Summary: To serve like Christ is love, serve and seek out people.
What’s our mission statement in Makati Gospel Church? “Glorify God by Multiplying Biblical, Committed and Loving Followers of Jesus Christ.” This morning we will look into the “committed” aspect of our mission statement through John 13:1-5, where Jesus washed the feet of His disciples.
I once read a book about the leadership style of the Lord Jesus. And I was surprised to discover that it did not even talk about Jesus washing the feet of His disciples. That is sad because here we find His concept of leadership. In the business world, we hear a lot nowadays about being a “servant-leader.” But the emphasis is more on the “leader” rather than the “servant.” Stacy Rinehart points this out in his book Upside Down, “Viewed with this emphasis, serving is simply a means to an end: ‘I’ll serve you, so you’ll respect my leadership and follow me.’ This is just another subtle form of power leadership. In servant leadership, serving is an expression of leadership, regardless of how people follow. Serving is both the end as well as the means.” I pray that MGC will truly have a true servant-leadership mentality.
Verse one says that this event took place “just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father.” The Lord knew that in the next 24 hours people will betray, arrest and crucify Him. Before serving the evening meal, Jesus washed His disciples’ feet. Verse one gave us the reason why He did it: “Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love.” Note that Jesus expressed His love through that act. Thus, to serve like Christ is to LOVE like Him.
So, what is it like to love like Christ?
First, it is UNCONDITIONAL. He commanded us: “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” Our enemies may not deserve our love for they hate us, curse us and mistreat us. But still we are to love them. We express that love by doing good to them, blessing them and praying for them. Now keep in mind that love is not just a noun but it is also a verb. That means we act upon it.
Second, it is SACRIFICIAL. Jesus declared, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” We saw last week that in The Message translation it goes like this: “This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends.” Yes, sacrifice may mean dying for others. But it is easy to die. It is hard to live. You only die once. But living is daily. And we will only be ready to die for others if we really live for others.
Also, it is LOYAL. Jesus drew the battle lines when He declared, “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.” Note that “love” is contrasted with “hate” and “devoted” with “despise.” That also means that we can connect “love” with “devoted” and “hate” with “despise.” So, to love is to be devoted or to be loyal. Now, circle the word “serve.” If you are loyal, you will serve.
Jesus commanded us: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” So, to serve like Christ is to unconditionally sacrificially, and loyally love like Him. This is a command. It is our choice to love. It is not an emotional attachment but a heart commitment. It is the kind of love that serves. You can serve without loving, but you can’t love without serving.
In view of that, how do we serve like Christ?
Let’s go back to the washing of the feet. During that event, the disciples argued with each other: “a dispute arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest.” Jesus rebuked them. He said power struggles and jockeying for the top position are the ways of the world. Then He told them, “But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves.”
To underscore His point, “he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 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.” The seamless robe that Jesus wore “had been especially prepared at great cost. It may be that Christ wore the robe of a rabbi. Such a robe would have entitled Him to respect and honor. In Israel only the priest was held in higher esteem than the rabbi.” Christ took that robe off and “wrapped a towel around his waist.” That towel “was the sign of a servant. A servant had no position and no honor.” Foot washing was a must in that dirty, dusty place. It was the work of the lowliest of slaves. That was the kind of slave that, if you command him to throw himself down the building, he would ask, “From what floor, Sir?” Jesus stooped down to that very level. “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Though they may have washed the feet of Jesus, the disciples would not even dare to wash each other’s feet. According to the MacArthur Study Bible, “Peers did not wash one another’s feet, except very rarely and as a mark of great love.” Thus, to serve like Christ means to sacrificially SERVE. This means you just keep on serving no matter what. You don’t have to receive anything in return. You don’t even expect to receive at all.