Summary: This sermon is going to review the story of Jesus washing the disciple’s feet and in doing so will emphasize how important it is to love while on one’s knees as His servant!

Love on its Knees

John 13:1-17

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“By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35). Living a generation of gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant people who invent ways of doing evil unto others to promote their self-interests (Romans 1:30), it is incredibly difficult for a Christian to feel and demonstrate love that is patient, kind, does not boast or dishonor others, is not proud, keeps no records of wrongs and is not self-seeking (1 Corinthians 13:4)! When people gossip, slander and try to destroy us our first inclination is not to love and pray for the perpetrators of life (Matthew 5:43-45) but to retaliate and repay evil for evil (Romans 12:17). While one would like to think that our lack of love relates only to the world who hates us Christians for our beliefs (John 15:18-19), that is simply not true for inside the church one need not look very hard to find more than one member clamouring for positions of power and authority (Mark 10:42) and others whom choose only to love those who love them! This sermon is going to review the story of Jesus washing the disciple’s feet and in doing so will emphasize how important it is to love while on one’s knees as His servant!

An Example of Past Deliverance (13:1a)

It was just before the Passover Festival

The temporal setting for the foot washing was the day of preparation before the Passover Festival. The Last Supper was not a Passover meal but a meal Jesus and the disciples shared the Thursday night before the Crucifixion. During this seven-day festival each Jewish household would slaughter a male lamb without defect, put some of its blood on the tops and sides the doorframes of their homes and eat the meat of the lamb with unleavened bread (Exodus 12:1-30). This was done to remember and celebrate their “Exodus from Egypt and the bounty of divine redemption” they had received. God’s chosen people were to remember the plagues of the blood, frogs, gnats, flies, livestock, boils, hail, locusts, darkness and especially the death of the firstborn! Imagine the relief and joy the Jewish people felt when God not only passed them over for judgment but also delivered them from the hands of persecution under Pharaoh! John alludes to the nearness of this Passover to remind the Jewish people that the “Lamb of God” (John 1:29) was about to be slain and in doing so provide redemption for not just them but the entire world!

A Dying Love (13:1b)

Jesus knew that the hour had come for Him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.

Despite knowing that the disciples would soon abandon Him (Mark 14:50), His chosen people would yell “crucify Him” (Luke 23:21) and the Gentile courts would fail Him (23:24); Jesus loved them until the very end! Even though in this passage “His own” refers specifically to the disciples, in the larger context of the New Testament “His own” also refers to all of humanity for Christ died once and for all (1 Peter 3:18)! This time God would not wrestle against flesh and blood (Ephesians 6:12) of a leader like Pharaoh but His Son would wrestle against the Prince of this World (John 12:31)! During the Last Supper Jesus knew the time had come to glorify God by breaking the chains of sin that were oppressing humanity (Romans 8:2) through His substitutionary death on the cross. Despite the world or His own people not recognizing Him (John 1:10-12), His love was unconditional and knew no boundaries, for Jesus died even for His enemies (Romans 5:10). O the ingratitude of God’s chosen people to spill the blood of the Lamb, the Son of whom saved them at the first Passover!

This brings me to my first point: Christians will be known as Jesus’ disciples by our unconditional love for all people. While it is easy to selectively love those who love us it is quite another thing to unconditionally love all people, especially our enemies! Does God really want us to love those who gossip, slander and try to destroy us (Romans 1:30)? The answer is yes. To imitate the love of Christ who died once and for all means that in the face of one’s enemies one must resist the “worldly” temptation to retaliate against one’s “perpetrators” with unkind and dishonourable words and deeds (1 Corinthians 13:4). It is a sin to praise our Lord and Father while cursing human beings made in the likeness of God (James 3:9)! He who had no sin (2 Corinthians 5:21) could have avoided the cross altogether and given humanity what we rightly deserved, God’s wrath; and yet He chose (John 10:18) to love by opening His arms wide and dying not only for “His own” but for His enemies as well! If we as Christians only love those who love us and hate our enemies, then how is our love any different than the discretionary love this world has to offer and how are we any more holy than the perpetrators of this world who do evil to crush another?

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