(sermon text not publish yet)
July 8, 2018
Title: Being a Foot Washer
Scripture: John 13:1-17
Narrative: If you and I as servants of Jesus Christ are to live as a prophet; then what we need to have as a tool is not a scepter or a crown of jewels, but rather a shovel. The hard but necessary work of God happens- as Jesus shows us- when our posture is that of a stooping servant. In our passage for today Jesus washes his disciple’s feet and in so doing teaches us a powerful Kingdom of God, lesson about being a servant of God.
The Kingdom of God has an upside down understanding of power when compared to the world around us. The world prizes power in and of itself and therefore its use for self-advantage. The world seeks power for its own desires and its own self-promotion. Political power brings about advantage and corruption.
Jesus, in contrast to the world, reflects the perfect model of God’s Kingdom for what it means to have power. Philippians 2:6-11 reads, “Jesus who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death-even death on a cross. Therefore God exalted Jesus to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.”
As Christians, what we do with our (abilities) power –yes, everyone has power of some sort or another- determines the morality and outcome of the contributions we make. We are to use our power to leave behind the fingerprints of our faith. Jesus knew that God had put all things under His power. He had come from God and He was returning to God; so Jesus got up and washed the dirty feet of his disciples.
In the Four Loves, C.S. Lewis writes about the vulnerability of offering loving service: “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully around with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket and coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket –safe, dark, motionless, airless place—it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, and irredeemable.”
The lesson Jesus is teaching us is the understanding that this way of thinking of ourselves as a stooping servant is what forms the foundation for long-term ministry. This kind of thinking empowers you and me to serve with joy and not lose our passion for ministry?
But there is another lesson for us to learn.
I read a story from Scotland which tells of a mother’s dramatic rescue of her child. Some workmen were blasting rock in a quarry. One day after they had attached a fuse and removed themselves to a safe place; the alarm was given for the blast to happen. Unexpectedly they were horrified to see a three year old child wandering across the open space where the danger of the blast threatened the child. Every second that passed was critical.
The workmen called to the child and waved their arms but the child only looked on their strange behavior with amusement. No workman dared run forward knowing the explosion was only a few moments. Just then the Mother appeared.
Taking in the situation, she did what her mother’s heart told her to do. She did not run toward her child or yell to frighten. Instead, she stooped down, and opened her arms and smiled for her child to come to her. Instantly her child ran towards her with but little time to spare before the blast shook with force. But no matter the child was safe in the mother’s arms.
That night, Jesus looked at his disciples and loved them to the full extent of his love. Today, Jesus looks down through the ages of history and on September 8th he sees us here in Franklin sitting here in fellowship with Him. He says in His heart, “You are the reason I have come. (Titus 3:4) You are the reason I will pay the price and be the stooping savior who washes your feet. I will be the staggering Savior who goes to the cross. “I will save you not because of the righteous things we have done, but because of the mercy of God. Jesus saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior so that having been justified by His grace we become heirs having the hope of eternal life.”
Hebrews 12:1-3 reads, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that we will not grow weary and lose heart.”
The second lesson to learn today is that we should be filled with the joy of Jesus in our hearts. Our passage is filled with joy. Although it seems as if the forces of the adversary are ready to steal the victory, Jesus, through being a servant, achieves an outcome where only God could be so strong. Though the night is dark; there is a new light that Jesus is bringing to us just around the corner. He is the one who opens wide his arms when: we are lonely, sick of heart, filled with despair and doubts, and in danger of our life. He is the One who calls us by our new name. (Rev. 2:17) “To everyone who overcomes I will give them a new name written on a white stone known only to him who receives it.” We are no more loser, cheater, sinner, but child of God, loved by God, and the redeemed of the Lord.
So, let us be filled with the joy of service set before us and dedicate ourselves to being stooping servants. In this way we will establish the proper foundation of our mission and leave in this world- the foot prints of our faith- as contributions of our Lord. Amen.