Summary: We have no problems in acknowledging Jesus as Lord, Saviour, Master, redeemer, Messiah etc. Jesus as a Servant is not something we want is it? What prevents us from accepting "Service from Jesus?
If I ask you who is Jesus to you this morning, what would be your answer? We are all in church, and hence the most appropriate answer would be Lord, Saviour, Master, redeemer, Messiah etc. and you would be right. This morning, can we look at another role of Jesus?
John 13:1-9 (NKJV) Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end. And supper being ended, the devil having already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray Him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. Then He came to Simon Peter. And Peter said to Him, "Lord, are You washing my feet?" Jesus answered and said to him, "What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this." Peter said to Him, "You shall never wash my feet!" Jesus answered him, "If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me." Simon Peter said to Him, "Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head!"
Those of you who know my passion for Servant Leadership would know that this is one of my favorite passages in the bible and I have preached many times from this passage. But this time you might have noticed a difference. Normally my lesson culminates in Jesus’ command given in in John 13:13-17, but today, I have stopped at Verse 9. Yes that is intentional, because today, I want us to look at focus on Peter’s behaviour during this episode. However, as we study Peter, let us continue to compare ourselves with Peter.
When Jesus begins his feet washing act, Peter is horrified. Peter knows that he is nobody when compared to Christ the messiah. Peter knew how sinful he is. He had already confessed to this earlier Luke 5:8 (NKJV) When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!". So Peter’s reaction was “really? You Lord? YOU, washing MY feet??” Very understandable reaction isn’t it? Jesus initially tries to make Peter understand by saying, “Peter, be patient, you may not understand what I am doing now, but you will eventually understand”. But that is not good enough for Peter. He becomes more adamant and emphatically conveys his unwillingness to be part of this deal. “No.. Never” he tells Jesus. Peter is actually being “humble” in a manner that translates to being disobedient here. He was at the point of rejecting a reward, about which Paul warns later in Colossians 2:18 (NKJV) Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels, intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind,” Peter was trying to be “humble” without understanding things which are beyond his grasp at the moment. Jesus is saying I will wash your feet and Peter is saying No, you shall not. Was Peter trying to say, Lord, I know better than you, it is not befitting for your stature to do as you wish to. Believe me, I am wiser than you in this context?” False humility or disobedience?
What would we have done if we were in Peter’s position? What would our approach be to “being served” by Jesus? If Jesus came to us and said I have to serve you, what would be our reaction? Would we allow Jesus to “serve” us? Remember, when I asked you the question who is Jesus to you, no one said “Servant”. You will feel very uncomfortable if you have to call Jesus as your servant. Would we not be exactly like Peter and tell Jesus, Lord, you are my Lord, you are my Saviour, you are my Master, I cannot let you serve me. Won’t we consider ourselves “humble” and say, we are not worthy of this, we cannot have you “serve” me.
So let us examine the consequences of such a stand from our side. Let us go back to what happened to Peter. When Peter tells him, “No.. never, I know better”, that is when Jesus had to tell him of the dire and dark consequence of his choice. “If I do not wash you, you have no part in me”. This is a big message. Jesus is condensing a whole theological doctrine of “Original Sin” and “Total Depravity” in one sentence.