WHO DO YOU SAY THAT I AM? – A STUDY OF THE LIFE OF JESUS (36)

SECURE ENOUGH TO SERVE – HUMILITY, HOLINESS AND HAPPINESS – JOHN 13: 1-17

We now move into the second major portion of John’s gospel. The first portion
was the book of signs, the seven miracles in chapters 1-12. This portion is
the book of Glory (13-21 – Gary Burge – NIV Application Commentary) as "the
hour has come" for Jesus to be glorified – on the cross. (See John 12:27-28;
13:1, 31,32) We must understand that the cross was not a tragedy from God’s
perspective but the very purpose for which Christ came, "to seek and save
the lost" (Luke 19:10) to the glory of God (Phil. 2:5-11). The signs done
in His public ministry all pointed to Him as the promised Messiah but the Jewish
leaders and the nation as whole did not believe in Him. (John 1:12; 12:37-41)
This next section, especially 13-17, is Jesus’ private ministry to the twelve.
The content here is unique to John’s gospel and contains the essence of the
Christian faith and the seeds for all the key doctrines which are developed
in the epistles. In it are Jesus’ last words to His closest friends and thus
to all of us as His disciples. Listen closely!

Humility – vv.1-5 – Jesus was always totally dependent upon the Father
and submitted to His will and He "knew" three important things (v.3)
that made Him secure enough to serve – to wash the feet of His disciples. 1)
His identity – where He had come from and Who He belonged to; 2) His dignity
– God’s purpose and God’s power for His life – "the Father had given all
things into His hands"; and 3) His destiny – where He was going – "back
to God" to "the right hand of the throne of God" (Hebrews 12:2).
Out of this fullness Jesus Christ the Lord was empowered to do the most humble
and lowest task among His servants – wash their dirty feet. It would be like
Queen Elizabeth sweeping our kitchen or President Bush cleaning our toilets.
The disciples were still jockeying for the top position in the kingdom, not
about to lower themselves to this low and routine duty, when Jesus got up, wrapped
the towel around His waist and began to wash their feet. (See Luke 22:14-27)
Boy they must have been greatly convicted for their pride.
Now in Christ we as believers can be secure enough to serve. 1) Our identity
has changed. We are no longer in Adam’s line (1 Peter 1:18) but are children
of God, sons of God. (See John 1:12; Romans 8:14-16; 1 John 3:1-2) We are born
again, new creatures in Christ and have "come from God"; 2) Our dignity
and purpose have changed. We were spiritually dead, and the objects of God’s
wrath (Eph. 2:1-3) but now we are chosen, forgiven, blessed with every spiritual
blessing, holy and blameless and accepted in the Beloved, God’s workmanship
(masterpiece) created in Christ Jesus for good works to the praise and glory
of God Almighty. (Eph. 1:3- 6, 2:10) We have a purpose for living that goes
far beyond this life and can make an eternal difference in the lives of others.
3) Our destiny has changed. We were destined for a Christ-less eternity, separated
from God and to a place of eternal, conscious torment (Luke 16: 19-31) and now
we are destined for glory in the presence of God and his perfected saints for
an infinite eternity. And nothing in all of creation can separate us from the
love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord! (Romans 8:35-39) We are God’s offspring
with a significant meaning and purpose for everything we do in life (1 Corinthians
10:31) with God’s power to carry it out and with a glorious future that is guaranteed
by the Lord Himself (1 Peter 1:3-7). Out of this fullness we too can be secure
enough to serve.

Holiness – vv. 6-11 – As believers in Christ we have positional righteousness
and holiness with God (we have been bathed v. 10) but we are called to work
out our salvation and walk and live lives of holiness and righteousness among
men. Thus we need regular and frequent "foot washings" as we walk
through a sinful world. John tells us in his first epistle that we need to regularly
confess our sins, not for salvation and a relationship with God, but for cleansing
and restoration of our fellowship and communion with God. (See 1 John 1: 5-9;
2: 1-2 and Psalm 66:18)

Happiness – vv. – 12- 17 – As seen in many other Scriptures in the gospels
and epistles (James 1:22-25) it is only when we actually do the Word, not just
hear and know the Word, that we are blessed – happy. Yet Jesus never calls us
to do anything He hasn’t done Himself and for which He doesn’t empower us to
do through His Life within us. (John 15:5) The Lord of Life not only washed
the dirty feet of His students and disciples but He died a humiliating and shameful
death for them and all of us. Now He calls us to the "order of the towel"
– to humbly serve those He brings into our lives. Yet serving others doesn’t
mean only doing low, menial task. Jesus was a leader Who was a servant and a
servant Who washed feet. But our attitude and purpose should be to meet the
needs of those around us, their spiritual, relational and physical needs. "Let
nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness 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. 2:3-4)

"Clothe your selves with humility toward one another for God is opposed
to the proud but gives grace to the humble." (1 Peter 5:5)

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

What "last words" would you speak to those closest to you? Why do
you think most of our conversation stays in the news, sports, weather and business
category? How can you go deeper now (why wait till you’re dying?) with your
loved ones and friends?

Of the three, identity, dignity, and destiny, which have you most fully grasped
and which makes you secure enough to humbly serve others?

See 1 John 1: 5-9 – Do you get regular foot washings with the blood of Jesus
by regularly confessing your sins? Discuss

"Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit,
but in lowliness 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. 2:3-4)
"Clothe your selves with humility toward one another for God is opposed
to the proud but gives grace to the humble."
(1 Peter 5:5)Where can you be blessed and happy by putting these two Scriptures
into practice? With your spouse, children, co-workers, "the least of these"
(Matt. 25:40)?

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