John 13:1-20 JESUS: THE SERVANT

Last chapel we encountered Jesus the King in John chapter 12 verses 12-19. Today, in chapter 13 verses 1-20 I want us to see how John portrays Jesus as the Servant. The setting is the Jewish Passover meal and it is the last meal the disciples will share with Jesus before His crucifixion. Jesus knows that his time left with them is limited and so he takes the opportunity to teach His followers a lesson about servanthood. Jesus reveals His heart and mission, and this lesson he taught to the twelve disciples still speaks to us today. Through this object lesson Jesus shows them that He did not come to be served, but to serve.

In this lesson Jesus teaches his disciples that he is a servant of men and he also shows us what kind of heart attitude we are to have for others. These verses teach us that it is God’s will for us to give ourselves in service to others. So, as we study these verses today, I want you to be challenged. Allow God to show you as you really are. Let’s begin by looking at our passage to see what it says. The first thing that I want you to see is, what Jesus did. What was His purpose? We will discover this as we look at verses 1-5 and 18-20.

We are told in verse 1 that Jesus is fully aware that he is coming to the end of his earthly ministry. He knows that he will soon suffer and die on the cross for the sins of humanity. Even though he knows all that is about to happen to him, he still loves his disciples. Notice that this verse says, “He loved them to the end”. Jesus loved the disciples perfectly, without conditions, and eternally. His love never faltered, even during this, which is probably His most difficult time.

This should be a great encouragement to us. Because the same love with which he loved the disciples is also the same kind of love he has for us. The apostle Paul tells us in Romans 8: 38-39 that the love of Jesus is so strong and lasting that, “…neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. We can be confident that no matter what happens in the life of a Christian, we are loved perfectly, unconditionally, and eternally by the Almighty God.

          We learn more about the life and purpose of Jesus in verse 3. We are told that He came from God in order to live a sinless life so that His sacrifice would be sufficient to pay for the sins of mankind. Do you remember last chapel when we learned that Jesus came with one purpose and that purpose was to die? At this point in John’s gospel, He has accomplished everything the Father has sent him to do except that final action of dying on the cross. It tells us at the end of verse 3 that, once he has accomplished this final act, He will return to his Father in heaven and share in the glory he had with the God the Father and God the Holy Spirit.

We are reminded in Romans 5: 6-8 that, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us”. That is the unchangeable, undeniable proof of His love. Now you may ignore everything I have said to you since our first chapel together way back in November of last year. You may disbelieve everything that God has ever done for you. Maybe you just think of it as ‘luck’ or ‘chance’. But you will never be able to deny the fact that Jesus died for you on the cross. The cross testifies to the great love of God for you and me.

There is no more impactful image of Jesus’ love for those he came to save, other than his willingness to die on the cross, than in verses 4 and 5. Here, Jesus, who is the master, their teacher, their leader, their King, does the work of a common household slave. In the culture of those days it was the custom that upon entering a house a slave would wash the guest’s feet. If this service was not provided the host would be thought of as uncivilized and inhospitable. Jesus and his disciples were very poor so there was probably no servant who could perform this task. So, Jesus Himself bends down on his knees and begins to wash their feet.

This must have caused a lot of gasps to come from the disciples. Imagine the looks of amazement and even horror as their Lord washed their dirty feet one after another. But that is not the most incredible thing that is taking place here. You see, Jesus was also doing something here that only one of the disciples would have known about. He was washing the feet of the man who would, that very same evening, betray him and hand him over to His enemies.

Now some of you may say, “See! The life of Judas proves that a person can lose their salvation”. But, as it tells us in John 6:64, “Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him”. Jesus already knew that Judas was not one of His true followers. Just because Satan "put" the thought into Judas' heart to betray the Lord does not suggest that Judas was somehow saved and then lost his salvation.

However, I think we would be wasting our time together if all we did was focus on some minor theological issue. I would like to spend the time looking at the great truth that is taught here. That truth is, despite the fact that Jesus knew Judas’ plan (to betray Him), and knew his motivation (money), He still loved Him and gave Him several opportunities to repent before it was too late. Even up to this point, Judas could still have repented and been saved. Jesus reveals repeatedly to Judas, especially in verses 18 and 20, that He knows what he is planning. Jesus many times gave Judas an opportunity to accept him as the Christ. By washing his feet, Jesus even served Judas as a slave would his master. His love never failed!

This is the lesson for every one of us here today in this chapel. Please know that the love of Jesus for each and every one of you will never end. No matter how many times some of you may reject him you will never be able to turn off His love for you. In fact, He has already humbled Himself and served you by dying on the cross for your sins.

Then in verses 6-11 we read of some incredible things are said between Jesus and one of his closest disciples. We will find that these same words are also applicable to all of us here today.

When it is the apostle Peter’s turn to have his feet washed by Jesus. He is shocked! He just cannot bring himself to believe that Jesus would want to serve him also. This amazes me whenever I read this verse. Because I think about all that Jesus has done for me, all that he is doing and will do. All I have ever deserved is His wrath! If it wasn’t for His great love, then we would all be in Hell at this moment. I thank God that He has given us what we do not deserve, He has given us salvation. Not because we deserve it but because of His great mercy and love, as Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.

   In verse 8 Peter responds to Jesus by saying, “No,”…“you shall never wash my feet.” In other words, he is saying, “you will never, no, never wash my feet. Peter is actually being disobedient here because the first rule of discipleship is obedience and by refusing to submit to Jesus Peter is disobeying the Lord’s command. In response to Peter’s false humility Jesus gently tells him that, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.” He is reminding Peter of the truth that, unless a man is willing to submit to the commandments of the Lord, he can have no fellowship with the Lord.

After hearing what Jesus tells him in verse 8 Peter replies, “Then, Lord,” … “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!” What he means is, "If washing my feet will bring me closer to you, then don't stop there, but wash all of me!" We see that Peter’s motivation was to get closer to the Lord. Does that thought move you? If you are in a right relationship with God, it will! If you are a Christian and find that you are not motivated to get closer to God, then that shows that you need to improve your walk with the Lord.

Jesus explains to Peter what he means in verses 10 and 11. If a person, who has just washed their entire body, goes out into the street and then gets their feet dirty. Then all they need to do after is wash just their feet. This is awesome news for those of us who are struggling under the weight of our sin. Because what it means for us is that, at the exact time we trusted in Jesus as our Savior, He completely and forever cleansed us from our sins - Rev. 1:5 says that Jesus has, “has freed us from our sins by his blood.” However, in our daily life, we are weak and tend to fall into sin and therefore we need cleansing. But that does not mean we need to be saved all over again because that was already accomplished by Christ on the cross and can never be repeated again. But, we do need to be cleansed from the stain that is caused by each particular sin we commit thereafter in our daily walk.

It is at this point where 1 John 1:7 - 2:2 is most relevant, But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us. 2 My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.

Jesus is teaching us clearly that we do not need to get re-saved every time we sin, but we do need to come to Him for forgiveness and to have our fellowship with God restored. By repeatedly sinning even though you know you shouldn’t you are just increasing the distance between you and the Lord. Let me tell you how to experience true spiritual joy. Confess your sins, the instant you are made aware of them by the Holy Spirit, before the throne of His grace. Only then will you experience the truth that, Jesus is still washing feet even today!

III. V. 12-17 The Servant’s Wisdom

In verses 12-15 by this action of washing the disciples’ feet Jesus was showing us what he expected from all of His followers. He expects us, while we are living our lives, to serve one another. In Luke 22:24 we read that earlier, during this meal, the disciples had been arguing about who would be the first in the Kingdom of Heaven.

By his example Jesus is reminding them that true greatness is a great paradox. You can never force people to obey you but you must earn the respect of others by first being a servant. Jesus taught His disciples in Mark 10:42-44, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 43 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.

 

Jesus teaches His disciples that the path to greatness is through humility. There are others great paradoxes of the faith such as; The way to life is through death, the way to get is to give, the way to greatness is by becoming a servant to others. Unfortunately, we don’t see many genuine servant leaders these days. Everyone, it seems, is looking to get all they can. But this kind of attitude is utterly different to that of Jesus. He was willing to make Himself the servant of all, and therefore, God has exalted Him and given Him a name that is above every name.

          The lesson here is simple. If Jesus was willing to be a servant, then all of His followers ought to be willing to serve as well.

Matt 5:43-48

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Can any of us, honestly say this morning that we consider everyone the same? Not, if you dislike someone, or if you if you remember every little insult against you. And definitely not if you think you are better than others.

Finally, in verse 17, Jesus tells us that if we know these things, we will be "happy" if we do them! Remember that “Happy” is synonymous with "Blessed." When we do what Jesus commands us to do then we can be confident that He will bless us. On the other hand, we learn in James 4:17 that, “If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.”

Why do we seem to find it so difficult to serve others? It was as natural to Jesus as breathing is to you and me. We need to be more concerned with our neighbour’s wellbeing than we are of our own. We need to be more concerned with the advancement of others than with our own. I admit that I have a lot of work to do in this area!

Conc: Jesus left us a wonderful example to follow. He lived His life in service to others. If you were to honestly examine the whole of your life now, could you say that you have always considered others first. Could you say that you are trying to follow Jesus’ example to the best of your ability? Or perhaps you would confess that you are more like one of His disciples and you, more often than not, do what is best for you first. Whatever your need dear brothers and sisters, know that there is hope and help in the Lord Jesus Christ.

          Some of you here this morning may identify more with Judas. You are here at this chapel this morning and you have experienced, through this university, all the blessings of Christianity. Unfortunately, like Judas you have never truly been saved by the faith in the Lord Jesus. You may call yourself a Christian, but deep down in your heart you know that you do not really know Him. Well the good news is that, there is hope for you too! Like Judas, Jesus loves you and will save you if you will come to Him right now.

Prayer: Father help each one of to respond to your Holy Word as You want. For some it is to ask you through prayer to help us to develop a servant's heart. For others it is to remind us to be more obedient to the truth that we know. And still for others it is your plea that they respond to you on their knees and confess that they need you more than anything else in their lives. Whatever, you say to us may our response be to honour and glorify Your name above all others. In Your Name we pray, Amen.