You are God’s family treasure

Pastor Jeff Struecker

Let’s say somebody important came over to your house, and you are trying to show and describe your family to them a little bit. Is there something in the house that you would use to show off the family heirloom? The family treasure in your family, is it material? Maybe it’s monetary, but chances are, it’s not an object in your home for most of us. It’s probably something attached to your last name.

Maybe you come from a family where a person in your history made an impact and changed the community or made a difference for other people. Maybe there’s somebody with your last name, and people recognize your last name, and they think about this teacher, think about this leader, maybe it’s a baker, or maybe it’s a homemaker. But when anybody in town hears that last name, they think about that person because of that person’s influence on your community. All of us have a family history and tradition. Chances are you have a family treasure.

Well, did you know that God also has a family and has a family treasure too? If you were to go up into the throne room of God right now. You would see the elders around the throne, worshiping and praising Jesus in Heaven. You would see the angels and the spiritual beings that are up there. But if you were to ask, “God of all of the people in the creation, and elements in the universe you created, what is your greatest treasure?” I think his answer is going to be from John 13.

You are God’s family treasure

Today, the Bible will convince you that the son or the daughter of the living God who the blood of Jesus has purchased is His greatest treasure. If you committed some sins, I need you to know that you are welcome back into the arms of your great God and King, He loves you, and He’s ready to receive you back unto himself. Jesus now starts to prepare his people for his departure, and he will explain something to them. He will put his love on display in a scandalous humiliating way to remind his people how much he loves them.

Accepted completely

I want you to see what goes along with becoming part of God’s family. I want you to see the benefits of being God’s treasured possession and adopted into the family of the most high God and the king of kings. The first thing that I need you to know is that you are accepted completely despite your mistakes, despite your failures.  

If you have never been to church. I need you to understand what happens when a man or a woman is adopted into the family of God. Love is the glue that will hold the family together, and the love of Jesus is put on display vividly and powerfully today. 

In the first verse alone in this chapter, the Bible talks about the love of God in John 13:1  Before the passover festival, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them. What the Bible is describing here is beautiful, it’s powerful. In fact, these maybe some of the most significant languages in the entire book of John about how Jesus loves you. It had 12 chapters up to this point of Jesus demonstrating his love by doing things, putting on miracles, changing people’s lives, and forgiving and accepting somebody into God’s family who was never accepted before and now. 

John 13:1

Before the Passover Festival, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.

You’re going to hear Jesus describing how much God loves his people, and then Jesus putting the ultimate demonstration of God’s love, his sacrificial death, and his bodily resurrection on the cross before he returns to the Father. And when the Bible says he loved his child of God, he’s talking about you. The Bible says that because God loved you and didn’t want to leave you alone and isolated, he accepted you and adopted you into his family. 

He didn’t just love you when stuff was going right and when you were a good girl or a good boy, no, Jesus loved his own until the end. And if that language doesn’t sit with you right now, let me remind you of what every teenage girl on the planet asks herself from time to time. If I show him who he is, if I become really vulnerable and open to my boyfriend, will he still love me tomorrow? 

What every guy on a sports team, what every human being who opens up and shows the deepest recesses of who they are, all have this vulnerable minute, thinking, “If I show you what’s going on inside of me, would you turn your back on me? Would you walk away from me when you learn the junk in my life? Will you love me tomorrow?”  This is the question that everybody asks before they open themselves up and what the Bible is saying is that Jesus knows his disciples intimately, he knows their junk, there’s mistakes, their failures, and he didn’t turn his back on him. He didn’t bolt on them when they messed up; i.n fact, he loved them until the end. 

I had to go back and do some research today because I wasn’t sure if we were talking about the full or about time, like until the end of time, the end of Jesus’s life. So I was going back and doing a little bit of study, and the bible scholars that really understand the original language said, it’s both. He loves you absolutely and completely, and there’s no way that he could possibly love you more. 

And by the way, the proof that he loves you completely, that you’re accepted completely, is the fact that he doesn’t bolt on you when you don’t do right. He doesn’t walk away when you mess up and make a mistake; he loves his brothers and sisters. Jesus does until the end. 

Held securely

The next thing I need you to understand about becoming part of a different family and showing off that you’re God’s family treasure is to remind yourself of this. You probably need to remind yourself this week that you are held securely by the love of God, not by your good efforts and not by your good deeds. I’m just going to say it this way, and it’s not designed to rub you the wrong way, but I think I need to remind you in the heavenly family, you don’t wear the pants. God wears the pants in this family, and God is in charge. God makes the decisions. God is the one who is captain of your destiny. God is the one who is directing your life and your future. And suppose you trust your Father is a good father. In that case, you have nothing to fear and nothing to worry about, but if you view your Father in Heaven, the way you’re jacked up Father on Earth is. Maybe that freaks you out a little bit, and chances are what it will prompt you to do is to take control and want to hold on and make your own decisions and decide how life will go. You call the shots; that’s natural. 

It’s part of human nature. It came from our first parents when they decided I wanted to make the decisions about my family, not God, so they committed the first sin ever when they rebelled against God in the garden of Eden. So now you and I decide I want to make the decisions, not God, I want to call the shots, and we keep doing what our first parents did. 

Jesus demonstrates how much he holds you in the palm of his hand and when you have the king of kings holding you in the palm of your hands, you’ve got nothing to worry about. The vivid demonstration here is the one who was following Jesus and then turned around and walked away, specifically, Judas Iscariot. 

If you’re asking yourself, how is it possible that the guy was following Jesus and saw all of these miracles and still turns around and walks away? John is going to answer this question for you with family language. Here’s what the Bible says next. Starting in verse two. Now when it was time for supper, this is the zenith of Jesus’s ministry. This is the greatest holiday of the year and the high point of his ministry. This should be the greatest moment of Jesus’s life on Earth, but it’s not because there is a jerk in the room that will ruin the whole thing. 

Now, when it was time for supper, the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas, Simon Iscariot’s son, to betray him. Now look at what the Bible says next; Jesus knew that the Father had given everything into his hands. That he had come from God and that he was going back to God.

I really want to point out a couple of interesting things about Judas and his relationship with Jesus. In fact, I really struggled with this question for a long time. How many of you believe that when Judas was selling Jesus out for a little bit of money and betraying the King of kings, he knew he was an instrument in the hand of Satan? 

What the Bible says is Judas intentionally goes to the religious leaders. He deliberately asks them for money. He says I will turn over the one you’re looking for, and I’ll sell them out to you if you’ll just give me a little bit of cash. 

I’m not sure that Judas really understood what was happening at the soul level when he was doing that. But there’s no question that he learned it after the fact. Because what the Bible says next is that Judas is sorry that Judas tries to make it right by going back and trying to give the money back. But of course, those religious leaders will not touch that dirty money. Judas hates himself so much for it that he can’t live with himself anymore. If this was 2022, it would be prescription pills. But Judas just takes a rope, goes to a high tree, and decides I must kill myself

What happened to Judas’s heart? Well, that all hangs on the word “put.” You see, what that word says is that Satan threw something into Judas’s soul, and Judas just naively followed his heart and did what seemed right in his soul, not knowing that he was right in the palm of Satan’s grip when he was betraying the perfect, innocent son of God. 

Every soul on the planet is somewhere in one of these two categories. You’re either in the grip of God through the blood of His son, Jesus, and your soul belongs to him because made clean. It is held securely, or you’re in the grip of Satan, and maybe like Judas, you don’t even know it until it’s too late, and you’re just doing what seems natural; you’re just doing what feels right, not knowing that the heart is wrong. 

Following a wrong heart is always going to lead to the wrong results. Judas is just doing what comes naturally, and what Jesus is going to say is that the reason why Judas did this is that Judas was never really part of the family in the first place. He was a follower. 

John 13: 2-3

Now when it was time for supper, the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas, Simon Iscariot’s son, to betray him. Jesus knew that the Father had given everything into his hands, that he had come from God, and that he was going back to God.

Read the other accounts of the last supper and the betrayal of Jesus. They don’t even know that Judas is betraying him when he leaves. Jesus and Judas are the only two that know he’s fooled everybody in the room, but he hadn’t fooled Jesus, and Jesus knows everybody who’s mine, I got in the palm of my hand. Judas is leaving and going to sell me out because he was never mine. 

I sometimes have a chance to teach pastors when I teach seminary students, and they have been lamenting over the last year and a half or two years. I think of every church on the planet, not just in America. There is a category of people that are no longer there because of Covid, and what these pastors struggle with publicly in the classroom is I lost some people, and they haven’t come back. They hoped that when enough people were vaccinated, and the numbers started to drop, they would come back. But they have realized that nothing is bringing them back. They’re not in church, and it has nothing to do with Covid. They’re not in church anymore for a different reason. And I have to stand in front of these pastors and give them the good and bad news of Covid. Here’s what I tell them, “Hey, the bad news is your numbers are down a little bit; that hurts, and I’m sorry. But the good news is those people that are not here anymore…” And I say it as bluntly to them as possible because I want to minister to them. “They’re not part of your church anymore because they never work. They were never really committed. And they finally found the excuse that caused them to say, ” I’m done. I am not going back anymore.” And they blame it on Covid. 

And Christian hear me, it’s not your good efforts, it’s not your hard work. It’s not your religious deeds that make you acceptable to the Father. That is not the reason why he adopted you into the family. He brought you into His family just because He loves you, and He’s holding you in the family in the palm of His hand. Because he loves me and wants a relationship with me, I’m held in the Father’s hand, and it’s not my good deeds. It’s the deeds of Jesus Christ that hold me securely. As much as I can trust the hand that holds me, I can trust that I am safe in the family of God. 

You need to be reminded of that because if you feel dirty and you’ve made some mistakes in the past. I got some good news for you that comes directly from what the Bible says next. You have been made absolutely and completely clean. You have been purified by the blood of Jesus and not by anything you’ve done, but by what’s done for you.

Purified effortlessly

Jesus did something next that left such an impact on John when Jesus did this. In fact, it left such an impact, such a scandal, that all of the gospel writers in the new testament want you to know about this event when Jesus humiliates himself to demonstrate how much he loves God’s family. 

Listen to how this passage wraps up today. We’re going to start in verse four, “So he, got up from supper, laid aside his outer clothing, took a towel, tied it around himself…” and by now all of the disciples in the room are starting to get a little bit embarrassed about what Jesus is doing because this is the passover festival, this is the greatest moment of the year. He poured water into a basin, he began to wash his disciples feet and to dry them with the towel tied around him. He came to Simon Peter who asked him, Lord, are you going to wash my feet? In other words, it’s supposed to be the other way around. Jesus answered him, “What I’m doing you don’t realize now, but afterward you will understand.” “You will never wash my feet,” Peter said. Jesus replied, “If I don’t wash you, you have no part with me.”

We are not talking just about dust from a Palestinian trail, we’re talking about the human soul. If I don’t wash you, you have no part from me. Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not only my feet, but also my hands and my head.” “One who has bathed,” Jesus told him, “doesn’t need to wash anything except his feet, but he is completely clean. You are clean, but not all of you.” For he knew who would betray him. This is why he said, “Not all of you are clean.” 

Well, the Bible is going to tell you, for he knew who would betray him. That’s why he said not all of you are clean. Can we go back for just a second? Anybody who has been washed is part of me. And if you haven’t been washed, you’re not part of me. And the reason why Judas could bolt and betray Jesus is that he was never really part of him in the first place. 

John 13: 4-11

So he got up from supper, laid aside his outer clothing, took a towel, and tied it around himself. Next, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet and to dry them with the towel tied around him. He came to Simon Peter, who asked him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus answered him, “What I’m doing you don’t realize now, but afterward you will understand.” “You will never wash my feet,” Peter said. Jesus replied, “If I don’t wash you, you have no part with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not only my feet, but also my hands and my head.” “One who has bathed,” Jesus told him, “doesn’t need to wash anything except his feet, but he is completely clean. You are clean, but not all of you.” For he knew who would betray him. This is why he said, “Not all of you are clean.”

His soul had never been radically cleaned by Jesus Christ, and that’s why Judas could follow his selfish heart just doing what’s very natural and become the ultimate tool of satan. 

In fact, every single time Judas’s name is mentioned in the Bible, it always includes this description. He’s the guy who betrayed Jesus in Roman culture in Jesus’s day. This act was so scandalous. It was so humiliating that not long after Jesus’s death, the Roman emperor Caligula, when he wanted to shame and embarrass somebody from his court, he would make them put on a towel and come to the head table and wash his feet in front of everybody and everyone in the room was sick to their stomach with the shame and the humiliation. It was that bad in Roman culture. But in Jewish culture, it was worse. 

You see, in Jewish culture, if you got yourself into trouble financially and you couldn’t pay that debt back. You would become like a household servant, and you would work in a household of another Jewish family to pay off your debt. But this act of washing somebody’s feet was so humiliating that the Jews didn’t let a Jewish household servant wash somebody else’s feet. You had to be a non-Jewish slave before you could wash somebody else’s feet. 

Jesus gets up from where he should have been sitting at the head table, he should have been the center of attention. He should have had all the praise of all disciples, but instead, he does this most humiliating act. 

I had the privilege of seeing a new leader take over this huge Christian ministry with lots of people, a huge budget, and influence. On the first day of the job, the leader decided that he wanted to leave a lasting impact on the team that he leads. So they called the big leaders in the room, and this leader humbled himself, got down, took a basin, and washed the feet of everybody in that room. I kept thinking to myself, that’s a little bit embarrassing. It’s a bit awkward for everybody in the room until I started thinking about what this passage was saying. Then it occurred to me, “What you’re doing is trying to describe yourself as a servant and being willing to serve the people.” But that’s not what Jesus is doing, Jesus is showing the sacrifice that it’s going to take for my dirty soul to be clean. So Jesus physically demonstrates what he’s about to spiritually do on the cross. 

You can’t purchase adoption, you can’t earn your way into somebody else’s family and you also can’t clean up sends and your mistakes and your failures. It doesn’t work like that. 

If you wanted to earn your way into God’s family, it would take 100% moral perfection for your entire life, and nobody on planet earth can pull that one off. 

So Jesus leaves Heaven, comes to Earth, and becomes the sacrificial payment for your sins to clean you up, and I need you to know that he cleans you completely, that he accepts you totally and that he holds you right in the palm of his hand. Now it’s no longer just your surname, that you represent this week. You represent your Father in Heaven as well as your family name.