A Matchless Master to Model – 7/18/99

John 13:1-5

JESUS CHRIST is our intended model. His mission in coming was to do the will of Him who sent Him in seeking and saving. Those saved then are to allow Him to be their role model. Christ is the prototype of what God the Father wants us to be.

All that the Son was to the Father we are to be to the Son.

All that the Father was to the Son the Son wants to be to us.

Most folks have at some time enjoyed playing any one of many types of games where items are hidden and persons try to find them. Often the best hiding places are those where hunters would least expect to find the item. It is so easy it is overlooked. Practically everyone is looking for happiness, a sense of purpose, fulfillment, and joy. Where they are found is so obvious it is overlooked.

Francis of Assisi, son of a wealthy merchant, gave up his inheritance to live a life of poverty serving among the poor. He distilled principles leading to happiness and fulfillment in this verse:

Lord make me an instrument of thy peace.
Where there is hatred let me sow love.
Where there is injury – pardon.
Where there is doubt – faith.
Where there is darkness – light.
Where there is sadness – joy.
Oh, divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console.
To be understood as to understand.
To be loved as to love.
For it is giving that we receive
It is in pardoning that we pardon.
It is in dying that we are born to eternal life.”

The unsuspected place where life finds meaning is in being a servant. We tend to think that is the last place it can be found. Instead of looking there we tend to turn to celebrity hood.

One reason so many people, especially youth, don’t have a sense of purpose and fulfillment is they have material things they know they don’t deserve and didn’t earn and deep down they feel guilty. Knowing the material things haven’t satisfied they perceive more material things will satisfy. Unfortunately that only deepens the sense of emptiness.

Life only has meaning when it has a purpose and the more challenging the purpose the more meaningful the life. Serving Christ in your daily life affords that gratification.

Let’s engage in a case study of Christ cast in the role of a servant to better understand our role as servants. John 13:1-7 reveals a very special ministry Jesus performed to His own. Contained in this account are found secrets to fulfillment and happiness.

The moment at hand was one of great stress. Christ knew He was to die the next day. At times of stress and difficulty most folks want strokes and warm fuzzes. Instead, Christ sought solace in service. By observing His responses to stress we can see how we too can handle it. He —

His disciples had followed Him about three years and still had not caught on to what He was truly trying to do in their lives. They were still arguing over their positions of order in His kingdom (Luke 22:34).

Privately the mother of James and John, an earthly aunt of Jesus, had tried to gain a family favor by asking that her boys be allowed to sit on his right and left in His kingdom. This upset the disciples. They weren’t disturbed because she did but because she beat their own little Jewish mothers to the point. They were still concerned about status not servanthood.

Customs of the day help us understand the true teaching of our test. Guests normally bathed before going to a special dinner. Sanitation and dusty roads caused persons walking to get their feet dirty. Therefore, hosts had servants to wash the feet of the guests. The towel was a symbol of servanthood. Jesus, Himself, laid aside His robes, took the towel and washed their feet. This is a picture of Philippians 2: 5 – 8.

This took commitment. If we are going to follow our Teacher and Lord, we must also have commitment. There are ten different Greek words in the New Testament for commitment. A look at two of them will aid our understanding.

First Peter 4:19, “There fore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit (PARATITHESTHOSAN) their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator.” This word for commitment means to lay down something for another. It is an appeal for the kind of commitment that prompts one to lay down their life in service for Christ.

John 2:24, A great group of people sought Christ because of His popularity and near celebrity status at the moment. “But Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men.” This word means to entrust. We are to commit, that is, entrust ourselves to Him because He is trustworthy.

Being committed doesn’t mean you will be victorious at all times. It does mean you will always be successful by God’s standard. Some loss and failure is part of life.

There is a commercial featuring Michael Jordan. It pictures him striding on the court where he helped lead the Chicago Bulls to six NBA championships. The crowd is chanting his name. As he pauses in the commercial, we hear his thoughts: “I’ve missed 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost over 300 games. Twenty-six times I took the winning shot and missed….and because of this I’m a success.”

Any achiever “misses” and “loses” on occasion. They achieve because they are committed and consistent. Any person who consistently serves Christ is a winner by the standard of our Lord.

II. SPOKE A COMMAND “Do as I have done” (Vs. 15)
Foot washing has often been misunderstood and on occasion practiced with the wrong spirit. There is a rural church in Tennessee with its name on the sign out front: “Left Foot Baptist Church.” The church was a split off from the mother church. There a dispute arose over which foot should be washed first, the left or right. Being unable to resolve the conflict an element withdrew and started the new church giving it the name of their preference; “Left Foot Baptist Church.” It would have to be Baptist!

This is not a command to engage in foot washing. We know this because:

Foot washing was a very common practice and Jesus said He was giving us “A new commandment” (vs. 34).

If it were merely foot washing about which He spoke, He would not have said, “What I am doing you do not understand…” (vs. 7). They understood foot washing, BUT they sure didn’t understand loving servanthood.

If it were merely foot washing He would not have asked, “Do you know what I have done unto you?” (Vs. 12).

If it were foot washing He would not have said, “you should do as I have done to you” (Vs. 15), but would have said, “you should do what I have done to you.”

The “new commandment” related to:
A. Humility. Christ was — Appealing to His followers to set aside rank. Assuming even the lowest rank for “one another.”
B. Cleansing. He was picturing for us our role in stopping to help others enjoy spiritual cleansing. Galatians 6:1, “brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in the spirit of gentleness, considering yourselves lest you also, be tempted.”
C. Love. In verse 13 He said, “You call me Teacher (Master) and Lord, and you say well, for so I am.”
“Teacher” one from whom to learn.
“Lord” one to follow.
In essence He was saying, “I have taught you humility and love now follow my example.”

Verse 10 teaches a great spiritual truth. Christ used two words of significance: “He who is bathed (LOUO) needs only to wash (NIPTO) his feet…”

“Bathed” refers to salvation in which a person is totally forgiven of all sin.

Christians walk in the world and unfortunately though they are saved they sometimes yield to temptation and commit a sin. Though this sin doesn’t rob the sinning Christian of salvation, it does rob such a one of the joy of their salvation and clouds their effective witness. Therefore, such Christians need spiritual cleansing. I John 1:9 is a short course in HOW TO.

Peter went from one extreme to another. Before he understood what Christ was teaching, he said, “You shall never wash my feet.” Once he caught on, he over did it and said, “Lord not my feet only, but also my hands and my feet” (Vs. 9).

Some persons confuse the issue and say they want to be saved “again.” If they were ever once saved what they need is spiritual cleansing, that is, I John 1:9.

If you want to be a happy servant, get cleansed and help others get cleansed — “If you know these things, happy are you if you do them” (Vs. 17).

Let’s go back to the word COMMITMENT. According to the Word of God to make a commitment is to turn something over to someone. I want to appeal to each of you to turn your life over to the Teacher/Lord and become His servant.

Revelation 19 tells us that Jesus Christ comes back, He is going to have “on His vesture and on His thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.”

Will you today by your actions say, “He is my Sovereign, the One I obey?”