Summary: Qualities and truths that will help us in our relationships.

INTRO: Thomas Carlyle had married his secretary, whom he dearly loved, but he was thoughtless and absorbed in his own interests and activities, treating his wife as if she were still his employee.

Stricken with cancer, she was confined to bed for a long time before she died. After her funeral, Carlyle went back to his empty house. Disconsolate and grieving, he wandered around downstairs thinking about the woman he had loved. After a while he went upstairs to her room and sat down in the chair beside the bed on which she had been lying for months. He realized with painful regret that he had not sat there very often during her long illness. He noticed her little diary. While she was alive, he never would have read it, but now that she was gone he felt free to pick it up and thumb through its pages. One entry caught his eye: "Yesterday he spent an hour with me. And it was like being in heaven. I love him so much." He turned a few more pages and read, "I listened all day to hear his steps in the hallway. And now it’s late. I guess he won’t come to see me." Carlyle read a few more entries and then threw the book on the floor and rushed out through the rain back to the cemetery. He fell on his wife’s grave in the mud, sobbing, "If only I had known... if only I had known."

-Relationships are so important. I’m not only speaking about a husband and wife relationship. There are also relationships between parent and child, siblings, relatives, acquaintances, friends, and so on.

-We need to understand everyone needs someone.

Example. Two porcupines in Northern Canada huddled together to get warm, according to a forest folktale. But their quills pricked each other, so they moved apart. Before long they were shivering, so they sidled close again. Soon both were getting jabbed again. Same story; same ending. They needed each other, but they kept needling each other.

-Relationships. At times you feel like you can do without them, but the truth is everyone needs relationships. God did not make us islands unto ourselves.

Today I’m going to begin a series on relationship builders, qualities and truths that will help us in our relationships.

TITLE: Relationship Builders

TEXT: John 13:2-5

I. The setting. Jesus and his disciples

A. In his few final hours with them.

1. By this time Jesus was fully aware of his authority, his divine origin, and his divine destiny.

-He understood he came from heaven.

-He came to do the Father’s will and not his own.

2. The Lord knew the suffering and hardship that lie ahead, and his betrayal by a close friend.

3. There is more in the background of this passage than John tells.

-Luke’s account of their last meal tells that a dispute broke out among the disciples. It was over who was going to be the greatest.

Get the picture: Jesus knows what is about to take place (cross). In fact one friend, Judas, is about to leave to have his set up and the others are sitting around bickering about who’s the greatest.

-It’s to this moment that we can look to see what quality will help build relationships. It is the quality of serving.

B. Jesus gives us the example from his own life.

1. In the midst of this emotional turmoil, what did Jesus do?

-He got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. He poured water into a basin and washed the disciple’s feet, then dried them with the towel.

2. The roads of Palestine were unsurfaced and were not kept clean. In dry weather they were dusty and dirty, in wet weather they turned to mud. Ordinary people wore sandals which simply were soles held on to the feet by a few straps. They gave little protection against the dust or the mud of the roads.

-Jesus’ little company of friends had no servants to wash their feet, so the Lord took it upon himself.

3. Understand the culture. The disciples would have been shocked when they saw their master do this. Jewish servants did not wash their master’s feet because it was considered such a menial task. You might get a Gentile servant to do this but never a Jewish servant, let alone a Jewish leader.

Point: Jesus did what none of the disciples was prepared to do—that was to be a servant. II. What strengthens a relationship? It’s doing what no one else will do.

A. Simply put, it’s serving others. When I’m serving others, I’m putting their needs and their wants above my own.

1. Think about it—isn’t that what Jesus did? He put the needs and wants of sinful people above his own over and over again.

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