STOOPING TO A HIGHER LEVEL
S: Celebrate Jesus!
Pr: JESUS KNEW HIS IDENTITY YET SERVED WITH HUMILITY.
?: How? How do we do it?
TS: We will find in John 13:1-17 four concerns that Jesus
demonstrates in order to serve with humility.
The _____ concern that we must have in order to serve with humility is about…
I. OUR SELF (1-3)
II. OUR PLACE (4-8)
III. OUR NEED (9-11)
IV. OUR RESPONSIBILITY (12-17)
RMBC 2/13/00 AM
1. Do you value progress?
Do you like to make progress?
I would venture that most of us do.
We like to be better.
We like to get ahead.
It shows that we are moving.
We are learning.
We are becoming smarter and more skillful.
And as a result, we can move up the ladder with more responsibility.
ILL Drama: “The Interview”
Well…that was a hard lesson to learn.
For, as we have just seen…
2. Our desire for progress is also a challenge to our priorities.
ILL Internet: Dave Thomas
Dave Thomas, founder of Wendy’s Hamburgers is the only founder among America’s big companies whose picture in the corporate annual report shows him wielding a mop and a plastic bucket. That wasn’t a gag either, it was done intentionally so that he could lead by example. At Wendy’s an MBA does not mean a “Master of Business Administration,” it means “Mop Bucket Attitude!” Service at the lowest levels makes for great success.
1. This is our fourth Sunday (Day 22) of our 50-Day Adventure called “Celebrate Jesus: Discover What Makes Him Attractive to So Many People.”
We have been discovering what Jesus was like as He walked this earth.
So far, we have learned that…
1.1 Jesus stayed spiritually connected and directed by God.
He knew that to know God’s will, He had to be disciplined in keeping His relationship with the Father constant and vital.
He was disciplined to spend alone time with the Father.
1.2 Jesus shattered the stereotypes of “us” and “them.”
Jesus was not afraid to talk to anybody.
He would readily talk to people that others considered undesirable.
Instead, his focus was to establish that everyone was the same, with the same needs.
1.3 Jesus liked people and drew out the best in them.
Jesus had a way of seeing through a person’s circumstance down to their real person.
He wouldn’t let their job, their personality, or even their sin keep Him from making contact.
He was about people.
He really liked them.
2. In today’ story, Jesus places Himself in contrast to the disciples who are looking for places of honor and recognition (cf. Matthew 20:21-22; Luke 22:24).
The texts that we are about to read determine some of the context of what was going on as Jesus entered into what apparently would be the last day of his life.
In Matthew 20…
"What is it you want?" he asked. She (the mother of James and John) said, "Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom." "You don’t know what you are asking," Jesus said to them (James and John). "Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?" "We can," they answered.
In Luke 22, in the upper room, the context of today’s passage, it says…
Also a dispute arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest.
We have no idea of how the dispute arose.
Perhaps there was a snide comment, and the bickering began.
All of sudden, there was level-nine squabble.
But Jesus was about to teach them that the kingdom of heaven works on a different principle.
The disciples thought that being the greatest was the goal.
Sitting at the places of power next to Jesus was the goal.
Instead, Jesus demonstrates that they are missing the whole thing.
The way you raise your level of authority is to stoop to serve.
This is what Jesus shows us.
3. JESUS KNEW HIS IDENTITY YET SERVED WITH HUMILITY.
How do we follow His example?
4. We will find in John 13:1-17 four concerns that Jesus demonstrates in order to serve with humility.
They are concerns that we need to have in order to serve with humility.
I. The first concern that we must have in order to serve with humility is about OUR SELF (1-3).
(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…
1. Jesus knew…
1.1 …where He came from
Jesus had came from the glories of heaven.
He had left glory.
He had left the best place in the universe to come to earth.
He had left the fellowship of the best relationship there existed in the universe.
But, note this: He left deliberately.
Second, Jesus knew…
1.2 …who He was
Jesus knew that He was the Son of God.
This was absolutely confirmed to Him when John baptized Him.
The Father spoke, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.”
It was then Jesus absolutely knew who He was.
He was the Messiah that had come to rescue His people from their sin.
Third, Jesus knew…
1.3 …where He was going
He had not left heaven for no reason.
He was going to perform the ultimate act of service.
He was going to the cross.
And though Jesus knew all these things…
2. Jesus possessed a quiet majesty, characterized by love.
I have to wonder what the scene looked like to Jesus.
He is going to the cross.
He is about to suffer.
And what are these disciples doing?
They are arguing about who is the greatest!
These guys were never going to get it right!
I wonder if Jesus thought, “They just don’t get it.”
I wonder if He thought to withdraw and go sit off in a corner.
But we know He doesn’t do that.
He chose to love these men in spite of the circumstances.
3. How about you?
Is there a “quiet majesty” about you because you know your identity?
For if you are a believer today, you know who you are.
You are a child of the Father.
You know where you came from.
You were born into this family through the Spirit.
And you know where you are going.
You are destined to spend eternity in fellowship with Him.
You know your identity.
You know your self.
ILL Notebook: Humility (sub in b-ball)
It was the first day of basketball practice after the cuts had been made at the Wingate High School in Brooklyn. Coach Jack Kaminer handed a ball to each player. “Fellas,” he said, “I want you to practice shooting from the spots you might expect to be in during the game.” The twelfth man, who had barely made it on to the team and knowing his place, immediately sat down on the bench and from there began shooting the ball toward the basket.
II. The second concern that we must have in order to serve with humility is about OUR PLACE (4-8).
(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."
1. Jesus dared to stoop to a level that the disciples were unwilling to go.
Jesus washes their feet.
This was a menial task that was reserved for servants only.
For any person to do this would be admitting defeat about who was the greatest.
You see, they had all been jockeying for position around the table.
And the person who was the greatest, is down on His knees.
And He washes dirty, grimy feet.
Jesus washes 24 stinky feet and 12 proud hearts.
It must have stunned the disciples.
I imagine that as they were arguing, Jesus calmly takes off his outer clothing, strips to his undergarment, grabs the towel and basin, and goes over to Thomas, kneels, gently takes his foot, and begins to wash.
And there was silence.
All the commotion…all the bickering…all the argument disappears.
And they are speechless.
Until Jesus gets to Peter…
As Jesus gets to Peter, he literally responds this way, “Absolutely never will you wash my feet for eternity!”
“You will by no means ever wash my feet!”
But Jesus will wash Peter’s feet.
2. Jesus challenged Peter’s pride, who was unwilling to serve or be served.
What a character this Peter is, for in the same instance he proclaims his unworthiness to be washed, he suggests that Jesus was making a mistake.
He knows better than the Lord what was right?
So much for humility!
Peter had a problem that most of us have.
We have a problem seeing the way God does.
And Jesus does what He has to in this circumstance.
He puts Peter in his place.
A young man was standing with a crowd waiting for a bus right outside a taxidermist’s shop. They were all looking in the widow at the displays. In the center of the window there was a large owl that attracted everyone’s attention. The self-appointed expert began to criticize the job done on the owl. He said, "If I couldn’t do better than that, I’d find another business. Just look at it. The head is out of proportion, the pose of the body is unnatural, and the feet are pointed in the wrong direction." Just as he finished saying this, the owl turned his head and gave the man a broad wink...the crowd laughed as the critic sank...the owl was very much alive!
Peter was feeling the same way.
He had to be washed according to Jesus, because he had a need.
Which brings us to the…
III. The third concern that we must have in order to serve with humility is about OUR NEED (9-11).
(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.
ILL 50 Day: million dollars
A wealthy American traveler tells the story of how he was a visiting a hospital in Southeast Asia. He entered just as a young missionary nurse was cleaning the sores of a sick, dirty, elderly man who had been lying in a gutter. The wealthy man said to the nurse, “I wouldn’t do that for a million dollars.” She answered quietly and firmly, “Neither would I.”
The man was obviously humbled by such a response.
He revealed that he considered money as a proper motivator, but found out that there were higher motivations.
The nurse was not in it for the money.
She was in it, as Jesus was, because of love and because of the need.
1. Jesus demonstrated their need to be clean.
Peter had said that he didn’t need Jesus to wash anything, but now he changes his tune.
Jesus can wash everything.
Jesus, though has a different idea in mind and turns this into a lesson about spiritual truth.
It is as if Jesus said, “Peter, all of you, you need your sins washed!”
Their need was spiritual cleansing, not physical cleansing.
Their arguing and bickering showed that their hearts were dirty, but Jesus, as He washes their feet, forgives them and washes their heart clean.
Except for Judas…
But Jesus has not given up on Judas.
2. Jesus’ love is so strong that He fights to the end for the deliverance of Judas.
Betrayal was in the air.
Judas was going to stab him in the back.
He was going to sell out Jesus for some pieces of silver.
And Jesus knows.
He knows it quite well.
Yet, it was never too late for Judas.
He could turn around his own betrayal.
ILL Internet: Les Miserables
The French constable Javert, in Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables, is one of the most tragic figures in all of literature. Armed with a rigid code of right and wrong, Javert is in near-lifelong pursuit of a released convict, Jean Valjean. Javert is convinced that he works for the Lord. Valjean eludes Javert’s grasp time and time again. In a turnabout near the end of the book, Valjean has the opportunity to kill his antagonist, but lets him go. This mercy shatters Javert’s code. The mercy of Valjean threatens his control. He cannot receive such mercy. So he throws himself into the Seine River.
Javert is a picture of Judas.
For all the while, Jesus fights for him.
He loves His enemy.
He loves His betrayer.
And He washes his feet.
Yet, Judas will still reject Him.
IV. The fourth concern that we must have in order to serve with humility is about OUR RESPONSIBILITY (12-17).
(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.
1. Jesus encouraged their understanding to become an undertaking.
Remember, love is not some emotion.
Love is an act of commitment.
And Jesus sets the example.
He got up…an action.
He took off his outer clothing…an action.
He wrapped a towel…an action.
He poured water into a basin…an action.
And He washed their feet…an action.
And here is the lesson: Belief changes your behavior.
You act on what you belief.
Understanding becomes an undertaking.
Now Jesus doesn’t demonstrate this to keep us busy.
Jesus sets this example for us for our own benefit.
2. Jesus’ ultimate desire for us is to live a life of joy.
This is what works!
The way up is down.
It doesn’t make sense according to the world standards.
But in God’s economy, it is the way.
It is the way to joy.
Robert Speer several years ago was being entertained by the president of a small college in the South. The school had limited guest facilities, so this president of the institution offered him his apartment. The next morning he was awakened by a noise of someone tiptoeing into the room, but he laid there with his eyes nearly closed so he could see, but not give away his position of being awake. What he saw was the president of the college quietly walking up to his shoes and sneaking out with them very quietly. He got out of bed and looked out into the hall where he could see this college president polishing his shoes. He remarked that the sight of this nearly made him cry. He realized what a great man this president was...and sure enough, many years later that same college president rose to national prominence.
Those who are not afraid to do small things for God will eventually be used by God to do great things!
ILL 50 Day: Hussein
When King Hussein of Jordan died in early 1999, he was eulogized as a peacemaker and a sensitive leader. One incident early in his reign he demonstrated the servant-hearted approach to leadership that accounted for his success as a world figure. From the beginning, he tried to get down on the level of his subjects in order to understand their needs and respond accordingly to them. Late at night, the young king (disguised in street clothes) secretly left the palace. With the help of a friend, he borrowed a taxi and pretended to be a cab driver. In the wee hours of the morning, the king drove through the streets of Amman and picked up fares. As his passengers sat in the back seat (unaware of the true identity of the driver), the king asked about their hopes and concerns. He even asked what they thought of the new king who had come into power.
In a similar way, Jesus willingly removed his kingly robes and came to earth, taking the role of a servant.
In the process, He identified with the needs of those He came to serve.
1. Jesus lowered Himself to our level so that He could lift us up to His.
The path of greatness in the Kingdom of God is not worldly recognition or the applause of men, but it is having the attitude of service.
It is simply in being a servant.
2. It is time to follow Jesus example, and touch the hearts around us with an attitude of service: DARE TO CARE.
Our fourth action step of the 50-Day adventure is “Dare to Care.”
We know that we live in a society where “I” takes precedence.
We don’t have to look far to see it.
With all the instances of “road rage,” people pushing to the front of the line, littering, and the refusal to do one’s work.
We are filled with doing what we want.
And we are filled with proving my rights over yours.
But as Christians, we must be different than this (for we are not always that different).
If we are going to be lighthouses, we must become channels of God’s love as we reach out with simple acts of kindness.
For kind acts can sway people to Christ.
Kind acts can say so much more than our words.
…offer to care for a pet of vacationing neighbors
…loan a helpful gardening tool
…organize a block party
…help a neighbor with lawn cleanup or shovel snow
…pick up trash in the neighborhood
…go for a walk with a neighbor
…give away food from your garden
…help coworker with task
…assist a classmate with an assignment
And the list could go on and on…
3. Jesus knew His identity and yet served with humility.
So can you.
Dare to care.
Know your self…you are a child of the Heavenly Father, born into this family by the Spirit of God, destined to spend eternity with Him…so rejoice in this knowledge;
Know your place…we always seem to strive to be on top, but God’s way to the top starts at the bottom, ready to be humbly served with a needed cleansing and then, serving, offering the cleansing to others;
Know your responsibility…don’t just believe in love, but offer it; don’t just understand service, rather, make service an undertaking; dare to care as Jesus did for us.
Now…May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word. Amen.