Summary: Compassion, Empathy, Ministry, Transparency
THE YEAR OF THE TOWEL – The Towel That Can Only Be Picked Up By You
2 Corinthians 1:1-7 (pg. 803) January 31, 2016
[“The evening meal was in progress and, the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under His power; and that He had come from God and was returning to God; 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 them.]
We are told in Luke’s gospel, that right after Jesus says He will be betrayed by someone who shares this meal with Him that the disciples begin to argue...they discuss among themselves who it will be...and the argument begins to focus on which of them was considered “the greatest” (Luke 22:24).
Pretty human behavior huh? They try to overcome their fears of failure by posturing for power...Can’t you imagine this dispute includes things they’ve done, places they’ve been with Jesus, sacrifices they’ve made...Things they thought made them great in God’s eyes. But God’s eyes are right there looking at them, listening to the argument...so God speaks...Listen:
LUKE 22:25-30 (p. 735)
I wonder if it was around this time that Mrs. Zebedee...James and John’s mom asks... “Now about that table, how ‘bout letting my boys sit right next to you...they’ve earned it, haven’t they?”
And chaos breaks out as the others become indignant and jealous.
I don’t know the chronology of how it all happened...but it all happened right before Jesus’ arrest and crucifixion...probably within 24 hours.
So intentionally picking up a servant’s towel to meet someone else’s need probably wasn’t even something they considered. This would make the others see me as weak and anything but great...each of the King’s followers refused...so the King Himself picked up the towel and served them.
Clearly this King was different...even in the midst of the most troublesome and heart wrenching time of His earthly life...His focus is on the needs of others.
I. THE COMFORTER IN ALL OUR TROUBLES
The Apostle Paul is writing to the church at Corinth...it’s his second letter to them, and the Corinthians have shown very human behavior in their journey to follow Christ...divisions and arguments about greatness and popularity, sexual sins, suing each other, commitments made and broken, concerning giving, even doctrinal struggles with the resurrection and worship...This Church was filled with people who had sinful pasts...but had been washed, cleansed and redeemed through the Holy Spirit, but old ways are hard to forsake...selfishness is hard to crucify. Servant towels are hard to pick up, especially when your focus is on your own struggles...“My feet are dirty...I need a slave to wash them!” is almost always how each of us think...it’s natural.
Thinking about comforting others when you need comfort is supernatural...thinking about others dirty feet when yours will be nailed to a cross shortly is...well, nothing short of God-like...no wonder Paul says:
“Praise be to the God and Father of our lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles.”
Jesus said much the same thing when He told us “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
The “these things” he had just told His disciples was “I’m leaving...I’m going back to my Father...and you can’t come right now...but I’ll come back for you one day.”
One of the greatest schemes of Satan is to try and make us believe our lives here on earth should be about comfort and self fulfillment...that most of our 79.5 years should be...without conflict...or trouble...it’s a lie...
SHOW E COMMERCE COMMERCIAL
It’s natural to hope for good things...hope is one of the two things we can’t live without...Air and hope are essential. But you don’t need a “comforter” if you’re always comfortable...and one of the most important motivations for our faith is...Our hope isn’t in the temporary...our hope isn’t in the things we see...our hope is in the eternal and the things we can’t see! In our text Paul mentions troubles, suffering, and distress...but 8 times in those 5 verses he mentions God’s comfort.
And for those who have experienced this comfort in the midst of suffering, trouble and distress...He says, “We don’t pick up the towel of Jesus only to bitterly cry into it...we pick it up so we can lay it on the wounds of others.
“Our hope is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.”