Iíd like for you to look carefully at John, chapter 13, and verse 4. We read so many of these verses that we just let them go in one ear and out the other sometimes. John 13, and verse 4. So He got up. íHeí is Jesus. Jesus got up from the meal and took off His outer clothing and wrapped a towel around His waist. Now think about that verse. What is that verse telling you? Something very significant.
Jesus was seated with His disciples. Right? They were all eating. And then Jesus gets up from the meal. Not after the meal, but from the meal. He got up somewhere at the mid point of the meal and began to wash the discipleís feet. The New Century Version says, During the meal Jesus got up. During the meal. Thatís interesting. Why did Jesus choose a moment when their plates were still half full, when they had not finished eating yet, to begin washing the feet of the twelve disciples?
Now think about that. Have you ever done that? Have you been half way through your meal and suddenly remembered, ďOh, I forgot to wash my handsĒ You jump up, run in and wash your hands. And all twelve of you at the table forgot to do it, and all twelve do it at the same time. Has that ever happened to you? Itís inconceivable that that would happen today, that a dozen people could ALL forget to wash their hands, and all wash them at the mid-point of the meal. And yet thatís the equivalent to what happened 2000 years ago. We would think that rather strange.
They were zealous. I mean a good Jew, in those days, would NEVER take the first bite of food with unwashed hands and unwashed feet. They just would not do that. And this would be doubly true at Passover time! They had the knowledge, but they didnít do what they knew. You wanted to be clean sitting there at the table with Jesus, and especially at Passover time. You wanted to be washed. And yet here they were, all, 100 percent of them, eating with dirty feet. Why would this be the case? The question is, ďWhy?Ē Were they in a hurry? Thereís no reason to believe that they were in a hurry. Was there no water to be found? Is that why they didnít wash their hands or wash their feet? No. Jesus found enough water at the mid-point of the meal to wash all 12. The truth is that this experience that evening is an embarrassment. Only John records this. No of the other Gospels record it. Theyíre too embarrased to tell it. Apparently the other Bible writers were ashamed of this happening, and they omitted it. And the question is, ďWhy?Ē Why all the hush-hush? Why were they in such a rush that not one of them took time to wash? Why was it that all 12 ran up the stairs, ran to their seats, didnít take the time to do the preliminaries that they should have done?
Let me propose to you a reason. The reason that I think that they all rushed to their seats, and did not wash their hands, did not take time to wash their feet. They sprinted up those stairs because they were all jockeying to get the best seat. Now this is a shame. They were all zealously rushing in, trying not to be the least in the kingdom. Thatís whatís going on here. Theyíre in Jerusalem. Somehow, the big three managed to get seated close to Jesus. They were the closest. Peter, James and John were all there around Jesus.
All 12 of the disciples sensed that the kingdom of God was about to happen. Jesus would be King, maybe even that weekend. Itís just about to take place. And so we need to get in on this and Heís going to choose the vice-presidents, probably tonight. This was their last chance to gain position. And it was critical that they would sit close to Jesus. And so I think they all ran up the stairs, and all crowded in to be close to Jesus. If Peter got up to wash the otherís feet, he might lose his place. If James got up and decided to wash the discipleís feet, he might lose his place, so everybody sat still. What a shame. Such a shame.
So forget the rigamarole of foot washing. Forget the rigamarole of hand washing. Thereís no time for that. They skipped the preliminaries. They seemed to have only one objective, and that was to rush in and get the seat of authority. The seat that would be chosen to be some of the leaders in the kingdom.
Now notice, notice the supper from Jesusí perspective. What does Jesus think about this supper? This was Jesusí last chance to impress upon their minds a great truth, that the first shall be the last. That the least shall be the most. And we ought not to forget that today. Right? Amen? This is important. So Jesus got up during the meal. He got up from His seat, lowered Himself, became a Servant and washed their dirty smelly feet. He wanted somehow to show that humility was greater than position. That character is higher than status. That Christians must specialize in serving others.
And today, our goal as Christians must be servitude and humility. And itís not the number of servants that you have but the number of people that you serve that is the most important thing in life. Real churches are powered, not by big money, but by service. Real Christians care more about humility than in which chair they are sitting. We are not to be political, we are to be polite. We are to be Christlike.
Now itís always good to rush in so that you can be near Jesus. But not for power. Not for position. Not for pride. But for blessing and Christlikeness. So itís not who are the showy significant, but who are the serving simple. Itís not the uppity yuppy, but itís the humble and the lowly that really count in Jesusí sight. Itís not the important few, but itís the faithful followers that are important.
And thatís why we call this service here today the Ordinance of Humility. Thatís what it is. They missed it. Donít miss it. Thatís what the service is all about. Let us get what they didnít get. And today, as we are here, donít sprint up the stairs and miss the true meaning of communion. Letís be humble. Letís be lowly. Letís be like Jesus. Those are the true leaders. Thatís the true goal.
Weíre going to separate for our foot-washing service. We call this the Ordinance of Humility. It is. Weíre not too proud to do this. Some people say, ďIn the Seventh-day Adventist Church, why do you do that? Thatís so humiliating.Ē Itís an honor. Thatís the way I see it. So as we separate, letís pause for a moment and ask Godís blessing.
Dear Father in heaven. We earnestly pray that as the last-day disciples, we will not miss Jesus. We will not be here that we might be political, power positions in the kingdom of this world. But we are here today, seeking Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. Seeking Him to live in our hearts. To empower us for service. So bless us as we separate for this ordinance, we pray in Jesusí name. Amen.
Reading from First Corinthians, chapter 11, verses 23 through 26. The institution of the Lordís supper. For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you. That the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed, took bread, and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, ĎTake, eat. This is My body which is broken for you. Do this in remembrance of Me.í In the same manner, He also took the cup after supper saying, ĎThis is the cup of the new covenant in My blood. This do as often as ye drink it in remembrance of Me.í For as often as you eat this Bread and drink this Cup, you proclaim the Lordís death til He come.
Would you please kneel for our prayer.
Loving Father. We long to be like You. We long to have a place in the kingdom with You. I pray that You will send Your Holy Spirit to speak to each heart this morning. Help us to realize the importance of this service. And I pray that You will bless this Bread of which we are about to partake. Help us all to be faithful and ready for a home in Your kingdom when Jesus returns. And when we look at what is happening in this world, we believe that it could be soon. Guide us, direct us, and bless us this morning. I pray in Jesusí holy name, Amen.
You are holding in your hands the symbols of Jesus Christ. His body. His blood. And on the communion service, I ask you to think and to pray. Think about Jesus. Pray that Jesus will be a part of your life. That youíll be more interested in Christ-likeness than in worldly fame. Considering the bread, Jesus said, ďTake, eat, this is My body.Ē ==== Amen.
Judas ate the last supper. Judas drank of that cup. And Judas went out, unchanged. Could be thereís some here today that will eat and drink of this bread and this cup, and be unchanged. But each of you has the opportunity right now to become totally enmeshed in Jesus Christ. To have your life changed. Your sins forgiven. To have a new life. Thereís power in the Blood. This is a symbol of the Blood, of our Saviour. Jesus said, ďDrink ye all of it.Ē ===== Amen.
Have you ever thought that the order of Communion Service is wrong? We eat the Bread, and we drink from the cup. The cup represents cleansing. Shouldnít we be cleansed before we eat? Well, thatís what the foot-washing is for. The foot-washing is the cleansing. The Bread represents Jesus. The Blood represents Jesus. Itís sort of a miniature creation, where the body is made, and then given life through the power of the Blood. Thereís power in the Blood. Youíre being recreated today. The old life has been cleansed away. Then you have a new body, and then you have power. Life. Real life. This is an awesome service.
Next week weíre going to be discussing the ressurection, because itís what the world calls Easter weekend next weekend. So I hope youíll be here for that. Thereís power in the ressurection, too. And thereís some interesting symbols. So letís plan on being together then.
Letís sing our closing hymn. Number 300.
Hymn of Praise: #88 I Sing the Mighty Power of God Scripture: John 13:2-5 Hymn of Response: #300, Rock of Ages
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McDonald Road Sermon transcribed by Steve Foster 3/30/08