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Let Me Model Jesus

The Final Passover

John 13:1-20 ESV

As we continue to look at the last days of Jesus’ life, or Passion Week, today we get a glimpse of Jesus and His leadership style with His disciples from John 13:1-20.

Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end. During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.” For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “Not all of you are clean.” When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But the Scripture will be fulfilled; He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’ I am telling you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am he. Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.”

My friend, Kenny Luck, always says; “What Jesus modeled for us He meant for us.” Well, like us, the disciples lived in a society that had rebelled against God. Like us, they learned more quickly from modeling and demonstration than by being told what was right. So, on that final night before his death, Jesus exemplified love, explained it, and then exhorted his disciples to follow his example.

Jesus used one of the most menial tasks of the day to demonstrate His heart to serve and ultimately lay down His life for the needs of the people. It was a customary practice of the day that a host would provide water for guests to wash their feet, provide a servant to wash the feet of the guests or even serve the guests by washing their feet. I Samuel 25:41 is the first passage where an honored person (Abigail) offers to wash feet (servants of David) as a sign of humility. This is where we get the term, Maundy Thursday, which is often used. Maundy comes from the Latin which means command or order. Later in the passage Jesus says,

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. ”

The command is not about foot washing, but rather modeling the life of Jesus. His humility and willingness to serve those closest to him so that others will know of the love and grace of Jesus that is freely offered to them. It's not about you - it's about Jesus.

This command is also not simply an external process of doing something, but an internal process of change. Through Jesus and His shed blood on a cross, we can enter into a personal relationship with God, through His Son, Jesus. He begins an internal change that leads to external evidence in our lives. As we humble ourselves before God, submit ourselves to Him, and allow Him to change us from the inside out, that is evidenced by our humility and service to others.

But Peter filled with pride, refused to allow the Lord to wash his feet. Peter’s refusal only displays the pride of unredeemed men and women. Pride fills our hearts and gives us confidence in our own ability. It is the pride of the human heart that rejects Christ’s salvation not because we are not worthy, but because pride says we can save ourselves. Pride is the ultimate weapon against humility that will bring saving grace. It takes humility to admit that no amount of work/goodness or behavioral change will grant us our own salvation. Humility is needed to admit that we are weak and in need of a Savior. Humility is needed for salvation and humility is needed after salvation. It is needed to provide salvation, but it’s also needed to provide sanctification. It is humility that reminds us how Christ commands us to treat others. Just as Christ humbled himself on a cross, so we too are to humble ourselves and serve others for their good and God’s glory.

Pride swells up before and after your salvation. The true weapon against this pride is the gospel. We must think of how Christ has knelt and washed our feet. The lowliest of positions, a task for a slave, Jesus Christ humbled himself on a cross to bring us into fellowship with God.

A humbled Christ died on the cross.

A humbled Christ took our shame and sin upon himself.

A humbled Christ absorbed all of God’s wrath against sin.

A humbled Christ took our place.

Pride continues to destroy until we see and savor the glory of God in Christ Jesus.

Father, let my life model that of Jesus Christ. As Jesus took upon Himself the form of a servant, let me serve You by serving others with humility for their good, and Your glory alone.

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