It was a normal day at the office. People were filling out forms, seeing the doctor, waiting in line. All of them, almost all of them, were there because they didn't have medical insurance. They were there to petition the government for a little bit of extra help in order to deal with whatever ailment they were struggling with. Now this was not public health here in the United States or in Tennessee. This was the ministry of health department of patient affairs in Amman Jordan. There was one individual in that office that day who knew something that nobody else knew. It was something about himself. He looked normal. He was dressed like the average Arab who was in that room. He wore a black robe, long sleeves. He wore a red and white kaffiyeh, which is a headdress. He was leaning on a cane. As he stood there in the office, he spoke to the people around him. Chatting kindly, asking questions about their day and how the experience was there at the Ministry of health. He filled out some of the forms himself. Helped somebody else fill out a form. Then he stood in line for the doctor.
But he knew something that nobody else knew in that room. Because suddenly he turned and began to walk out, without seeing the doctor, without finishing his apparent business in that room. He just started walking out. He stepped out of the building and an SUV, a very sleek black expensive SUV pulled up. He stepped into the vehicle and it took off with chase cars following behind with sirens.
That is when the people in that room discovered that they were chatting with his Majesty King Abdullah of Jordan. King Abdullah has this habit. He likes to wear disguises. He likes to show up at places, mainly places that are government offices that work for him to see how they're doing. To see how the people are being treated by his employees. He's been doing this ever since he came to power over a decade ago. He's well loved for this, I might add. People love him for pulling this trick on government officials. They like it because of what happened with this experience. He immediately went back to his palace and two days later he had an order out to change how certain things were done at the Mimistry of Health.
It reminds me of another king who came in disguise, who knew something that a lot of people didn't know about himself. About his own Majesty. About who he was. There were a few who kind of understood, who had a glimpse of who he was, but really, most of the time Jesus traveled alone and knew.
Today we're looking at John 13. John talks about this very aspect about Jesus. He has a number of statements in the book of John where he says, Jesus, knowing. We're going to look at one of the passages that talks about some of these. Jesus, knowing.
I'd like to talk about two things that Jesus knew that night at the Lord's supper. Two things that he new. The first thing that Jesus knew was this. Jesus knew his hour. Jesus knew that his hour had come. John 13:1. Now before the feast of the Passover Jesus, knowing that his hour had come that he would depart out of this world to the father having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. Jesus knew his hour.
When somebody is about to say goodbye or they're about to die, whatever happens right around that time, it's important that people remember. We want to know what their last words were or what the last thing that they did.
I remember when my father was saying goodbye to me one time, he said something that's sort of been emblazoned in my memory. Something I will never forget. We were living here in the South. I was attending Southern. My parents were teachers at GCA and they had moved out here for my sake and my sister's sake so we could go to GCA and we could live on campus and be close to each other, and now my parents were moving back to California, leaving me behind. My father had one last thing he wanted to say to me that was really on his heart and important. He said as we were driving back to Southern, David, whatever you do do, not marry a girl from the East. He had nothing against Eastern women, although I confess that other relatives of mine did have something against them. I was actually warned, are you sure? They're not like us David. But not my father. The issue was, he was afraid that if I married a girl from the East I would stay in the East, while they're out West. Which is exactly what I did. I didn't take it to heart, I guess.
Now you need to know that later on I took my girlfriend Kristin out to California to visit my parents and my father spent about 10 minutes talking with her in the hallway after we arrived back at home and then very awkwardly, my father who is usually a very socially aware person, just left Kristin in the hall and said, David, come here. He took me into his room and closed the door and said, now if I could choose any woman for you to marry that would be the one. So we're all good. We have it all cleared up. But what he said was important. I will never forget it, especially now that I didn't do it.
When I was a student missionary I caught a glimpse of someone in a more serious way who really knew their hour. They knew that their time had come. It was a young Adventist who had left the church. He had moved to Hawaii. I was a student missionary on an island called Pohnpei. This young man had moved to Hawaii and after moving there he was living kind of a wild life and then he became very seriously ill and was about to die. He was in the hospital and they were trying to save him. At that time there were a number of young Adventists at a local church there who heard about him and they started visiting him there in the hospital and witnessing to him and praying with him. Through their influence be totally fell in love with God once again. Totally came on fire.
He also totally fell in love with one of the young adults coming to visit him. They became engaged and then he was told by the doctor, you are going to die. So this young man with his fiancée traveled back to the island where I was and as soon as they arrived they were married and then he spent the next week reaching out to his family and friends saying, please, I do not want to miss seeing you on the other side. Please meet me on the other side. I had the dubious privilege of being one of his pallbearers and listening to his widow sharing her testimony, his testimony, about his last passion being for his family and friends and pleading with them to join him. This young man was like Jesus. Jesus, knowing, loved. This young man, knowing, knowing what was going to happen to him, loved his family and chose to go back and spend his last hours seeking their salvation.
So Jesus, the first thing, he knew his hour, and the second thing Jesus knew, Jesus knew who he was. John 13:3. Jesus knowing that the father had given all things into his hands and that he had come forth from God and was going back to God, got up from supper and laid aside his garments and taking a towel, he girded himself. Not only did Jesus know his hour. Not only did he want to spend his last minutes sharing and serving the ones that he loved, but he also knew just who he really was. In spite of all that he had and the divinity that he held, he chose to serve his disciples. He was more than a man, more than a son, more than a brother, more than a neighbor, more than a Carpenter, more than a teacher, more than a master, more than a healer and more than a friend. He was God himself.
I've personally been a recipient of this kind of kindness, that lays aside your importance for the sake of somebody else. When I was a freshman in Academy I went to a school that was filled with very wealthy and attractive and athletic teenagers. With the exception of me. I was a nerd. I looked ugly and my mama dressed me funny. And I wasn't athletic. I had just about everything going against me and because of that, not because of that, but this is generally how things go in school unfortunately, I was mistreated. Kids picked on me. Treated me bad. Called me names. In fact one of the most humiliating thing was they got my sister involved in it, my younger sister. They would teach her bad names. Things that were so bad that I would have to look them up and they would get her to call me those names, so it was very humiliating.
At that time there were two students who finally decided that they'd had enough. These were arguably the best looking, the most athletic and the coolest guys at the school. One day I was being picked on as usual and one of them, the tallest of the two, stepped forward and said, that's enough. Leave him alone. The bully kind of protested weakly and he said, leave him alone.
From that time on those two guys started inviting me to their homes on Sundays just to spend time with me and became my friends to the point where when I left and moved away they held a huge going away party for me with all those kids who bullied me before, there to say goodbye. Then everybody else went home and they kept me there for the rest of the time and expressed to me how sad they were that I was leaving.
These two guys had no reason to do that. They were cool and popular on their own. They didn't need my help to pull them down or whatever and yet they chose to befriend me and served me in a way that helped my self-esteem and helped make my time bearable there at that school.
Jesus could have been clothed with the richest robes in town. He could've come as the high priest. That was his rightful role. He could've come as a king. He could've come as the Emperor of Rome. Whatever he wanted to, he could've had it.
But instead, Jesus chose to come dressed in the humble garb of a servant or a Carpenter and then to take off that humble clothing and wrap himself in the towel of a servant so he could show his disciples just how much he loved them. Jesus, knowing, loved.
So how do we do this? What are some practical ways that we can love like Jesus.? Well we can recognize the hour that we live in, just like Jesus knew his hour. We can recognize that we're at a time when Earth's history is about to wrap up and reach out to those who are less fortunate than we are and don't have the knowledge that we have. Or we can just realize that our lives are short, and serve others like Jesus did and show them our love.
Now parents we can serve our children without complaining. I'm talking to yours truly, here. You know how it is. You're finishing a few bites of food and you want to keep eating whatever you're eating and your child says, I need more food. Okay. Why do I have to get up? I always have to get up. Aren't you big enough to get your own food yet? We can serve our spouse without complaining. You know, by complaining we're saying that we really don't deserve this. It's our right not to have to deal with this.
Which may be true, but Jesus didn't deserve it either. That's what makes it an act of love. Knowing that we don't deserve to experience this, or maybe knowing that we don't deserve to have that spouse, we can serve them with the love he's given us. We can serve grumpy people. They don't deserve it a lot of times. We know it, but that's love.
Some might say, well okay but isn't this legalism. You're always talking about doing things. Doing, doing, doing. And my answer is no. We don't serve in order to gain the kingdom. We serve because that's what the king does.
There's a story that comes to us from the dark days of World War II. It's during the time just prior to when America actually joined the war, even though we were supporting the war effort. We would send large convoys of ships with supplies across the Atlantic, escorted by warships. Along the way there were many, many that were torpedoed by the German U-boats.
One such ship had made it all the way across and was coming back, it was one of the military ships, and it was hit from behind with a torpedo and it lifted up, settled back down and began to sink. The alarms went off and the soldiers and sailors came up to the top deck and they began to try to get out lifeboats. The problem was that the lifeboat support ropes were frozen solid. They took axes and began to chop away at the ice, trying to free the lifeboats.
Those who weren't trying to free the lifeboats were standing in line trying to get lifejackets. The people who were handing out the life jackets were three chaplains. They were passing out the life jackets and they kept turning for more and giving them and then all of a sudden they run out. There's still a line of soldiers waiting. What do you do?
You can imagine the horror on the faces of the men realizing that their luck was out and there were no more lifejackets and who knows what would happen to them. Then those three chaplains took off their life jackets and handed them to the next three sailors. I can tell you that more than likely they out-ranked those soldiers in that line. Chaplains are officers. Knowing that they out-ranked them they chose to serve their fellow sailors. Handed them their lifejackets. We are told that they spent their last moments, arms-linked, singing a hymn together as the ship was going down. They, knowing, loved, just as Jesus knowing, loved.
So the call comes down through the centuries to us today. Jesus wants us to join him in this exercise. Today we have the privilege of serving each other like Jesus did. Washing each other's feet, but let's not make it just an exercise, let's make it something that we live. Let's wash each others feet in real life. Let's, also, take up the towel and serve, and knowing, love.
Hymn of Praise: #412, Cover With His Life Scripture: John 13:1-4 Hymn of Response: #10, Come, Christians, Join to Sing
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McDonald Road Sermon transcribed by Steve Foster 10/14/11.