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Jesus had just washed His disciples feet and also identified His betrayer...
John 13:31–35 NKJV
31 So, when he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man is glorified, and God is glorified in Him. 32 If God is glorified in Him, God will also glorify Him in Himself, and glorify Him immediately. 33 Little children, I shall be with you a little while longer. You will seek Me; and as I said to the Jews, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come,’ so now I say to you. 34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Focus verse:
John 13:34 NKJV
34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
We are to love one another as Christ has loved us.
As I have loved you
John 13:1–8 NKJV
1 Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end. 2 And supper being ended, the devil having already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray Him, 3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, 4 rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. 5 After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. 6 Then He came to Simon Peter. And Peter said to Him, “Lord, are You washing my feet?” 7 Jesus answered and said to him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this.” 8 Peter said to Him, “You shall never wash my feet!” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.”
Back then, they didn’t have shoes like we do today. They wore sandals. Also, the roads would have been quite like they are today. As such, as they walked on the streets, their feet would have got very dirty.
To wash someone’s feet was therefore a menial task. It was actually the job of a slave to wash the guest’s feet. In fact, that’s why Peter resisted Jesus washing his feet.
However, Jesus’ actions were a symbol of His cleansing us from sin, which is why He said to Peter, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me”.
John 13:12–15 NKJV
12 So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? 13 You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.
The lesson is clear: we are called to see ourselves as each other’s slaves, and to serve one another in practical ways.
Philippians 2:3 NKJV
3 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.
Galatians 5:13 NKJV
13 For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.
1 John 3:18 NKJV
18 My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.
Ultimately, Christ loved us by laying down His life for us.
Galatians 2:20 NKJV
20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
Ephesians 5:2 NKJV
2 And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.
We may not ever have to actually physically die for each other. But we do need to die to ourselves in order to love one another.
This is because love is selfless.
We have seen that this involves practically serving one another. But what else does this love look like?
Paul describes it in 1 Corinthians 13...
1 Corinthians 13:4–7 NKJV
4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

“love suffers long”

"Longsuffering is that quality of selfrestraint in the face of provocation which does not hastily retaliate or promptly punish; it is the opposite of anger, and is associated with mercy...”
From Notes on Thessalonians, by Hogg and Vine, pp. 183, 184.

“love is kind”

Showing goodness to others in a manner and disposition that is warmhearted, compassionate, considerate, gracious, sympathetic and gentle.
Kindness is not just what you do, but the way you do it!

“love does not envy”

Because love wants to see others succeed

“love does not parade itself”

It doesn’t boast. It doesn’t make others feel inferior.
It is sensitive to the insecurities of others
Also...
Matthew 6:1–4 NKJV
1 “Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. 2 Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 3 But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.

“love is not puffed up”

You can only think yourself superior, if you think others are inferior.
Because love focuses on the goodness of others, there is no room for being overly impressed with yourself!

“love does not behave rudely”

Love always considers how its mannerisms might affect the mood and self-esteem of others.

“love does not seek its own”

Love is not totally absorbed in its own world, without consideration and concern for the well-being of others. It is not selfish!

“love is not provoked”

Love doesn’t have a short fuse!
You don’t have to walk on egg shells around someone filled with love.
People should feel safe and secure around us.

“love thinks no evil”

Love doesn’t keep a record of people’s wrongs.
Love is willing to forgive and leave the past in the past.

“love does not rejoice in iniquity but rejoices in the truth”

Love knows that sin in people’s lives, will send them to hell. Therefore, love does not rejoice when people break God’s laws, because love doesn’t want anyone to perish.
However, when people live according to God’s truth, love rejoices.

“love bears all things”

Love is willing to be inconvenienced for the well-being of others.
We must be careful not to take this to an extreme. For example, a victim of domestic violence should not be told to just grin and bear it because love bears all things! Common sense applies.

“love believes all things”

Love is ready to believe the best about people.
This does not mean that we are to be gullible.
It does mean that we don’t think the worst of people, but are ready to see the good.

“love hopes all things”

Love hopes the best for people.

“love endures all things”

Love continues to love those who mistreat them!
We could perhaps summarise all this by saying:

Love is compassionate and selfless devotion to the well-being of others.

So, we can paraphrase Jesus’ instruction to us as follows:
“As I have shown compassionate and selfless devotion to your well-being, you show compassionate and selfless devotion to each other’s well being. And when you do that, all will know that you are My disciples”
Amen.

Summary

We are called to see ourselves as each other’s slaves, and to serve one another in practical ways.
We need to die to ourselves in order to love one another.
Love is compassionate and selfless devotion to the well-being of others.
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