I Have Given You an Example

John 13:1-17

Jesus’ Humility

So much of culture is about self-promotion.

key to good job: resume that promotes self better than other contenders

key to good commission: pushing product that gratifies self-interest, self-desire

key to feeling good: elevate self above others

key to political office: make self look better than competition

If anyone could expect to have a good job, a good reward, a good feeling of accomplishment, a good office – would be the Lord Jesus. If anyone had right to be served by others – would be the Lord Jesus. If anyone had opportunity and cause to put others in their proper place – would be the Lord Jesus. Picture John gives of what took place that night shows actions of a servant, one much occupied with needs of others rather than self.

Jesus had authority to command his followers. In fact, the Maundy in Maundy Thursday comes from the Latin root mandatum, or commandment, taken from Jesus’ words in John 13:34:

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.

Command was given in a context, what we’ve just read – Jesus giving example of humble servanthood that loves others more than self.

A. loved – we can love Christ and one another

loved to the end (1)

didn’t slack off as he approached the end of ministry to followers

loved his enemy (2)

“It goes without comment that one of those having his feet bathed was Judas the betrayer.”

loved knowing his destiny (3)

knew the time had come (1)

knew what Judas would do (2)

knew he had all authority, would return to Father to exercise it (3)

divine origin, divine destiny

loved in deed (4)

others in the room would argue over greatness (Luke 22:24f)

the truly greatest condescended to demonstrate servant-love

same consideration for his betrayer and denier as any of the rest

disciples couldn’t tell from Jesus’ behavior who would betray – had to ask (v.25)

what about us?

love knows no limits regardless of where we are in life or ministry

Jesus said “love your enemies, do good to those who hate you” (Matt. 5:44)

showed us what that looks like in his loving treatment of Judas and Peter

child of God knows his destiny – should motivate us to love others into the kingdom

B. cleansed – we can love Christ and edify one another (1 Thess. 5:11; Heb. 10:24)

their feet (5)

most menial of tasks – delegated to Gentiles whenever possible, never anyone above rank of slave

love doesn’t care about class – no task is beneath one acting in love

clean feet for the disciples wasn’t the big idea – it’s an object lesson being acted out

their attitude (6-8)

something beneath their dignity should also be same for Jesus

wrong attitude result of misunderstanding, soon to be remedied

one who refuses to learn from, acquiesce to will of teacher cannot serve teacher

their understanding (9-11)

if Jesus is giving out a good thing, take all we can get

still didn’t understand full significance

Jesus gives explanation with multiple connections

cultural – take a bath at home, wash feet at destination

religious – Aaron and sons thoroughly washed, given new clothes at time of consecration to office; laver between altar and tabernacle for washing feet and hands (Ex. 40:30-32)

spiritual – signifying heart condition: essential uncleanness removed at conversion; incidental uncleanness from daily contact with sin needs daily removal

Jesus’ main point – the spiritual one, by virtue of reference to Judas

“The washing of the feet was typical of the daily purification of the soul from the travel stains of pilgrimage.” Merrill Tenney

what about us?

build one another up by helping apply biblical principles to life

by encouraging love and good works among brethren

reminding brothers and sisters of free forgiveness for those who repent

C. served – we can serve Christ and one another

taught (12-14)

what he did

humbled himself

Lord and Teacher washed feet

why he did it

because he loved

because they needed to love / serve

showed (15)

how to do it

get dirty if you need to

challenged (16-17)

how to think about self

how to think about Christ

now go do it!

what about us?

can’t let rank get in the way

servants should reproduce themselves – too much work to do for it to be otherwise

effective reproducing requires teaching and showing

we serve Christ by serving one another – doing his work as he enables us for benefit of his people

Let’s go back to v.10-11 for a moment: Jesus told Peter…. True, was using a physical example – taking a bath, washing feet. But,… was making spiritual point, one that applies just as much to us as to men in that upper room. Should prompt each of us to ask the question: do I need just my feet washed or do I really need a bath?

Judas went through all the outward motions of Christianity, belief in Christ. Jesus even washed his feet, but his heart had never been changed.

Have you been to Jesus for the cleansing power?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
Are you fully trusting in His grace this hour?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?

Lay aside the garments that are stained with sin,
And be washed in the blood of the Lamb;
There’s a fountain flowing for the soul unclean,
O be washed in the blood of the Lamb!

If you have never trusted in God’s grace to save you through faith in Christ, no time like the present. Repent (turn away from) your sins, turn to Christ in faith as the only one who can save you, seek his forgiveness and determine in his strength to follow him. If you have been washed in the blood of the Lamb, seek his daily cleansing often by confessing your sin and receiving his forgiveness (1 John 1:9). Then come to the Table with a pure heart, demonstrating your union with Christ and fellowship with brothers and sisters.


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