AGCC Sun. a.m. 9/22/96
TEXT: John 13:1-17
INTRO: In the market place of
today, everyone is scrambling to get the best jobs, with the best perks,
climbing the corporate ladder to a higher and higher position. You will not
likely find people looking for low positions if they have a choice. What makes a
company successful however, is not the executives at the top as much as it is
the workers at the bottom. It is the "servants" that make businesses
ILLUS: Dave Thomas, founder of WENDY'S HAMBURGERS is the only
founder among America's big companies whose picture in the corporate annual
report shows him wielding a mop and a plastic bucket. That wasn't a gag either,
it was done intentionally so that he could lead by example! At Wendy's an MBA
does not mean a "MASTER OF BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION, it means MOP BUCKET
ATTITUDE! Service at the lowest levels make for great success.
Jesus attempted to show His disciples more than just a "servant's heart"
in this incident, He was calling them to be ready to lay their lives on the line
for one another.
PROP. SENT: The Bible teaches us
that the fundamental nature of being a Christian is that of being a servant, to
the point of dying to self.
I. POSITION OF THE SAVIOR 13:1-5
A. Expression Of Hope 13:1
1. Luke's gospel account adds here that the disciples had just had a discussion
on which of them was the greatest! (see Luke 22:24-27)
a. In an atmosphere of his disciples arguing over which of them was to be
greatest in the kingdom Jesus decides to reveal to them the extent of
b. Time was drawing close to the cross...these guys needed to understand
the nature of being one of Jesus' disciples!
2. While present with them, Jesus was the leader, but soon He would return
to His father and leadership would have to be assumed by the disciples...
it was imperative that they understand the model of leadership Jesus had
3. Jesus' leadership was two fold:
a. Savior - in this role Jesus is willing to give Himself for all men, it is
this level of love that makes possible the second dynamic,
b. Servant - in this role Jesus models how love works, it seeks out other
people's good, not self.
c. It is the love that Jesus had that enabled Him to joyfully serve, even to
die for them... love colored everything Jesus did so that no matter how
terrible the ordeal, He faced it with "JOY" through love!
ILLUS: In Africa there is a fruit called the "TASTE BERRY", it is so named because it changes
a person's taste so that anything eaten tastes sweet and pleasant. Even if sour fruit or food is
eaten hours after consuming some of these "taste berries" it will taste sweet and delicious.
Eating these special berries can make eating something later that is bitter or sour taste great!
Love is like this... for Jesus it made it possible for Him to "WITH JOY ENDURE THE CROSS".
It is also what makes possible for us to serve
others with a right attitude!
B. Essence Of Humility 13:2-5
1. Jesus decides action would be better than speaking...while they argued over which of them would be greatest, Jesus grabs a towel and proceeds to wash their feet!
a. It is remarkable that nobody protests this! (Peter only does when Jesus
comes to him...nobody else protests however!)
b. Washing feet was suppose to be done when everyone arrived for a dinner, a slave would be responsible to do this for the invited guests, if the folks giving the dinner could not afford a slave, at the least a basin of water was provided so that each person could wash their own feet!
c. This job was considered so low, that a Hebrew slave could NOT be made
to wash feet if he protested it to his master, only non Hebrew slaves
could be forced to do this job!
(1. adds a new light on the woman who washed Jesus' feet with her
tears in Luke 7:35-50
(2. John the Baptist's comment when Jesus approached him falls into
this category too, when he said, "here comes one whose sandals I am
not worthy to unloose"...the idea was to remove the sandals in order
to wash the feet...John did not consider himself even high enough to do the lowliest task of a non-Hebrew slave!!!
d. It is quite remarkable that the Son of God would take such a position!
2. Jesus understood that humility is not just an IDEA to hold to, or an
ATTITUDE, it is also an IDENTIFICATION and an ACTION!
ILLUS: John Cardinal O'Connor of New York, living in the chaotic environment of New York
said this: "I've come to realize that unless you have a very close relationship with God and
unless you personally are living as exemplary a life as you can, then what you say to people
isn't going to have much of an
3. It is also interesting here that Jesus knew that Judas was betraying Him,
yet Jesus washes all 12 men's feet....
a. He doesn't wash Judas' feet any different than the other 11!
b. Jesus' love reaches out equally to the evil and the good!
II. PRIDE OF THE STUBBORN 13:6-11
A. Encountering A Hurdle! 13:6-8
1. Peter believing he knows better than Jesus protests what Jesus is about
to do to him!
a. Peter usually had a problem seeing things the way God sees them... a
problem no doubt many of us struggle with often!
b. Peter isn't attempting to understand what Jesus is trying to show them,
his mind is on other things!
2. Pride is the essence of believing we know better than God...and will even
make us attempt to correct God or give Him counsel!
3. Man's arrogance is always evident when he believes he knows better than
ILLUS: A young man was standing with a crowd waiting for a bus right outside a taxidermist's
shop. They were all looking in the widow at the displays. In the center of the window there
was a large owl that attracted everyone's attention. the self-appointed expert began to criticize the job done on the owl. He said, "If I couldn't do better than that, I'd find another
business. Just look at it. The head is out of
proportion, the pose of the body is unnatural, and the feet are pointed in the
wrong direction." Just as he finished saying this, the owl turned his head and
gave the man a broad wink...the crowd laughed as the critic sank...the owl was
very much alive!
4. Jesus insists to Peter than unless Peter changes his mind...there was no
hope for him!
a. Man cannot save himself by his own ways, to do so will end up tragically.
b. It is only the arrogance of man that he believes he is all right without
God's help, that he need not do things God's way!
B. Expression Of Haste! 13:9-11
1. Peter still misses the point...and he goes from directing Jesus not to do
something, to doing more than is needed!
a. Peter is still thinking what he wants rather than what God wants!
b. This is always the essence of how we get into trouble spiritually!
2. The problem was that Peter just wasn't thinking spiritually at all, he was
thinking only in the natural!
a. Here is a disciple, a leader among men, and he isn't thinking from God's
b. Peter and the others are oblivious to Jesus' example here and what it
3. Yet, Jesus still ministers....
a. Had they understood, they might have been humbled by Jesus' example
b. Jesus does not raise us to be celebrities, but servants!
ILLUS: Colonel Irwin after returning from space back to Earth became very aware of God in
his life. He describes later how he felt humbled by God's goodness, saying this, "As I was
returning to Earth, I realized that I was a servant,...not a celebrity. So I am here, as God's
servant on planet Earth to share what I
have experienced that others might know the glory of
4. Christ served us by His death so that we might be made clean by His
act, not by our own acts of righteousness!
III. POWER OF THE SERVANT 13:12-17
A. Example Of Hope! 13:12-16
1. Once Jesus had finished His task, He again dressed and assumed His place.
a. In the same way He put off His clothes and put them back on again, He
would lay down His life and take it up again.
b. Assuming the role of "teacher" again, Jesus asks them if they understand what He did.
2. This is still the ultimate question by God for all men... "Do we understand
what Jesus has done for us?"
a. It was imperative that they understand not only what Jesus did for them, but what it is that He was calling them to!
b. Do we really have an understanding today of what Christ has done for
us and what it is He calls us to?
3. Jesus had set for them an example, one He hoped they would follow...
a. but they wouldn't follow what they didn't understand!
b. It is imperative that we study God's Word so that we can understand
what God is all about, and what we are suppose to be all about!
4. Jesus realized that all His teaching alone would not help, they needed an
example in order to fully understand God and His ways..
a. this is true today too
b. What have people understood about God from watching your example?
c. do other new Christians know what to do based on your example?
ILLUS: Some years back there was a missionary doctor on a lonely village station. He was a
very able doctor, but an even better example of what it means to be a Christian...and many
people were saved and were willing to be baptized i n water, a rare event in that difficult area
of the world. As one man was about to be baptized, the doctor would ask questions to test the
simple faith of those he was going to baptize, and this one man answered pretty good, but he
added a powerful statement in the end.... he answered the doctor's question with, "I believe in
God almighty, and in the Lord Jesus.....and sahib, I believe in you!" Thus he demonstrated the
example of Jesus here to lay down our lives in
service to others that they might see God!
5. Jesus' example was more than just serving, it was laying down His life for
a. If all Christians lived this way the world would be transformed easily!
b. There is power in dying to self and living for others!
B. Experiencing Happiness! 13:17
1. Notice how Jesus closes off this lesson: They would be "blessed" (Happy)
if they did 2 things:
a. by knowing these things
b. by doing these things
2. The statement Jesus makes combines the two, it does not separate them!
3. Happiness is the result on both knowing what is right and doing what is
a. this is why there are many unhappy people today...many people know
what is right...they just don't do it!
b. And there are even some people who may do what is right before God but don't know about God and they too miss out on full happiness!
c. Real happiness comes from knowing and doing!
4. Those who transform the world for the better are those who have learned
this secret from Christ...
ILLUS: Robert Speer several years ago was being entertained by the president of a small college in the South. The school had limited guest facilities, so this president of the institution offered him his apartment. The next morning he was awakened by a noise of
someone tiptoeing into the room, but he laid there with his eyes nearly closed so he could
see but not give away his position of being awake. What he saw was the president of the
college quietly walking up to his shoes and sneaking out with them very quietly. He got out
of bed and looked out into the hall where he could see this college president polishing his
shoes. He remarked that the sight of this nearly made him cry. He realized what a great man
this president was...and sure enough, many years later that same college president rose to
national prominence. Those who are not afraid to do small things for God will eventually be
used by God to do great things!
5. Christ's example of love in dying for us, and in serving us should compel
us to do no less!
a. How unlike the spirit of the age in which we live this teaching of Jesus
b. How well have we learned to serve others?
6. Can we do any less than Christ Himself!?
CONCLUSION: Jesus put on a
servant's towel and washed all 12 disciples' feet and then asked them, "do you
understand what I have done for you?" He wasn't asking if they just UNDERSTOOD what He was teaching as much as He was asking
them if they were ready to UNDERTAKE the role He
showed them! How about you, do you only BELIEVE
you're a servant, or are you also BEHAVING like a