Serving

April 21, 2013   John 13      Jesus Serves 

       In 1904 the heir to the Borden Dairy Estate, William Borden, graduated from Chicago High School a millionaire. His parents gave him a trip around the world.   During that trip he became burdened for all the hurting people he saw in Asia, Europe and the Middle East.    He made a decision to prepare for the mission field.   When he made that decision he wrote in his Bible the words, “No Reserve.”    When William Borden arrived at Yale University the next year as a freshman his passion for Christ was already kindled.    He was disappointed to find the school morally bankrupt and the teaching filled with empty philosophy.    So during his first semester, he asked a friend to begin praying with him before breakfast.    As a result of his leadership other prayer groups began to spring up.   And by his senior year, 1,000 of the 1,300 students were meeting in prayer groups.   Many of those young leaders came to the Lord through that movement.  Upon graduation he was offered high paying jobs but he turned those offers down and continued to pursue God’s call on his life.   While making those decisions he wrote two more words in his Bible, the words “No Retreat”.  

     When he completed his studies at Princeton Seminary he sailed to China to work with the Muslims.   On the way he stopped in Egypt to study Arabic.   But there in Egypt he was stricken with spinal meningitis and within a month at the age of 25 he died.   What his friends and family found written in his Bible was a great source of comfort.   Added to the words previously written, “No Reserve, No Retreat” were two more words, “No Regrets”.     Wouldn’t it be a wonderful thing for you and me to arrive at the end of our earthly journey with those words written in our hearts, “No Reserve, No Retreat, No Regrets”?   William Borden is an example of a person who entered into his ministry and fulfilled God’s plan for his life and could come to the end with “No Regrets.   It is far better for your life to end like that than to look back with regrets.  

        Do you remember the bracelets that said what would Jesus do?    For this passage we could say what did Jesus do?   Jesus served.    He served, he worked and he laid down his life.     Almighty God poured out his life unto death.    It was a continual life of obedience, giving, serving and humility.   Since God did that for me I should also serve.    John 5:17 my father is always at his work to this very day and I, too am working.   Luke 19:10 for the son of man came to seek and to save what was lost.   Matthew 20:28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and give his life a ransom for many.     Philippians 2:3-8 tells us that we should "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.   Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself..."   

     So here is Jesus in the upper room with his disciples in the last minutes of our Lord’s life.   Jesus knows what is going to happen.   Some people might think that these thirteen men were helpless and hiding from the wrath and fury of the religious hierarchy and Roman might.   But in reality, reclining in that tiny upper room was the power center of the universe.   In reality all power in heaven and earth belonged to Jesus.  Jesus was not the helpless victim of some sinister plot to kill him.    He was the willing, voluntary Lamb slain before the foundation of the world.  Why did Jesus do it?   Jesus looked at his disciples and said in his heart, “You are why I will pay this price.”   He looked down through the ages and saw you and me and said in his heart, “You are why I will pay this price.” 

      There in that upper room Jesus assumes the most humbling task in that culture.   Remember John the Baptist said I am not worthy to untie his sandal.   Jesus bows before the disciples and washes their feet.   At the last supper in just hours Jesus is going to die a horrible death.    If people knew that they were about to die a horrible unjust death some would riot and some would party and some would do this or that.   Some would go after drugs or alcohol or food.  Most would seek some kind of pleasure and seek their ease.   Most people would not work or labor.    In this passage we see that Jesus in his very last hours washed the disciple’s feet.   Now we need to remember that in that culture only the lowest slaves would change another person’s shoes.   One commentator even suggested that in that culture not even the Jewish servants would wash their master’s feet.   That task was for the gentile slaves.   I suspect that their feet were just crusty with dirt.  These men walked with sandals and did not have socks on dirt roads and who knows when they last had washed their feet.    What else would be on the road?   I suspect that donkeys and camels and other animals used the roads.    Needless to say their feet would be not so nice.    It is not a very glamorous task that many would like to do.    

      So Jesus, in his last hours on earth, humbles himself like the lowest of slaves and washes the disciple’s feet.     In John 2:4 Jesus says my hour has not yet come.   In John 7:30 and 8:20 His hour had not yet come.   In John 12:23 the hour has come that the son of man should be glorified.    John 13:1 Jesus knew that his hour had come.   John 17:1 Father the hour has come.    From the human point of view a lot of suffering was going to come upon him but from the divine point of view it meant glory.   Jesus knew where he came from and where he was going.   Jesus knew his hour had come and that he would be betrayed and that he would die on the cross.    Wow   It is powerful when we know our God and walk with him and know our final state.   We know where we are going.  We know that God exists and we know our eternal state.    You know more than many of the people that you pass day by day.  Christians know about eternity and certainly have no fear of death.    That can give you and me strength and a little bit of zip in our lives.   How blessed we are as Christians.  

     This thought is so deep and so hard for us to grasp.   Here is the sinless creator God washing his self centered sinful disciple’s feet.  Jesus never gave up on his disciples.     In John 13:3 scripture says that Jesus knew that the father had put all things in his power.   Wow!     Jesus had all authority not only for everything on earth but in heaven.   Jesus said in Matt 28 I have all authority in heaven and on earth.    Everything was in his hands and yet he picks up a basin and towel and goes to work.    Wow.  Could you imagine Hitler or a great dictator washing the feet of others?    How about the president of the United States?    How about a general?    How would a general’s men feel about a general who washed their feet?   The tendency is to look down on a person who would do that.  However Christians would see that differently.     Here is almighty God our creator washing the disciple’s feet.   It is hard for us to imagine and it is hard for us to grasp.   When this grips people’s lives it just makes us want to serve.   It is an amazing act for God the creator to so humble himself and serve us.    Do you see the heart of God here?    Do you see the love of God for you in this passage?    This is such an example of humility and we need to embrace it and wrap our arms around it.  

   Why didn’t one of the disciples do that?   We have a clue from Luke 22 because Luke tells us about an argument that arose amongst them as to who would be greatest in the kingdom.   I suspect that none of them wanted to assume the position of washing the other’s feet.   In the disciples eyes it might have placed them at the bottom of the pecking order.   None of the disciples were secure enough in who they were to embrace the job of a servant.  None of them had the understanding of the great privilege it is to serve others.  How do you look at serving?   I think one reason Jesus washed the disciple’s feet was to teach them a new attitude about serving.  Jesus wanted to give them understanding that it is great honor to serve.  

      What was in the mind of our Lord as he washed the disciple’s feet?    Simon Peter was the rock and the spokesman for the disciples.   He was one of the inner 3 but Jesus knew that Peter was going to betray him and Jesus knew that all of his disciples would forsake him.    Peter would fail and not stand with Jesus in the last hours of Jesus life.    What was Jesus thinking when he washed John’s feet?    John was the disciple that Jesus loved.   And there was James.   James and John were the sons of thunder.  Call down fire on those guys Lord.    Thomas was the doubter.   After Jesus rose from the dead it was Thomas who said unless I touch you Lord I will not believe.   And there was Matthew the tax collector.  His name meant gift of God.   Jesus certainly gave him a new life.  I wonder if Jesus was thinking about how the disciple’s had missed the point of the last 3 or so years that he had spent with them.   Jesus modeled servant hood but the disciples did not get it.  People do not get it today.  Generally speaking we do not understand serving and how important it is to serve.    Jesus even tells them in this passage you do not know what I am doing now but later you will get it.   It is good to get it isn’t it?  

     And what did Jesus think when he washed Judas feet?    In a few minutes Judas leaves them.   In a few minutes Satan enters into Judas and Judas will betray Jesus.   Satan who tempted Jesus in the beginning of Jesus ministry as he fasted for 40 days and nights and Satan of course on the scene in Jesus last hours and in between also.   No rest from the enemy.   Jesus knows that he is going to be betrayed and Jesus tells the disciples.  One of you will betray me Jesus said.   How do you treat your enemy?   How did Jesus treat Judas?   Jesus washed his feet.   What kind of emotions and thoughts went through Jesus mind as he humbles himself before his betrayer?     How much love poured forth from Jesus to Judas?    Jesus shows us tremendous humility in this passage.   Generally speaking we shy away from our enemies.   Certainly most would not serve their enemies.   God in a sense serves every person every day even those that hate God.   God sends rain and sun light on the earth.   God grants life to all living.  Every good thing comes from God.    Jesus humbled himself and made himself of no reputation.   I think all of us would have to admit if we correctly thought about our self we would have to say that we at times were pretty stuck on our self at some time or other.  Jesus said the greatest is the servant of all.   In God’s eyes those that would be great will serve.  

     I think this is a great example of manliness.   Jesus was secure in his manhood.   He was secure in himself.   Usually in front of others we liked to be exalted and lifted up and yet Jesus takes the high road of humility and humbles himself to do the lowest of menial tasks.     He washed the disciple’s feet because he knew who he was and Jesus knew where he was going.      He was secure in himself.   He was not worried that his lordship would be challenged, lost or tarnished in any way.    He was not less of a man by serving.   Indeed he said the greatest would be the servant of all.  

    Jesus tells his disciples that they will be blessed if they do these things.   You will never be happy if your whole goal in life is to please or try to satisfy yourself.   This flesh that each of us has cannot be satisfied with the things of this world.  There is never enough money.  One rich man was asked how much money is enough and he answered just one more dollar.  There is never enough power or control.   There are never enough drugs or food or drink.   The flesh always wants more.   Jesus said if you know these things you will be blessed if you do them.