[SW290] 07/28/2017 message notes by
Pastor Susan J. Wynn ©2017
“Jesus, Lord and Servant”
Text: John 13:1-17
Jesus Christ is Lord and Teacher, but He is also a Servant — first to God, His Father, and then to us. But as with every physical act He does, His serving has a life-changing spiritual meaning and effect!
Verse 1 — Jesus knows! He knows perfectly! What a great truth! He was not at all surprised by what was about to happen. Jesus had told His disciples over and over that He would be arrested, tried, and crucified AND arise on the third day.
And now the time was very near — the Passover at which our Passover Lamb would be sacrificed so you and I could receive forgiveness of past sins, reconciliation to God the Father, and eternal life!
Jesus Christ’s hour had come, when He would be Servant to His Father, by obeying Him and completing the work the Father sent Him to do. And He would serve you and me, by taking upon Himself the punishment we deserved for our sin.
Jesus knew! He knew perfectly! He knew was about to depart out of this world, and go to His Father. He had loved His own (His disciples), who were in the world.
And now that the completion of His assignment was about to be accomplished, He loved His disciples to the uttermost — completely. His love was not human love — it was agape, God’s actual love, the same love with which God loves His Son!
In what way did God the Son demonstrate His love? In a most unlikely and unexpected way!
Verse 2 — It happened at the Last Supper. Judas Iscariot was about to betray Jesus, the devil having already put it in his heart to do it.
Verse 3 — And Jesus knew! He knew perfectly! He knew who He was. God the Son. And He knew that the Father had given all things into His hand (that is, Jesus had all power and authority)! He knew He had come forth from God, and was about to go back to Him.
Verse 4 — So what was this unlikely and unexpected expression of God’s actual love by the One who has all power and authority? And what does it mean to you and me?
Let Paul tell you —
Philippians 2:5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped (hang onto as if it was stolen treasure), 7 but emptied Himself (made Himself of no reputation), taking the form of a bond-servant [one who serves out of love], and being made in the likeness of men. 8 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
Emptied Himself. Humbled Himself. A bond-servant. So, He demonstrated God’s actual love to the uttermost by giving the disciples, and you and me, a clear lesson on what it is to “have this attitude in (Greek: be of the same mind) yourselves.”
Empty yourself. Humble yourself. Become a bond-servant of Jesus Christ. This is a picture of selflessness, the opposite of the self interest/ulterior motives which we saw in Judas, in some of the disciples, in the crowd, and in the Jewish leaders in John 12.
And the ulterior motives were evident in all of the Twelve as they argued over who was the greatest and vied for choice places at the Lord’s right and left hand in what they supposed would be His earthly kingdom (see Luke 9:46 and 22:24, and Matthew 20:21). Jesus’ rebuke —
Matthew 23:11 “ But the greatest among you shall be your servant.”
What selfless act of agape did Jesus show them, and you and me, to teach us?
He laid aside His garments, took a towel, and girded it tightly around his body. Only the very least, the very lowest of servants was assigned to wash the mire from the streets off the feet of dinner guests.
And I tell you, in the same way that He laid aside His clothing in this verse, to serve His disciples, He laid aside His glorious position at the right hand of God, and obediently did what His Father sent Him to do — He died on a cross! To serve who? You! Me!
Verse 5 — God the Son poured water into a basin. He washed the disciples feet. He dried them with the towel around His waist.
Only He can cleanse you. But why did He cleanse their feet? Keep reading!
Verses 6-7 — He came to Simon Peter, to wash his feet, but Peter objected. Why should His Lord and Teacher demean Himself in such a way?
But Jesus said Peter didn’t realize (Greek: fully understand right now) why Jesus was washing His disciples’ feet. But later, Peter would fully understand, in the upper room where he was staying with the 120, in Acts 2.
When Peter did the same, offering himself as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing (Romans 12:1), he would understand (know by experiencing).
When Peter died in that way, so Christ could live in him (Galatians 2:20), he would understand.
Verse 8 — But because he didn’t understand YET, Peter said, “Never!”
Jesus said he MUST allow Him to wash His feet, or Peter would have no part with Him. He could not be Jesus’ disciple, His follower, unless he allowed Jesus to wash his feet.
So, in order to be His disciple, even before you are able to fully understand why, you MUST ask Him to cleanse you from all of your past sins, by His precious blood —
1John 1:7 but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.
Here’s why I say, “past sins” —
Romans 6:1 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? 2 May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?
Verse 9 — Peter reversed course at Jesus’ words. He wanted Jesus to wash him completely — head, hands, and feet.
Verses 10-11 — But Jesus said Peter had already bathed, so he was already clean, but not all of the disciples were clean (referring to Judas, His betrayer, who did not heed Jesus’ words).
Jesus said Peter’s body was clean, but his feet needed washing.
How had Peter been made clean in all areas but his feet? He had been cleansed by the words Jesus spoke (see John 15:3). He was cleansed by the washing of the water of the Word (Ephesians 5:26).
So why did his feet need washing?
Peter could not walk (live) in the same manner as Jesus in this world (1John 2:6) until he was baptized in and filled with the Holy Spirit.
Only then would his feet be truly clean. Only then would his walk be pure.
Only then would Peter’s self interest be crucified. Only then would he become selfless, like Jesus.
Only then would he fully understand why Jesus needed to wash his feet. Only then will you fully understand, beloved.
Verse 12 — So after Jesus washed all His disciples’ feet, He took His garments and dressed. And He reclined at table, at the place He had been before He served them.
Then Jesus asked His disciples, “Do you know (know by experiencing, have absolute knowledge of) what I have done to you?”
He knew they did not YET fully understand. They could not YET see the spiritual significance of His selfless act of agape. They did not yet have His agape in them! But He also knew they would!
I tell you, after Jesus completed His work, dying naked on a cross — the most ignoble and demeaning form of execution of those days — for you and me, and after rising on the third day, He ascended into heaven and once again was clothed with the glory He had temporarily laid aside, just as He had prayed to His Father in John 17:5 —
John 17:5 “Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.”
He sat down at the right hand of the Father, where He had been from before time began —
Hebrews 1:3 And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high . . .
Verses 13-14 — Jesus told them they rightly called Him Teacher and Lord. He is, for all who come to Him! He is greater, and we are lesser.
So, He continued, if He did it for them, then they ought to (they were required to) do it for each other.
You cannot humble yourself on a literal cross and die for someone else, like He did.
But you can deny yourself and take up your cross and follow Him, to sacrifice your self-centeredness so He can live in you (Matthew 16:24, Galatians 2:20).
You can humble yourself by dying to your self interest, in order to serve Him as His witness in this world, and serve other believers, with a pure. selfless heart motive.
You cannot wash others. Each one must be washed by believing His words and believing into Him. Then they have bathed.
And no one can be purified in their walk unless they ask to be filled with the Holy Spirit.
But He requires you serve others in this way — to teach and exhort others, to teach His Word that will cleanse them, and exhort them to ask the Father to cleanse their walk by being filled with the Holy Spirit. Hallelujah! This is what it is to be His servant!
Verse 15 — Jesus gave this as an example to His disciples, that they ought to do for each other as He did for them. “Ought” is not a suggestion, but a requirement!
It is the same for you. Humble yourself, die to your self interest, and then walk as He walked.
And by doing so, you will then demonstrate that you are filled with the actual love of God — His agape. He does not require it of just pastors and leaders. It is the requirement of every Christian. It is so much more than a literal washing of feet!
Verse 16 — Why does He speak of slaves not being greater than their master, and ones sent not being greater than the one who sent them?
Because if you object to His cleansing of you (as Peter did), do you see that you are correcting your Lord and Teacher? You, the slave (servant) are correcting your Master. You are saying you know better than He does! But you are not greater than He!
Verse 17 — If you know these things (completely, by experiencing them personally), you are blessed if you do them.
And you will gladly do them, because He has filled you with His love.
And you will be blessed by the doing, for He will be glad and you will feel His joy in you, because He is in you —
Zephaniah 3:17 “The Lord your God is in your midst,
A victorious warrior.
He will exult (Hebrew: laugh) over you with joy,
He will be quiet in His love (Hebrew: renew you in His love)
He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy (Hebrew: spin around and sing).
When you humble yourself so others may be cleansed by His words that you speak and purified by His Spirit in whom you walk, you will be blessed spiritually! You will rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory!
You have heard His words, the water by which you are washed. Now ask Him to wash your feet, and He will fill you with His Spirit so you do what He requires of you — to walk as He walked in this world!