Summary: Jesus’ ministry on earth revolved around serving others. This is why He healed people and taught people and, ultimately, died for people. The night before Jesus dies, He gives His disciples a lesson on service. What can we learn from Jesus' service?
Opening Remarks and Introduction
A few weeks ago, we started a new Bible study called The Red Letter Challenge and have followed that study with a matching sermon theme. For the past two weeks we’ve looked at the first two chapters of Being and Forgiving. Tonight, we’ll continue the series with the topic of SERVING.
When you think of the idea SERVING, what do you think of ? … Do you think of something that was done for you, or something that you did for others? Serving can come in many forms. Sometimes, serving requires special skills and other times it just requires a heart willing to make a difference.
Our lesson tonight looks at the story of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet. We’re going to take a look at that story and see what we can learn from Our Lord’s example. Tonight, we’ll dig into SERVING by looking at:
- Jesus’ Service
- Jesus’ Words
- Following The Example
1. Jesus’ Service
Let’s start our look at SERVING by diving into what Jesus did for the disciples.
Today, even with our nice roads and sidewalks and high quality shoes, touching someone else’s feet is not a job everyone wants to do. If fact, some might consider touching people’s feet a very uncomfortable thing to do.
In Jesus’ day, the problem was even less desirable. People often wore sandals that exposed much of their feet. As they walked out and about, their feet would get filthy from the dust and dirt of the roads.
Foot washing was common, but a job that was only given to the lowest members of a household. Jews didn’t usually do this task themselves, and even Jewish servants weren’t asked to clean people’s feet. Instead, it was common to have Gentile servants perform the duty when you entered a home.
In our lesson tonight, scripture doesn’t mention a servant washing anyone’s feet as they arrive in the Upper Room. In fact, scripture suggests something different. The disciples reclined at the dinner table probably without cleaning their feet.
If their feet had been washed, there would have been little value in Jesus doing it. It appears that there were no servants available to do the task. No disciple washed his own feet or chose to wash anyone else’s feet. Instead, Jesus took a towel and got to work. He humbled Himself to take the form of the lowest of servants, all to show the disciples a lesson. He turned the idea of servants upside-down by taking on this dirty task, even though He was the most honored guest in the Upper Room.
Jesus didn’t do this because He expected some form of payback. He didn’t expect anything in return. His entire Earthly life was nothing but service. He could have stayed in heaven next to The Father and the Holy Spirt. But, He didn’t. He could have controlled every aspect of life on Earth. But, He didn’t do that either. Instead, He established a ministry, fed the hungry, healed the sick, and even raised the dead.
Jesus showed us how to serve and make a difference in the lives of others. Jesus said, “For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done for you.” (John 13:15, CSB)
Our Lord had nothing to gain by serving men. But, He gave His life for us. He did it because He loves us. Even though He was both true God and true man, and deserved our worship both here and in heaven, He chose to serve us. Mark captured this well in his Gospel. Jesus said:
“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.” (Mark 10:45, CSB)
Jesus’ actions told us a lot. But He spoke to us too. Through His life on Earth, Jesus was the example for us to follow.
2. Jesus’ Words
But, He didn’t want us just to watch what He did. He told us what he wanted us to do, through His words. He explained to us the right way to serve. In one well known Bible passage, Jesus described the source of serving.
“He said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37-39, CSB)
These two commands are the root to all service. If we love God, we will serve Him. If we love our neighbors, we will serve them too.
With all that Jesus has done for us, we should be ready to give back something. We should be able to serve in thanksgiving, and pay forward a small token of what He first gave us. He doesn’t just expect us to believe, but to live our lives with our faith apparent in everything that we do. The world should be able to see that we are Christians by our attitudes, by our actions, and by our love for others. Jesus talked about this in Luke. He said: