I am excited to be back home from the foreign mission field in SE Asia. I am preparing to teach the kids this Sunday during theROC (children’s church). The subject is serving and our passage is John 13. There are three lessons that we can and need to learn from this passage. This is the well known passage where Jesus washes the feet of His disciples. Jesus taught them a lesson in service that they would never forget. It is a lesson that all of us who are followers of Christ need to learn and apply. In the previous lesson, we learned about forgiveness from Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well. Jesus searched for her and initiated the conversation with her. He shows her the need for the living water that only He can give. In order for her to receive this living water, her sins are confronted. She admits to her sins and receives the forgiveness that Christ offers, opening the door to a relationship with Him. She immediately wants to share this living water with all the people she knows. Many other people come to believe in Christ because she leads them to Him.
Once a person receives forgiveness of sins and enters into a personal relationship with Christ, he or she needs to be trained to serve others. This is where our story picks up in John 13. Jesus has to teach His disciples how to serve others.
I. Lesson 1, humble yourself
Jesus gathers His disciples together to have a meal. Upon entering the house, before sitting down on the floor to eat, in their culture, the people had to wash their feet so that the food would not be contaminated by the close proximity of the food and feet. The job of feet washing was a lowly one, usually designed for a servant or the lowest ranking person in the group. Each of the disciples deferred the job to someone else, thinking that the feet washing was below them. Jesus waited, yet He did not say anything. They all sat down and no one took the basin of water and towel. Jesus stood up, took off His outer garment, filled the water basin, took a towel and began to take on the role of a servant. Jesus goes to Peter first. At this point, Peter realizes that he should have been the humble one to serve the rest of the group. Behind Jesus, he was the leader among the 12. Peter realizes that he should have humbled himself and he tries to at this moment. He missed the bus. He now has to be served by Jesus. This is a lesson in humility that all of the disciples had to learn. They learned it after that night and applied it.
II. Lesson 2, be willing to be served
Peter did not want to be served. Many times, it seems to be harder for us to be served than it is for us to serve others. I know that sounds strange but it is true. We can get proud in our service. This is another lesson in humility. As followers of Jesus Christ, we have to learn to depend on each other. The best way to learn this Truth is to be served by others. We must remember that we cannot do everything on our own or by ourselves. We need each other. We need Jesus. He came to this earth, not to be served, but to serve others. He did for us what we could not do for ourselves. Jesus took our sin debt and paid the price. His resurrection set us free from our sin nature that enslaved us all of our lives. Before we can serve others, we must first be served by Jesus Christ. We are dependent upon Him and He teaches us to be dependent upon each other. This was a lesson that the disciples needed to learn and apply and it is a lesson that all of us need to learn and apply each and every day.
III. Lesson 3, learn to serve others
Once we have humbled ourselves, accepting our dependence upon Christ and each other, Christ wants us to serve each other. The example that He set for us is an example that we must follow. Because of Christ, we are able to serve one another. Our way of life now is service. The disciples demonstrated that they learned the lesson by the way that they helped each other once the church was born in Acts 2. Each one received the Holy Spirit and they began to share the mighty deeds of God with others. Some people did not understand what was going on and they began to mock the believers. Peter stands up and defends his brothers and sisters in Christ. He serves them. He serves his Lord also by defending the Gospel. The believers also served the known world by taking the Gospel to the ends of the known earth. They suffered fierce persecution from the very people whom they were serving. This idea of service has been passed on from one generation of believers to the next all the way down to our present time. I received the Gospel from believers who served me. I serve the people around me by taking the Gospel to them. This is the way of life of a genuine follower of Christ.
What about you my dear friend, does God need to humble you the way He did the disciples, or, are you going to humble yourself so that you can be served by Christ through His followers? Do you allow others to serve you, revealing your dependence on God and others? Do you seek to serve others every single day of your life? Are you taking the Gospel to the people whom God has placed in your life? May the Lord help us learn humility, recognize our need to be served by God and others, and finally, teach us to serve the people around us!