"SERVANTHOOD:THE WAY TO BLESSING"
(A Series on Jesus)
C.R.7/5/87p.m. John 13:1-17
PROPOSITION: Jesus, by example, demonstrates that the
only way to true blessing is by way of servanthood towards Him and each other, taught by means of His washing of His disciple's feet.
- I AM fascinated by the study of the spread of the Gospel of Jesus in other cultures.
- AND I am particularly interested in the fact that the church is growing by leaps and bounds in cultures other than our own.
* It was an incredible experience to see the kind of growth that the church of Jesus is having in Korea......we went there in 1983 for a Church Growth seminar. Dr. Cho's is only one of many churches in Korea that are exploding in evangelism.
* I have been asked to teach for a few weeks, possibly this Fall, at the Bible College of a church in Singapore that is 4,000 strong and gives over 3 million dollars a year to missions.
* We are trying to get Pastor Victor Bueno, from Brazil, for our missions convention speaker next year. His church is over 25,000 strong and experiencing revival.
- AND when a church in this country gets to 4,000, the pastor goes on the circuit teaching "Church Growth Seminars.".....it is a big deal.
- WITH all the media exposure, the fantastic evangelists, the sheer number of churches in America, the gimmicks and hard work that goes into kingdom work here....you would think that we should lead the world in the size of His church in America.
- THE Assemblies of God is ten times as large overseas than it is in America.
- WHAT'S the problem in America?
* Is it too much affluence? That is one difference between third world churches and us. Well that probably does have something to do with it. When Israel was prospering she forgot God.
* Is it our scientific world view? The fact that we believe that everything we see has some natural and scientifically proven explanantion. We have little room in American culture for the supernatural. That probably has something to do with it.
* Is it our preoccupation with pleasure and personal comfort? That probably has something to do with it.
- I THINK that the main problem with the church in America is that in most American's "self" is on the throne.......and it is hard for Jesus to elevate His Name in His church when man is trying so hard to elevate himself.
- THE big "I" comes before anything else in American culture....it is the by-product of secular humanism.
- IT is the exact opposite of servanthood....and servanthood is what the Gospel is all about.
- I AM not saying that selfishness is totally absent from third world cultures....but you sure don't see nearly as much of it, even in everyday life.
* In Korea their very attitude is one of service....Cho says it stems from being an occupied nation for so much of their history.
* In Korea you never see a husband park his car at the mall, get out, and walk to the entrance with his wife still getting the four kids out of the car....the shopping bag.....the baby stroller....her purse......and locking the car.
* Look around here. It happens all the time.
* They bent over backwards to serve you and each other in Korea. Cho has no problem getting his people all into Care Groups....and reaching out to the lost in their city.
* When he sets a goal that they are going to win 100,000 souls this year....everybody takes on his part of that goal with no problem.....it is all a part of servanthood.
- IN America we are all too concerned with our image, our status, our relative importance to the other guy, our comforts, our privacy.......there is very little place for servanthood in the American attitude.
- DO you want proof of that statement?
- NAME me one national evangelist or TV personality who has built his ministry on the message and theme of servanthood.......it wouldn't fly because no one wants to hear it, much less practice it.
- YET it is the inescapable life and teaching of Jesus.
- AND He taught it so graphically in our passage for tonight.
- PLEASE turn with me to John 13:1-17. READ.
II.RESISTANCE TO SERVANTHOOD
- THERE is a very natural resistance to servanthood....it is the pride if life, the ego, called the flesh in the Bible.
- IT is not unique to American culture, it is just that our lifestyle and society here feeds it more than in other parts of the world.
- IT was very much alive among Jesus' disciples.
- WE find it out by researching what was happening among them right before John 13.
- TURN to Luke 22:24 and you will find out.
- JESUS and His disciples are making preparations for the passover. He is about to lay down His life on the cross....the supreme sacrifice for the sin of mankind....because of His great love for them and us all.......and right in the middle of all of this a fight breaks out among them.
- VERSE 24 says,
" Also a dispute arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest."
- MATTHEW 26:8 tells of a different scene, also right before the Passover too, and this time they are arguing over money....with greed at the bottom of the matter.
- SO, right here, on the eve of Calvary, the Lord's closest disciples are fighting among themselves over position and money.
- THEY are overcome with selfish ambition and greed.....and in vivid contrast Jesus is filled with compassion for them.
- IT says in John 13:1; "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."
- NOW the dispute over who would be the greatest likely happened because of the up-coming meal and the very involved tradition about who got to sit where.
- WHERE you sat at the meal meant a lot concerning how important you were to the guest of honor....and how good you looked to the others.
- THE "greatest" would sit closest to Jesus and on His left....that was a stronger position than even to His right.
- SO it had become a fight. Right before the meal they were wrangling about it.
- SO even among those who were closest to Him there was resistance to servanthood....instead they wanted to know who was the big cheese.
- THIS is the reason the church in America is stagnating for the most part....there are very few servants......most everyone is grabbing for position and prestige and recognition....and Jesus doesn't work in that context.
- IN third world cultures most everybody is in the poor, lowly peasant class anyhow......so there is less struggle for personal position.
III. EXAMPLE OF SERVANTHOOD
- WELL, the disciples arrive at the plaace where they are going to eat their meal together.
- WHEN you were a guest at a special meal like this, it was customary to go to the community baths before the meal and wash yourself head to toe.
- HOWEVER, by the time you got to the host's home, your feet would be dusty....and you couldn't spread them out in that condition at the table......so the lowliest servant of the household would be assigned to wash your feet.
- JUST as the position you sat at at the dinner table determined how important you were......in this culture, washing the guest's feet determined how low you were in ranking among the servants.
- NONE of the disciples would have thought of washing anyone's feet....it would have been unthinkable...it was so far beneath them that it would not have crossed their minds, on this day or any other.
* It would have been a public statement that they considered themselves the least.
- AND, in the middle of this scene, Jesus......
* appointed to a position of absolute authority by God the Father.
* come from the presence of the Father.
* soon to return to the throne of God...a place He had just left temporarily......from which He would soon reign as King of Kings and Lord of Lords (vs.3)...........doesn't hesitate to put Himself in the servant's position.
- IN fact, I believe that it was His very security in His absolute position with the Father that made it easy for Him to take the place of the lowliest of servants.
- FIND someone who claims to know their absolute position as a believer in Christ......and if you are right you should find someone with a servant's heart and actions.
- JESUS gave us the example.
- "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." (vs.4&5)
- AND He proceeded to wash His disciples feet....the lowliest thing He could have done in those circumstances.
- PAUL records the humility of Jesus in Philippians 2:6-8;
" Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death-- even death on a cross!"
- AS we follow Jesus' example, we can lay aside all our pretensions of greatness and grandeur.......and pick up the towel of service....right in our own homes....then at work....then in our neighborhood....and also right here in our fellowship.
- IT starts in the heart. It is the laying down of those things that build us up and taking on the needs of others as our own.
* It can be done by something as simple as taking a meal over to someone in need.
* Taking someone out shopping who can't get out themselves.
* Putting your arm around someone who doesn't get a warm touch very much.
* Teaching a Sunday School class.......of kindergartners....or 6th grade boys.
* Driving the bus to camp.
* Cleaning someone's house.....or sometime's it is letting someone clean your house.
- IT means getting your hands dirty.....and the real test for us will be when we start our downtown mission.
IV.BLESSING OF SERVANTHOOD
- WELL, it looks like Peter was the first in line....and he wouldn't let Jesus wash his feet......it was kind of humiliating in itself to have someone of such a high position as Jesus, wash your feet. So he said NO!
- THEN Jesus explained the situation to Peter;
"Jesus replied, 'You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.' 'No,' said Peter, 'you shall never wash my feet.' Jesus answered, 'Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.'" (vv7&8)
- PETER said, "You never splained it like that to me before........Then, Lord, not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!" (vs.9)
- JESUS was not speaking here of footwashing as a means to salvation...in fact He explaned in the next verse that Peter was already clean.....i.e.saved.
- JESUS was talking about fellowship.
- HE was saying that humility is the only way to fellowship with Him......that is the blessing referred to in verse 17;
"Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them."
- HUMILITY and servanthood is the only way to blessing...Jesus said it.
- MAY the Holy Spirit give us such a love for Jesus...and such a knowledge of our security in Him.....that servanthood flows out of us at every level of our lives.
- NOTHING phony.....just the real thing.
HOLY GOD, MAKE ME HOLY