Summary: An ordination or service sermon.
THE ORDER OF THE TOWEL
One old cliche says, “Familiarity breeds contempt.” It doesn’t have to be true, but all too often it is. We have read this text before. Can we give it a second look?
Perhaps it doesn’t need interpretation as much as implementation. The accent is on following this example of our Lord:
1. It’s one thing to see a leper, it’s another thing to touch the leper.
2. It’s one thing to hurt for the demonized, it’s another thing to exorcise the demon.
3. It’s one thing to sense a need to pray, it’s another to spend all night in prayer.
4. It’s one thing to see hungry people, it’s another to feed them.
5. It’s one thing to see dirty feet, it’s another thing to wash them.
Servanthood: We can talk about it, idolize it, praise it, memorize it, cheer it, rally around it. But can we live it? What kind of teaching is this from our Lord?
I. IT IS A PURPOSE STATEMENT OF HIS INCARNATION.
A. It contrasts with negative ones:
1. I came not to abolish the Law and the Prophets, but to fulfill them
Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. NIV
2. I came not to bring peace
Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. NIV
3. I came not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance
But go and learn what this means: `I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners. NIV
B. It aligns itself with positive ones:
1. I came to seek and save the lost
For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost." NIV
2. I came for judgment
Jesus said, "For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind. NIV
3. I came to give life and have it more abundantly
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. NIV
II. IT IS A POSITIVE STATEMENT OF HIS MINISTRY.
A. Did Jesus smile or frown when He said it? Does He begrudge serving or do His eyes sparkle at the prospect? This removes ministry from legalism. Jesus changes our “want to’s.”
B. Plato said, “How can a man be happy when he has to serve someone?” We would respond, “By having the mind of Christ.”
so 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.
He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, "Lord, are you going to wash my feet?"
Jesus replied, "You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand." "No," said Peter, "you shall never wash my feet."
Jesus answered, "Unless I wash you, you have no part with me."
"Then, Lord," Simon Peter replied, "not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!" Jesus answered, "A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you." NIV
C. Jesus didn’t say this with a miserly heart.
III. IT IS A PERFECT STATEMENT OF HIS CHARACTER
A. The statement was made at the end of His ministry, and they (the disciples) knew that it was an accurate personal testimony.
B. The statement truly represented Him. There was no false egotism here. There was no, “I’m humble and proud of it.”
C. The statement reflects what a crucified mind can do to create an environment of transformational leadership
IV. DEACONS WERE CREATED TO BE THE PASTOR’S HELPERS (Servants) (Waiters on tables)
A. To Help Relieve the Pastor of the material cares of the church so that the Pastor may have more time to give to the spiritual welfare of the flock.
In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Grecian Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, "It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word." This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism. NIV