What We Learned Together Sunday February 26, 2023
The Upper Room Discourse is found uniquely in the Gospel of John. The Public Ministry of Jesus presented in chapters 1-12. The private ministry of Jesus presented in chapters 13-17. Again the purpose of the Gospel of John in John 20:30-31. Here in these chapters we read the teaching by Jesus for His disciples in various areas of discipleship. Notice how John begins this section of His Gospel describing the love of Jesus. As one pastor wrote “ . . . bear witness to the divine love in a way which drew in all that had gone before (“having loved His own who were in the world”) and reached forward to the climactic demonstration of love in His passion and self-sacrificing death (“He loved them to the end”). In our Scripture passage this morning we see markers for the progress of the flow of the narrative emphasizing the actions of Jesus “Now before [v.1] . . . So [v. 6] . . . So when [v.12] . . .”
First, The Love of Jesus Demonstrated by His Obedient Sacrifice for His Own in This World [13:1-4]. The word love is found 14 times in chapters 1-12, and then found 34 times in chapters 13-17. In verse one His Obedient Sacrifice Because He Loves His Own. The timing noted by John “Now before the Feast of the Passover . . .” as John had earlier declared the words of John Baptist “behold the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world” [John 1:29]. And also “Jesus knowing His hour had come . . .” [7:30; 8:20; 12:23, 27] Other Scriptures which teach about the love of Jesus including Ephesians 3:18; I John 4:9-11 and John 15:13. The completion of His mission in obedience to the will of the Father “He would depart out of this world to the Father . . .” [v.1] Into the very presence of God the Father in heaven as also revealed in John 1:1-3 [cf. John 13:6 “So He came to Simon Peter”] The depth of the love of Jesus pressed upon the readers of the Gospel of John “ . . .having loved His own who were in the world . . . He loved them to the end.” Such love which drove Jesus to offer Himself in humble service as the sacrifice for sins in the place of sinners. Remember the words of the hymn “O The Deep, Deep Love of Jesus.” In verse two His Obedient Sacrifice Because He Loves His Enemies [13:2]. What a remarkable comment to remind us of all that was happening in the context of this love of Jesus as Judas planned to betray Jesus [cf. 13:10, 18, 27]. The love of Jesus is not dissuaded, confused, limited or distracted. As one commentator wrote, “the maneuvers of hell cannot interfere with the love Jesus has.” In verses 3-4 His Obedient Sacrifice Because He Humbly Loves Others [13:3-4]. Notice the remarks about His garments, towel, “and He girded Himself.” John placed attention on this moment and what he saw so that we would see it also! Jesus took the place of a servant dressed Himself as a slave. These actions in the narrative described also by Paul in Philippians 2:5-8 of the humility of Jesus. What a wondrous condescension! The lowliest service done by a slave here done my Jesus. Where else does John mentioned the garments of Jesus? [cf. 13:12, 19:23-24] It is as if the disciples on that night were waiting and asking, “When is the servant going to show up to wash my feet!”
Second, The Love of Jesus Detailed in His Humble Service for Those Whom He Loved [13:5-11] In verses 5-7 His Humble Service Is A Message of What His Love Does [13:5-7]. The details given by John shows the significance and importance of these actions “by the admiring looking of an eyewitness.” All present verbs here making the scene vivid so that we would not forget or miss what Jesus did that night. Jesus does what none of them would do for each other and yet any one of them could have done it but would not. What Jesus does for those whom he loves! Humbly before them that night in His service for them in the Upper Room then humiliated before them the next day in His sacrifice for them on the cross. In verses 8-10 His Humble Service Has Meaning for Who He Loves [13:8-10] “If not I wash you, not you have any part with Me.” Peter said to Him . . . Jesus answered him . . . The great conversation about such important matters of cleansing by Jesus. An object lesson of cleansing within His humble service of foot washing. We really love someone when we humbly serve them. An object lesson of the degree of the love of Jesus and what His love does for those whom He loves. Jesus’ teaching pointing from the physical to the spiritual. Two kinds of people according to the words of Jesus. There are those who need a bath and there are those who need their feet washed. Also the words of the Apostle Paul in First Corinthians 6:9-11, “but you were washed, but you were sanctified . . .” In verse 11 His Humble Service Was A Ministry of How He Loves [13:11]. Jesus understood what Judas would do and still loves. We would do well to love the Judases in our lives like Jesus loved Judas that night which he was betrayed.
Third, The Love of Jesus Displayed in Our Christian Obedience for One Another As His Disciples [13:12-17]. In verses 12-14 Our Christian Obedience Is An Obligation to the Lord [13:12-14]. Again, such action of Jesus emphasized in the words given by John. Here “the imprint left of John’s mind was deep indeed” and “an example of true love.” A literal translation of this verse would be, “If I Myself then, the Lord and teacher wash your feet, also you yourselves ought wash one another’s feet.” The Christian life isn’t just sitting back watching Jesus do things. We are His disciples seeing Him and doing the things which He commands us to do because we are His disciples. “Jesus washed all twelve pairs of dirty feet.” He washed the feet of a betrayer, a denier, a deserter, and a doubter. In verses 15-16 Our Christian Obedience Does Show The Example of the Lord [13:15-16]. All present tense verbs pointing to personal emphasis and present effort. Pastor Stephen Davey gives us two principles in these words of Jesus.
Principle #1 is Washing feet means surrendering your privilege to receive a proper response. “We tend to wash the feet of those who will wash our feet in return. If you will wash the feet of only those who will return your acts of service with appreciation, love and acceptance, you will never wash feet. Many Christians will never wash feet because it doesn't return them the kind of dividends they want out of life.”
Principle #2 is Washing feet means surrendering your prerogative to choose whom you serve, when you serve, and how you serve. “If you will only serve at the feet of convenient things, you will never become a servant. If you will only wash at the feet of something that excites you or invigorates you, you will never wash feet for very long. So we fill up our lives with amusement and we have a church filled with dirty feet: we have a roomful of kids downstairs - we need someone to wash their feet. we have rooms filled with infants and toddlers - we need someone to wash their feet. we have a parking lot filled with people who come to worship and need to find a space - we need someone to wash their feet.”
May the Lord raise up many humble servants who are washing feet here at New Life Fellowship! May people who visit and come to this church see such washing of feet because we are the disciples of Jesus. In verse 17 Our Christian Obedience Has Blessing If We Do These Things According to the Words of The Lord [13:17]. Did you notice the two if statements in these words of Jesus. The condition both rarely seen and attained by sinners without the example of Jesus as our model and focus. As one man wrote, “hints at the rarity and difficulty of such high teaching.”
In conclusion two questions for each of us today. The first question is Have you seen His love in humble service for you as one so undeserving & unworthy of such love & sacrificial service? Knowing Jesus died for our sins as the only Savior. The second question is How are you as a disciple of Jesus present active following His example in His love with humble service for others? Believing Jesus Is Both Lord and Teacher who Is Our Savior. The love of Jesus, which you and I did not deserve, should be a reality in my life and your life as disciples of Jesus. Humble service by Jesus, which you and I are so unworthy, should be a reality in my life and your life as disciples of Jesus. These words by Jesus, which you and I have heard, should be a reality in my life and your life as disciples of Jesus. “So I suggest to you as a Christian brother and sister that when we think of the fact that the Lord Jesus became a slave in order that we might be redeemed, is it saying too much to ask you to take the place of a slave and love one another?” That Humble Service for Those Whom Jesus Loved.
Pastor Timothy J. Atkins
Husband, Father, Grandfather, Pastor, Teacher, Discipler, and Follower of Jesus.