HANDS OF HUMILITY!

John 13:1-5, 12-17 It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that

the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having

loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent

of his love. 2 The evening meal was being served, and the devil had

already prompted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, to betray Jesus. 3 Jesus

knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had

come from God and was returning to God; 4 so he got up from the meal,

took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5 After

that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet,

drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him....12 When he

had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his

place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13

“You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14

Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also

should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you

should do as I have done for you. 16 I tell you the truth, no servant is

greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent

him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do

them. In the name of Jesus Christ, who serves us in life and in death, dear Christian

friends, Would you agree that good service is hard to find these days? Whether you’ve

shopped at a retail store where the clerk paid you no attention or admitted to a hospital

where you felt the nursing staff neglected you or ate at a restaurant where the wait staff

was slow and rude, good service can be hard to find. Is expecting good service from

others a selfish expectation or is it godly?

God created people to depend on each other and their acts of service. The world

doesn’t work without people serving one another. Serving one another is so crucial to

our existence. In tonight’s lesson, we see Jesus not only provides incomparably good service to his disciples, but he does it for free. Without demands of payment, without pulling rank,

without excuse making, without being condescending or patronizing, Jesus serves his

disciples with his HANDS OF HUMILITY.


HANDS OF HUMILITY!


2 It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for

him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the

world, he now showed them the full extent of his love. The evening meal was being

served, and the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, 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 him.

Twice in those five verses, the Apostle John wrote that “Jesus knew” what was

happening around him and to him. As true God, Jesus had complete omnipotence and

omniscience. Yet rather than leveraging his full authority in some dazzling display of the

divine, Jesus exercised complete humility.

While Jesus’ mind raced with anticipation of the pain of sin and suffering of hell,

while he foresaw the cross he would endure to lovingly rescue souls from condemnation,

while his disciples seemed to be pre-occupied “which of them was considered to be the

greatest” (Lk 22:24), it was Jesus who recognized the need for the dirt and dust to be

cleaned from the feet of his disciples in order that they could eat. Instead of boiling over

with anger at his followers’ individualism or selfishly waiting for someone else to do it,

Jesus washed and dried their feet, acting on his own words as he had earlier taught his

disciples how to be great: “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your

servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave” (Mt 20:26,27).

Without even a hint of frustration or exasperation, Jesus handled their pride with

perfect patience. He overcame their arrogance with humble service. He came from

heaven on a mission from his Father to redeem the world, and he wasn’t about to quit in

the eleventh hour. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them

the full extent of his love. Most of our Christian service falls short because we base it on the behavior of our neighbor. “He doesn’t like me; I’m not going to like him.” “She doesn’t treat me nice; I’m not going to treat her nice.” “He doesn’t serve me well; I’m not going to serve him

well.” We justify our poor service to others by convincing ourselves it is not us, it is

them. If Jesus based his service on the disciples’ behavior, none of them would have had

their feet washed. Worse yet, none of them would have had their sins forgiven because

Jesus would have never made it to the cross! And we would have no love, no

forgiveness, no salvation!

Jesus’ humility shines brighter and greater than ours because it’s not based on

human behavior. Jesus’ humility is based on God’s love and grace. He serves us because

he loves us. His love is unconditional. His love is perfect.

This was true for his disciples and for us! Jesus came to serve you, as he taught

his disciples when they were fighting over who was the greatest in their group. “The

Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom

for many” (Mt 20:28).

Talk about good service! Christ’s obedient death served you well; it paid the

ransom price for your pride and your attitude of entitlement, for your obnoxious rank

pulling, for making people feel smaller and lesser than you, and for every other shallow


3 and insecure excuse you’ve ever offered God for failure to serve him or others. The same

apostle, John, who recorded these words also wrote: “The blood of Jesus, his Son,

purifies us from all sin” (1 Jn 1:7).

The disciples had a history of missing the point, so it makes me wonder what they

did after Jesus washed their feet. We hear of Peter’s interplay with Jesus, but don’t hear

from anyone else. Were they ashamed of their arguing and their failure to serve Jesus? I

would think so, but, even more so, did they change their attitude and put their hands of

humility into action as Jesus wanted them to?

When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned

to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You

call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your

Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.

I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the

truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one

who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

Jesus was their ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and by virtue of his office he was their

superior. But he didn’t flaunt his title in their faces. He didn’t shove his superiority

down their throats or use it to avoid humble service to anyone. By his example, he

showed them how to serve.

“Washing one another’s feet” means to serve and, in so doing, show Jesus’ love

toward our fellow human beings, even to those who are in positions of government

authority but maybe of a different political party than we are, even to those who have a

different skin color, even to those who are in a different tax bracket than we are.

“Washing one another’s feet” is the kind of love that stoops to the lowliest level of

service, that is blind to see who it is serving, that serves so freely it pays no attention to

what it costs, that is so pure it seeks not the recognition of man but only the approval of

God.

Jesus came to serve...his heavenly Father, his first disciples and you and me. We

can find nothing to complain about with his service to us. It can be compared to nothing

else we have ever received and it is free.

Jesus’ humble death purifies us of our poor service. Jesus’ perfect hands of

humility satisfy God’s holiness and provide us the motive to serve our neighbor. So,

answer Christ’s call and wash each other’s feet. Let Jesus’ humility and servant attitude

rework your attitude and your actions. Ask “How can I serve?” and “Whom can I

serve?” And keep in mind Jesus’ words: “Now that you know these things, you will be

blessed if you do them”.

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