This sermon was based on John 13:1-17.
Jesus Washes His Disciples’ Feet
1It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.
2The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. 3Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
6He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”
7Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”
8“No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”
Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”
9“Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”
10Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” 11For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.
12When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13“You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.
Identify a Need
- When Jesus was with the disciples, he identified a real need, peoples feet needed washed and no-one was doing it.
- Serving practically starts with identifying what the real areas are where we can truly serve and benefit the other person.
- Often a need doesn’t come gift wrapped with advanced warning: ‘Need alert, get ready to serve practically’. To identify needs you’ve got to be alert – keep your eyes open and be ready for it.
Willingness to Meet the Need
- Jesus stands in stark contrast to the disciples in this passage. Like Jesus they could see the need, their feet weren’t being washed as was the custom. Someone should’ve been doing this, but they weren’t. We often don’t want to take on tasks which are difficult, unpleasant or seem ‘beneath us”.
- Are there needs you have identified but you aren’t willing to meet?
- Henri Nouwen felt God call him to resign his post, give it all up and move to live in a community which supported severely disabled people. Through serving others he said he came to a deeper understanding of his faith and what it means to be beloved of God than he ever knew while teaching theology at Harvard or Yale.
Often Results of a Conversation
- As Jesus served the disciples by washing their feet, it prompted questions in Simon Peter v6: “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” which leads to a conversation between them. You see the act of service gave Jesus the opportunity to go beyond the act of service itself and talk about deeper things. That’s often how it goes when we serve others practically.
- We don’t serve practically just so we can share the gospel – we don’t treat it like a Project – we do it because we care, it’s good, it’s Christlike and it’s the right and loving thing to do.
- However, equally, we often do the serving practically then people ask us why we’re doing what we’re doing, and we say nothing, get scared or even ashamed of sharing our faith. So, when an opportunity for a conversation does come off the back of serving practically, let’s take it.