The passage that stood out for the Day 170 reading was John 13:20 (ESV):
20 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.”
The initial reason it stood out was due to the phrase “whoever receives me” since “receive Christ” is a common expression referencing the act or process of conversion. I wanted to better comprehend the concept of “to receive Christ.”
Verse 20 resides in the Greek paragraph comprising verses 18-20 (see page 696 of The Greek English New Testament: Nestle-Aland 28th Edition – English Standard Version, (2012) Crossway, Wheaton, IL), but I believe is better understood if one looks at verses John 13:12–20 (ESV), which read:
12 When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? 13 You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. 16 Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. 18 I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But the Scripture will be fulfilled, ‘He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’ 19 I am telling you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am he. 20 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.”
There is more literary context to verses 12-20 in the narrative of verses 4-11, which describes Jesus washing the feet of the disciples. As a brief background, people wore sandals so their feet became easily dirty. One source (Anderson, F. L., & Kurtz, D. W. (1915). Washing of Feet. In J. Orr, J. L. Nuelsen, E. Y. Mullins, & M. O. Evans (Eds.), The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia (Vol. 1–5, p. 3072). Chicago: The Howard-Severance Company) describes the culture pertaining foot washing:
In the case of ordinary people, the host furnished the water, and the guests washed their own feet, but in the richer houses, the washing was done by a slave. It was looked upon as the lowliest of all services. (1 S 25:41).
We see that by washing His disciples’ feet, Jesus did something completely contrary to what someone who is the “Lord and Teacher” of the disciples would be expected to do. This is a dramatic example of the kind of sacrificial servanthood Jesus expected His disciples to carry out. Jesus reinforced His expectation when He set out the master-servant and the one who sent-messenger relationships, which can be mathematically defined: servant < master; messenger < the one who sent him.
Jesus then predicts Judas’ upcoming betrayal so that when this happens, the disciples will “believe that I am he” (v. 19) meaning that they would believe that Jesus is the Jewish Messiah. By believing this fact, the disciples should be motivated to exercise the courage necessary to take the gospel to the world per their individual callings.
Verse 20 synopsizes the spread of the saving of gospel of Jesus Christ to the ends of the entire world. Jesus begins verse 20 with the phrase “Truly, truly, I say to you,” which is a strong signal to pay close attention to what is to follow. For the eleven remaining disciples of Jesus who will be preaching the gospel throughout the world in the face of all kinds of opposition and certain persecution and martyrdom, it is time to pay close attention to what Jesus is about to present.
Jesus uses a model formula (also see John 12:44-45; Matthew 10:40) that establishes the close relationship between His disciples and Himself and Himself (and His disciples) and God the Father when He says, “… whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.” The ESV translates the Greek verb lambanō in verse 20 as “whoever receives” (two occurrences) and “receives” (two occurrences). Lambanō can take on a number of different meanings. One theological dictionary (Kittel, G., Friedrich, G., & Bromiley, G. W. (1985). Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (pp. 495–496). Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans) spells out two senses, which I believe are applicable here (emphasis added):
1. From the basic sense “to take,” lambánō acquires the active senses a. “to take to oneself,” “to receive,” “to collect,” and b. “to seize.”
2. It also takes on the more passive sense “to acquire” and middle “to hold or grasp something or someone.” Sense 2. is less common in the LXX, which also has such special uses as “to take life,” “to take a census,” “to take guilt,” “to fetch,” and “to strike up” (a song).
In the NT we find sense 1. in such contexts as taking up one’s cross (Mk. 10:38), accepting the witness (Jn. 3:11) or messengers of Jesus (13:20) or Jesus himself (1:12), and collecting what is due (Heb. 7:8). Sense 2. is predominant in theological passages. Thus Jesus takes our infirmities (Mt. 8:17), God receives praise (Rev. 5:12), and even Jesus has only what he receives from God (cf. 1 Cor. 4:7; 2 Pet. 1:17). Believers receive God’s Spirit (Jn. 7:39; Acts 10:47) and the gifts of the Spirit (1 Pet. 4:10). They do so by faith (Gal. 3:2) and as a gift (cf. Rom. 1:5). Indeed, they receive even earthly things from God (1 Tim. 4:4), and they are invited to ask in order that they may receive (Jn. 16:24). Beyond this life lies the imperishable crown of life that they are also to receive (1 Cor. 9:25). Receiving may be by way of the church (1 Cor. 4:7), but it is from Christ himself that the gospel is finally received (Gal. 1:12).
Per Kittel et al., it appears that in the first occurrence (“whoever receives”), lambanō is used in Sense 1. It seems fair to add the gloss that “whoever receives” includes the fact of acceptance of (or belief/faith/trust in) the message of the saving gospel of Jesus Christ. One commentator (Gangel, K. O. (2000). John (Vol. 4, p. 253). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers) seems to make this point:
Then he went on to tell them that they represented him so closely that anyone who accepted a person who came in Jesus’ name with Jesus’ message accepted the presence of Jesus himself.
The remaining three usages of lambanō are in the context of (1) the believer who “receives” Christ, and (2) the “whoever [the believer] receives” Christ also “receives the one who [God the Father] sent me [Jesus].” At least in my view, these usages of lambanō are in Sense 2 of Kittel et al. since the last three seem to be God-human in contrast to the first occurrence which is human-human. In the context of Sense 2, Kittel et al. describes this kind of lambanō as by faith (Galatians 3:2) and as a gift (cf. Romans 1:5). Another word study source, The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, Vol. 3, (1971) Regency Reference Library, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan, appears to support this view at page 748:
(c) lambanō is theologically significant in its meaning of receive. It corresponds with God’s giving (didonai): God gives – man receives. … (ii) Only when a man receives, does he find himself and stand within the God-given order and plan which Jesus Christ reveals. For the man who hears the witness of Jesus, the acceptance of that word decides over life and death.
As I see it, verse 20 teaches us that a believer is closely tied to Christ and to God the Father. It reminds me of the wide-ranging fellowship the Apostle John wrote about in 1 John 1:1–4 (ESV)
1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— 2 the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— 3 that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4 And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.
Verse 20 also makes clear the statement by D. A. Carson as quoted by Gangel (Gangel, K. O. (2000). John (Vol. 4, p. 253). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers):
Carson says, “This verse powerfully ties the disciples to Jesus, and therefore serves as a foil for the failure of Judas Iscariot. The mission of Jesus is here assigned the highest theological significance, the most absolutely binding authority—the authority of God himself. Failure to close with Christ is failure to know God. And because his disciples re-present him to the world, their mission, their ministry, takes on precisely the same absolute significance” (Carson, p. 471).
The fact of the matter is the saving gospel of Jesus Christ possesses absolute significance.
If you are reading this post and are not a Christian, you are not one who “receives” Jesus Christ. Unless God intervenes, your eternal destination is hell. But, your destiny can change. Today can be the day of your salvation. Today, you can be one who “receives” Jesus Christ and “receives” God the Father. Please see my blog (https://stevebelsheim.com/2020/04/20/for-god-so-loves-you-2/) for a description of how you can be saved.
The Professor Grant Horner Bible Reading System is a great 500 day Bible reading plan. The following link presents a description of the plan ( https://sohmer.net/media/professor_grant_horners_bible_reading_system.pdf).
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