Summary: I ask the question, how well do we know our commander in chief, Jesus? Do we allow him to help in the many battles we face throughout our lives. How prepared are we to follow his example of servant-hood.
Servanthood: John 13 v1-16
At the American Revolution a man in civilian clothes rode past a group of soldiers repairing a small defensive barrier, their leader was shouting instructions, but making no attempt to help them. Asked why by the rider, he retorted with great dignity, "Sir, I am a corporal!" The stranger apologized, dismounted, and proceeded to help the exhausted soldiers. The job done, he turned to the corporal and said, "Mr. Corporal, next time you have a job like this and not enough men to do it, go to your commander-in-chief, and I will come and help you again." It was none other than George Washington. (Today in the Word, March 6, 1991.)
I ask the question, how well do we know our commander in chief, Jesus? Do we allow him to help in the many battles we face throughout our lives. Do we fully understand the amount of other titles he has and the ability and desire to fulfil them? For example just to name a few. Jesus the Good Shepherd, Jesus The Redeemer, Jesus the provider, Jesus the healer, Jesus the Bread of life and Jesus the Servant King our theme tonight. Today’s reading is probably a very familiar passage for us. This week I’m sure that soap manufacture’s profits rise as many churches re-enact this feet washing event. Most of the sermons I’ve heard on this subject place an emphasis on the humility of Jesus. However his humility in this act is just part of the story. I believe our bible passage is more to do with rolling up your sleeves and getting your hands dirty than cleaning feet!
Sadly Christians can be a bit like most politicians, they talk the talk but seldom walk the walk. Jesus is the perfect Servant King who kept his word, who always fulfills his promises.
A man and his wife are awakened at 3 o'clock in the morning by a loud pounding on the back door. The man gets up and goes to the door where a drunken stranger, standing in the pouring rain, is asking for a push. "Not a chance," says the husband, "It is three o'clock in the morning." He slams the door and returns to bed.
"Who was that?" asked his wife. "Just some drunk guy asking for a push," he answers. "Did you help him?" she asks. "No. I did not. It is three o'clock in the morning and it is pouring rain outside! "His wife said, "Don't you remember about three months ago when we broke down and those two guys helped us? I think you should help him, and you should be ashamed of yourself!"
The man does as he is told, gets dressed and goes out into the pouring rain. He calls out into the dark, "Hello. Are you still there?" "Yes," comes back the answer. "Do you still need a push?" calls out the husband. "Yes! Please!" comes the reply from the darkness. "Where are you?" asks the husband. "Over here! On the swing!"
OK it’s a funny story but seriously, it’s strange how often some of us conveniently forget acts of kindness or generosity bestowed on us when maybe we should reciprocate such deeds. At Easter we celebrate the greatest deed a man can give. What greater gift that a man lays down his life that we might live? However could we ever repay that deed? … maybe by acts of service?
I requested our reading be extended by 4 verses to emphasis the importance that we are called not just to be served but to serve following the example set by Jesus.
One of my rolls in the Police Force, opps sorry that’s politically incorrect, the Police Service, was I was part of the Public Order Team which is used in riots or where there is a serious threat of public disorder. We all had to be trained to a high level of crowd control which included the use of various types of riot shields and shield formations. One of which involved the use of 7 officers joining their shield together, 3 at the front 2 at the sides and 2 holding their shield on top to act as a roof. This formation was known as the tortoise, as it enclosed us in a hard protective shell. All 7 had to rely on each other to link up correctly, one error and we could all be vulnerable to serious injury if attacked. One way our instructors tested our effectiveness was to drop an old fridge on top of us from about 30 foot! I guess in this day and age of health and safety this test is no longer used but I can assure you every team member made sure they played their roll to perfection!
I mention this as an illustration of working together, serving each other and God can only make this church stronger. Just as it was all hands to the pump to fill a gap in the defensive wall in my earlier illustration, there are many gaps that need filling here at St. Chad’s. We need musicians, workers for our children & youth, people to help clean the church. Nobody has offered to take over the men’s ministry which I gave up 3 years ago after doing it for 11 years! Sadly we do have a few corporal in our fellowship, they seem to say a lot but do little! When we come into this church what do we expect? To be served or to serve? …. I think the answer should be both. Are we willing to be humble enough to receive help and healing but generous enough to give either our time or money to the service of the fellowship and God.