washed. They were going to be blessed if they washed feet like He did. But not all of them will be blessed. Look at verse 18.

“‘I am not referring to all of you; I know those I have chosen. But this is to fulfill the scripture: 'He who shares my bread has lifted up his heel against me.'”

That’s Psalm 41. I call it the “The Song of the Sick King.” It was written by King David one thousand years earlier when David had been personally betrayed by an intimate friend. And that set up a predictive pattern that was going to be repeated and fulfilled in Great David’s Greatest Son. 

Jesus would be betrayed by an intimate friend. Somebody He had eaten with in close fellowship was going to turn his heel towards Jesus as he walked out on him or even raised up his heel to stomp on Jesus as he betrayed Him.

This was going to shock his disciples, but it did not shock Jesus. He knew. And He wanted them to know He knew. Verse 19.

“‘I am telling you now before [this stomping] happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I am He. I tell you the truth, whoever accepts anyone I send accepts me; and whoever accepts me accepts the one who sent me.’”

That’s what’s really important. To believe. To accept or receive Jesus. Because then you get Jesus and you get God the Father who sent His Son!

What’s important is receiving Jesus by faith (John 1:12!). But not everybody does. And don’t be surprised by that.

In just a few short hours, everything is going to seem to fall apart. It’s going to feel like the world is ending. But the opposite is actually true. Things are proceeding according to plan.  Things predicted a thousand years before are coming together on that dark night so that the plan is on track.

It is going to be terrible! Look and see how it makes Jesus feel. Look at verse 21. 

“After he had said this, Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, ‘I tell you the truth, one of you is going to betray me.’”

We’ve seen this language of “troubled in spirit” before. That’s how Jesus felt at the tomb of Lazarus. When His friend had died. Remember how He cried? “Jesus wept.” 

That’s how Jesus is feeling about what is going to happen to Him. He’s not stoic about this betrayal. He’s not like, “Whatever. I didn’t care anyway.” This guts Him. This bothers Him. This hurts Him. He just washed their feet! And now He says, “I’ve gotta tell you guys something. One of you is going to betray me.” It troubles Jesus, but it does not surprise Him.

It does surprise His disciples. Look at verse 22. 

“His disciples stared at one another, at a loss to know which of them he meant. [“I’ve got no idea. Who would do that?” V.23] One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him. Simon Peter motioned to this disciple and said, ‘Ask him which one he means.’ Leaning back against Jesus, he asked him, ‘Lord, who is it?’”

I love the vivid details of this story. How they stare at one another. Everybody is looking at everybody else, and nobody has a clue (except Jesus, and Judas of course).

And John calls one of them, “the disciple whom Jesus loved” which is a beautiful description of how he felt. He just felt so loved by Jesus. Of course, Jesus loved all of them (v.1 said so), but this one disciple felt particularly beloved, a special bond. And we will find out later which one He was (hint, his named begins with J-O-H-N).

He’s on the cot right next to Jesus, and Simon Peter gives him the little nod. You know how men talk to each other in nods? Peter gives him the nod. “Ask [Jesus] which one he means.”

And the beloved disciples leans back against Jesus so they are really close and basically whispering to each other, “Lord, who is it?” Verse 26.

“Jesus answered, ‘It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.’ Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, son of Simon.” 

Jesus knows.

And now the beloved disciple knows. Nobody else knows, not yet. Everybody else assumes it can’t be Judas because he was just honored by the Master by being hand-fed the sop by Jesus Himself. But Jesus knows. 

And just as the bread entered Judas, so did Satan. V.27

“As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him.”

What a terrible thing to read. What a terrible to know.

This disciple of Jesus was now fully a disciple of Satan and was going to return that very night with a detachment of soldiers to arrest our Lord.

You see, Judas did not surprise Jesus.

If anything, Jesus surprised Judas! Because look what He says to him. Verse 27.

‘What you are about to do, do quickly,’ Jesus told him, but no one at the meal understood why Jesus said this to him. Since Judas had charge of the money, some thought Jesus was telling him to buy what was needed for the Feast, or to give something to the poor. [Remember Judas earlier this week had made a big deal about selling the perfume to help the poor. What a champion of the poor! No, he was a champion of himself. But only Jesus knew it. So he sent him on his way. V.30] As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out. And it was night” (vv.27-30).

It sure was.

What an ominous note. Things were dark. Things were bleak. Jesus was going to be betrayed by an intimate friend. But He was not going to be surprised. And He told them in advance, so they would, in time, believe.

I think this is helpful for us in many ways. First of all, just that Jesus knows what it’s like to be betrayed. If you have never been betrayed, just wait. It will probably happen to you. And when it does, it will hurt a lot.

Jesus understands what that feels like. He lived it out like nobody else ever has. He even knew in advance that it was happening, and He couldn’t (or wouldn’t) stop it from happening, but it was part of what had to happen for Him to fulfill the Father’s mission for Him and to save us from our sins. So He knows what it’s like. He can sympathize and walk alongside you as you go through the pain of betrayal yourself.

I think it’s also helpful because it reminds us that God’s plan is still on track even when it feels like it’s going off the rails. When the disciples find out that Judas–the guy they trusted with their money!–has sold out Jesus, they will be tempted to despair and to think that everything is lost. It was night-time for the disciples in every way. So so dark. And yet the Light of the World shines in the darkness!

Heather and I have some very close friends who are going through a very dark thing right now. And sometimes all I can say as we walk with them is, “The Lord knows.” 

“The Lord knows.” And we know He knows because He told us before it happens.

It was night time, but the light shines brightest in the darkness. And that’s what He tells them next. “I am telling you now before it happens...”


Verse 31. “When he was gone, Jesus said, ‘Now is the Son of Man glorified and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will glorify the Son in himself, and will glorify him at once” (v.31-32).

Judas leaves the room, and the temperature changes. It’s just Jesus and the Eleven now. And Jesus can open Himself up even more. The teaching will go deeper than it ever has. And Jesus says that it’s time for Him (not only to be betrayed but) to be glorified. And to be glorified by being betrayed!

This glorification comes through His crucifixion. Remember, He is going to be lifted up. Lifted up on a pole! Like a snake in the wilderness. But lifted up! Glorified. Bringing glory to Himself and to His Father. By completing the deadly mission on which He was sent.

Do you see the circle of glorification?

“Now is the Son of Man glorified and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will glorify the Son in himself, and will glorify him at once.”

The Son gets the glory.
The Father gets the glory in the Son.
The Son gets the glory in the Father.

In a perfect unending circle, and it’s all going down now!

And the darkness can’t stop it. In fact, the darkness has to enable it. The Cross is the darkest thing that ever happened in human history. And it is the brightest!

Isn’t that wonderful for us today?! Isn’t it wonderful to know that God can take the darkest night ever and make it the brightest?! That God can take the worst most bloody suffering ever and make it the greatest blessing?!

And that no matter what happens, the Son gets the glory, gives the glory to His Father, who gives the glory to the Son, gives the glory to the Father, gives the glory to the Son, (and starting in next chapter, gives the glory to the Spirit, all three in one) forever and ever and ever and ever and ever. Amen?!

He told us before it happens so that we would believe.

For the Son of Man to be glorified, He had to go away. This next portion of Scripture, from right here to the end of chapter 16, is often called “The Farewell Teaching” because Jesus begins to say, “Goodbye.” Verse 33.

“‘My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come.”

He’s telling them in advance that He’s going away. He knows it, and He is telling them what to expect before it happens. And how to behave when He’s gone. Verse 34.

“‘A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another’” (vv.34-35).

I hope these words are very familiar to you. This is our theme for the year as a church family. Jenni has them on the bulletin board in the center of the foyer. We’re going to memorize them together for the next several months.

I taught on these two verses four months ago on Vision Sunday. Let’s read them together once again to remind ourselves what our Lord Jesus commands us:

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Three times in two verses Jesus tells us to love one another. It must be important! 

He says it’s a “new” command. What’s new about it? God’s people have always been commanded to love. The Israelites were supposed to love their neighbors (Leviticus 19:18). But this says to love one another. So it’s a command to love our fellow disciples, our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. 

But I think the real newness is not so much who to love but how to love. We are now being called to love (v.34) as Jesus has loved us. There’s a new standard. As the choir just sang, we love because he first loved us.

Jesus has shown us how to love one another. And it is a high standard that involves going low. Just minutes before this, Jesus had gone around the circle washing their feet. He showed them how to love by serving them in humility.

Love isn’t just words or feelings. It’s actions. It’s putting someone else’s needs before your own. It’s laying down your life, often a little bit at a time. Our Lord Jesus calls us to love one another just as He has loved us. Let’s make that number three. “I am telling you now before it happens...


“You must love another as I have loved you.” It is imperative.

How are we doing at this? Let me read to you some things I said to you four months ago on January 28th because they are all still true and still needed.

On Vision Sunday, I pointed out that our church family had grown. We had been exceptionally blessed in 2023 with growth in attendance. Up 12% from the year before to an average of 142 people per Sunday. But it was more than that because the same people don’t come every Sunday. We had counted 293 different people who came at least one Sunday in 2023 and 235 people who came quite regularly.

This year, attendance has grown even more. In 2024, we are averaging about 161 people every Sunday. (Another 9% growth so far.)

And that’s wonderful, praise God! But it also means that we have to work even harder to build a loving community here, doesn’t it? Because “More people, more problems. More sinners, more sin.” Right?

“Love” sounds wonderful until you actually have to do it. 

So four months ago, we talked about doing all the “one anothers.” Right? Knowing one another (using the church directory), greeting one another (and not just our friends or the people we always greet), welcoming one another, praying for one another (maybe over the back of the pew), showing hospitality to one another, eating with one another, forgiving one another, bearing with and being patient with one another, exhorting one another, speaking the truth to one another.

That’s hard work! How are we doing at all of that as a church family in 2024? This is a good time to check in and take our own pulse.

How are we doing at loving one another as Jesus loved us?

How are you doing at that? 
What is going well?
What do you need to change?

Because the world desperately needs to see us imitate our Lord in this way!

On January 28th, I said this:
“We get to love another in ‘24. And when we do, the world will have to sit up and take notice.

There is a great need and opportunity for Christian love in our nation and world right now.

I don’t know whether you’ve noticed it or not, but it looks like it’s another national election year in America. [I thought we just did that!]

And it looks downright divisive once again. Will those [who] name the name of Christ be known for their love in 2024?

We have in this room Democrats, Republicans, Independents, and Non-Voters–all Christians. We will love one another in ‘24?

Will the world see the Christians loving each other [and] say to themselves, “What is going on over there? I want some of that. Those people are really different from one another. And they disagree. Maybe strongly. And yet they obviously are loving one another.”


There is an epidemic of loneliness in our society right now. There’s all kinds of causes for that. But whatever they are, it’s out there.

People are lonely.

They may be “connected,” through social media, to more people than ever but they feel disconnected. They feel alone.

What an opportunity we have to BE FAMILY for those folks!

So that we can all sing, “I’m so glad I’m a part of the family of God.”

As we enfold people into our church family, we are honoring Jesus.

We are acting as His disciples. ‘By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.’

By this! Not by what we proclaim about ourselves on our social media.

Not by our bumper stickers. But by how we treat one another.

“By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
That’s what I said on January 28th. How are we doing at this on May 26th? How are we doing at imitating our Lord?

If somebody looked at your life today, would they say, “Wow. That guy, that gal, sure is loving? They sure know how to serve their fellow Christians. They have picked up their basin and their towel. They sure act like Jesus.”

Let me just say, as your pastor, that I am very proud of you in this way. I see this as a very loving church family, and I see you stepping up to obey this new command every single day, especially when we gather together on Sundays.

Don’t stop. Don’t coast. We have much work to be done. Love does not come easy. It is hard work to do the “one-anothers.” But we are at it. I am so proud to be the pastor of Lanse Free Church. There is no other church family that I love more.

I believe the world can look at this bunch here and say, “They are Jesus’ disciples. Look at how they love one another.” Thank you. Well done, you.

Tomorrow, on Memorial Day, we will stop what we’re doing and thank God for those who acted like Jesus (whether they knew it or not) and gave their lives for others. Those servicemen and women served our nation by laying down their lives for their countrymen.

How are you and I each doing at laying down our lives for one another in the family of God? Love is supposed to be the distinguishing mark of the Christian. Verse 35. 

“By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Jesus says, “I will be imitated.”

And that extends even to our following Him in death. Point number four. “I am telling you now before it happens...”


But not at first. Jesus’ disciple, Peter, has missed what Jesus was saying about all this love stuff, because he got stuck on what Jesus had said in verse 33.

“You’re going away?” Verse 36. “Simon Peter asked him, ‘Lord, where are you going?’ Jesus replied, ‘Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.’ Peter asked, ‘Lord, why can't I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.’ Then Jesus answered, ‘Will you really lay down your life for me? I tell you the truth, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!” (vv.36-38).

Jesus knew. Jesus knew that He was going to be betrayed. And He knew that He was going to be denied. He was going to be disowned by Peter himself. Three times before the rooster was done crowing, this coming morning!

Peter had way too high an estimation of himself. His instincts were good. He wanted the right thing at that moment. But his self-confidence was too high. “Oh yeah, I’ll do that.”

Jesus knew that Peter was not going to lay down his life for Jesus. It was the other way around. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, was going to lay down his life for Peter. And for you and me.

Have you put your faith in what Jesus did for you on that Cross?

Jesus knew what was going to happen in just a few hours. He was going to lay down his life for our sins. And then in three days, He was going to take it back up again to give us life forever.

Jesus knew that Peter was not going to follow Him that day. But He says in verse 36 that, one day, Peter would follow Him. Peter will get a chance, down the line, to put his life down on the line for Jesus. He will follow Jesus. Because Peter will believe in who Jesus truly is. Jesus told us this now before it happens, so that when it does happen, we will believe.

Kailyn, Kevin, Zane, Addison, on this Graduation Sunday, here’s my pastoral counsel for you. (And it’s true for all of us here today, as well.)

Believe in Jesus! Believe that He is all that He said that He was. Because He obviously knew the future. He knew Who He was. And He knew what was going happen to Him.

He was going to be betrayed.
He was going to be denied and disowned.
He was going to be crucified.
He was going to be glorified!

And because of His sacrifice, we can be saved. And we can love one another. We can love like He loved. Painfully. Love is painful. If we are doing it right, it will sometimes hurt. It will sometimes feel like death. It will sometimes actually be our death to love one another. But it will be worth it all because the whole world will know that we are Jesus’ disciples if we love one another.

And follow Jesus even to death.

Because He is worth it.

His plan was not derailed.
His death was not the end.
The darkness did not win.

The Son of Man was glorified and God is glorified in Him. We believe!


Messages in this Series

01. "That You May Believe" - John 20:30-31
02. "In The Beginning Was the Word" - John 1:1-18
03. "John's Testimony" - John 1:19-34
04. "Come and See" - John 1:35-51
05. "The First of His Miraculous Signs" - John 2:1-11
06. "This Temple" - John 2:12-25
07. "You Must Be Born Again" - John 3:1-15
08. "God So Loved The World" - John 3:16-21
09. "Above All" - John 3:22-36
10. "Living Water" - John 4:1-26
11. "Ripe for the Harvest" - John 4:27-42
12. "Your Son Will Live" - John 4:43-54
13. "Pick Up Your Mat and Walk" - John 5:1-18
14. "To Your Amazement" - John 5:19-30
15. "Testimony About Me" - John 5:31-47
Christmas Eve Bonus: "The Astonishing Gift" - John 3:16 Again
Christmas Eve Bonus: "We Have Seen His Glory" - John 1:1-18 Again
16. "Enough Bread" - John 6:1-15
17. "You Are Looking for Me" - John 6:16-36
18. "I Am the Bread of Life" - John 6:35-71
Vision Meeting Bonus: "As I Have Loved You" - John 13:34-35
19. "At the Feast" - John 7:1-52
20. "I Am the Light of the World" - John 8:12-30
21. "Your Father" - John 8:31-59
22. "Now I See" - John 9:1-41
23. "I Am The Gate" - John 10:1-13
24. "I Am the Good Shepherd" - John 10:14-21
25. "I And The Father Are One" - John 10:22-42
26. "I Am the Resurrection and the Life" - John 11:1-53
27. "Expensive" - John 11:54-12:11
28. "The Hour Has Come" - John 12:12-26
29. "Father, Glorify Your Name!" - John 12:27-36
30. "Believe In Me" - John 12:37-50


Thank you. Your sermons always speak the truth of the word and reveals meaning of the word. God bless you Pastor