Text: John 13: 1-20

Series: 21 Portraits of Jesus in John's Gospel

A clock in a clock shop was always running too fast. A sign placed near it said, "Don't blame my hands, the problem is much deeper." In the text, a need existed for someone to rinse the feet of the supper guests. No hands volunteered for the job. We could again say, "Don't blame the hands, the problem goes much deeper."

Humility is a much needed quality in the life of American churches. One author expressed, "Humility is the soil in which grace grows." If that is true, it may be the reason we are growing in grease, but not in grace. We need humility. Jesus taught related to humility: 1) In service, 2) In salvation, and 3) In serenity. Please keep your Bible open as you follow these three emphases of this sermon.

I.    Jesus and the quality of humility related to service (vv. 1-5 and 12) 
If we want to fully understand this passage we need to know a little of the background. Robertson's Harmony of the Gospels proposes the experience of Luke 33:24-30 as taking place before our text. The Lord may have waited for one of the disciples to rinse the feet. He had just instructed them about being great in the kingdom, but it seems the message didn't fall on truly receptive soil. They were arguing about who was or would be the greatest and not one volunteered to rinse feet. Judas had already made arrangements to betray the Lord for 30 pieces of silver. It is good for us to note the words translated"...put into the heart..." in the second verse. This is a picture of one not having a shield of faith. by which to stop Satan's darts. But, Judas didn't have a shield of faith and wasn't concerned about serving.

The host or hostess of a supper usually arranged for a hired servant to rinse feet. Because people wore sandals and walked on dusty, dirty roads, their feet needed a rinsing. In these days people reclined rather than sitting upright. That position might even further enhance the hygiene of clean feet. We may only imagine why the Lord didn't arrange for a hired servant. Did He know none of the disciples would volunteer, but argue about who was greatest? This setting with Christ rinsing the feet served as a great teaching tool to the disciples.

The Lord laid aside His outer garment. A spiritualization can be made as we would lay aside our outer garment of pride and serve in humility. Verse 12 states all the disciples feet were rinsed. With whom did Jesus start? Some suggest Judas. We do know the Lord rinsed Judas' feet. Can you imagine the emotion involved? Jesus already knew who would betray Him. Judas had already made the arrangement and perhaps had the 30 pieces of silver on his person at that time. How should we serve one who is against us or perhaps even out to betray? We have the example of Jesus of serving in humility. The entire emphasis in rinsing feet is to call attention to humble service.

The story is told of a corporal in the revolutionary war who was ordering some privates to move a very heavy piece of timber. The men were having much difficulty even though the corporal was verbally encouraging them. A horse and rider approached and the rider asked the corporal why he didn't help and her replied, "I am a corporal; these men are privates." The rider got off his horse and helped the men move the timber. He then said to the corporal, "next time you have a job too small for a corporal, call for me." The man then recognized this rider to be General George Washington.

Too many times we hear these statements: "I don't think I can serve under those conditions." "I don't think I can serve with that person." "I don't think they know enough to lead and, therefore, I couldn't serve with them." These statements have one thing in common. They all emphasize the word, "I". Serving doesn't emphasize, "I". Our Lord saw a need and responded. Please note the next point.

II.    Jesus and the quality of humility related to salvation (vv.6-16) 
Simon Peter seems to watch the others have their feet rinsed. When the Lord prepares to rinse the feet of Simon Peter, he makes a very strong rejection. His words could be translated, "You shall not never wash my feet." He did use a double negative as He told the Lord how to do His work. I've heard people say, "I think, I'll make a decision for Christ when I get that special feeling." It's almost like them saying, "If I hear angels wings flapping at my ears I'll have that special feeling I need." But, those people are trying to tell the Lord how to save them. Simon needed to humbly submit and so do all who come to Him for Salvation.

In the conversation of Simon with our Lord, there is an interesting play on words. When Simon hears the Lord say,"...If I do not wash you, you have no part with me." He replys,"...Lord not my feet only, but also my hands and my head." Then the Lord says, "...He who has bathed (from LOUO) needs only to wash (from NIPTO) his feet." Simon is taught a lesson related to salvation. The salvation experience is related to a bath. The need for refreshing and cleansing of sin is likened to a foot washing. There is only a need for one bath, but daily rinsing of our spiritual feet. In I Cor. 6:ll, it states, "And such were some of you: but you were washed,..." These Corinthians were cleansed from sin from the beginning of the relationship with Christ. They would have experiences similar to what I John 1:9 talks about, but it would be cleansing for fellowship.

The eleven disciples are contrasted to Judas. Judas was not clean. He did not have the bath. Some say Judas experienced salvation, but lost it. That simply does not agrees with the promise of John 3:16. Judas had been baptised, but he wasn't clean because baptism can't give that bath. Judas probably worked miracles. (Mk. 6:7-13), but he wasn't clean because works can't cleanse.

Jesus said, "You call me teacher and Lord; and you are right; for so I am." Salvation must be related to our Lord Jesus Christ. In all humility He calls us to acknowledge Him as the Lord and Teacher. Some folks educated beyond their intelligence have said, "Jesus never claimed diety." They are obviously ignorant of all the statements of Christ in the gospel. We must recognize his Lordship for the daily rinsing of sin for our fellowship and effective service.

"When I graduated from elementary school, it was the custom to have all your friends to sign your autograph book. Today I can only remember one of those autographs. It was: When you get old, and think you're sweet, take off your shoes, and smell your feet. Your friend, Robert Hagar."

III.    Jesus and the quality of humility related to serenity (vv. 17-20) 
Our Lord gives us a promise for a blessed life. Serenity is a desire of most everyone. How can we live peaceable in such a stress filled world? Look at verse seventeen. Knowing and doing brings blessing. This word translated "blessed" is the same Greek term mused in the familiar "blesseds" of the so-called beatitudes. This word can be translated "happy" or "to be congratulated." It certainly represents a serene life. The message of service and salvation recorded earlier in our text must be known and applied. It will not be accomplished by knowledge alone. Works alone can not bring happiness or serenity, but "knowing and doing" brings the promise of our Lord. "You are blessed (happy) if you do them."

Recently I acquired a taped testimony of a lady who at one time owned and operated an abortion clinic. She states, "I have been involved indirectly in 35,000 abortions." The clinic she partly owned experienced real management problems. They called in a management consultant. He laid out a strategy that supported all of this lady's arguments. She was impressed with the consultant and noticed a real serenity about him. He seemed to have a very unusual peace. She asked him, "Are you by any chance a preacher?" He said, "Yes?" She asked, "What are you doing here?" He said, "The Lord told me someone involved in this clinic needed to get out and I was supposed to help." That lady is now active in a work for the Lord and experiencing the same peace the consultant had.

Read the rest of the New Testament and such books as Fox's Book of Martyr's. You will learn about the life and death of the twelve. The eleven went on to know and do the Lord's will. I believe you could have gotten a testimony from them to indicate their serenity even in a martyr's death. But, what a contrast with Judas. Just a few days from now he will commit suicide. Why? Certainly entering into the reasons is , he never humbly yielded to the salvation of the Lord. He knew, but he didn't do it.


"William Carey is many times called the father of modern missions. He was the first missionary to be sent to a foreign country like the mission board sends missionaries today.

When he arrived at the sea ports of India, they would not allow him to come ashore. On the occasion of his death, the government of India lowered all of their flags to half mast. You see, he allowed the Lord to work in him the Spirit of humility and when he came ashore he served like few men have ever served." He knew and he did works in humility. He was blessed indeed.

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And Beyond.    Amen?    Amen!