Summary: Rather than demand His rights as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Jesus expected no special treatment - in fact, He turned the idea of service upside down.
Don’t You Know Who I Am?
TCF Maundy Thursday sermon
April 13, 2006
You may have heard on the news the past few weeks about the congresswoman from Georgia, who tried to walk past Capitol security without proper identification. When the security officer tried to stop her, she struck him. Though she’s since apologized for her actions, her initial attitude about this incident is typical of the high and mighty in our culture. The high and mighty, at least in their minds, includes top business leaders, politicians, the rich, and entertainment figures.
How many times have you heard a story about some well-known public figure who gets into a situation where they expect some sort of special treatment, and say something along the line of “Don’t you know who I am?”
The idea is that they’re so special, that we’re supposed to know who they are, and treat them according to their status and/or celebrity. This particular congresswoman, admitting that she wasn’t wearing the special pin that’s supposed to identify her as a member of Congress, was quoted as saying, "The pin is not the issue. The issue is face recognition."
Tonight, as we mark Maundy Thursday, in the events leading up to Jesus crucifixion and resurrection, we see how Jesus turned the idea of this question, Don’t you know who I am? – upside down.
Though we usually read from the passages in the synoptic gospels, Matthew, Mark and Luke, about the Lord’s Supper, there’s a passage in John that I’d like to linger in for a few moments tonight, before we do as Jesus asked us to do tonight – to do this in remembrance of me.
1 It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love. 2 The evening meal was being served, and the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, to betray Jesus. 3 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5 After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. 6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, "Lord, are you going to wash my feet?" 7 Jesus replied, "You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand." 8 "No," said Peter, "you shall never wash my feet." Jesus answered, "Unless I wash you, you have no part with me." 9 "Then, Lord," Simon Peter replied, "not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!" 10 Jesus answered, "A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you." 11 For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean. 12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. "Do you understand what I have done for you?" he asked them. 13 "You call me ’Teacher’ and ’Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.
Let’s notice some key points in this passage. First of all, Jesus knew who He was. He knew His sovereign authority, He knew where He came from, and He knew what He came to do.
Three times it says “he knew” something. John made a point to tell us that. The first time is in verse 1: Jesus knew that the time had come for Him to leave this world and go to the Father.
The next time is in verse 3: Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God.
The final time in this passage is in verse 11: Jesus knew who was going to betray Him - he knew all about Judas’ plan.
He knew that He was the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. He knew that He was the Word made flesh. He knew that he was with God the Father at creation. He knew that, as the Phil Keaggy song attests,