Summary: How to be a good servant. An example from the King!

The Servant King

John 17:1-17


Did you know that you could actually reach higher ground by bowing low? You can descend in such a way so as to actually reach higher elevations!

Jesus showed how… On the last night that He spent with His disciples before being crucified, Jesus taught some profound lessons in a simple act of service. He had taught them these truths before… but in a vivid way, He lived it out before them so that they could experience it. What did He do? He washed His disciples’ feet.

We’ll look at the events leading up to this event. Jesus had entered Jerusalem on Sunday, and on Monday had cleansed the temple. Tuesday was a day of conflict as the religious leaders sought to trip Him up and get evidence to arrest Him. These events are recorded in Matthew 21-25. Wednesday was probably a day of rest, but on Thursday He met in the Upper Room with His disciples in order to observe the Passover.

The emphasis in John 13:1-3 is on what our Lord knew

Verses 1-3 is the opening section and in it we see that Jesus knew 3 things.

1. Jesus knew His time had come

John begins his account with a simple statement of the situation as it existed at that time, pointing out that “Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end”. What was this divinely appointed “hour”? It refers to the time when He would be glorified through His death, resurrection, and ascension. From the human point of view, it means suffering; but from the divine point of view it meant glory. He would soon leave this world and return to the Father who sent Him, Jesus having finished His work on earth (John 17:4). Jesus knew ahead of time that He must leave His disciples. And he wanted to prepare them to face whatever issues might arise in the days ahead. And certainly the drastic events immediately following proved the need of such preparation.

2. Jesus knew of the betrayal by Judas

Satan had entered into Judas, and had given thoughts for Judas to lead the arrest. The word “put” literally means “to throw”, just as one throws a stone with great force into a lake, Satan had made Judas suddenly become obsessed with an overpowering impulse to betray Jesus. This was because Judas was an unbeliever and didn’t have a “shield of faith” to ward of Satan’s attacks. But through all this Jesus remained calm, for He knew that this was all in God’s master plan.

3. Jesus knew He had all things in His hands

In verse 3 “Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands”. John emphasizes the fulfilment of God’s plan and Jesus’ control of the situation. Even though Jesus had all things through His Father, He was poor yet rich. Because of who He was, He knew where He came from, what He had, and where He was going. He was in total control of the situation. Jesus wasn’t insecure with the whole situation. How do you become insecure? Insecurity occurs, when we put all our trust and faith in ourselves, and not putting it all on God. You and I as believers know that we have been born of God, that we are one day going to God, and that in Christ we have all things; therefore, we ought to be able to follow our Lord’s example and serve others.


In John 13:4-5 is on what our Lord did.

What Jesus knew helped determine what Jesus did (John 13:4-5). The reaction of the disciples would have been one of shock. Jesus, their Master had finished supper, lay aside His outer garments even He was as to lay aside His life, wrap a towel or a slaves apron around His waist, take a basin of water, and start washing their feet and drying them with the towel, the outward badge of His servitude. This was a menial task. Even Jewish servants didn’t wash their masters’ feet, but Gentile slaves might have done it. As it was meant to be a servant’s job and there was no servant there, nor did anyone volunteer for the job, Jesus took it upon Himself to do this menial task. Jesus’ action was done deliberately to teach 2 lessons. 1) It was a lesson on humility, but also 2) set forth the principle of selfless service that was so soon to be exemplified in the cross. Luke says that in rebuking the disciples over a quarrel concerning who would be the greatest, Jesus said; “I am among you as he that serveth” (Luke 22:27). Jesus’ life of service would culminate on the cross. This sacramental action Jesus is showing illustrates the cleansing power of His death.

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