Sunday, February 19, 2006

The Un-pearched "I Am"

This lesson details some feet which Jesus washed and how we are capable
to do the same and in the mean time creating some "Upper room
experiences."

The Un-preached “I Am”
Jn. 13:1-17
I. Introduction
A. In the Gospel of John, one can easily find seven “I Am” statements regarding the character of Christ. We are familiar with: “I Am - the bread of life; the light of the world; the door of the sheep; the good Shepherd; the resurrection and the life; the way, truth and the life; and the true vine.”
B. But here in John 13 one will discover an often overlooked “I Am” statement. I will keep you in suspense for a while. But for now...as we have come to look at the last days of Jesus we find him in the upper room desiring to eat the Passover meal with his disciples.
C. The Passover was the earliest and most important religious festivals in all Jewish history.
It commemorated the night in which they were delivered by God from Egyptian captivity.
Each household was required to kill a lamb and sprinkle its blood above and around the door frame. By so doing, the angel of death, which God sent forth upon the Egyptians for Pharaoh’s rebellion, would pass over their home sparing the life of the first born son (Exod. 12). The Jews were to honor this day on the fourteenth day of Nissan. They used the lunar calendar, which contains 14 months. This is why “Easter” comes at varying times of the spring for us. The food they were to eat were the roasted lamb that was slain and bitter herbs. The first time they ate of it they were to eat standing with their sandals on and prepared to leave. The following times, as they eat of the meal, they were instructed to tell the story to their children reminding them of God’s deliverance. It was a memorial feast. Since it was observed on a high Sabbath, all things which were leaven (fermented) were to be set outside the house all that week (Exod 12:15).
So, when Jesus took bread and fruit of the vine as recorded in Matt. 26:26ff (to initiate his own supper in remembrance of his death and resurrection) the elements were not regular loaf bread or wine. In time, this festival grew into fifty days of celebration, (seven Sabbaths plus one day) with the final day of observance called “Pentecost” (Acts 2:1).
It always fell on the first day of their week, the day following the Sabbath.
D. We find Jesus and his disciples having secured a place to eat the Passover.
Reclining at the table, already having eaten a meal (which was not the passover proper for Jesus was in the tomb the day Passover was to be eaten), Jesus gets up and performs a service for his disciples which none of them will ever forget - he washes their feet. After doing so he asks
them why they thought he would do such a menial task as washing feet? His answer is so simple, a little child could understand - I do it because I am your Lord and Master. If I can, you can also.
E. So here we have the great unnoticed “I Am” statement as found in John 13:13 “I am your Lord and Master.” By him being our Lord and Master it should help us to wash one another’s feet.

II. Those who have not made Jesus Lord and Master are incapable of washing feet:
A. Arrogant, prejudiced, boastful Such were the unbelieving Jews, the Diothrophes who lusted after control in the church.
B. Rich, worldly, self-centered. Such as the one who was unkind toLazarus and those James spoke of in chapter 2 of his book.
C. The careless, lazy, procrastinators are guilty also. These are granted the title of being “worse than an infidel.” If you don’t take care of your personal family, how much worse is it to be accused of not taking care of your church family?
III. Getting our “Want to” fixed.
A. We all agree that the aged, sick, homeless need their feet washed (ministered to). But I am not sure that this is the meaning Jesus wants us to get out of his illustration.
See the disciples needed to get their “want to” fixed.
B. Just days earlier the mother of James and John had asked Jesus if their sons could take over after he left (Matt. 20:21ff) The other ten were enraged over this, “going over their heads” fiasco. So here they were, reclined around the table, and miffed at one another. (You ever ate
a meal when the family was at odds?) It was an all time low in their life; the death of Jesus was eminent, and thinking they would be left without a leader had made them start looking out for themselves. Jesus needed to adjust their attitude. So he started with their feet.
C. As Jesus moved about that room, I’d like for us to consider what kind of feet he washed.
Radicals - James & John. Men who were politically motivated. Men who called down fire to consume unbelievers (Lk. 9:51ff).
Liberals - Levi. He threw Jesus a party and invited many sinners (Lk. 5:29ff).
Pure in heart - Nathaniel (Jn. 1:45ff).
Unpredictable - Peter who was impulsive, impetuous
Self serving - Judas
Doubters - Philip - When he found the boy with 5 loaves and 2 fish he asked, “what is that among so many?” (Jn. 6:9)
Skeptical - Thomas - Unless I see the scars....
Unthoughtful - every one of them. Someone should have done the customary thing to do (wash feet) when guest arrive.
Regardless who they were inside, Jesus showed them they could master their emotions and feelings toward one another by remembering to WHOM they belonged. He was their Lord and Master. When we start remembering to whom we belong we will begin to wash one another’s feet regardless who we are. “You call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. If I then,
your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; you also ought to wash one another’s feet.”

IV. Our responsibility to wash each other’s feet.
A. Illustration: An old Wild West fort is about to be attacked. The wily old general sends for his trusty Indian scout. "You must use all your thirty years of skill in trying to estimate the sort of raiders we are up against here." The trusty Indian scout lies down and puts his ear to the ground. "Heap large war party," he says, "maybe three hundred braves, four chiefs, two on black stallions, two on white stallions. All have war paint. Many many guns. Medicine man also with them." "Good grief!" exclaims the general. "You can tell all of that just by listening to the ground?" "No," replies the Indian, "I can see under the gate." Don’t you think it is time for some of us just to look under the gate? I feel the message is clear. We in corporate America have a tendency to committee something to death. A problem arises in our nation and a committee is formed to address the need. All that money, all that energy, all that time spent on figuring out how to go about solving the problem and what happens - after the committee meets time and again, nothing is done so another committee is formed to investigate why the first committee did not accomplish its tasks. (That’s our tax dollars at work folks.) But is it much different among God’s people?
We know about a need and so we do things which are sincere but really doesn't help. A card is nice, what needs to be done is vacuuming. A cheery face is good, what needs done is the gutters cleaned out. A phone call is good, what needs done is moping, washing, cooking, mowing, leaf
raking, grocery shopping. We say, “But I don’t like them very much.” We must get our “want to” fixed. If Jesus is our Lord and Master we can and we will.
B. Who’s feet will we wash?
RADICAL - Pious religious church supporter who’s views are very straight and narrow and sometimes caustic to our ears. If Jesus could wash the feet of the “sons of thunder” (Mk. 3:17; Lk. 9:51-56) we too must humble ourselves to do good for those whom we consider holding radical positions. Remember it was John who became the “apostle of Love.”
LIBERAL - Since our Lord and Master sends forth rain on the just and unjust, should we not as well do good for them who have yet spiritually matured into a full grown man? It is unfortunate that some of the finest people I know hold erroneous views about the unborn, cohabitation;
drinking, gambling, modesty and so on. But if Jesus is my Lord and Master, them too I shall serve, “Till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13).
PURE IN HEART - These are always the best to serve. They are always appreciative, kind and most likely not to be critical of our labor. But remember the Christian is not called to serve only the good but those who we may consider ‘chief sinners’ (Gal. 6:2).
UNPREDICTABLE - Only one thing is predictable - most people are unpredictable. Things change. Body chemistry changes with time. Hardships of life can cause one to become calloused. Bad marriages turns the sweet to bitter. Temptations and weakness causes man to stumble. To serve the unpredictable means you have an unlimited measure of forgiveness. If the cause of Christ was to go forth, the disciples needed to forgive one another “seven times seventy” (Matt. 18:22). The bad attitudes they held toward each other would destroy future growth of the church of Christ (Rom. 16:16). If the church of our Lord and Master is to go forth we too must practice true forgiveness.
SELF SERVING - Do Judas’ exist in the church today? You betcha! Some do not even realize they are the modern Judas of our culture. They want things their way in business meetings. They constantly complain about how church work is done. They gripe about the leadership. They may not hold the money bag but they don’t give as they have been prospered. Their
hands are arthritic when it comes to real church work. Their back is degenerated when it comes to bearing one another’s burdens. Their lips are paralyzed when it comes to evangelism. Their heart is hard when it comes to love. For them, church is not about spiritual growth, rather,
“What does it have to offer me and my kids.” Now if our Lord and Master washed the feet of Judas back then, I should count it an honor as well to serve the unthankful. It is times like these that I am most Christlike (Lk. 6:27-36).
DOUBTERS & SKEPTICAL - Have you ever had those ideas that just seemed to be great. They would really get something accomplished for the church but the doubters and the skeptical deflated your balloon. After blowing up so many balloons, it gets kinda trite to attempt to breath life into something which would rather be flat. Doubters and skeptical Christians do make the church very unattractive. Christ did things which drew attention to himself. He had to if the message of life were to be heard. Grant it we are not in the partying business. The church is not about building gymnasiums or providing a place for thrill seekers. Someone said, “Find one thing to do and do it well and your church will grow.” If it is ministry to the homeless or runaways do it well. If it is housing the family of those in hospitals, do it well. If it is ministering to the nursing home, do it well. If it is college campus ministry, do it well. “Whatever you do, do with your might. Things done by halves, aren’t ever done right.” What would our Lord and Master do to draw people into his kingdom? We all can assume what he would NOT do - but what pray tell what WOULD he do? (Phil. 4:8).
UNTHOUGHTFUL - It’s sad to see folk who know to meet a need and won’t, but it isunspeakable to know Christians who don’t even see the need when it is right before their eyes. We should be people who are capable to recognize a need and communicate that need to someone if we aren’t personally able to do anything about it. Some tasks I cannot do. This is
why inspiration called the church: the Body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:13ff) if all were ears where would be the vision. If Jesus is Lord and Master of our life we will take those off road adventures in thoughtfulness like he did such as the widow at Nain, or the Blind man as he was fleeing a stoning (Jn. 9). Someone called acts like these, “Random acts of kindness.” You can’t act this way if you are incapable of seeing the need, unthoughtful.

V. Creating “upper room” experiences.
A. As we think of this event in the upper room, we must struggle with what was going on in the mind of the disciples. It was a difficult and awkward situation for all of them (remember Peter’s reaction?). Though I don’t know what was going on in each of their minds as Jesus (whom they called Lord and Master) became their slave, but I am positive that this event was replayed over and over in their minds as long as they lived.
B. When we read this story we are challenged to create positive lifelong memories between one another. What steps, what service, what actions do we take in impressing upon our church family that we really care for one another and we want to work together for the growth of Christ and his church? Perhaps we should be about creating some “Upper room experiences” to last
a life time in our children and each other’s life.

CONCLUSION:
Do you recall Jesus asking them in v. 12, “Do you know what I have done to you?” It seems apparent that we must all take these words to heart in a very personal manner. Do you know what Jesus has done for you? - He being your Lord and Master became your servant. He emptied himself of heaven’s glory and embraced flesh like a man so he may know first hand what you struggle with. He kept himself pure, undefiled so we may be made clean. You and I may go a day, even a week without sinning, but he a lifetime - what a struggle that must have been. He did it so when he was smitten, bruised, and beaten we might be made whole. By the stripes upon his back we werehealed, by the cross we are saved. Now recall Jesus teaching on the judgment in Matthew 25. There he said, “In as much as you did it unto the least of these, my brethren, you have done it unto me.” The God of the Towel, asks us to become towel bearers, feet washers, slaves one to another in the fear of the Lord. Regardless who we are, what our attitudes may be, how radical, liberal, self-serving our brother may be, let us get our “want to” fixed so we may make some great “Upper room experiences” in the lives of one another. Truly you desire to hear, “Well done thy good and faithful SERVANT.” Have you made Jesus your Lord and Master? Are you following his example? Are we washing one another’s feet?

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