A merchant, who had been a very worldly, godless man, was hopefully converted. On being asked what had been more especially the means of his conversion, he replied, "The example of one of my clerks." He went on to say that this young man was one "whose religion was in his life rather than in his tongue. When I uttered an oath he never reproved me; but I could see it deeply pained him. When I fell into a passion and behaved in a violent manner, though he spoke no word to that effect, I could see how painful the scene was to him. My respect for him led me to restrain myself in his presence, and gradually to break off both these habits. In fact, this man, though he never spoke a word to me on the subject of religion, exercised an influence for good over me, wielded by no other human being. To him, under God, I am indebted more than to any other, for the hope in which I now rejoice of eternal life through our Lord Jesus Christ."
Sometimes it’s that person who speaks less and demonstrates more the grace of Christ that impacts a soul for the Kingdom of God. Don’t get me wrong! Faith comes by hearing, but it also comes by how we live our lives for the glory of God among lost people who desperately need the gospel. But sadly to the Christian’s shame, we try sometimes to convert or change people’s morals to fit ours, instead of getting at the core issue of the hardness of heart!
Being an example is not just……..
- A workplace thing.
- A neighbor thing.
- An obligation thing
Being an example begins…….in the home, in our marriages, in our everyday dealings with our children. It starts inside before it ever goes outside where lost people are. Being an example is a Christian thing, not a when we like to turn it off and on. Being an example is a godly thing that has been birthed out of a love towards fallen sinners like you and me because of the gospel! We need to give people more credit than we give them at times, because to be honest they are watching us more than they are listening to us. See, this kind of example to live by in front of others requires something we all should strive for and sometimes hard to reach! HUMILITY. What does humility mean? Ethically it’s a freedom from pride and arrogance, a modest estimate of one's own worth. In theology, humility consists in lowliness of mind; a deep sense of one's own unworthiness in the sight of God, and it’s an act of submission to God. “Humility is honestly assessing our lives in light of God’s holiness and our sinfulness!” Jesus Christ in His humanity sets the bar or the standard to which we are to live by…
- Not just at church
- Not just at the work place
- Not just when we feel like it
We are to demonstrate the example of humility at times through the good the bad our trial and our errors. Remember what the Apostle Paul reminded the good church folks at Philippi “Let nothing be done through selfish (interest, centered) ambition or conceit, but in lowliness (humility, meekness) of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” Phil 2:2-4. Sacrifice follows humility! Sacrifice follows humility....And so we don’t have a misunderstanding in thinking I’m taking this verse out of context listen to the verses that follow……“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” Phil 2:5-8
That’s true humility which is a product of self-sacrifice thinking of others above my wants and desires. “SACRIFICE FOLLOWS HUMILITY” How are you doing in that area of your Christian life? Though this passage is a wonderful reminder of how I’m to live in my culture……We’re going to go back even further in the word of God to see the greatest example of what true humility exemplified looks like in the face of Jesus’ disciples. The disciples are alone with Jesus in the upper room, the world was locked out. All 12 of them....Yes! Even Judas the betrayer! I want you to really remember Judas’s this morning as I share from God’s word today about being an example! The reason being……what is about to take place humbles me every time, as I think about what Jesus did here: This act of sacrificial love towards even the worst of sinners...............Judas, myself and you! Something I at times struggle with when I see the sins of others. We are so quick to throw them under the bus first and then ask questions or forgive later. This is where we need to most teachable as we examine this portion of John’s gospel. John wrote “The hour has come” referring to the death that Jesus is about to undertake for all humanity. Everything Jesus set out to do for the Father was about to be fulfilled through the Lord Jesus Christ. This was a divinely appointed hour (when He would be glorified through His Death and Resurrection and Ascension). Having known or completely aware of the present situation or future! The cross only being a few hours away and we see Jesus reminding us a truth that we need to live by.
CHRISTIAN bE AN EXAMPLE OF THE CONTINUING UNCONDITIONAL LOVE CHRIST DISPLAYED FOR HIS PEOPLE.
“He loved them to the end” Which means: “to perfection” with “a perfecting love” We know Jesus loved the whole world (John 3:16) and lost sinners! But we see Jesus isn’t talking about the whole world in these verses! “Having loved His own”
- Those whom He called unto Himself
- Those whom He saves
- Those whom He perfects with an eternal love
John MacArthur says “Even the imminent of His own death could not separate His disciples from his love. Jesus despite the reality and future events that He was aware of knowing that His disciples would in a few hours…..
- Be scattered like scared sheep.
- Forsake him like a leper
- Curse His name like the world
- Betray Him like the Pharisee’s did
Yet! Jesus loved them all……….yes, even Judas the betrayer. See the Lord Jesus love exemplified is the essence of the gospel message. He loved us before we would ever love Him. God loves us so much it’s a love like nothing else, a love that is willing to lay down His life for a friend! It’s the same kind of love we should demonstrate……..
- Men in our marriage
- Ladies in your marriage
- Children as you obey your parents
- Church as you care for one another and the lost in our community.
And if you think this love extends only to those who don’t wrong or mistreat us and only for those who do good things that please us, then you truly don’t understand this passage or the gospel that saved your wretched soul from the wrath of God. Again He loved His children unto the end Perfection! But Jesus had a betrayer amongst His children (look at v2) His name: Judas Iscariot
- A man who was in charge of the money for the group
- A man who followed and listened to Jesus speak and teach for 3 years
- A man who had the opportunity to see amazing things done by our Lord
- A man who’s heart was growing harder and more hateful by the minute
- A man who demonstrated to humanity how evil a heart is able to sink
- A man whom the Lord loved so much to even go to the Cross for him
- Judas was a greedy man
- Judas was a heartless man
- Judas was a wicked man who had one thing on his mind (ME, SELF)
- Judas cared only about what was best for Judas
We see something that is unprecedented (unbelievable, extraordinary) in the next verses! We see something that is unheard of or unusual. We see something that should never happen. We see something that would seem uncalled for in our present day situation........Why? Because naturally we are born:
- Wicked at heart
What is that? Love put into action…..which brings me to my next point!
CHRISTIAN BE AN EXAMPLE BY PUTTING THAT LOVE INTO ACTION
What were about to see is an act of true humility that ultimately follows sacrifice! (Look at verse 4) “Jesus girded Himself” assuming a servants dress (example) getting ready to do your chores or go to work! Taking off your good cloths to put on work cloths. Why did Jesus remove His robe and display Himself as a servant or a slave? We will see the answer in a minute! Foot washing was never to be done by a master. For a superior to wash the feet of an inferior was unheard of in Jewish or Roman culture. This was reserved for the lowest of slaves (even Jewish slaves were not required to perform it! Only Gentiles were....)The disciples dropped the bomb on this one and so do we at times…...They knew better! But their pride and arrogance got in the way. See, the disciples were too busy debating who was going to be the first among them in Luke’s letter. In Luke 22:24 it says “Now there was also a dispute among them, as to which of them should be considered the greatest.” They forgot what Jesus said earlier to them and the people that were listening “…….And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Matt 23:9-12. So why did Jesus gird Himself? Because His words fell on deaf ears! Why? Again, we are naturally selfish people, who don’t understand what true humility really means! So Jesus exemplifies this by putting his words into action. So He got a basin of water to do what? To wash the disgusting, dirty, smelly, dried, calloused hairy feet to show them the extent of His love for them despite their understanding and selfish hearts. Then to top it off Jesus sues the towel to dry the feet of His selfish disciples.....every single one of them: including Judas. Why did Peter speak up with a question? In (v6) we read “Lord, are You washing my feet?”
He knew that His Lord shouldn't have been doing this to see His Master, Teacher lowering Himself beneath His disciples was something that was shameful or unheard to the Jews. Especially for the ones who feet were being washed (Peter and the disciples). Peter miss understood what Jesus was doing and why! This was an example of what had to be done if Peter was ever to see his Lord again! This is a wonderful picture of the gospel. Jesus would humbly submit himself on the cross……… which was the lowest form of punishment for the worst of criminals. He took drank the cup of wrath by the Father for our sins and by drinking this cup His death cleanses us from our sin with His precious blood. This why Jesus asks the question and explains to His disciples (v9-v10). He finishes by saying “you are completely clean” (See, it’s wasn’t the act of washing the disciple’s feet and that we should go around washing feet). When you are saved through the gospel, your are set apart for God, you are His forever (which is speaking about your salvation that never needs to be repeated). But all who have been cleansed By His grace need constant washing to battle sin in the flesh!
It’s the same Idea that Paul speaks in his personal walk with the Lord “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Phil 3:12-14. Peter you have been “Bathed all over and your sins are washed away forgiven”. Peter! Was clean! Jesus said to Peter that he would one day understand all this later. Peter penned these words “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit” 1 Peter 3:18
Here is where the rubber meets the road for the Christian life. Here is where you’ll truly see the heart of a Christian and how they display Christ’s love to others. Why? Jesus says something in (v11) that confused the disciples “Peter you are clean! But one of you is not clean? Judas! My question to you is………Can you love the unlovable, the haters and blasphemers? This is where we see the grace of the gospel extended to sinners! Jesus loved Judas despite his hatred and plan towards the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus knew Judas’s heart and it was in line to Satan. BUT HERE IS THE HUMBLING PART! Jesus gave Judas every opportunity to come to Him as He knew the other disciples would. Jesus displayed the greatest example of humility by washing the very feet of the one who would betray Him a few hours later. Jesus displayed the greatest example of humility! Despite Judas heart that He loved Him to the end. Jesus did this for every single person on this earth! Whether you love Him or hate Him! And what does Jesus tell His disciples to do? (v15) “you do the same also”
I love how Kent Hughes makes this passage practical for church people like you and me! “We must become people of towels” How do we do that as a church family? By sacrificing our wants and desires by humbling ourselves to those around us and seeking the needs of others through the example of Christ. By showing Christ’s love to the fullest extent to those around us and in our communities. By starting with each other! Here in this church! Be a servant that is humble not full of pride wondering if you’re going to be greatest!
We are not here in this life to be served or to have our best life now! We are set apart unto good works which He works in and through our lives. We are called (elected) by Him because he knew our hearts needed a Saviour. We are given life through His Son because He humbled Himself on a Cross. We are loved with a perfecting love which only the Lord can do........whether you realize it or not! Jesus washed your feet and He declared you to be clean! IF YOU ARE HIS! SACRIFICE FOLLOWS HUMILITY! SACRIFICE FOLLOWS HUMILITY. Let me ask you the Sunday question: Have you sacrificed today?_________Have you picked up your towel?_________. Because the Lord Jesus said “now that know these things, you will be blessed if you do them” (v17)