Last week we looked at this passage of Scripture to see the reason for service. Jesus was moved to action by three things. He knew His hour had come, He loved His own, and He knew the enemy. The same three things should motivate our service for the Lord.
Tonight I want us to look a bit farther into this passage and see what it really means to serve. Remember, the disciples had been arguing over who would be the greatest in the kingdom. There was strife between them. "And when the ten heard it, they began to be much displeased with James and John." (Mark 10:41) Jesus knew that His hour had come, but the disciples were involved in a power struggle. Letís look at the act, the explanation, and then the application.
I. The Act. v4-11
A. Demonstration of Royal service. (4-5)
1. The service was royal because it was being performed by Jesus Christ, the Son of God Himself.
2. He and He alone is Lord of lords and King of kings.
3. Jesus knew who He was, yet He humbled Himself.
4. Note exactly what is said. v3
a. Jesus knew that the Father had given all things into His hands.
b. All power, authority, glory and honor was His.
c. Jesus knew that He had come from God and He knew that He was going to be returning to God to take His place at the right hand of God very soon.
5. Yet He, who was King of kings and Lord of lords, laid aside His clothing and began to wash the feet of men.
a. The Master became the slave.
b. The Highest took the place of the lowest.
c. He even washed the feet of the one who would betray Him and the one who would deny Him.
6. Note the Scriptures:
"Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many." (Mt. 20:28)
"But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve. For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? is not he that sitteth at meat? but I am among you as he that serveth." (Luke 22:26-27)
"For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith." (Rom 12:3)
"Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up." (James 4:10)
B. The misunderstanding of that service. (6-11)
1. When Jesus approached Peter to wash his feet, he protested.
a. Jesus told him that he didnít understand what was happening, but that he would understand it all later.
b. Note Peterís foolish response. v8.
c. "Thou shalt never wash my feet..."
d. Beware of using 100% words!
2. Jesus rebukes Peter for his response.
a. Peter now wants Jesus to give him a bath. "...not my feet only, but also my hands and my head..."
b. Peter once again reveals that he doesnít have a clue to what is going on.
c. Jesus, once again, uses a common picture to illustrate a spiritual truth.
d. As they traveled on the dusty roads their feet became dirty, and they needed to be cleansed.
e. They didnít need a complete bath, but just their feet needed washing.
3. Most men misunderstand the mission and service of Christ.
a. He came to wash and cleanse men from their sin and death, from condemnation and hell.
b. He came to cleanse men in His blood that they might be acceptable in God eternally.
c. He came to cleanse men that they might be fit to serve God, both now and forever.
4. Jesusí washing had a spiritual meaning: He was teaching them about the need for daily forgiveness.
a. Once a man is washed, he is already cleansed. v10
b. Peter had already been cleansed; therefore, he did not need another bath (experience of being saved and cleansed).
c. But note what was needed: his feet needed to be cleansed.
d. As he walked through the dust of the world, he needed to ask Jesus to cleanse him from the pollution which he had picked up.
e. "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." 1 John 1:9
5. Peter did not understand at first, but he did after Jesusí death and resurrection.
"Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed." cf 1 Pe. 2:24
"For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:" cf 1 Pe. 3:18
III. The Application. [12-17]
A. The servant of Jesus must serve Him as Master and Lord. v13
1. A follower of Jesus is more than just someone who believes in Him.
2. He is to be a servant (slave).
a. As such he does not act on his own or do his own thing.
b. He is a slave with absolutely no rights of his own.
c. He is at the beck and call of his Master...to do His will.
d. He exists solely to serve Jesus and Him alone.
B. The servant of Jesus is to serve other believers also.
1. Jesus set the example for us. v14-16
a. Rather than strive with one another about position and rank.
b. We are to serve one another in humility.
c. We are to minister to their physical needs and to their spiritual needs.
d. Note the Scriptures:
"A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another." cf John 13:34
"For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another." cf Galatians 5:13
"Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted." cf Galatians 6:1
"And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christís sake hath forgiven you." cf Eph 4:32
C. The servant of Jesus serves in happy obedience
1. Once again, it isnít enough to know what to do...we must do it!
2. It is one thing to be willing to serve Jesus, but to do so we must forgive and serve one another!
3. It is only in our obedience to the Word of God that we can find true happiness.
Many lessons for us to learn from this passage of Scripture. Jesus is teaching us what service is all about. It isnít in gaining recognition for what we do...it isnít about position or status...it is about forgiveness, humility, and obedience!
Are we serving Christ?