"I am not referring to all of you; I know those I have chosen: but that the scripture may be fulfilled, 'He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me.'" (John 13:18)

This statement by Jesus follows his washing his disciples' feet, and then instructing them to also do the same for others - become a humble servant of God and others (see prior verses).

Jesus indicates that not all of the students he was speaking with will be following his instructions. But the phrase, "I know the ones I have chosen" indicates more than just "knowing" or realizing. Here the word "know" comes from the Greek οἶδα (oida), which means "to know, i.e. get knowledge of, understand, perceive" according to the lexicon.

This can be looked at in two ways. Certainly Jesus knows who he chose. It is not as if he could choose disciples and not realize who he chose.

The type of "knowing" who he chose, in this case, relates to Jesus' ability to perceive the hearts of his students. He selected certain students as his close disciples because he understood they were sincere in their approach to him. They did not have ulterior motives.

This of course means that Jesus' selection process was not an authoritarian one. It was based upon the hearts of his students. Jesus simply could perceive which of his students were serious about his teachings.

This also means that Jesus did not ultimately choose. The students ultimately made the choice. They chose whether they would seriously follow Jesus' instructions, and thus received God's mercy.

This concept of "chosen" is completely taken out of context by so many ecclesiastical teachers from the organized religions of today. There are many who say their race or culture or society was "chosen" by God. They claim that because their ancestors were "chosen" by God, they are somehow special because of the family their body was born into. Thus they consider themselves the "chosen ones."

This runs completely against what is actually taking place here and throughout the Bible. The concept of "chosen" comes from the place where a person has humbly given their heart to the Supreme Being. This decision, made by each individual, will bring us closer to the Supreme Being. As our devotion develops - our love for the Supreme Being increases - He mercifully reciprocates that relationship of love.

This is why in parts of the Old Testament, the Supreme Being became upset with those who claimed ancestry as the chosen, yet did not acknowledge or worship the Supreme Being within their hearts.

The reciprocation of love between the Supreme Being and those who have devoted themselves to Him distinguishes those who are devoted from others. It also illustrates God's mercy and willingness to forgive. They could thus be called "chosen" in that they are special to the Supreme Being, due to their being devoted to Him with love, and His merciful reciprocation.

This is a far cry from a group of people or even a particular person being arbitrarily "chosen" as somehow being special, and better than others. There is thus no "chosen people" who are special - or receive God's mercy - just because of where they were born, or who their ancestors are. This is a ridiculous notion that comes from a place of selfishness and false identification with the physical body.

Those teachers that taught (and still teach) that they are part of a "chosen" people or nation are simply wanting to legitimize themselves because they have not developed their own personal relationship with the Supreme Being. They have not followed in the footsteps of those devoted teachers such as Moses, David, Jesus and others, who personally gave their lives to the Supreme Being.

Jesus' was teaching just the opposite of this "chosen people" concept. He was trying to teach his students humility. This is why he had washed their feet. To illustrate humble service.

And thus it was each of those students' choice whether they wanted to sincerely accept Jesus' teachings, and follow them. Jesus simply knew which of them was serious.

This idea of being "appointed" or "chosen" has been perverted by so many religious institutions over the centuries. They use councils of elected officials - such as deacons, bishops and others - to appoint their teachers, as if they have the ability to see into the hearts of those teachers and make a determination of their ability to represent the Supreme Being.

Only God can decide who will represent Him. And God only chooses those who have made the choice to lovingly commit their lives to Him.

And Jesus, who God has chosen to represent Him, has the ability to see into the hearts of his students, because he is empowered by his relationship with the Supreme Being.

Thus Jesus could not "choose" or "appoint" the person(s) who God would empower after Him to carry on Jesus' teachings. Only God can do that. But Jesus, being God's loving servant, could certainly identify which of his students were serious about his teachings, and thus direct more confidential teachings to them. This is the prerogative of the teacher, but it still is not an "appointment" to be God's representative. Only God can empower the student.

This is all part of a relationship. The spiritual realm is a place of relationships. It is not some kind of official institution. If a person wants to know the Supreme Being, they must be introduced by someone who knows Him - someone who is exchanging a loving relationship with the Supreme Being. Once introduced, should they be serious and apply the instructions of the teacher, they may also develop a loving relationship with the Supreme Being. This qualifies the student to pass on the teachings of their teacher while living the example of their teacher's teachings. But it is the Supreme Being who empowers such a person to teach, and introduce Him to others.

This is a personal process, but it also requires effort. We cannot just imagine we have a relationship with one of God's representatives, and think by that we are empowered. This is what so many ecclesiastical sectarian teachers have done. Some imagine they have "seen the light" or they have "Jesus in their heart" and they can thus be a teacher and represent him. Others rely upon an appointment process of elected councils who select people by their resumes and their nice attitudes to be teachers. Both of these processes are not supported by scripture.

We know that even Jesus submitted himself to a teacher before he went about teaching. His baptism by John represents his submission. John was also the student of Zechariah the priest. Zechariah was the student of another devoted priest, and this teaching lineage continues all the way back to David, Samuel, Eli, Joshua, Moses and Abraham. This lineage of teachers illustrates that no one simply imagined they were "chosen." Each underwent instruction at the feet of a teacher, and each made the decision to devote their lives to the Supreme Being.

This lineage of the teachings of those who personally submitted themselves to God and enjoyed a humble loving relationship with Him is illustrated by Jesus as he quoted a verse from one of David's Psalms, Psalm 41. Here is the entire Psalm, which includes the verse Jesus quoted:
Blessed is he who has regard for the weak; the Lord delivers him in times of trouble. The Lord will protect him and preserve his life; He will bless him in the land and not surrender him to the desire of his foes. The Lord will sustain him on his sickbed and restore him from his bed of illness. I said, “O Lord, have mercy on me; heal me, for I have sinned against You.” My enemies say of me in malice, “When will he die and his name perish?” Whenever one comes to see me, he speaks falsely, while his heart gathers slander; then he goes out and spreads it abroad. All my enemies whisper together against me; they imagine the worst for me, saying, “A vile disease has beset him; he will never get up from the place where he lies.” Even my close friend, whom I trusted, he who shared my bread, has lifted up his heel against me. But You, O Lord, have mercy on me; raise me up, that I may repay them. I know that You are pleased with me, for my enemy does not triumph over me. In my integrity you uphold me and set me in Your presence forever. Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. Amen and Amen. (Psalm 41)
We can see from the entire context of this Psalm that the verse Jesus quoted, Psalm 41:9, was not specifically referring to Jesus, as some have incorrectly interpreted. Rather, David was describing his intimate personal relationship with the Supreme Being, and how the Supreme Being protects him from those who seek to intrude upon his mission to please God. David also identifies how God's reciprocation of his devotion to Him is an expression of God's mercy.

Jesus is applying David's situation to himself, because Jesus is also devoted to the Supreme Being and is also dealing with those who seek to intrude upon his mission to serve and please God. This is why Jesus is applying part of David's psalm to himself. David's psalm was not some kind of "prophesy" of Jesus. It expressed David's deep personal relationship with God, one that Jesus shares.

Each of us make these choices for ourselves. We do not need to be born into a body of any particular race, country or culture to make the choice to submit our lives to the Supreme Being. We don't need to join any particular sect of any particular religious institution to make this choice to receive His mercy. If we make the choice to devote our lives, first to come to know the Supreme Being, then He will guide a personal introduction. Should we take advantage of this introduction and come to love Him and care for Him, God will also choose us, because we chose Him.

This is why Jesus' most important instruction was:
"'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment." (Matt. 23:37-38)


(For a translation of Jesus' statements from the Gospel of John without sectarian institutional influence, see the Devotional Translation  - translated from the original Greek texts.)