John 13:1-17, 33-35

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you…

Sermon Transcript:

Good morning, church. Good morning. It is good to be with you, whether here in person in Mount Laurel or in spirit with all the faithful brothers over in Collingswood are attending online.

It’s really good to be with you all as I’m looking around so many faces and stories and people, uh, who are so dear to me, uh, this summer. Uh, for those of you who don’t know me, my name is Josiah and I’m a pastor here. And the first time I had the opportunity to preach, uh, was actually out here in the gym.

The first time out in the gym I did was actually our first Sunday here. And on that particular Sunday, I had expressed a hope which was shared by our whole staff that this summer spent in the gym wouldn’t be thought of as just something to grid our teeth and get through as we wait for our shiny new building to be ready.

But that we would treat this summer and expect this summer as an opportunity to teach us a very important truth. God’s church is not a building. Amen. No matter how nice or newly renovated God’s church is His people. Amen. Gathered together in the Union of the Spirit, to celebrate and worship the God that we love, and to proclaim Jesus as Lord and Savior and king.

And we can do that whether we meet in a gym, in a prayer garden, in a palace, a prison. The church is the church. And it’s been fun as we’ve been in the Act series to see both the example of our history and the example in our current situation proclaiming that truth, God’s church is not a building. God’s church is his people.

And now this morning we have another opportunity to share in a reminder of what it makes the church, the church, as we share communion later this morning as we eat the wafer, which symbolizes Christ’s body given to us. And as we drink the juice, which symbolizes his blood poured out as one body, we receive the body of Christ and His blood.

But on this particular Sunday, because it’s communion Sunday, we actually aren’t gonna be in the Book of Acts today. The, the book we’re gonna be in is in, uh, well, actually, I’ll tell you in a minute. It’s, it’s up there. So I guess I, the surprise has already ruined. But I was gonna make a joke about how we were gonna study in the book of Leviticus today.

Um, but we’re gonna be in the Gospel of John Mark. Uh, pastor Mark gave me the opportunity to preach from any passage that I wanted to, and the passage which has been on my mind and my heart, it’s been convicting my spirit. Has been encouraging me is found in John chapter 13 and we’ve actually been studying it on Tuesdays.

I lead a young adult group here at Fellowship and on Tuesday nights we’ve been studying John Chapter 13 and it’s deeply encouraged my spirit. Now, my hope is as we come to these, these scriptures that we would come church recognizing that we are the church as his people, right? Not a building. And as we come, we come as a family, comes to a meal, hungry, expectant, and ready to be filled because his word is the only thing that truly satisfies his spirit is the only true thing that fills the bread of his word and the living water of his spirit.

So let’s read our scripture today. It’s found in the Gospel of John chapter 13 verses one through 17, and then a little bit further on 13 through 35. Let’s read this story this morning. Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them unto the end.

And during supper, when the devil had already put into the heart of Judas Sct, Simon’s son, to betray him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. And he laid aside his outer garments and taking on a towel, tied it around his waist, and then he poured water into a basin and there began to wash the disciple’s feet and to wipe them with the towel that was around his waist.

And he came to Simon Peter and said to him, and, and Peter said to him, Lord, do you wash my feet? And Jesus answered him What I am doing. You do not understand now, but after you will understand. And Peter said to him, you shall never wash my feet. But Jesus answered him, if I do not wash you, you have no share with me.

But then Peter said to him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head. And Jesus said to him, the one who has bathed does not need to wash except for his feet, but is completely clean and you are clean, but not every one of you. For he knew who was to betray him, and that is why he said, not all of you’re clean.

In verse 12, when he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, do you understand what I have done to you? You call me teacher and Lord and you are right for so I am. If then your Lord and your teacher has washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.

For I have given you an example that you should do just as I have done. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is the messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, then blessed are you who do them. And then finally, the, the final words of our passage this morning in verses 33 through 35, little children.

Yet a little while I am with you, you will seek me. And just as I said to the Jews, so now I say unto you where I am going, you cannot come. And so a new commandment I give to you that you love one another, just as I have loved you. You also are to love one another. And by this, all people will know that you are my disciples.

If you have love for one another, this is God’s word. Would you join with me church as we pray and dedicate this time to our Heavenly Father, heavenly Father. Father, you know, we gather in gymnasiums, in prayer gardens, in old stained glass chapels gathered around computers. Lord, we come because we know now we’ve tasted and we’ve seen Lord, we’ve eaten the food offered to us by this world.

We’ve drank deep of the cup, which this world promises will satisfy, and we have found them to be empty and bitter things incapable of satisfying the deep longings of our soul. But Lord, in you, we have found the only thing that satisfies. The bread of life and the living water only in you. Lord, we can gather and come to this place as to a feast hungry, expectant, joyful, and ready to receive what you have for us ready to be filled.

Expectant Lord in you is the only true source of life and satisfaction, and so I pray for our hearts. Lord, I pray against distractions. I pray against the enemies in inhibiting of your truth, but thank you, Lord that nothing can inhibit your truth. I pray against all attacks, all fiery arrows. I pray we put on the armor of God, Lord, as we come to your scriptures in Jesus’ name.

Lord I I ask. That you would fill us with the bread of your word and that you would overflow us, Lord, with the living water of your spirit, which does not only fill us, but overflows within us. Just new springs of water lead us this morning. May it not be me, Lord. May it not be my words. May it be your words and your spirit speaking through me.

I pray your name. Amen. Amen. So this particular passage is tough for us because we’ve not been studying the Gospel of John, and I’m sorry for that. We’ve been in the Book of Acts, which has been a beautiful study, but my wife joked this week as I was preparing. She’s like, Joe, it wouldn’t be a Joe sermon if you didn’t start with context.

Because every single time I think I spend a good 15 minutes on context before I start. Now. I’m not gonna spend that much time this morning, but I do think it’s important for us to take just a few minutes to find our bearings. With this particular story in John chapter 13. After all, we’ve not been in the gospel of John.

So this particular story that we just read takes place three and a half years at the end, at the end of Jesus’, three and a half years of public ministry, he’s now finished his work to the crowds. He’s finished all he has to say. And now instead he turns his focus inward to his friends, to the 12 disciples, and he gathers them for a final meal together, the Passover meal.

Most scholars believe that this would be at least the third meal, that, uh, Passover meal that these 12 disciples would’ve celebrated with Jesus. But this one will become known later as the Last Supper, because just 12 or just 24 hours later, I should say, Jesus will be nailed to a cross and they’re crucified just hours after this meal.

The one who is called Judas Iscariot, one of the 12. We’ll go and betray Jesus to the religious leaders handing him over for that crucifixion. And so it is called the Last Supper. It’s at this meal where we get our first communion, which we’re gonna be again, celebrating later in the service. But at this particular meal, what we see is Jesus gathering the 12, his closest friends for this final meal before he is to be crucified and buried.

Jesus calls it and has called it throughout the gospel of John his hour. That’s what we mean, what it means here when it says His hour has come over his three and a half years spent with the disciples. He’s given many teachings. He’s, he’s done many miracles performed, many signs, cast out demons.

Proclaimed his new gospel truth given many commandments. And here in John chapter 13, we see a final and new commandment given to the disciples. It’s that passage at the end of our reading this morning when Jesus said to them, little children, yet a little while I am with you and you will seek me. And just as I said to the Jews, so now I say unto you where I am going, you cannot come.

And so a new commandment I give to you that you love one another, just as I have loved you. You also are to love one another. And by this all people will know that you are my disciples if you have love for one another. Growing up, I’m one of five kids. And, uh, I remember very distinctly, and maybe some of you can remember this growing up, the age that we reached when we reached the, the age that we were, uh, allowed to be alone while my parents were away.

So we finally were considered trustworthy enough, old enough, responsible enough to be left alone while my parents went away. And I don’t know about you, but my parents always would leave a, uh, a list of things to remember on the fridge, right? There would be a list of instructions, you’d have to check them off.

And when my parents would come back, they would check that list. But when I would be a home alone or watching my younger siblings, my parents usually would follow that list up with just a few final remarks, usually reiterating some of the more important instructions. And if I’m being honest, they were probably, I was probably most likely to forget them.

And so the ones that were most important, they usually said to me last as they’re leaving the door, I think that’s what Jesus is doing here. He says, I’m only with you just a short while longer. And so I give to you a new commandment.

Perhaps this commandment is one which the disciples are also most likely to forget

to be my disciple. Need to be known for love, but not just any love, my love. I wanna play a quick game with you all this morning. I’m gonna say a word, and I don’t want you to be shy. I want you to say whatever word you associate with that that pops into your head and just, just shout it out. Okay? I’ll say safe words, I promise.

Okay. Peanut butter. Nice. So, so good so far. Ketchup, mustard. Okay. Basket. Oh, nice. My wife said blueberries, which I liked, but knock, knock. Great. Okay, so how cool is that there are certain words which are so closely linked to each other that we almost can’t help but associate one word with another. Right.

The moment we hear one, we think of the other. Let’s, let’s keep it rolling. We’ll, how about with some words that are a little bit closer to our subject matter this morning, and these may not be quite as obvious, but how about, what do you think of when you hear cross savior, savior Salvation. Jesus. How about gospel?

Yeah. How about Jesus? Love. I hear a lot of loves out there. I, I have one for you. How about this one, Christian?

There’s a couple there. There’s a lot. A lot of silence. It might be a little bit more complicated if it’s complicated. In this room, church, what answers do you think we’d get if I went to the Cherry Hill Mall? And ask them what words they associate with the word Christian, or how about the, the streets of Philadelphia.

Excuse me. What do you, what words do you think you think of when I say the word Christian? What words might we get then? I heard hypocrite, we don’t have to list them off. They’re going off in your head right now. Church, what’s going on? Why the disconnect? You see this, uh, about a week and a half ago I was preparing for this sermon and uh, I like to go away to Princeton ’cause they have this really cool library there called, uh, Princeton Theological Seminary Library.

It’s beautiful, it’s quiet and I just gave you all my study spots, so now I’ve, but that place is awesome. Um, so I was there studying this passage and I took a study break and went for a walk and decided to get grab a coffee at a local coffee shop. And while I was waiting for my, uh, cappuccino to be finished, I, I started overhearing a conversation between the two baristas, a guy and a girl.

The girl said, yeah, that’s when I used to go to church camp. And as soon as I heard that, you know, my ears prick up. I’m pretending to not look like I’m listening, but I’m listening. And the guy gets this sort of scrunched up, disgusted look on his face, and he says, what were you doing at church camp? And the girl explained that she had a close friend who the only way she could hang out with her is if she went to church camp with her.

And the guy, he kept that kind of grossed out expression on his face when he said, did they indoctrinate you? And at this point, yeah, I’m doing what you’re doing. I’m kind of chuckling. I’m kind of like looking down, pretending not to listen, waiting for my cappuccino. But then the girl had a reply that stopped me in my tracks.

She said, yeah. For three years until I realized they were all bigots and my heart broke and I, I tried not to look like I had been listening, but I was so hit. I was cut to the heart and I stood there like an idiot. My cappuccino was ready and I grabbed it and I kind of just stared at them wanting to say something.

But all that came out was, thank you. And on that, that’s pretty long. Walk back from the coffee shop to the library and that whole walk back, all that I’m thinking of the whole time is that conversation, those words. And then I realized they were all bigots. And then the words of Jesus in verse 35, when he says, by this, all people will know that you’re my disciples, that you have love for one another.

And these two conflicting messages are crashing in my head and I’m trying to understand them. I’m begging, God, explain this to me. Where’s what’s going on? He gave me a fresh urgency with this message this morning. Almost a desperation church. I wanna encourage you not to do something. When you hear a story like that, there’s a temptation to get defensive.

I felt it in my heart when I first heard that line. I thought, oh, well, I wonder why she thinks that. But then luckily the Lord intercepted that thought and a different question, and one that I want us all to ask came into my mind. What experiences musts that girl have had that after three years spent in the company of Christians, the one word that she chose to describe us, or at least that group of Christians, was bigot.

What type of experiences must she have gone through? And again, that that urgency in me started to grow so much so that it almost crippled me when I was doing this message. I felt so desperate.

But as is usual, desperation is a good place to be with the Lord.

I know I sound like a covid commercial, like during Covid, but we do live in pretty desperate times. It seems like every day there’s a new divide, a new descent, a new disagreement, a new line being drawn in the sand.

Day by day, it seems like anger and fear are rising. Seems like the love of many is growing cold, and I wish I could say that Christians are rising above that, but it’s not what I’m seeing. I’m seeing instead, Christians blending into the maddening crowd rather than standing out and offering a different, better, brighter way.

Being a city on a hill, a golden lampstand to the world, I feel like Christians in America are more likely to be known for their trendy pastors or their political affiliation, or their strong and loud opinions or their scandals than they are for their love. Now, I’m making generalities here. I’m not speaking directly to you yet.

But I am pointing out the disconnect between how the church is called to be known and how the church is known.

I think we would be blind if we didn’t start asking some important questions. Why the disconnect? Many of you in this room have stories of how you were hurt by people who called themselves Christians.

Many of you have seen it firsthand, have witnessed people claiming the name of Jesus, but not living by the way that he lived by. And if we’re honest church, many of us have been those people at one time in our life.

It is an important question we have to ask before we look at the passage again.

What definition are we using here of love? Because love is a a bit of a loaded question in our culture. I would say that we live in a pretty preoccupied culture with this idea of love. Seems like a lot of those disagreements are over that word, or maybe even every Hollywood movie right now. Every romcom, every Disney movie seems like every love song right now that comes out is this idea, all we need is love.

Isn’t that a Beatles song, right? Am I getting that wrong? That would be mortifying if I got that wrong, right? All you need is love. This isn’t a new idea. Isn’t that how most cults are started? There’s a lot, again, in our culture is preoccupied with this. This idea. But we need to get something very straight.

The difference between the world’s definition of love and Jesus’s definition of love are so different. They’re two different things.

The whole purpose in Jesus coming was because when he called us here in this passage, he didn’t call us to be known for our love. He called us to be known for his love

because Jesus came into the world to reveal God’s love, because you and I had messed it up so badly. Sin had come into the world and marred the vision of God’s love to his people so badly that we had, we’ve utterly lost sight of what God’s love really is, what it looks like to share God’s love. And so Jesus came down to the world to reveal the heart of the Father.

To show us that God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever would believe in Him, would not perish, but have eternal life. That kind of love. It’s an utterly different, utterly revolutionary, utter, utterly counter-cultural kind of love. It’s a love that is not a state of feeling or being, but an action, a sacrifice.

We see it all the time right now in our world. Marriages our failing more and more. It seems like the family, it’s being broken apart because we’ve lost sight, even among Christians, what it means to truly love one another as Christ has loved us. So I wanna move along and I wanna look at I, what I would call four ways in this passage that demonstrates to us as believers, Because the question we should be asking this morning now is this, how do we love like Jesus?

We shouldn’t ask how do we love like us or how do we love like the world we should be asking? How do we love like Jesus? Here’s the good news church. Jesus was the greatest teacher the world had ever known. And so like all great teachers that we know, he didn’t just tell us what to do, what did he do? He showed us my favorite teachers growing up were the ones not that spent the whole time monologuing and writing on a screen as I’m monologuing to you all right now.

Not the ones that spent the whole time monologuing to us, but the ones that showed us, my favorite teacher in college or one of them, she was anatomy and physiology teacher and uh, she would do this awesome thing. Where she would, while she was talking through these very complicated ideas about the body, she would be doing two things.

She would be telling a story of her personal experience with it, and she would be drawing a picture that related to it and it would be projected onto the screen. I learned more in that class than I think I’ve ever learned in one class because she was not only telling us what to learn, but showing us how to learn it, painting pictures for us of what she was talking about.

Luckily for us, Jesus was the greatest teacher the world had ever known. So I wanna look at this story that we read at the start, this story, this interesting story about how Jesus washes the feet of the disciples. What’s that all about? Maybe we’ve grown up hearing this story. Maybe we’re a little bit numb to this story now.

I pray that we’d have a fresh eyes as we look. Okay. If you have, uh, your notes in front of you, or if you want to keep notes on this, there’s four things I wanna look at as I mentioned, and the first is this. If we are to follow Jesus and to love like Jesus, we need to first resource any authority or power or possessions that we have in service, not to ourselves, but to others.

I want you to read these words to me. This is in verse three and four. Jesus knowing that the father had given him all things into his hands and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper, and he laid aside his outer garments and took a towel around his waist, it’s easy for us to lose sight of how ridiculous this is.

Jesus in the exact moment of the realization that all things have been set into his hands, all power or authority, all glory, all honor, and knowing full well that just a few hours later he would be nailed on the cross for all these men.

Instead of choosing to use all of that power and authority to get what he deserved, which was their worship,

he took a towel around his waist, taking off his outer garments and exchanging them for a towel. When I read that and I started looking at that, if we were reading that for the first time, I would expect, it’s like Jesus realizing that all things have been set into his hands rose from supper, and you’re like, yeah, baby.

Peter was probably like, he’s about to go storm the capitol. He’s about to go to Jerusalem. He’s about to take back what’s ours. What does he do?

He lays it all aside.

That should beg the question to us. What things has God set in your hands,

which he’s calling you to either set aside or set in service to others and not to yourself? Maybe you raise a promotion. Maybe you’re starting on varsity for the first time. Maybe you’re going to college on scholarship.

Our money, our job, our popularity, our talents, all these things are things that you did not give to yourself. They were put in your hands by God. And the temptation of our flesh is to say, how can these things serve me? How can I take all that God said in my hands and use it for my gain? We live in a culture preoccupied with brand, with self-promotion, with even promoting a life that’s not even really a fair representation of what we are, of using our talents, our money, our job to boost ourselves.

That’s the way the world loves. That’s the expectation. But Jesus, when he knew all things, every single thing was set into his hands. Chose instead to use it in service to others. We see this all throughout Jesus’, public ministry, every bit of power, every bit of knowledge and insight. He’s resourcing it for others, not keeping it for himself.

And so God puts all things into his hands.

Again, maybe you’re in a position. I’m not saying that you take all your money and dump it into an offering box. That’s not what this is about. I’m saying ask God what things he has set into your hands that you can give in service to others to love like Jesus. It could be your time. It could be your money.

It could be your influence, but maybe stop asking the first question, how do I serve myself with these things and ask ourselves the question, how do I serve others? The world says, serve yourself. You earned it. Jesus says, serve others. They need it.

All right. That takes us to number two. In order to love like Jesus, we need to set aside the glory of our outer garments and take up the towel of servanthood. It says in verse four, he laid aside our out his outer garments and taking a towel. He tied it around his waist. We know from, uh, one of the synap, uh, later on actually in the gospel of John chapter 19, verse 23, that this outer robe that Jesus is laying aside is the, the robe without a seam.

It’s a beautiful outer robe. Actually, it was so nice that the Roman guards, they don’t tear it apart and share the cloth. They don’t wanna do that. Instead, they cast lots to see and gamble to see who gets the robe ’cause of how nice it is. This is a fine outer garment, possibly a distinguishing outer garment that distinguishes Jesus as the rabbi and teacher that he is.

But he sets it aside and replaces it with what a towel. And he takes that towel and he wraps the towel around his waist. Ask yourself a question. What do you think of when you see somebody with a towel around their waist, aside from they just got outta the shower, they’re walking around, say here at the behind the kitchen, or maybe walking around.

We usually think that person’s serving someone or doing something, and that culture, that’s a symbol of a servant

to lay aside this outer fine garment, which distinguished Jesus as the teacher and the rabbi that he was, and instead wrap the towel of servanthood around his waist.

Maybe we should ask the question, what’s our fine outer garment that we’ve wrapped ourselves in? Maybe we’ve earned it. Maybe, uh, we deserve it.

But what thing do we have wrapped around ourselves that we need to lay aside so that we can just like our savior, take the towel of servanthood and wrap that in its place.

Just a couple suggestions. The words that popped into my head were pride, ego, maybe even my dignity, my need to be right. My insatiable need to be right all the time.

What is that outer garment? I’m not gonna give you the answer. I don’t know what it is for you.

How can you lay aside your rights so that you can take up the towel of servanthood even as Jesus did? We need to remove the pride and the judgment so we can replace them with humility and servanthood.

Remember Jesus at that moment of his power and authority, took off the majesty and exchange it for a dirty towel.

The question then becomes why that leads us to our third way. Do we love like Jesus? To love like Jesus? We need to go to the dirty and ugly places, and there meet the need. It says in verse five. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciple’s feet and to wipe them with the towel and to wrap that and then wrap that, that was wrapped around him.

Some of you might really be asking the question, why feet washing? Why does Jesus wash the disciple’s feet? There was probably a lot of things he could have done. Why washing the feet? Well, it’s helpful for us if we know a little bit of the context. In Jewish culture, you had to wash your feet before coming to a meal, and it was the expectation in a wealthier house with a servant.

The job of the servant was to wipe the ho. The, the people who came in to eat, who were being hosted by the family, the guests, the servant would wipe their feet. And in a household where it was too poor to have a servant, it was the job of each person to wash one another’s feet. The reason for that is they didn’t walk around and, and, uh, HOAs or, um, you know, nice closed toed shoes and sneakers all the time, and they didn’t walk around on pavement.

They had sandals and they walked around on dirt. Now, picture those feet. Uh, something we like to do here at Fellowship is. Uh, every once in a while we need to just get our bodies moving and do something other than thinking all the time. So we, uh, we go out here and play a game called Spike Ball, and the pastors get very competitive.

We play and it’s a lot of fun, but out there we’ve played so much that we’ve worn down the grass to dirt, so it’s just dusty dirt. So every time before we come back inside our feet are just caked and dirt. And so we need to wash them off outside before coming in, or Tim will kill us.

I don’t want you to picture my dirty feet, but I want you to, you know, get the idea the need was that before we, they would come to meal, they would need to wash one another’s feet. But something really interesting has happened here in this passage. We know from Luke chapter 22 that again, their job should have been to wash each other’s feet before the meal started, but the disciples forgot.

And the reason they forgot, It’s because Luke 22 tells us they were arguing about who would be the greatest in God’s kingdom. How interesting is that? They were arguing who would be first in this new kingdom that Jesus was bringing. And so the only person aware of the need, the growing need in the room was Jesus.

Jesus brought the towel in the basin and met the dirty need that was in the room.

See, Jesus in his whole earthly ministry, was attracted to the dirty places, to the sick, to the needy, to the broken, to the unclean. In Luke chapter five, we read of a story of Jesus eating at a table with tax collectors who were on the bottom of the food chain among Jews with prostitutes and with other sinners, thieves.

The lowest of the low, the dirtiest of the dirty and the Jewish culture. He was eating with them. And the Pharisees couldn’t get this into their head. They were so disgusted by Jesus’ behavior. They said, what are you doing? And those of you that know the story, know what Jesus said to them.

Jesus said to them, I have not come for the healthy but for the sick. Those who need a doctor, they’re not the ones who are healthy, but the ones who are sick. I haven’t come for the righteous, but for the sinners, every bit of Jesus’s energy was put towards the dirty and ugly places. And yet I think we live, especially in the Western church, in a church that’s obsessed with the influential.

The powerful, the important, the crowds. The glamor.

And yet Jesus. Jesus was for a different kind of kingdom. Jesus was after the needy, after the sick, after the broken, the dirty places. And he didn’t just say, you know, I’m here for you. He met their need.

We need to be reminded that to love like Jesus, we need to love the hard people in the hard to love places, not just with kind words, but with tangible acts of service.

So this all begs the question, church,

if the church was loving like this, What might that girl in the coffee shop’s answer have been

if she had lived and walked among people who used their resources for others, who laid aside their pride and their ego to meet the need of needy people. If she had walked among believers who were attracted to the dirty places, who went into those places willingly, again, not just stay in that, but to help and bring, need, bring, uh, service to a need.

I don’t know that her answer would’ve been the same. Now, I don’t know about you, but when I did all this study, you know what I felt at the end? This is an impossible standard. I. I don’t think I can love like this. I’ve been trying and every time I try and I just can’t do it. No, Jesus, you’re at, you’re asking too much to love like you just as you have done, it’s too high a call.

I don’t know that I can do it. Maybe some of you are feeling that way as well. Maybe you’re feeling a little bit hyperventilating right now. You’re like, okay, I got a lot to do this week.

Well, I think maybe for the, for us and for me, certainly I was like Peter in this story, struggling to understand what Jesus was doing, struggling to understand our fourth way that will love like Jesus. To love like Jesus. We need to understand what he has done for us. Verse 12 through 17, it says, when he had washed their feet, have put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, do you understand what I have done for you?

You called me teacher and Lord and you are right for so I am. If I, then your Lord and your teacher have washed your feet, you also want to wash one another’s feet as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor a messenger greater than the one who sent him.

If you understand these things, if you know these things, blessed are you who do them. The important qualifier there is if you know Jesus multiple times in this story, asks if they understand. He asks. He tells Peter, you don’t understand now, but you will later. He tells all of them, do you understand what I’m doing?

We see Peter not understanding. When Jesus comes to him to wash his feet. He’s like, no, nope, nope, nope. I haven’t earned it yet. You are way too good and I’m not good enough, so I need to get better so that I can earn this washing. I need to be holy. And Jesus tells him, really frankly, unless I wash you, you can’t even be with me.

You have no share with me. So then Peter kind of backtracks and he is like, oh, okay. I gotta be really holy. What do I say? What do I say? What do I say? Oh, okay. Wash my head. My hands, my feet wash. All of me,

I think we’re so much like Peter. Even after we’ve learned what it means to be washed by Jesus, we keep trying to earn it. We keep trying to say, oh, like let, let me get things in order. Let me get a holy response. Let me do this. And Jesus saying, the first thing you need to do is be washed. But he says something interesting to Peter.

He says this kind of confusing sentence when he says, and this, I don’t have the verse for this up there, but I’ll have to say it to you. He says, those who have already been washed do not need to be cleaned except for their feet, but are completely cleaned. What’s he talking about?

I think the application for us, and I think what he’s saying is there’s a different deeper washing than just the feet. And because you are with me, you are completely clean. But I think even if we’ve been fully wash and we’re gonna look about what that means in a minute. We need to also have our feet washed daily by Jesus.

We pick up a lot of dirt out there as we walk. So before we do any washing, we need to first be washed by Jesus.

The disciples didn’t understand what it meant to be washed by Jesus. What Jesus was doing that night, they thought he was just doing a kind act of service. I bet maybe they were kind of getting the point he was making. Yeah. Jesus, we need to be servants. I get it. We’ve seen you do this before four, but I don’t think they understood the deeper meaning of what Jesus was communicating to them.

That Jesus, like my teacher in biology, was drawing a picture for them that was revealing a far deeper truth of what was about to take place just 24 hours later. He knew what was coming. Just 24 hours later, Jesus would show them the ultimate example of love when he willingly subjected himself to torture and death on a criminal’s cross.

The disciples had yet to understand that, that, that he had already laid aside the garment, the outer garment of his divine nature, and that he had already clothed himself in the towel of servanthood, which was the the weakness of human flesh.

And that he would now take these human attributes of his humanity, that he would take the broken body and the innocent blood and use them to wash away the sins of the world even as he had washed their feet.

And after he had accomplished this greatest of feats of all love, the father would restore the robes of his divine glory and he would resume his rightful place, seated at the right hand of the Father. All these things would happen, and he was painting for them a picture that night. So I want to end with a question.


do you understand what he has done for you? Do you know what it cost him

to be in perfect contentment with the father? All glory, all honor, all power, all love.

And to take all that and to cast it aside. And to instead take this broken, weak body

and come down and love everyone around you to the fullest of your ability completely and perfectly, and with all that you have completely. And the price that you are given in return is murder. And yet he still willingly washed them. Did you notice that he washes all 12 disciples, even Judas, knowing what he would do,

but Judas wouldn’t accept that washing, and that’s why he wasn’t clean. Judas had a different plan, but Jesus didn’t not wash his feet. He washed all the 12. We need to understand church in order before we do any or start any of this kind of loving like Jesus thing. We can’t do it unless we understand how much he loves you.

He broke his body,

he poured out his blood so that he could be with you so he could eat with you. He washed you so that he could say, come to the table and eat and join with me. Eat the food that only can satisfy you.

I think the problem and, and Tim Keller, the late Tim Keller said this and it stuck with me for many years. He said, A lot of Christians, or actually non-Christians will come to my church and tell me, Uh, I was hurt by fanatical Christians. And you know what Tim Keller tells them? He said, you were hurt by Christians who weren’t fanatical enough because they didn’t understand the fanatic love of Jesus.

It hadn’t penetrated deep enough, it hadn’t gone far enough.

You are not able to manufacture this kind of love. You don’t make it. You can only distribute what you’ve been given. And so there are times church where we get caught up and we, we want to follow this command. We wanna do what God’s required of us, and we find ourselves dry, empty, and weary because we’re forgetting what Peter forgot.

We first need to be washed. Or remember that we have been washed and are fully clean. We need Jesus to say to us, you are clean.

We need to go to that secret place. And remember that we love because he first loved us first. John four 19 says that we love because he first loved us. I can’t manufacture this love. It’s impossible. It’s an impossible standard, but I can distribute what it is that he has poured out on me.

Just a few minutes later in this conversation with the disciples at this same table, Jesus will say these words to them in John 15, five, I am the vine. You are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit. But apart from me, You can do nothing.

If you hear anything today, it’s not go and do these three, four things and you’ll be a good Christian. Paul tells us in Corinthians that that’s, that’s not the way to do things. You could have all those things, but if you have not the love of God, you’re nothing. What I want you to hear first is this, stop trying to do it in your own strength.

The only possible way to be the love of Jesus is to be loved by Jesus. Nothing good. No matter how hard you try can come out of your self effort, it only comes out of the indwelling life of Jesus in you by the secret place with you and Jesus walking with him, remaining in him. And that leads me to how we’re gonna close tonight, which is a, a beautiful opportunity to celebrate communion together.

Uh, I don’t know. I think the, yes, the ushers are gonna come down and grab the elements and distribute them, and as they are, I just wanna just have a few final words for you all. Some of you might be in here and be asking the question, why, why juice and crackers? What’s going on with this? Why am I drinking this?

Well, the reminder in the word is it this same meal which we’ve been talking about this morning, Jesus says these words,

this is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me. And likewise, the cup after they had eaten, saying, this is the cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. When Jesus says those words, what is he telling them?

You need to abide in me an I in you. So now just take a few minutes as uh, it’s being distributed. We’re gonna just play some music and reflect. Ask first the Lord to reveal how much he loves you and then maybe ask him to speak over those couple things that we talked about this morning. Ask the Lord to show you what things we need to lay aside, what things we need to resource for others, in what ways we can go to those dirty places and there meet the need.

Let’s pray.


I just want to thank you. I don’t have any other words right now, Lord.

Thank you for breaking your body so that I could be made whole. Thank you for pouring out your innocent blood so that I could be made clean,

so that I could be restored into your presence, Lord, that I could walk not just on Sundays with you, but every day in your presence learning more and more how deep and how wide Lord, and how far is the love of the Father. Lord, I pray that you teach each person in this room how dearly loved they are and how impossible the call to love like Jesus is unless they abide in you and you and them, and Lord, even as they take the cup and as they eat the bread.

Remind us that only in the bread of life, Lord, and in the living water, are we satisfied. We pray this in your name.