Summary: Being a servant is not only what we do for others but also what we allow others to do for us which otherwise we are embarrassed to receive.
Among the extraordinary feats of history is the medical process of heart transplants. It is the actual procedure of removing a diseased heart from a patient and replacing it with the heart of a deceased donor. A surgeon would perform the transplant procedure on a patient who has a diseased heart, there is no other treatment available, and the person is at risk of dying.
There are many causes that bring a person to this critical medical need. Potentially among those causes would be unhealthy eating patterns and lack of self-care practices.
Today we begin a series of eight messages on “Learning to serve in a Service-less Age”. The title is unfriendly. Immediately every one of us has a planted image in our minds of what it means to learn to serve in a service-less age. Whatever image we have framed in our minds, we can be sure of one thing – to live that life we will need to undergo a spiritual heart transplant. Ours is a world that invites unhealthy practices that our humanity has ingested into our psyche and it encourages self-interest practices. If we hope to live a healthy life after this eight week series, we must begin with the reality that we’re looking at heart surgery. The alternative is to merely go through the motions of church and Bible message and eventually, die.
As with any medical procedure there is a process for the end result. There is the prep. This stage is the analysis of the conditions existing prior to surgery. We then move toward the procedural problems or that point in the surgery where complications sometimes occur and the patient is at risk. When surgery is successful, the final stage is the post-op. Here we see healing, health and follow-up to a normal and productive life.
Let’s get started. First,
1. The Prep
If you knew this was your last day on earth, how would you fill the time? A website asked people this question. Here’s a few answers.
* Be with my wife and kids
* I will restitute my ways, preach a good message to people around me and conduct a night vigil
* Confess my sins and then I’d go to sleep
* Treat myself to the best food ever. And take some sleeping pills and doze off
* I’ll pray to God to extend my stay for 75 more years!
Jesus was going through the roughest night of his life. Verse 1…
Jesus never had any personal aspirations of longer life, confessed sins or eating binges. His only desire was to demonstrate the strongest, deepest love possible for his followers, his friends, before he died.
“Just before the Passover feast” (v1) is an interesting phrase that John placed strategically in this passage. Before we can have any true “Passover” experience there must be the transplanting of the human heart – not the fist-sized organ in our bodies pumping blood through our veins but the deeper side of us that pumps purpose, values and beliefs; it is that part of us that knows it needs to face the real me to becoming a better me against the knowledge that my purpose is to glorify God in the whole of my living. The focus must always be about him. It is a process that John also speaks of when he said in 3:30 of Jesus, “He must become greater, I must become less.”
Before surgery, the medical team sterilizes the outer skin of the body that is about to be surgically opened and operated on. The patient and surgeon go through a scrub-down process for sanitation needs. Before any true Passover of the heart there must be washing.
General Albert Orsborn captured it well with the words, “Wash from my hands the dust of earthly striving.”
There is a very real sense that Jesus was preparing his own heart. Barclay offers an insight that almost sounds sacrilege at first. Yet, it must be true if Hebrews 4:15 is to be believed – we have a high priest who “has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin.” Barclay offers, “Jesus knew all things had been given into his hands. He knew that his hour of humiliation was near, but he knew that his hour of glory was also near. Such a consciousness might well have filled him with pride; and yet, with the knowledge of the power and the glory that were his, he washed his disciples’ feet. At that moment when he might have had supreme pride, he had supreme humility. Love is always like that.”
One of the most dangerous traps for a leader is pride in status or power – or both. It is worth noting that Blanchard and Hodges in “Lead like Jesus” say that the King James Version of the Bible uses the word leader only six times, it mentions the word servant more than nine hundred times. That tells us something very important. The road to greatness is service. The apostle Paul warns us of the temptation to “think more highly of ourselves than we ought to think.” (Romans 12:3) In those times the best posture to overcome the temptation is to stoop to a menial task; to assume as Jesus, the posture of a slave.