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"You Should Do as I Have Done"
Serving Jesus, Serving Like Jesus
“You Should Do as I Have Done”
2 Corinthians 4:5; John 13:1-17
 
In these morning sermons we are trying to learn the importance of serving Jesus by serving like Jesus.  Paul wrote to the Corinthian believers, “For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus’ sake”. 
 
That means our message and our ministries are both bound up in seeking to honor and glorify and point people to Jesus.  He is our message and His is the model of our ministry.  Therefore, everything we do in His name is to be done as He would do in.  And Paul is telling us that we are to consider ourselves to be servants of our fellow believers for the sake of Christ. 
 
So does that mean we are just at each other’s beck and call?  To a degree, yes.  Next time you have opportunity to be alongside a police car, notice what is written on the fender.  They have a little slogan posted on there that says, “To protect and to serve”.  So does that mean you can say to an officer, “Hey, boy!  I want a cold 44 ounce Dr. Pepper from the Sonic.  Go get it for me!”  After all, it says right there on your car “To protect and to serve”. 
 
That’s not what it means at all.  There is an understood conclusion to that quote that continues the thought like this:  “To protect and to serve, as far as the law is concerned”. 
 
 
The same is true with this verse of Scripture.  We are to consider ourselves each other’s bondservants for the sake of Christ.  That means as far as Christ is concerned and as far as the church is concerned, as far as Kingdom causes are concerned, I am to be your servant.  We preach Jesus and we also declare ourselves to be your servant’s for Jesus sake! 
 
So in that context, what is it that a servant is and does?  I’ve been thinking a lot about that over the last few days and what I’ve concluded is it is difficult to say exactly what a servant does, but you know one when you see one.
 
It is hard to come up with a good definition of what servanthood is, but you sure know what it is when you experience it. Most all of us have been on the receiving end of someone who was living as a servant. 
 
You know the kind of person I’m talking about.  It doesn’t matter how busy they are or what they’ve got going, if you’ve got a need, they drop everything else and help you.  They place your needs ahead of their own.  What you have going on is much more important than what they have to do.  What yo think is more important than what they think.  What they need is more important than what you need.    
 
So we may struggle with how to define what it means to be a servant, but it’s not hard at all to identify.  You will always now a servant of God when you meet one. 

 
 
That tells me that being a servant is more an attitude than it is an action.  Very often we go about service in a backward way.  We think, “God, tell me what I have to do so I can be Your servant.”  But being a servant doesn’t start with what you do or performing a list of obligations.  Being a servant starts with the attitude of the heart.
 
That is why Paul says “We preach, we declare  ourselves to be your servants for Jesus’ sake”. So what is it that we preach?  We preach our convictions.  We preach what we believe. 
 
And Paul is saying, “Here is the conviction that grips our heart and we declare to you.  We are bondservants.” 
 
That means, anybody can be a servant if they have a servant’s heart.  Any child of God has the potential of being a great servant of God.  So what is it that makes the difference between being a servant and not being a servant?
 
Is it visiting a nursing home or baking bread for those who are sick? Is it giving money to those who are in need? No, because you can visit a nursing home with a servant’s heart or you can do it out of a sheer sense of obligation.
 
You can bake bread because you want to serve somebody, or you can do it because you want to win favor and have them praise you. You can give money because you really want to serve, or you can give money out of a sense of guilt or obligation. 
 
The same action can be the action of a servant or the action of a proud person. What makes the difference is the motivation inside the human heart.
 
In fact, if you look at the next verse, Paul tells us why he has declared himself to be their servant. 
 
Verse 6
 
God has filled us with His light and now we see things differently.  He has completely changed us from the inside out and that means even the way we evaluate ourselves and our standing and relationships has been affected by our salvation. 
 
Now, here’s what I’ve noticed:  Some people find it much easier to be a servant than other people.  The reason that is true is because there is a spiritual gift of service.  In Romans 12, you’ll find it listed right along with all the other grace gifts such as prophecy and giving and mercy.  It is called the gift of ministry or service. 
 
Now those gifts are given to the church, not so that the ones with the gift are the only ones who can do those things, but as examples and encouragements to the others.  And for those who have the gift of ministry or serve, it is very easy for them to serve. 
 
However, the Bible instructs us all to be servants whether we find it easy or difficult. We are told by the same author, the Apostle Paul, in Galatians 5:13 to “serve one another in love.”
 
Remember, we are learning to serve Jesus and serve like Jesus and He was the prime example of serving one another in love. 
That’s what we saw last week. Mark 10:45 reminded us that “the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve”  and in Luke 22 He said, “I am among you as the One Who serves.”
 
Now if you want proof of that, travel to John 13 with me as we see Jesus providing the supreme expression of what it means to be a servant.  Before we read this text, we need to know some of
 
  1. The Background
 
John 13 marks a turning point in John's gospel and the ministry of Jesus Christ. Jesus' public ministry to the nation of Israel had run its course and ended in her complete and final rejection of Him as Messiah.
 
Just a few days ago, he had entered Jerusalem in triumph to the enthusiastic shouts of the people and now, in just a few hours, He will be executed as many of the same crowd scream for His death. 
 
Now it is the day before Jesus' death, and rather than being preoccupied with thoughts of His death, sin-bearing, and glorification, He is totally consumed with His love for the disciples. Knowing that He would soon go to the cross to die for the sins of the world, He is still concerned with the needs of twelve men. His love is never impersonal—that's the mystery of it.
 
In what were literally the last hours before His death, Jesus kept showing them His love over and over. John relates this graphic demonstration of it:
 
John 13:1-17
 
In verse 4, we are introduced to a situation that was very common in the first century Middle East.  They traveled in sandal clad feet on dirt roads, and as a result, their feet got dirty.  To deal with that, at the entrance to every Jewish home was a large pot of water to wash dirty feet. Normally, foot washing was the duty of the lowliest slave. When guests came, he had to go to the door and wash their feet—not a pleasant task.
 
In fact, washing feet was probably his most distasteful of all the tasks of a servant and only slaves performed it for others. Even the disciples of rabbis were not to wash the feet of their masters—that was uniquely the task of a slave.  Apparently, when Jesus and His disciples arrived in the upper room, there was no servant available to wash their feet.
 
Now keep in mind, only days before, Jesus had said to the twelve, "Whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave" (Matthew 20:26-27).
 
If they had given any thought at all to His teaching, at least one of the twelve would have washed the others' feet, or they would have mutually shared the task. It could have been a beautiful thing, but it never occurred to them because of their selfishness.
 
In fact, Luke’s account in chapter 22 of the same event, gives us an idea just how selfish they were and what they were thinking about that evening:
 
Luke 22:24-26
 
What a sickening picture this is! They were bickering about who was the greatest. And in an argument about who is the greatest, no one is going to get down to the ground and wash feet. The basin was there, the towel was there, and everything was ready. But no one moved to wash the others' feet.
 
Now it seems to me if anyone in that room should have been thinking about the glory that would be His in the kingdom and had the right to be thinking about it, it was Jesus.
 
John 13:1 points out that Jesus knew His hour had arrived. He was on a divine time schedule, and He knew He was going to be with the Father. According to verse 3, He was very conscious of the fact that He soon would be glorified. 
 
But instead of being concerned with His glory, and in spite of their selfishness, He is more concerned about them knowing and understanding just how much He loved them. 
 
In fact, verse 1 says, "Having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end." "To the end" in the Greek means “He loved them to perfection. He loved them to the uttermost. He loved them with total fullness of love.”
 
That is the nature of Christ's love, and He showed it repeatedly, even in His death. When He was arrested, He arranged that the disciples would not be arrested. While He was on the cross, He made sure that John would give Mary a home and care in years to come. He reached out to a dying thief and saved him.
It is amazing that in those last hours of carrying the sins of the world, in the midst of all the pain and suffering He was bearing, He was conscious of that one would-be disciple hanging next to him.
 
He loves utterly, absolutely, to perfection, totally, completely, without reservation. At the moment when most men would have been wholly concerned with self, He selflessly humbled Himself to meet the needs of others. Genuine love is like that.
 
How could anyone reject that kind of love? And yet, men do it all the time. Judas did.
 
Verse 2
 
The contrast between Jesus and Judas is striking. And perhaps that is the very reason the Holy Spirit included verse 2 in this passage. Set against the backdrop of Judas' hatred, Jesus' love shines even brighter. We can better understand its magnitude when we understand that in the heart of Judas was the blackest kind of hatred and rejection.
 
The words and acts of love that drew the others to Jesus pushed Judas even farther away.  The teaching that warmed their hearts caused His blood to run cold.  And eventually He is ready to destroy Christ, if need be.   
 
But the more men hated Jesus and desired to hurt Him, the more it seemed He was determined to love them.  It would be easy to understand resentment. It would be easy to understand bitterness. But all Jesus had was love—He even met the greatest injury with supreme love. In a little while He would be kneeling at the feet of Judas, washing them.
Jesus waited until everyone was seated and supper was served. Then, in an unbelievable act of humility that must have stunned the disciples,  He did what He describes in verse 15 as
 
  1.  The Example
 
Verses 4-5
 
With calmness and majesty, in total silence, Jesus stood up, walked over and took the pitcher, and poured the water into the basin. He then removed his outer robe, His belt, and very likely His inner tunic—leaving Him clothed like a slave—put a towel around His waist, and knelt to wash the feet of His disciples, one by one.
 
Can you imagine how that must have stung the disciples' hearts? Do you feel the embarrassment, the regret, the sorrow that must have shot through them? One of them could have had the joy of kneeling and washing the feet of Jesus. I'm sure they were dumb-founded and broken-hearted. What a painful and profound lesson this was for them!
 
We, too, can learn from this incident. Sadly, the church is full of people who are standing on their dignity when they ought to be kneeling at the feet of their brother. But one who is proud and self-centered and believing they are the greatest in the Kingdom has not time or inclination to service. 
 
And ironically, the service he may think he is performing for the Lord is a waste of time and energy because the heart and attitude is not right.
 
In fact, I would challenge you the next time you are tempted to think of your dignity, or your rights, or you have your feelings hurt because of the way someone has treated you, just open your Bible to John 13 and get a good look at Jesus as He is clothed like a slave, kneeling, washing dirt off the feet of sinful men who are too full of themselves to think of anybody else, including their Lord Who is about to die.
 
And yet, Jesus has gone from being God on the throne in glory in verse 3 to washing the feet of sinful, inglorious disciples in verses 4 and 5.  That is a long, downward journey. 
 
You see, for a fisherman to wash the feet of another fisherman is a relatively small sacrifice of dignity. But that Jesus Christ, in whose heart beat the pulse of God, would stoop down and wash the feet of lowly men, that's the greatest kind of humiliation. And that is the nature of genuine humility and service, as well as the proof of genuine love.
 
Love has to be more than words or it is not love at all. Love that is real is love expressed in activity, not just words.  And consequently, we find Jesus on His knees, washing the feet of those who would deny and betray him.
 
Eventually, he arrived at Peter, who must have been completely broken. He said with a mixture of remorse and amazement,
 
Verses 6-7
 
Apparently, at this point, Peter was still thinking that the Kingdom was coming, and Jesus was the King. How could he allow the King to wash his feet? It wasn't until after Jesus' death, resurrection, and ascension that Peter understood the total humiliation of Jesus.  Then Peter grew more bold.
 
verses 8-9
 
Is that not typical of Peter?  He goes from one extreme to the other! 
 
There is profound meaning in Jesus' words, "If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me." You see, the typical Jewish mindset could not accept the Messiah humiliated. In Peter's mind, Jesus is the King.  Remember, He has confessed Him to be THE Christ, the Son of the Living God. HE believes that with all his heart. 
 
But if Jesus is the King, there was no place for Christ to be humiliated like this. But Peter has to be made to realize that Christ came to be humiliated. If Peter could not accept this act of humiliation, he would certainly have trouble accepting what Jesus would do for him on the cross.
 
But the meaning goes even deeper than that.  Jesus has now moved from the physical illustration of washing feet to the spiritual truth of washing the inner man.
 
He is saying, "Peter, unless you allow Me to wash you in a spiritual way, you are not clean and you have no part with Me." All cleansing in the spiritual realm comes from Christ, and the only way anyone can be clean is if he is made clean by Jesus Christ. 
 
This is the thought that so many of our great hymns touch on: 
 
“What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.”
 
“There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Immanuel’s veins and sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stain.”
 
“Down at the cross where my Savior died, down where for cleansing from sin I cried, there to my heart was the blood applied, glory to his name.”
 
“Dark is the stain that I cannot hide. Grace, grace, God’s grace, grace that will pardon and cleanse within. Grace, grace, God’s grace, Grace that is greater than all my sin.”
 
“Jesus paid it all. All to him I owe. Sin had left a crimson stain. He washed it white as snow.”
 
Listen:  Nobody has a relationship with Jesus Christ unless Christ has cleansed his sins. And no one can enter into the presence of the Lord unless he first submits to that cleansing.
 
Peter eventually learned that truth.  In fact, he preached it himself in Acts 4:12 when he said, "And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved." When a man puts his faith in Jesus Christ, he's clean, and not until then.
 
But Peter isn’t hearing what the Lord is saying.  He’s still thinking of physical cleansing, so he offers his hands and head—everything.
He still did not see the full spiritual meaning, but he said in essence, "Whatever washing you've got to offer me that makes me a part of You, I want it."
 
Jesus, still speaking of spiritual washing, said, "He who has bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean" (v.10).
 
There is a difference between a bath and a foot washing. In the culture of that day, a man would take a bath in the morning to get himself completely clean. As he went through the day, he had to wash his feet from time to time, because of the dusty roads, but he didn't have to keep taking baths. All he needed was to wash the dirt off his feet when he entered someone's home.
 
Jesus is saying this: once your inner man has been bathed in redemption, you are clean.  That’s a reference to salvation and from that point on, you do not need a new bath.  You don’t lose your salvation and have to have another bath.  You do not need to be redeemed again every time you commit a sin.
 
All God has to do is daily get the dust off your feet. Positionally, you are clean.  That’s what He’s telling Peter in verse 10.  But on the practical side, you need washing every day, as you walk through the world and get dirty feet.
 
That spiritual washing of the feet is what 1 John 1:9 refers to: "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us [literally, keep on cleansing us] from all unrighteousness."  That is not a salvation verse.  That is a daily cleansing verse for Christians.
 
Jesus knew which of the disciples were truly cleansed by redemption. Furthermore, He knew what Judas' plans for the evening were: "For He knew the one who was betraying Him; for this reason He said, 'Not all of you are clean'" (v. 11). That should have pricked the heart of Judas.
 
Judas knew what He meant. Those words, combined with Jesus' washing his feet, constituted what would be the last loving appeal for Judas not to do what he was planning to do.  What was going through the mind of Judas as Jesus knelt washing his feet? Whatever it was, it had no deterring effect on Judas.
 
Notice what happened after Jesus finished washing their feet:
 
  1.  The Teaching
 
Verses 12-17
 
Here’s where we get to the real impact of the passage.  Jesus inserts this parenthetical lesson on salvation, then gets back to the main lesson He is teaching His disciples which is we are called to serve like Him.
 
Jesus says, “Do you know what I’ve done to you?  Do you understand what you’ve just witnessed?”  Obviously, they didn’t.  So He explains it.
 
And it boils down to this: If the Lord of glory is willing to gird Himself with a towel, take upon Him the form of a servant, act like a slave, and wash the dirty feet of sinful disciples, it is reasonable that His disciples would be willing to wash each other's feet.
 
Many people believe that Jesus was instituting an ordinance for the church. Some churches practice footwashing in a ritual similar to the way we have baptism and communion. I don’t think so. 
 
2. Foot washing by definition is dirty, smelly and humiliating.
 
Have you ever tried to wash somebody’s feet at the end of a long, hard day? Have you ever tried to wash somebody‘s feet covered with grime, perspiration, somebody’s feet when the feet really stink? Have you ever put your face right down next to an ingrown toenail? It’s not as much fun as you think it is.
 
There are some churches today who practice foot washing as a regular part of their worship services.  In fact, some even teach that it is a third ordinance of the church, along with Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. 
 
So what they will do is schedule a foot washing service and put it on the calendar.  The third Sunday fo the month, we’ll be observing the ordinance of foot washing during the morning service. 
 
So what happens?  Everybody makes sure their feet are clean that Sunday because they don’t’ want to be embarrassed and have somebody exposed to their dirty, smelly feet!
 
But that misses the point. The only feet that need washing are dirty feet. Just to have somebody messing around with your feet is embarrassing and a little bit weird!  It’s uncomfortable. It’s dirty; it’s humiliating.
So what was the Lord telling us to do?  In verse 15, He makes it very clear. 
 
Verses 15-17
 
Had He been teaching us to literally wash feet, He would have said, “Do what I’ve done to you”.  After all, when we were given instructions for observing the Lord’s Supper, we are given specifics.  When we were told to baptize, we were told how to do it. 
 
But here He says, I want you to behave like me, not do the same thing I have done.  The example we are to follow is not the washing of feet, it is His humble service, doing the menial and humiliating tasks for the glory of Jesus Christ.
 
Jesus took a tangible, practical act of washing feet and used it as an acted-out object lesson to teach them and us a spiritual lesson.  Much more than washing their feet, He was saying, “This is Who I am. This is why I have come to earth. This explains the cross. I came as a servant, to wash dirty feet.”
 
In fact, in terms of sacrificing to serve others, there was never anything Jesus was unwilling to do. Why should we be different? We are not greater than the Lord. 
 
The simple truth is, as servants, we are called to wash feet so that ultimately, they will learn about Jesus, confess their sins and be cleansed.  And Jesus is simply saying, “If you’re going to be my disciples, just go wash dirty feet and in so doing, you will not only proclaim the kingdom of God, you will enjoy the blessing of God.” 
 
Now, that means there is some good news and there is some bad news.  The bad news is feet stink. If you’re going to wash feet, you’re going to do some humbling things and humiliating things and you’re going to be involved in some situations that aren’t very nice or popular or that aren’t going to be seen by the masses. You aren’t necessarily going to be applauded for doing it.
 
But the good news is there is a great reward for foot washers. You’re blessed if you do these things.
 
So why should we?  It’s really very simple.  Jesus told us to, dirty feet need to be washed and Jesus said we’d be blessed if we did it. 
 
There are some great examples of servants of God, such as young William Borden, heir to the Borden Milk fortune, who left everything to serve as a missionary in China.  When he announced what he was doing, one of his friends responded by saying, “What a waste!” 
 
And from a human standpoint, it appeared that way.  Because he was hoping to work with Muslims, he stopped first in Egypt to study Arabic. While there, he contracted spinal meningitis and within a month, 25-year-old William Borden was dead.
 
Concerning his death, his biographer, Mary Taylor wrote, "A wave of sorrow went round the world . . . Borden not only gave away his wealth, but himself, in a way so joyous and natural that it seemed a privilege rather than a sacrifice". 
 
Such is the nature of serving God.
 
Or if we wanted to see another example of a great man who learned the value of service, we could talk about J.L. Kraft, founder of the Kraft cheese company.
 
In 1903, he found himself stranded in Chicago with $65 to his name.  With that money, he bought a horse named Paddy and wagon and started peddling cheese to small stores that he picked up at the wholesale warehouses district of the cit.  That saved the merchants the task of making the trip.
 
The business began to prosper and grew to the company that is still in operation today. Estimates are that over the course of his lifetime, he gave approximately 25% of his enormous income to God’s work.  He said, "The only investment I ever made which has paid consistently increasing dividends is the money I have given to the Lord."  
 
But I’m afraid when we tell only the stories of the rich and famous, we are tempted to believe the blessing of God is not available to common folks like you and me. 
 
But the truth of the matter is, the bulk of God’s work has always been done through faithful, ordinary people.  In countless churches around the world, week by week and day by day the ministry of Christ is done through men and women, boys and girls who have a heart to serve.
 
Deacons and Sunday School teachers and prayer warriors and pastors and leaders and church members who pick up a towel and a basin of water and go out to wash dirty feet. 
 
One such person I read about this week was a nursing school graduate who took a job in a long-term care facility. One of her first patients was a woman named Eileen. Eileen’s major health problem was that she had had an aneurysm burst in her brain, leaving her totally unconscious to the observing eye, and apparently unaware of anything that was going on around her.
 
It was necessary to turn Eileen every hour to prevent bedsores, and she had to be fed through her stomach tube twice a day. Eileen never had visitors--there was apparently no one who cared about her.
 
One of the other nurses said, "When it's this bad you have to detach yourself emotionally from the whole situation…." As a result, more and more Eileen came to be treated as a thing, with people just going in and doing their work and then leaving again as quickly as they could.
 
But this young nurse decided that she, in living out her Christian faith, would treat this woman differently. She talked to Eileen, sang to her, said encouraging things to her, and even brought her little gifts. 
 
On Thanksgiving Day, however, the young nurse came to work reluctantly, wanting to be home on the holiday. As she entered Eileen's room, she knew she would be doing the normal tasks with no thanks whatsoever. So she decided to talk to Eileen and said, "I was in a cruddy mood this morning, Eileen, because it was supposed to be a day off. But now that I'm here, I'm glad. I wouldn't have wanted to miss seeing you on Thanksgiving. Do you know this is Thanksgiving?"
Just then the telephone rang and the nurse turned away from the bed to answer it. As she was talking, she turned to look back at Eileen. Suddenly, she said, Eileen was "looking at me…crying. Big damp circles stained her pillow and she was shaking all over."
 
That was the only emotion that Eileen ever showed, but it was enough to change the attitude of the entire staff toward her. Not long after that, she died. The young nurse closed her story this way: "I keep thinking about her….It occurred to me that I owe her an awful lot. Except for Eileen, I might never have known what it's like to give myself to someone who can't give back."
 
That is the heart of Christ.  He came and lived it, he taught it, and He commands it of us. In fact, God created you in such a way that you will not find ultimate fulfillment until you are serving others.
 
So, whose feet are you going to wash this week?  Why not begin by asking God, “Lord, whose feet should I wash this week?” Don’t pray for ten names. Start with just one, your husband, your wife, your children, your family, your friends, people across the street, your co-workers, somebody you barely know. Ask the Lord for one name right now.
 
Now that you have the name, write down the initials of the person the Lord has shown you. This will help you be accountable to God, to seal the decision.
 
 
 
 
It’s not that difficult if you have the right kind of heart. If you don’t, it’s impossible. Anyone can wash dirty feet. You can. If you’re willing to kneel down and if you don’t mind your hands getting wet and if you don’t mind dirty feet you can do it. You can wash feet this week if you’re willing to be a servant, not a big shot.
 
By the way, if Jesus can step down from His rightful place on the throne of Glory to become a man, and then further humble Himself to be a servant and wash the feet of twelve undeserving sinners, we ought to be willing to serve others in His name.  After all, Jesus said, “Do as I have done for you.”
 
The only question this morning is this, “When will we take the words of Jesus seriously?”
 
Let’s pray.
 
 
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