John 13:1-20 JESUS: THE HUMBLE SERVANT
Intro: The last night of Jesus' earthly ministry was very eventful. He
prayed His great High Priestly prayer, taught His Disciples many valuable truths, observed
the Passover meal with His Disciples and was betrayed into the hands of His enemies.
Through all of this, Jesus knows that in the morning, He will go to Calvary and die on a
cross for the sin of humanity. His is a bitter cup! However, before He begins the events
of the evening, before they come to the table to eat their last meal together, Jesus takes
some time to teach these men a lesson in servanthood that still speaks to us today. In
these verses, Jesus reveals His heart and His mission. He proves to these men that He did
not come to be served, but to serve, Mark 10:45. In showing Himself to be a servant of
men, Jesus left us a vivid portrait of the kind of heart we are to have for others. In
these verses, among other things, we will find out that God's will for our lives is that
we learn to give ourselves in service to others. As we look into these verses today, I
challenge you to let the Lord speak to your heart. It may be that you will be able to see
yourself as you really are today and if you do, then you can come to the Lord and let Him
fix whatever may be wrong in your life. Let's take the next few minutes and consider Jesus:
The Humble Servant.
I. V. 1-5; 18-20 THE WORK OF THE HUMBLE SERVANT
A. V. 1 The Love Of The Humble Servant - This
verse tells us that Jesus knows He is nearing the end of His earthly ministry. He knows
that He is about to go to the cross and suffer for sin. He knows the end is near. Yet,
through it all, His heart is still overcome with love for His Disciples. The Bible says,
that He loved them "unto the end." That is, Jesus loved them perfectly,
unconditionally and eternally. His love never wavered, even in the hour of His own crisis.
(Ill. What a great encouragement this is for you and me! You see, Jesus
loves us with the same kind of love with which He loved His Disciples. Jeremiah tells us
that it is an everlasting love, Jer. 31:3. Paul tells us that nothing will ever be able to
separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus - Rom, 8:38-39. Regardless of
what transpires in your life and mine, we are loved perfectly, unconditionally and
eternally with the awesome, agape love of Almighty God!)
B. V. 3 The Life Of The Humble Servant - This
verse speaks of the life of Jesus. When He came into this world, He came as One sent from
God to live a sinless life and become sin for fallen men, 2 Cor. 5:21. He has accomplished
everything but the cross and He knows that after the cross, He will return to His Father
and once again share in the glory of Heaven.
(Ill. Jesus had one purpose when He came to this world and that purpose
was to die for sin - Luke 19:10; John 18:37. Note: He accomplished
His purpose on behalf of every man! He did this because of His great love for you. In
fact, the cross is the absolute, indisputable proof of His love - Rom. 5:6-8! You may
discount everything else God has ever done for you and write it off as luck or whatever,
but you will never be able to shrug off the death of Jesus on the cross for your sins! The
cross stands as a monument to the awesome love of God for you and me.)
C. V. 2, 4-5 The Labor Of The Humble Servant -
In these verses, we see the Master doing the work of a slave. In those days, it was
customary for a slave to wash the feet of visitors. To not provide this kindness would be
considered uncivilized and inhospitable. Apparently, there were no servants available to
do this job for Jesus and His Disciples, so Jesus Himself gets up from the table, removes
His outer garment, pours Himself a basin of water and begins to wash the feet of the
Disciples. I can imagine the amazement that must have filled their minds and faces as
their Lord washed their dirty feet one by one. Yet, as incredible as this scene is, Jesus
was doing something here that was unknown to all but one of the Disciples. He was washing
the feet of the very man who would, later that same evening, betray Him to His enemies.
(Ill. Jesus knew the heart of Judas! He knew that this man had never
been saved - John 6:64; 70. Just because Satan "put" the thought into Judas'
heart to betray the Lord does not indicate that Judas was somehow saved and then lost his
salvation. For Jesus Himself had already indicated that Judas was not one of His true
(Ill. Instead of focusing on some minor doctrinal issue, we should
instead see the great truth contained here. That truth is this, even though Jesus knew the
heart of Judas, even though He knew his motives, even though He knew His plans, still He
loved Him and offered Him several opportunities to repent before it was too late. Even at
this point, it was not too late for Judas to have been saved. Notice verses 18 and 20-27.
In these verses, Jesus repeatedly shows Judas that He knows what he is up to. Jesus is
giving Judas an opportunity to turn his life over to Christ. Jesus even served Judas as a
slave would his master. His love never failed!)
(Ill. What a lesson for every person in this room today, but especially
those who are outside Jesus Christ. Please understand that His love for you will never
end! You may reject every attempt of Jesus to call you unto Himself, but rest assured that
no matter how many times you rebuff His efforts, you will never be able to turn off His
love for you and for your soul. In fact, He has already humbled Himself on your behalf,
when He went to the cross and died for you!)
I. The Work Of The Humble Servant
II. V. 6-11 THE WORD OF THE HUMBLE SERVANT
A. V. 6-9 A Word For Simon
1. V. 6-7 Simon Peter's Shock - When Jesus makes
His way around to Simon Peter, Peter is incredulous! He simply cannot believe that the
Lord would want to serve Him.
(Ill. I stand amazed when I consider all that the Lord has done, is
doing and will do in my life. That He would love me so is beyond my comprehension. After
all, there is no merit in any one of us to commend us to God. If we got what we deserved,
we would all be in Hell today, but thank God He doesn't give us that which we deserve, He
gives that which we do not! Salvation and all the benefits of it are the products of God's
grace. We enjoy what we do, not because we deserve it, but because God gives it even
though we don't, Eph. 2:8-9. Notice that nobody is too bad for grace - Rom. 5:20.)
2. V. 8 Simon Peter's Stubbornness - When Peter
hears that Jesus is really planning to do this, he responds with a triple negative. He
tells the Lord, in effect, "you will never, no, never wash my feet!" This is the
equivalent of irreverence. After all, the first condition of discipleship is obedience.
Peter is simply refusing to submit to the Lord and he does so through a display of false
humility. However, Jesus reminds him of a great truth. Unless a man is willing to submit
to the commandments of the Lord, he can have no fellowship with the Lord - John 14:15; 21.
Obedience is the proof of love.
(Ill. We may tend to feel ashamed when the Lord blesses us, because we
know we do not deserve His goodness and grace. Yet, at the same time, we should gratefully
accept His gifts and praise Him for them. True fellowship with Jesus is found only in
humble submission to His plan. Even when that plan seems to contain the opposite of
3. V. 9 Simon Peter's Submission - When Peter
hears this gentle rebuke, he throws himself before the Lord and says, "If washing my
feet will bring me closer to you, then don't stop there, but wash all of me!"
(Ill. This is the attitude of surrender that God can bless! He wants us
in a place where we are looking to His and His will before anything other consideration.
Think about it for a moment. What is it that motivates you? Peter was motivated by the
thought of being closer to the Lord. Does that move you? If you are right with God it
will! If it doesn't then that is an indication that there is definite room for improvement
in your walk with the Lord.)
B. V. 10-11 A Word For All Saints - Jesus is telling Peter that when a
man has washed his entire person, louw, and he gets his feet soiled by walking through the streets, all he
needs at that point is to wash, niptw, just the feet.) The image here is crystal clear for the believer.
When we received Jesus as our personal Savior, He forever washed us from our sins - Rev.
1:5; 1 Pet. 1:18-19. We have been eternally cleansed from head to toe already through His
cleansing blood. However, as we walk through life, we tend to fall into sin and we need
cleansing. Not for the entire person, since that was accomplished when we were saved and
can never be repeated. But, just for that particular stain we gathered when we sinned in
our daily walk. This is where 1 John 1:7 - 2:2 comes into play (1:7) But if we walk in
the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of
Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. (1:8) If we say that we have no sin, we
deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. (1:9) If we confess our sins, he is
faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
(1:10) If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
(2:1) My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man
sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: (2:2) And he is the
propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole
(Ill. Jesus is teaching us that we do not need to get
re-saved every time we sin, but we do need to come to Him for forgiveness and restoration
of fellowship. You see, if you allow yourself to go on in sin, you will keep widening the
breach between you and the Lord. The secret to true spiritual joy is the practice of
instant confession of sins and failures before the throne of grace. You see, Jesus is
still washing feet this afternoon!)
(Ill. We need a heart like David's - Psalm 32:5 "I
acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my
transgressions unto the LORD; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah.")
(Ill. Please note that while Jesus said that the Disciples were clean,
He also knew the condition of Judas! It is impossible to hide your condition from the all
seeing eyes of the Lord Jesus Christ. He knows what we are and He knows when we are just
religious. He knows when we are hypocritical, and He knows when we are insincere about of
faith. He knows whether you are saved or not. You might fool the rest of us, but you will
never pull the wool over Jesus' eyes!)
I. The Work Of The Humble Servant
II. The Word Of The Humble Servant
III. V. 12-17 THE WISDOM OF THE HUMBLE SERVANT
A. V. 12-15 Jesus Gave An Example - Jesus set
the standard by which everyone of His servant is to live their lives. In this action of
Jesus, we can see Him showing His followers that we are all expected to serve one another.
(Ill. His Disciples had been guilty of arguing about who would be first
in the Kingdom of Heaven - Luke 22:24 They were all concerned over
Who would be the greatest in Heaven, but Jesus reminded
them that true greatness is a great paradox. Men never earn the respect of others by
forced obedience, but they earn the respect of others by first being a servant - Mark
10:42-44 42 "But Jesus called them to him, and saith unto them, Ye know that they
which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great
ones exercise authority upon them." 43 "But so shall it not be among you: but
whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister:" 44 "And whosoever of
you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all.")
Jesus says that the path to greatness is trough humility. This is one of
the great paradoxes of the faith! There are several others. The way to life is through
death. The way to get is to give. The way to greatness is by becoming a servant to others.
Let's face it, there are not many genuine servant ministers around these days. Everyone,
it seems, is looking to get all they can. However, this attitude is diametrically opposed
to that of our Lord. He was willing to make Himself the servant of all, and as a result,
God has exalted Him and given Him a name that is above every name, Phil. 2:5-11!
B. V. 16 Jesus Gave An Exhortation - The lesson
here is simple. If Jesus was willing to be a servant, then all of His followers ought to
be willing to serve as well.
(Ill. Notice that Jesus just didn't serve the ones He preferred. It might have been easy to wash John's feet. After all, John was the
"Beloved Disciple." Yet, John and his brother James were always trying to get
just a little bit ahead of the others. What about Simon Peter? He was the one who would
deny Him three times before dawn. What about Thomas? He was the one who would doubt the
word of the others and refuse to believe in the resurrection of Jesus. What about Judas?
He was the one who for 30 pieces of silver would sell His Lord to the enemies. Jesus
didn't allow any of the considerations to cloud His love or His service! He treated them
all equally and, in doing so, taught us a tough lesson.) (Ill. We all have people that we
seem to connect with and we have no trouble serving these folks. However, the true servant
soon learns that he must serve all and serve them equally. The true servant is not allowed
to pick favorites, but must have the heart of Christ and be willing to serve his enemies
just as readily as he serves his friends!)
43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou
shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.
44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them
that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use
you, and persecute you;
45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is
in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on
the just and on the unjust.
46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have
ye? do not even the publicans the same?
47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more
than others? do not even the publicans so?
48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which
is in heaven is perfect.
(Can we honestly say this morning that we serve all men
alike? Not if we hold grudges. Not if we remember slights. Not if we think ourselves above
C. V. 17 Jesus Gave An Expectation - Jesus says
that if we know these things, we will be "happy" if we do them! Happy means
"Blessed." When we take the example of Jesus and out it into action, we can be
assured of the Lord's blessing on our lives. In fact, there will come a time when there
will be no greater joy than that of being able to serve another in the name of the Lord!
(Ill. By the same token, not to serve when we know we should serves the
opposite purpose. For if you know to do good, then you are sinning when you do not - James
(Ill. Why do we seem to find it so difficult to serve another human? Why
does it seem to strain us so? Jesus never had a problem with serving. It came as natural
to Him as breathing does to you and me. God help us to develop a servant's heart. That is,
we need to get to the place where we are more concerned with the welfare of our neighbor
than we are of our own - Phil. 2:4. We need to reach the place where we are more concerned
with promoting our brother than we are ourselves. I don't know about you, but I have a lot
of work to do in this area!)
Conc: Jesus left us a wonderful example to follow. His was a life lived
in the service of others. If you were to sum up your life this morning, could you honestly
say that others come before you in your thinking and your serving? Can you honestly say
that you are following the Lord's example to the best of your ability? Or, maybe like the
Disciples, you would have to confess that you are often guilty of promoting yourself over
others. Whatever the need this morning dear brothers and sisters, there is hope and help
in the Lord Jesus Christ.
It may be that some here are just like Judas. You are in the church this
morning surrounded by the all the trappings of Christianity, yet like Judas you have never
truly been saved by the faith in the Lord Jesus. You have a name that you are one of His,
but you know deep down in your heart that you do not really know Him. There is hope for
you too! Like Judas, Jesus loves you and will save you if you will come to Him right now.
Will you respond as the Lord leads you this morning?