Summary: This sermon reminds us that we need to aim higher in our service to God and others by being willing to serve as Jesus did.
AIMING HIGHER BY STOOPING LOWER
ILL> When I was a kid growing up in Zanesville, our preacher liked to go coon hunting. The one that he hunted with the most was Jim , who was the father of my best friend.
Our preacher, Tony, used to tell a story about their coon hunting. It seems that Jim prided himself on getting a treed coon down with a single shot from a 22. Tony decided to play a trick and adjusted the sights so it would shoot a little low.
One night they were out hunting and pretty soon the dogs took off. They ran and ran until they gave the signal that a coon had been treed. Jim took the gun and set the sights on that old coon. When he shot, nothing happened. Jim couldn’t believe that he had missed. He shot again, and hit the branch the coon was sitting on. He shot a couple more times and missed each time. Jim simply couldn’t believe it.
About that time, as Tony told the story, that coon got real nervous and started running down the tree. All the time the dogs are barking. It ran across the ground toward Tony and ran right up his legs and perched himself on Tony’s head. Jim said, "Don’t move. I’ll get him!"
Tony saw the 22 aiming right at his head. He began to scream, "Aim higher! Aim higher!"
A. Now I’m not so sure that all of that story is true, but I do think that we miss out on a lot of God’s blessings because we aim too low.
ILL> Like one fellow said, "Aim at nothing and you’ll hit it every time."
ILL> "Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll still be among the stars."
We may shoot too low in our relationships
We take each other for granted
You may shoot too low in your school grades–I know some kids could get A’s with a little effort but are satisfied to get C’s.
Sometimes we may shoot too low in what we can accomplish as God’s Church. We think to little of ourselves, and we think too little of God. It was a lack of faith that kept the Israelites out of the Pormise Land and caused them to wander in the desert for 40 years. It was a lack of faith that caused a stalemate between the Israelite army and the Philistine army–at least until David got on the scene. He realized something–AIM HIGH, but first you must STOOP LOW
B. In the passage we are looking at today, Jesus tells that we need to AIM HIGHER by STOOPING LOWER
READ: John 13:1-11
I> BE WILLING TO BE SERVED - Verses 4-5
Two things we need to understand
#1 - Foot washing was a common practice
In those days they only wore sandals–feet would get dirty from walking around all day on the dusty roads. Common practice in every Jewish home to have a basin of water and towel ready at the door to clean the dust off their feet. This was a sign of respect from the host to the guests.
#2 - Foot washing was considered to be a menial task.
The host would have never been caught washing someone’s feet, this was considered to be a very menial task. It was a job that was so looked down upon that the Jewish slaves were not even required to do it–it was a task that was reserved for the Gentile slaves.
This explains why none of the disciples got up to wash the feet of the others. Here they were sitting around the room. (Side note–it was not customary to sit around a table like you see in paintings of the Lord’s Supper). They were sitting around the room discussing who was the greatest. To get down on the floor and begin washing feet would have admitted defeat.
In a sense we may do the same thing by the clothes we wear, the jewelry we put on, the cars we drive, the positions we occupy" "Look at me! I am worth something. I’m somebody!"
ILL> It seems that there was a synagogue in which a thoughtful rabbi, thinking he was alone, offered the prayer "Oh Lord God, I am nothing." Overhearing this, the cantor was impressed and offered the same prayer. Both of these prayers were overheard by the janitor who was deeply moved. Yet, when he offered this prayer, the cantor leaned over to the rabbi and whispered "Look who thinks he’s nobody."
Jesus got down to wash the disciple’s feet because they wouldn’t do it for each other. Jesus is telling us that our importance is not in some position we hold, or in some title or degree–it’s in service.