Section Three: The Lifestyle Characteristics of a Godly Life.
Our current theme: Characteristic One: Having A Servant’s Heart.
Our reading for today: John 13: 1-17 (MsgB)
Just before the Passover Feast, Jesus knew that the time had come to leave this world to go to the Father. Having loved His dear companions, He continued to love them right to the end. It was suppertime. The Devil by now had Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot, firmly in his grip, all set for the betrayal. Jesus knew that the Father had put Him in complete charge of everything, that He came from God and was on His way back to God. So He got up from the supper table, set aside His robe, and put on an apron. Then He poured water into a basin and began to wash the feet of the disciples, drying them with His apron. When He got to Simon Peter, Peter said, “Master, you wash my feet?” Jesus answered, “You don’t understand now what I’m doing, but it will be clear enough to you later.” Peter persisted, “You’re not going to wash my feet—ever!” Jesus said, “If I don’t wash you, you can’t be part of what I’m doing.” “Master!” said Peter. “Not only my feet, then. Wash my hands! Wash my head!” Jesus said, “If you’ve had a bath in the morning, you only need your feet washed now and you’re clean from head to toe. My concern, you understand, is holiness, not hygiene. So now you’re clean. But not every one of you.” (He knew who was betraying Him. That’s why He said, “Not every one of you.”) After He had finished washing their feet, He took his robe, put it back on, and went back to His place at the table. Then He said, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You address me as ‘Teacher’ and ‘Master,’ and rightly so. That is what I am. So if I, the Master and Teacher, washed your feet, you must now wash each other’s feet. I’ve laid down a pattern for you. What I’ve done, you do. I’m only pointing out the obvious. A servant is not ranked above his master; an employee doesn’t give orders to the employer. If you understand what I’m telling you, act like it—and live a blessed life.
For these first-century followers of Jesus of Nazareth, walking alongside the Master, it was painfully clear that Jesus hadn’t called them together to spend the rest of their lives sitting in church pews, watching the world go by as generation after generation of people go to hell in a hand basket.
To Jesus, the massive God-job of reaching out to rescue a lost and dying world was just in its beginning stages. So as the disciples sat with the Master for this Passover dinner, hidden away in some small corner of the Holy City of Jerusalem, a new work of God was forming. A rescue mission that would eventually spread to every continent on the planet, reach every tribe and tongue, and offer Good News to every human being who truly needs it and wants it, was now being planned.
As John writes this portion of his Gospel, it’s apparent that he understands the gravity of this moment. Jesus is meeting with His disciples one last time before His death on the cross. And yes, you and I know that He will rise from the dead and actually spend 40 additional days meeting with this team after His resurrection, but that night on Passover 33 AD, no one but Jesus knows what is actually coming down the pike. As a matter of fact, these disciples gathered around Jesus this evening are actually expecting a whole different series of events to occur.
From their perspective, Jesus is God’s Messiah who has come to God’s Holy City to set the world straight. They fully expect to be part of a massive governmental coup, where the oppressive Roman empire is overthrown, the corrupt religious system of the day is turned on its ear, and Jesus is crowned King of Israel, setting up the long-awaited Messianic rule and reign of God that has long been predicted in the Holy Book.
So, it’s in that context, Jesus begins their evening together by crumpling up the well-laid plans of those well-meaning disciples who were envisioning themselves as the nation’s next ruling parliament, sitting at high tables and ruling from high places, all for the glory of God.
Actually, Jesus says it very well when He states…
I’ve laid down a pattern for you. What I’ve done, you do. I’m only pointing out the obvious. A servant is not ranked above his master; an employee doesn’t give orders to the employer. If you understand what I’m telling you, act like it—and live a blessed life.
You see, Jesus has now broken the old standards of leadership in the House of the Lord and set up a whole new pattern of how leaders are to lead for the honor of God’s Kingdom. Now, rather than fighting for position and prominence, a follower of Jesus leads by serving others. Rather than looking for ways to promote oneself, making yourself visible in your leadership role, a true disciple of Jesus now lowers him or herself so that we wash the feet of those we lead rather than hovering over them, demanding that they respect our position of leadership.
As we go forward in this blog series on discipleship, we must fully understand how radically different Jesus sees our role as followers of Him, sent out into this lost and dying world with God’s message of hope and love. As I see it, it’s this role of becoming servants to others, having the heart of servanthood, that’s at the very core of everything we say and do as we go forward from here. Are you ready to explore it more?
Here, let me wash your feet and slip on your sandals for you before we go.
My prayer: Jesus, I thank You for modeling this new way of leadership, and while it’s radically different from every other model of leadership the world offers, I choose to embrace it. Holy Spirit, indwell and empower me with this heart of servanthood I see in Jesus. For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to ponder: So what needs to change and be re-arranged in my models of leadership so that I become more like Jesus and his servanthood model presented here in John’s Gospel? What lofty views of leadership must I let go of in order to embrace Jesus’ model?
So what is God speaking to you today as we attempt to live the Christ-centered life?
Over a thirty-six week period, you and I will take a deeper look into twelve key characteristics of a godly life. In other words, we’ll take A Journey into Christian Discipleship. In order to keep all the blog sessions organized, we suggest you bookmark our Journey home page for ease of use. ENJOY!
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