A recap of the youth group bible teaching from Sunday August 17th 2008
John 13:1-17 Jesus washes his disciples feet.
It can be really awkward letting someone wash your feet… especially if they’re someone you respect. It just doesn’t feel right that someone should clean your dirty feet. It’s a bit humiliating letting someone do that for you, and it’s a bit humiliating for them to stoop down so low and serve you like that… it’s almost like a slave’s job (if we had slaves).
It’s this sort of feeling that helps us identify with Peter’s response. The disciples have been traveling with Jesus for some time now. They’ve left everything to follow him these past few years, they’ve seen Jesus do amazing miracles, they’ve heard his amazing teaching, and they’ve just seen him come into Jerusalem being heralded as the Messiah of Israel. they’re not completely sure if he is the son of God yet, but at the very least they recognise him as God’s Messiah.
And now Jesus stoops down to wash his disciples feet and Peter doesn’t want a bar of it. Verse 8 “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.” Peter can’t accept that his Teacher, Messiah, and Lord would serve him in this way and won’t let Jesus serve him. But Jesus answered Peter, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”
There is more at stake here than Peter realises. If he won’t accept that Jesus has made himself nothing in order to serve him then he can not have any partnership with Jesus. And this is the same for us. Jesus makes himself nothing and takes on the very nature of a servant so that he might die on the cross for our dirty sins and then raise to new life that we might be made clean. Unless we let Jesus serve us in this way and accept the free gift that he gives us, we can have no partnership with Jesus. And yet, even though the gift he give us is free and good, we struggle to let him serve us for free. We feel as though we need to pay our own way, or at the very least to pay for his kindness. But grace doesn’t work that way, and Jesus makes it clear “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”
When Peter realises what’s at stake here, he makes a brilliant response to Jesus “Then, Lord, not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!” (v9). He effectively says “If it’s about partnership with you Jesus, then take all of me!”. It’s a great response. And it’s the response that we need to have also.
And it’s not as if Jesus is only willing to wash the feet of his friends, but also his enemies. Because among his disciples is his betrayer Judas Isacariot – his enemy (v11). Jesus doesn’t discriminate between his disciples, but is willing to serve even those who are in rebellion against him.
The big application for us comes in verses 12-17, especially verse 15 “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.”
So here is the first big question: Do you think you’re better than Jesus?
Because if you’re not willing to humble yourself and serve others, then that’s what you’re saying. Jesus says “Very truly I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them.” (v16). Our master is one who humbled himself to serve, and we are not greater than our master so we should do likewise. If Jesus is your master you should do as he did.
This prompts the second big question: How do you serve others?
And What are some ways you can serve others? (leave a comment below with some suggestions).