Summary: In our text we find Jesus setting an example for us when he washed the feet of his disciples—an example of Servant Leadership.
TITLE: PICK UP A TOWEL, NOT A TITLE
SCRIPTURE: ST. JOHN 13:3-9 / 12-17
We continue our “MARCH TOWARDS CALVARY” this morning and visit a scene that began to unfold the NIGHT IN WHICH JESUS WAS BETRAYED. I lift as a thought this morning – Pick Up a Towel Not A Title.
What would you do if you knew you had just 24-HOURS TO LIVE?
• Would knowing that you had just 24-Hours change the way you would spend your day?
• What things would you make sure you did?
• What things would you leave out?
• Who would you talk to?
• Where would you go?
• If you had only 24-hours to live — what would you do?
Our Lenten Sermon Series has helped us focus on the final week and now the final 24-hours of Jesus’ life. What things did He make sure to do? Who did He talk to? Where did He go? In our text we find Jesus setting an example for us when he washed the feet of his disciples—an example of Servant Leadership. Washing the feet of one’s guests was not the job of a LEADER – HOST - RABBI - but the chore of a servant.
• But Jesus took on that role to show his followers how they ought to care for one another
• The night in which Jesus was betrayed, He still took time to teach a valuable lesson
• I am pretty sure this act reminded them of this statement made earlier by Jesus -- “FOR EVEN THE SON OF MAN CAME NOT TO BE SERVED BUT TO SERVE OTHERS AND TO GIVE HIS LIFE AS A RANSOM FOR MANY -- ST. MATTHEW 20:28
JESUS SHOWS THE FULL EXTENT OF HIS LOVE BY TAKING UP A TOWEL. Washing His disciples’ feet showed that His time had come to leave the world and return to His Father. He is showing them the Path that will lead to his Glory. His glory to the Father includes – TAKING OFF HIS OUTER GARMENTS – WRAPPING ON A TOWEL – HUMBLY WASHING FEET. Just as it will involve – BEING BEATEN – CRUICIFIED – MOCKED.
• Going to the Father means doing His Father’s will
• And so He does it
• Doing the humble work of a servant
• The task that not one of the disciples had been willing to lower themselves to undertake
Self-conscious of who He is and of His role, He loves his disciples to the end. The term reflects the extent of His love and has a temporal force as well. Mysteriously, the love He is reflecting is not only His own.
• He is teaching us something profound about the Trinity
• How can the Son love His own the way he does?
• Because, as He explains after the act, the Messenger is not greater than the one who sent Him
• In washing feet, Jesus is acting out the love of the Triune God
I have learned through the years – INSECURITY IS THE ENEMY OF A SECURED IDENTITY. Jesus was so sure about –
• Who He was
• Where He came from
• The authority given to Him
• The place He was headed back to
• He didn’t hesitate serving His disciples in this manner
• Jesus’ security in self, led him to have no issue with washing the feet of his disciples
We have it so backwards in our society. In our cultural understanding of leadership, we climb up the ladder to not have to do the menial tasks anymore.
• Jesus was as high up on that ladder humanly possible - Yet He served
• Jesus was as wealthy as they came (His father owned the cattle upon a thousand hills) -- Yet He served
• Jesus was as Intelligent and Well Educated as they came (His ways are higher than our ways, His thoughts deeper than our thoughts) -- Yet He served
We forget one of the most important statements made by Jesus in ST. LUKE 9:48, “WHOEVER IS THE LEAST AMONG YOU IS THE GREATEST.”
• Could it be the benchmark for the quality of our leadership is found in our service to others?
• If Jesus is providing us such a strong example of fellowship and servanthood, then are we fulfilling his wishes?
Remember with me it was a common courtesy of this time for the host to provide a servant to wash the dusty, hot feet of guests as they arrived.
• The guest’s sandals would be left at the door
• Their feet would be accessible as they lay on low couches with their heads toward the central table
• A towel, water, and basin were present as the disciples joined Jesus that evening