From the Pastor's Desk
The Blessing is in the Doing
society is obsessed with love. There's
almost always a movie out in the theaters that has something to do with
love. Even movies that may not
specifically be a love story, still have elements of love in them. The Guardians of the Galaxy movies are about
space heroes fighting to save the universe.
Yet, there is also some romance between two of the characters. If you listen to popular music on the radio (or
at least it used to be the case music today isn't very good) you'll hear a very
high percentage of songs that talk about romantic love. Romance novels are very popular and they sell
a lot of copies of them in the bookstores.
Romance is something that in one way or another dominates our
may be the greatest aspect of life. Our
existence here on earth wouldn't be nearly the same if we weren't able to
experience love. Unfortunately, the
world and our society have destroyed the meaning of love. The modern world may be obsessed with love,
but they don't truly understand what it is.
The modern world's version of love is unabashedly narcissistic, totally
self focused and shamelessly manipulative.
It sees others merely as a means of self-gratification.
Bible is also obsessed with love. But
many aspects of the love we find in Scripture are very different from the kind
of love the world practices. In sharp
contrast to the selfish, narcissistic love we find in the world, the Bible
teaches that love is self-sacrificial.
Instead of tearing others down, biblical love seeks to build them up;
instead of first pursuing its own good, the love of the Bible pursues the good
and interests of other people; instead of seeking to have its own needs met,
God's love seeks to meet the needs of others.
The love of God is what truly makes our earthly lives worth living.
today's passage in the gospel of John that we're going to look at, we're going
to examine a great example of what it means to exercise biblical love. Before we get to that passage, we need to
remember where we are in the narrative of Christ's story that John is telling
really began to move quickly after Jesus raised His dear friend Lazarus from
the dead. The Jewish religious leaders
didn't like Jesus. They saw Him as a
threat to their power and to their authority.
They had been trying to arrest Him for quite some time, but weren't able
to because it wasn't His time yet. But
they were determined and made plans to not only kill Jesus, but to put Lazarus
to death as well.
days before Passover, Jesus was in Bethany with His good friends, Mary, Martha
and Lazarus. At a dinner party given in
His honor, Mary anointed His feet with some very expensive perfume. It wasn't too long after that when Jesus
arrived in Jerusalem in what we call his triumphal entry. Crowds waived palm branches and sang hosanna
to Him, indicating their belief that He was indeed the king of Israel. They were hoping that He would take over the
nation and free them from Roman rule.
But that wasn't His plan and it wasn't why He came.
came because of love. Jesus came to the
earth to physically manifest God's love for people and to offer Himself as the
ultimate offering of love for us. This
morning, we're going to see that the blessing that comes from love isn't found
in knowing about it; the blessing that comes from love is in the doing. Let's continue on now and read John
entered Jerusalem on Sunday. Monday, He
cleansed the Temple of the money changers who were desecrating God's
sanctuary. Tuesday was a day of conflict
as the religious leaders sought to trap Him into saying something so that they
could get evidence to arrest Him.
Wednesday is apparently a day of rest as there is nothing recorded in
Scripture for us about anything happening that day. On Thursday is when He met in the upper room
with His disciples in order to observe the Passover. That's where we are in today's passage.
entire life and ministry had been leading up to the time when He was arrested,
tried, executed and raised from the dead.
On a number of earlier occasions, the Jewish religious leaders had tried
to seize Jesus, but John tells us that they couldn't because His hour had not
yet come. Now, His hour had come. It was time for Him to fulfill the role and
purpose for which He came to the earth in the first place.
death and resurrection was an act of obedience on His part to the Father's
will. God's plan from before creation
was for Jesus, the Son of God, the second Person of the Trinity, to pay the
price for mankind's sins. There needed
to be a blood sacrifice and Jesus was the perfect Lamb of God who would shed
His blood for our sins.
Jesus did was also an ultimate act of love on His part. Everything Jesus did was about love. His humble service to others that He showed
during His life; His teachings that He shared with His listeners and finally
His death all reveal the depth of His love.
His death and the shedding of His blood were sufficient for the sins of
all of mankind, everyone who ever lived.
But it would only be applied and only is applied to those who are saved
born again believers in the Lord Jesus Christ.
those who are His, it says that He loved them to the end. That could refer to a couple of different
things. For one, He showed the full
extent of His love. Jesus couldn't have
loved us anymore than He did. He paid
the ultimate price of death, but suffered much more than that. He suffered the pain of separation from God
on the cross and He took on Himself the sins of the world, something that no
one else ever could or would do for anyone at anytime.
another sense, Jesus loves us to the end by loving His followers all of the way
to the end of His life. In fact, His
love would actually extend beyond the time of His life here on the earth. He never gave up on the disciples; His love
and His work in their lives never ended even after the events of the cross and
empty grave. He will never give up on
us, either. His work and love in our
lives will never end.
event recorded in this passage took place as the Passover meal was being
served. Of course, the Passover feast
was celebrated in commemoration of God's delivering the Israelites from
Egyptian slavery. After 400 years of
being in Egypt, God finally led His people to the Promised Land. The Passover is the night when the Hebrews
were instructed to put animal blood over their doorposts. When the death angel went through Egypt, he
would pass over the houses with the blood and the people would be spared.
was a significant event in the history of the nation of Israel. It was also a prophetic peek ahead into the
role the Messiah would assume in forgiving people of their sins through the
shedding of His blood. This Passover
that Jesus and His disciples participated in was the last divinely authorized
one. After that, a new memorial
recalling the blood of the Lamb of God would be celebrated.
the time supper rolled around, the devil was already at work in Judas to betray
Jesus. In fact, days earlier, Judas had
worked something out with the Jewish authorities for him to hand Jesus over to
them. Now that plan was about to be put
into action. Here it says that the devil
was prompting Judas, later on in this chapter it says that he actually entered
Judas. (v. 27). Even in all of this, we need to keep in mind
that God was in control of all events leading up to Jesus' death. In full awareness of what was going on, Jesus
carried out a very significant act of ministry:
He washed the disciple's feet.
washing was a necessary step of cleansing in first century Israel. People wore open toed sandals for the most
part and there were no paved streets. So
their feet would get very dirty walking from place to place. Typically foot washing was done by a
servant. When a master of a wealthy
household returned from a journey or came home from working a day of labor, a
slave would wash his feet.
was a mark of honor for a host to provide a servant to wash a guest's
feet. It was a breach of hospitality not
to provide for it. Wives would often
wash husband's feet and children would sometimes wash their parent's feet. Most people, of course, would wash their own
feet. Apparently there was no servant
available for Jesus and His disciples to have their feet washed. The disciples were unprepared and unwilling
to carry out this menial service for one another, so Jesus does it Himself.
can just imagine the scene. While they
are all reclining at the table, Jesus gets up and takes off His outer
robe. Jesus then ties a towel around His
waist in order to wipe the disciples feet after He washed them. As Jesus begins to wash their feet, I am
guessing that the group would have been deathly silent. I would also guess that these 12 disciples,
followers and friends of Jesus were pretty embarrassed by what was
happening. They were all probably sitting
in total silence, until Jesus came to Peter.
always seems to be the case, Peter spoke up and no doubt shared what all the
rest of them were thinking. In that
culture, the master did not serve the disciple, it was supposed to be the other
way around. Peter was appalled that
Jesus would carry out such a menial service.
He virtually forbade Jesus from washing his feet. His response was somewhat commendable. At least he recognized the inappropriateness
of a disciple allowing his master to wash his feet.
corrects Peter and then Peter swings to the other extreme. "If I must be washed so that I can have
a part with you, then wash me all over."
Peter, nor any of the disciples were going to fully understand any of
what was going on until after the events of the next few days were over. So Jesus then takes another opportunity to
teach these men a valuable lesson.
Jesus isn't saying here is that you need to be baptized to be saved. What He was saying is that unless He washes
your sins away by His anointing death, we have no relationship with Him at all. Jesus is the water; the work that He does in
our lives is the cleansing. Cleansing
rituals were a common part of life in NT times.
People who arrived for a dinner party wouldn't have to have a bath, they
simply needed their feet cleaned.
we're saved, we are bathed all over and our sins are washed away and forgiven
forever. 1 Cor. 6:9-11; Titus
3:3-7. However, as we continue to walk
and live in this world, we will continue to sin. When we do, we don't need to be bathed all
over again; we simply need to have that defilement cleansed away. 1 John 1:9.
We don't need a bath; we just need our feet washed.
Christians, our union with Christ is a settled relationship that cannot and
will not change for any reason, ever.
However, our communion with Christ depends on keeping ourselves clean
through repentance. If we permit
un-confessed sin in our lives, we hinder our walk with the Lord: that is when we need our feet washed.
need to keep in mind as we read and look at this passage, that Judas was part of
this group. Jesus knew what he was about
to do, Jesus knows everything. He said
that they were clean, but not all of them.
Judas was also present; his feet were washed; he too would eat the
Passover meal; but he was not clean.
washing their feet, Jesus helps them understand what He's saying, but He also
makes an application of it to their lives.
The disciples were going to need to follow His example. Even in difficult times or in situations that
they considered beneath them, they must follow Him and seek to serve other
people. They were given a job as
messengers for God to the world. That
should humble them. They were not equal
to Jesus in any way, but the very Son of God was going to empower them for the
work they were called to perform.
they were called to do was to meet the needs of other people in a
self-sacrificial manner. It wasn't that
they were going to be required to literally wash the feet of other people,
although that might be reasonable and appropriate. But Jesus wasn't making foot washing a church
ordinance. He was stressing inner humility.
Jesus said to them that they rightly regarded Him as their Lord, He implied
that they were beginning to realize that He was much more than a person
deserving respect. He deserved their
obedience as well. If it was not beneath
His dignity to wash their feet, then it was not below their dignity to do the
same for one another. There are always
ample opportunities to demonstrate humble service.
one thing to know what we should do; it is another thing to actually do
it. The blessing comes, not with the
knowing, but with the doing. James 1:22-25. God blesses His servants not for what they
know, but for what they do. Our
happiness comes through obedient service.
do need to receive God's Word with the proper attitude and mindset, we need to
have an attitude of submission towards it, but it also has to be more than
that. Obedience to the Word is the most
basic spiritual requirement and is the common denominator that all true
believers share. The spiritual life is
not a feeling of compliance; it is not a commitment to anyone or anything. It is long-term obedience to Scripture.
who consistently disobey God's Word give evidence that they are without His
life within them. Those who consistently
obey the Word give evidence of the life of God in their souls. James put it very clearly: be doers of the Word. A more literal translation should be
"keep on striving to be doers of the word."
do you know? What is it that you could
explain to someone about what God's Word teaches us about our lives and our
walk of fellowship with Him? I think
that most of us have at least a basic understanding of what Scripture says and
of what God expects of our lives. We
know where we sin and where we fall short, and in what areas we need to improve
and do better.
Word tells us that it is important to pray.
In Mark 1 it says that Jesus got away early in the morning for a time of
prayer with God. You may know that it's
important to pray, but are you actually praying? God tells us how important it is for us to be
reading and applying His truths to our lives.
You may know that you should be reading the Word, but are you actually
spending any time in it? Is the Word of
God changing your life?
think that it's common knowledge that we are supposed to be in church
regularly. Worshiping God is a vitally
important spiritual discipline that we need to be engaged in. You are all here of course this morning. But what is your level of commitment to being
in God's house on a regular basis? What
is it that keeps you from being here?
Are those legitimate excuses?
When you come do you actually worship or are you just going the motions? Attending church isn't necessarily
is clear that He expects His followers to be witnesses for Him in the
world. There are many different ways for
us to share the good news of the gospel with a lost and dying world. It doesn't so much matter what exactly you're
doing or how you're doing it; it matters that you are somehow and in some way
witnessing for the Lord. You know you're
supposed to, but are you actually doing it?
about tithing? Everyone loves a good
money related application, don't they?
We know what God says to us in His Word.
In Malachi, He accuses the people of robbing Him and they don't know
what He's talking about. Then He tells
them that they are robbing Him by not bringing the tithe to the
storehouse. Then He tells us, for the
only time in all of Scripture, to test Him in that. Commit to tithing, and test God that He will
faithfully and abundantly provide for you.
You think you can't, but you're wrong.
You have the knowledge that you're not only supposed to give that way to
the Lord, but that we have been commanded to do so. But are you actually tithing like God wants?
think by now we get the point. Head
knowledge is good, we need to begin there by understanding and knowing what God
is saying to us. But it can't stop
there. We need to take that knowledge
and apply it by actually doing what He tells us to do. The blessing of the Christian life is in the
our singers and musicians come now, we invite you to start doing the things
that you know God is calling you to do.
If there is some public profession that you need to make in regards to
anything God is doing, we invite you to come now and share that with us
publicly as we stand and as we sing.