- Sermon Notes
How to Get Really Blessed
As we come to John chapter 13, Jesus is alone with His disciples. He has entered into Jerusalem with a great multitude as they were shouting, “Blessed
is He who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” Immediately after entering Jerusalem, Jesus went into the temple, braided a whip
and chased out the money changers who were taking advantage of those coming to worship, saying, “My Father’s house is to be a house of prayer, but
you have turned it into a den of robbers!”
In chapter 13, Jesus is having Passover supper with the disciples. He literally has only hours left with them before He will be arrested. This is one of the last opportunities He has to speak into their lives.
What would you do if you had one last opportunity to say something before you departed? “Let’s review the high points, shall be?” you might want to say. Maybe this is an opportunity to put someone in charge, promote someone.
Jesus doesn’t do that either. In fact, to get a little context into what’s happening here, we need to bring in Luke’s account in Luke 22 where we read that there arose a dispute among them as to which one of them was regarded to be greatest.
Jesus went on to explain that His Father had granted Him a kingdom and that He is granting them that they may eat and drink it His table in His kingdom and that they would sit on thrones judging the 12 tribes of Israel.
But His kingdom is distinctly different than the kingdoms of this world. In the world, people love places of honor and if someone has authority they love to ‘lord’ it over those under them. They love being important and having an entourage of people to serve them.
And then He said, “But it is not this way with you.” He then went on to teach them how to become the greatest in the kingdom of God. He showed them how to be truly blessed. In verse 17 Jesus said, “If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.”
So how does a person become the greatest in the kingdom of God? Answer; by being like the King. Jesus also said, “I am among you as one who serves.” In other words, the way to become great in the kingdom of God is by becoming a servant; and with the heart of a servant comes the blessings of God. Proverbs 29:23, “A man’s pride will bring him low, but a humble spirit will obtain honor.”
Jesus is then going to give them a living example. He rose from supper, laid aside His garments; and taking a towel, He girded Himself with it. Jesus then poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which he was girded.
It’s helpful to know something about that time and culture to put it in perspective. It was customary for a host to provide a basin of water and a lowly servant to wash the feet of any guests he brings into his home.
Their feet were particularly dirty, much more than ours. We wear socks and shoes and walk on sidewalks and carpeted floors. They had no sidewalks, only dirt streets with animals walking through them; you get where I’m going with this.
Dirty feet stink. Why? first of all, because of sweat. Your feet have more than 250,000 sweat glands, among the most perspiring parts of the body. In one day, each foot can produce more than a pint of sweat! The smell is actually caused by bacteria that eats the sweat and excretes waste that has a strong odor. That smell that hits you is all the bacteria excretion that’s collected on your feet and in your socks and shoes. They wore leather sandals and leather is a perfect breeding ground for all that bacteria. In other words, washing feet was not a job people would aspire to have.
I. Here’s God’s Heart, “I wash feet”
- You no doubt have heard the expression, “I don’t do windows.” What does that mean? It’s not just something people say who use Apple computers, it means, I won’t lower myself to clean windows.
- The problem is that this is the heart of the world. They were just arguing about which of them was the greatest; probably having something to do with the seating arrangement at the table. Where you sat indicated your relative importance.
- But this is the world in their hearts. Jesus is asking them to desire greatness in God’s eyes rather than in the eyes of men. Let God honor you, let God promote you, stop trying to promote yourself.
- If you want a heart after God, if you want to follow after Jesus, take on His heart to serve.
- It’s one thing to serve when you’re practically doing it anyway. “Can you drop this off on your way to the store?” “Sure, no problem, I’m going there anyway.”
- But what if it’s not convenient? What if it’s not pleasant? What if you’re eating dinner and someone interrupts with an important need?
2 Timothy 2:3, Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.
- Can you imagine a soldier being instructed to do something and then responding,, “I’m having dinner right now.” Or, “That’s below my pay grade.”
- As soldier is also a picture of long-suffering. Serving sometimes is a long term commitment. I remember living with a family and I wanted to do something for them. I had no idea how long that would take.
Illus - When they entered that upper room, any one of the disciples could have volunteered to wash the others feet, but not one of them made the slightest move; so the room was filled with proud hearts and dirty feet. They were willing to fight for position of greatness, but not for a towel.
When we were in Africa, they had a tradition of having a servant girl hold a basin while another servant poured water to wash the pastor’s hands before a meal.
- What an opportunity to teach the heart of Christ. Afterword, they were jostling for who would pour the water and hold the basin.
- Jesus made serving an honor and people who are mature in the Lord know this.
B. Jesus easily identified Himself as a servant
- In verse 3, Jesus, knowing that the Father has given all things into His hands, and that He had come forth from God, and was going back to God…
- This is powerful; He knew all these things about Himself, and then easily identified Himself with the position of a servant.
- Jesus is saying that the same should be true of us. Know what God has done for you, know where you are going, and find your identity in being a servant.
- What a powerful picture Jesus gives us here. People’s lives are dirty and messy and Jesus laid aside His garments, dressed as a servant, and washed their feet. When He suffered and was beaten for our sins, He was the greatest servant of all; He took our burdens on Himself.
C. We need our attitude washed
- In verses 6-9, Jesus came to Simon Peter. He said to Him, “Lord, do You wash my feet?”
- Jesus responded that Peter would understand the significance of this later, but Peter actually said, “Never shall You wash my feet!”
- What was Peter saying? It’s this; “This thing is out of order. My feet get taken care of by Gentile servants, not Jewish masters.”
- He’s not just saying to Jesus, “You’re better than that.” He’s also saying, I’m better than that. If you want to humiliate yourself with the others, fine, but I’ll have no part of it.Jesus responded, “Then you have no part of Me.”
- When Jesus responded, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.” Peter immediately took hold of it, “In that case, wash also my hands and my head.”
- There are a lot of people like Peter that need their attitudes washed by Jesus. The “pride of life” is not from God, it’s from the world. They don’t want Jesus to wash their feet, or their attitude, and they don’t want to get involved in dirty, messy things by washing other’s people’s feet either.
Illus - We are more than willing to blow our kids’ nose. Is this because a kid with a runny nose makes us look bad? Would you be willing to clean the nose someone who couldn’t take care of himself? Changing your own kid’s diaper? Sure, we don’t want anyone thinking poorly of our child. What about others?
I remember when we were visiting friends and our youngest daughter started to throw up; I was more than willing to put my hands out, but what about someone else?
Luke 10:27, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength…”
- How do you love God with your strength? It’s when you use your strength to serve, especially when it’s inconvenient, when it’s very humbling.
- It takes spiritual strength to wash dirty feet; it takes spiritual strength to forgive when you’re still hurt.
II. Be an Example of a Servant
- In verse 12 and following Jesus explains that He gave us an example; that we also should do as Jesus did.
- It’s important to see that Jesus said, “as I did” not, “what I did.” In other words, Jesus is not telling them to start a new religious ceremony, He’s telling them to have the heart of the servant and be willing to do the unpleasant things, the difficult things, the things no one else wants to do, because that’s the same heart Jesus has toward us.
- I say that because many churches have indeed a foot washing ceremony and thus a religious result.
- But what was the example Jesus gave us?
A. Serving is the way of greatest blessing
- Jesus went on to say that a servant is not greater than his master. In other words, if your master and teacher is a servant, you are not greater than Him; you should also be a servant.
- He then said that if you know these things, you are blessed if you do them. In other words, this is the way of greatest blessing.
- But not only should you serve because you’re following His example, you should also be an example so that others can follow you.
- There is a great spiritual principle at work here. If you try to save your life by always favoring yourself, you will lose it; to be the greatest, you must be the least and the servant of all; and you are blessed when you bless others. It comes back to you.
- But God is at work in it, that’s why it’s the way of greatest blessing. God pours out His favor on those with a heart like His; a heart to serve.
Matthew 5:7, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.”
Illus - Can you imagine a church filled with people who serve? Can you imagine a marriage in which both truly serve each other? Maybe the husband should get up early and make the coffee instead of the wife; after all, it’s actually in the bible that the man should make coffee…
Illus – This is why I prefer being a pastor rather than a Reverend, that’s a title I can’t stand. Pastors love, serve and care for the sheep. They get involved in messy lives. Leaders must be an example of serving.
Many years ago I came into the church lobby and smelled something bad. I realized the problem; the sewer was backing up from the street. To make matters worse, the Wednesday service was starting in just over an hour. I knew this was something I had to do, but what a blessing to see how many were willing to help.
- Jesus gave an example and then said, you do the same and you are blessed if you do them.
- Anger begets anger.
Luke 6:45, “The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.”
- Let grace also produce grace.
Colossians 4:6, Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned, as it were, with salt, so that you may know how you should respond to each person.
- Jesus didn’t just wash the feet of Peter, or John, or Luke, but he also washed the feet of Judas, whom he knew would betray him.
John 13:1-17 NASB