Sermon delivered December 13, 1997

by Pastor Kent Crutcher

McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist Church

McDonald, Tennessee

Pruning Peter's Pride

They were gathered in the upper room. It was the time of the Passover, the feast that had been celebrated in the Spring of the year for hundreds of years. People were remembering a time of Egyptian bondage. They were remembering a night of death for Egypt's first born. They were remembering a time of escape from slavery to Pharaoh. Yet, due to their Roman oppression, their current problems, their spiritual blindness, they did not understand that One was among them to help them escape once again. No, not from the Romans, but from the slavery that sin causes, from eternal death.

Jesus was troubled. Not just because the Jews did not understand, but because the men who were gathered with Him, the men who had associated with Him for over three years and called Him “LORD” did not understand. His life had been one of unselfish service to others, but His own disciples had not yet learned. They had even jostled for positions of honor when they came to the table that evening.

"Jesus knew that the time had come for Him to depart out of the world and go to His Father....He was now in the shadow of the cross.... He knew that the sacrifice He was about to make would be in vain for many. Yet Jesus was not troubled about the suffering He was about to be put through. Hi concern was for His disciples--They were still so unprepared for what was to come." Desire of Ages p.643 - EG White

....The disciples were troubled too. They were still clinging to the hope that Jesus would assert Himself as KING and drive off the Romans, end human suffering, and set up His kingdom. Of course, they had also had dreams of being by His side when all this took place. There was constant rivalry between them as to who would be the greatest. All assumed that Judas would be next to Jesus, but who else would be there?

....These thoughts were uppermost in their minds on this night because it was the Passover celebration and they were in Jerusalem. They remembered with warm thoughts the Triumphal Entry. So many people present made this the perfect time for Jesus to do His thing, to make His royal announcement.

With these kind of thoughts going through their heads, it is no wonder that the following events took place. As they arrived for their feast that evening, a social blunder was committed. No servant had been arranged for to wash the feet of the guests. It was the custom at that time for a person to bathe themselves before attending a feast. When they arrived at the feast, they did not need to bathe again. Only their feet would need to be washed after walking on the dusty, and otherwise dirty (animals) streets. The washing of the feet was like a ceremony that preceded entry into the house where they would be guests. This was usually performed by the lowest servant in the household.

It is no wonder, then, with the disciples thinking the way they were, that no body moved to wash the feet. It was their place to do so. They were technically servants to Jesus whom they called Lord. But not one of them could bring his self to kneel before a fellow servant. It would be like accepting defeat in their eyes. The ultimate in humiliation. Or so they thought. What happened next was for more humiliating!!

Jesus had given them time to act as they should. As much as Peter enjoyed public praise from Jesus, he missed a golden opportunity by not getting on his knees and doing the work of a servant. Pride can cause one to miss many golden opportunities. Jesus was hurt by this show of pride from His closest friends. All His teachings and examples seemed a total waste upon those who followed Him closely. What could He do at this last meal with them to help them understand His mission and the way they were to think and act.

Jesus quietly took off his garment, wrapped a towel around Him in the form of a servant, got down on the floor at the feet of His friends and began to wash them. "This action opened the eyes of the disciples. Bitter shame and humiliation filled their hearts. The understood the unspoken rebuke, and saw themselves in altogether a new light." Desire of Ages, p. 644 - EG White.

Let's open our Bibles to John 13:1-8 (NIV). "It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love.

"The evening meal was being served, and the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a twoel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciple's feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

"He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, 'Lord, are you going to wash my feet?'

"Jesus replied, 'You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.'

"'No,' said Peter, 'you shall never wash my feet.'

"Jesus answered, 'Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.'"

"The foot washing is no ordinary act. Jesus knows who He is, an He knows the character of those He is ministering to. It is a deliberate act of divinity in service to sinful, even unregenerate, humanity. Peter, of course, responds with characteristic abruptness. In the Greek, Peter says in the strongest possible language that he will absolutely no permit Jesus to wash his feet, no matter how long he has to think about it. The Greek of verse 8 could be translated in modern English, "No way in all eternity!” Peter is totally appalled at the possibility of Jesus washing his feet."

"Peter no doubt thought that he was protecting Jesus from humiliation. But Jesus' answer to him makes it clear that Peter was actually protecting himself from the humiliation of admitting his need of Jesus' ministry to the list. It is not humility to refuse what the Lord deigns to do for us. The truest humility comes when we accept the self-sacrificing grace of Christ." John, p. 212 by John Pauline. < p> Continuing with John 13:8,9.. "'No,' said Peter, 'you shall never wash my feet.'

"Jesus answered, 'Unless I washyou, you have no part with me.'

"'Then, Lord,' Simon Peter replied, 'not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!'"

It was at this point that Peter surrendered his pride. His love of Jesus outweighed his love of self. He could not bear the thought of having no relationship with Jesus! "It is not humiliating to the Master to allow Him to work for our purification. The truest humility is to receive with thankful heart any provision made in our behalf, and with earnestness do service for Christ." Desire of Ages, p. 646 - EG White.

We have two cats (Simba & Chui) who do not live in the house. These are the most optimistic creatures that I know. Even though they are not allowed inside, they are constantly trying to get there. They have no pride. They do whatever it takes to receive loving attention from us. Every time the door opens, they try to rush inside. We too should be eager to receive the loving attention that Jesus is giving to us. Don't let pride cause you not to accept it.

Verse 10: "Jesus answered, 'A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.'"

"In verse 10 Jesus draws an analogy from bathing to distinguish between two kinds of spiritual cleansing. The first, associated with the full-body bath, represents initial justification-that point in a person's life when he or she accepts Jesus' cleansing for the entire life, setting it off in a new direction. This one-time cleansing at the beginning of the Christian life is represented by baptism."

"Foot washing, on the other hand, represents the Christian's need to deal with the soiling that comes from daily contact with the sinful world and its contamination. The food is the part of the body that in ancient times came in regular contact with the earth and therefore needed continual cleansing. So those who have been justified once nee continual renewal in that justification as life goes on. The beautiful encouragement to be drawn from this analogy is that our daily shortcomings on this earth do not call our justification into question! The one who has bathed needs only to wash the feet again! We are not in and out of God's grace several times a day! We are secure as long as we do not choose to turn away (John 10:27-29)."

"The image of Jesus washing the disciples' feet represents His forgiveness of sins committed after baptism. If so, then for the disciples to wash one another's feet signifies the willingness to forgive those daily irritations and transgressions that threaten the unity in love the Jesus purposed for His disciples." John by John Pauline, pp. 212,213)

Verses 9-12: "'Then, Lord," Simon Peter replied, 'not just my feet but my hands and head as well!'

"Jesus answered, 'A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.' For he knew who was going to betray him, and that is why he said not every one was clean.

"When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. 'Do you understand what I have done for you?' he asked them."

"With the spirit that they had had, not one of the disciples was prepared for communion with Christ. Until brought into a state of humility and love, they were not prepared to partake of the paschal supper, or to share in the memorial service which Christ was about to institute. Their Hearts had been full of pride, dissension, and even hatred, but Jesus washed all this away when He washed their feet. After that, they became humble and teachable. Except for Judas, each was ready to concede to another the highest place in Christ's kingdom." Desire of Ages, p. 646 - EG White.

Verses 13-17: "'You call me "Teacher" and "Lord," and rightly so, for this is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet. I have set an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them."

The primary lesson in the foot-washing service is that Christain belief is not adequate unless it also manifests itself in practical behavior. The disciples call Jesus "the Teacher" (vs. 13, Greek), the same title Jesus used to describe Nicodemus (#:10). They also call Him "Lord" (20:26), which means that He has the right to tell them what to do. Unlike Nicodemus, who could be content to teach theoretical truths, Jesus is a teacher who expects His disciples not only to believe what He believes, but to live as He lives (13:14-16). Those who hear His teachings are invited to follow Him by serving as He served (12:26). Jesus recognizes, however, that in the Christian life, performance tends to fall far short of knowledge (vs 17). We all know more truth than we practice.

1998 is approaching. Are you going to allow your pride to be pruned by the Master? Are you going to allow yourself to be served by Him? Are you going to serve the person beside you and the person that is not even here? May the key word in your life be "Service".

Opening Song: #119, "Angels From the Realms of Glory"
Scripture: John 3:6-9
Closing Song: #136, "Good Christians, Now Rejoice"

PETER'~1.txt (K Crutcher)

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