Summary: There are many marks of a believer. This message focuses on what I believe to be "The Mark of a Believer."
The Mark of a Christian
There are many marks of the Christian that I’m sure we could all name.
I would like to focus on what I believe to be “The Mark of a Christian.”
“By this all people will know you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).
Without this mark it is likely someone hasn’t experienced true love.
We can talk about loving others,
Teach about loving others
Preach about loving others
But, if we don’t love others, we are belittling Jesus’ words.
We are not to be saying, “Don’t do as I do, do as I say.” We’re to be saying, “Follow me as I follow Christ.”
If we don’t live what we preach and teach, we don’t really believe it.
When we truly experience God’s love, we are transformed, and God’s love flows through us to others.
Illustration: Water Pipe
Look at 1 Corinthians 13 to show the importance of “love.”
“If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.”
Like us, Jesus’ disciples lived in a society that had rebelled against God.
Like us, the disciples learned more quickly by demonstration and example rather than being told what was right.
So on the final night before His death, Jesus exemplified love, explained it, and then exhorted His disciples to follow His example.
I. Love Exemplified (13:1-5):
v. 1-3 (In patience with Judas)
- We can see that Judas typifies (embodies the characteristics) a society in rebellion to God, but the Lord’s treatment with Him demonstrates God’s grace and compassion with that society.
- Although the disciples never grasped Judas’ true nature until after the betrayal in the garden, Jesus knew it from the beginning.
- Jesus knew Judas’ nature from the very beginning, yet He gave Judas every opportunity to turn from his wicked ways, repent, and follow his Lord.
- Verse 3, “the Father had given all things into His hands…” reminds us that Jesus was the omnipotent (all powerful) God.
- Rather than zapping Judas immediately, He allowed the full scenario to play out as Judas made choice after choice leading to his ultimate suicide.
v. 4-5 (In service to the disciples)
- 1 Century, slave usually in the home
- Being that this was a private meeting, there was no slave in the house to wash everyone’s feet. The pride of the disciples caused them to recline at the table with dirty feet. Waiting for one of them to take the place of a servant, Jesus assumed the responsibility Himself.
- We must remember the conversation recorded in the gospel of Luke, on this night, the disciples were concerned about their position in the coming kingdom.
- While they were concerned with elevation, Jesus exemplifies condescension.
- The Lord’s willingness to wash the feet of His disciples, even Judas’s, reflects and exemplifies servant leadership at its best.
- Again, if you are at all familiar with 1st Century culture you immediately recognize how socially inappropriate this behavior was.
- Never in Jewish, Greek, or Roman society would a superior wash the feet of inferiors.
- Jesus shatters the paradigm of thinking of the normal roles of the time.
- He reverses the normal roles as a display of love (v1) and model for Christian conduct (v12-17).
- Paul speaks of the condescension of Christ in Philippians (Kenosis passage), but here we see it in action.
- “who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness” (Phil. 2:6-7).
- Because the disciples are puzzled as to what’s going on, Jesus explains…
II. Love Explained (13:6-11):
v. 6-9 (As the washing of feet)
- Shocked by the cultural reversal, Peter looks down at His Lord and asks, “What’s going on here?”
- Jesus replies, “You have no idea, but some day you will.”
- Jesus is showing that love is not mere emotion, but rather an attitude which results with action.
- I can tell my wife I love her all day long, but if I never express my love through the way I treat her, I don’t truly love her.
- Misunderstanding what Jesus was doing, Peter resists Jesus’ attempt to wash his feet.