Summary: Followers of Christ should serve as He served.
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Mark 10:32-37, 41-45
John 13:1-5, 12-17
(Notice the how the disciples were constantly seeking greatness while Jesus was constantly seeking to serve.)
Jesus gathered with His disciples in an upper room to celebrate one final meal together before He would die on the cross. It’s important to know that it was the custom of the day for a host to provide a servant at the door of any dinner party to wash the feet of the guests. Remember, in those days people walked with sandals down dusty roads and reclined at low tables—a foot to eighteen inches above the ground—while eating. That meant their feet would be dangerously near the next person’s face. Having a foot washer greet guests at the door was standard practice, much like we would have someone greet visitors and offer to take their coat and hang it up.
Imagine that you can see everything in the room, but no one in the room can see you. You stand, unnoticed, and watch the events of the Last Supper. Here come the twelve with Jesus, climbing the stairs. The first disciple walks in the door, looks for the foot-washing servant and notices he’s not there. Does he wash his own feet? Does he take off his garment and become a servant and wash everyone else’s feet? Look at his eyes. He is saying, “Not me. I’m a disciple of the great teacher Jesus. I’m not a lowly servant.” So he hurries to the table to get a good spot. The second disciple comes in. Realizing that the first guy refused to be a servant, he comes to the same conclusion. He too goes in and looks for a good spot at the table. Each disciple does the same thing. They all file in. They all go right past the water basin and recline at the table, making themselves comfortable as they stick their dirty feet in each other’s faces.
Finally Jesus and His twelve followers are all at the table. Jesus looks at the water. He looks at the filthy feet of the disciples. You can see it in His eyes. Unbelievable! Three years of sermon after sermon, illustration after illustration, confrontation after confrontation, and not one of them is willing to serve his brothers. And even more heartbreaking, not one of them was humble enough to serve even Jesus.
After giving every chance for one of them to take the role of a servant, Jesus gets up from the table. No one knows where He is going or what He is about to do. Jesus quietly walks to the water basin and begins to remove His outer garment. He carefully picks up a towel and tucks it in His belt, exactly the way a common servant would. Then He pours the water into the basin and kneels down at the feet of one of His followers.
The Big Idea: Be like Jesus by serving others. Jesus said to the disciples, “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.” In other words, “Be like Me.”
1. Jesus washed the disciples’ feet because He loved them.
“Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love” (John 13:1b).
We need to remember that the disciples at that moment were not an easy bunch to love:
• They were arguing about which of them was the greatest (Luke 22:24).
• One of them would betray Him.
• One of them would deny Him.
• Ten of them would desert Him.
Jesus had the right motivation for serving the disciples: love. Why do we serve others? Sometimes we can have the wrong motivation.
Wrong motivations for service:
• The need to soothe feelings of guilt
• The desire to earn God’s favor
• The need to be praised by others
Love for others starts with a love for God. When we discover that God loves us with an everlasting love and that we matter deeply to Him, we want to obey Him. And one of the most important commands He has given us is, “Love one another.”
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35).
“If you love me, you will obey what I command” (John 14:15).
“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers” (1 John 3:16).
“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 John 4:10-11).