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OPENING ILLUSTRATION: Up until we had 3 kids they used to have a name for me, “One Trip Wagner” because I made it my ambition in life to carry all the groceries we bought into the house in one trip. It was like a piece of artwork the way you have to choose your bags in the right order to get everything in one load. I was working at my home church in Garden City at the time as a youth pastor and I was bringing in a cooler loaded with groceries as well as having my arms loaded with bags. I was “One Trip Wagering” it. I got in the door, but as I walked, I knew something was not right. I was having to suck in my gut to keep my hold everything up and as I sucked in my gut, but my pants that had been fairly tight, started to slip. Little by little they slipped. I started walking with my legs spread out as I had just gotten off a horse, but I was in a predicament, there was nowhere to set any of this down so I plodded on. I got into the kitchen and with a last mighty lift, I thrust all of the groceries up onto the counter and simultaneously sucked in my gut so much that my pants just dropped off of me around my ankles. Ha, it was one of the most embarrassing moments of my life. Thankfully, no one else was nearby me to see it. It was one of those embarrassing humiliating moments.
Can we just talk about embarrassing moments for a second? They are the worst, aren’t they? Your face flushes, you seem to catch on fire. They are something we will do just about anything to avoid. Think about your last big embarrassing moment-my guess is that it still stings to think about it-we laugh, but usually, if we are pressed enough the very same feelings of embarrassment and humiliation can come running right back to your heart and mind in seconds.
I want to look at one of the most humiliating moments of Jesus’ life-what He is about to do, on the surface doesn’t seem Genius but embarrassing.
Check it out, open to John 13-Now this event is not happening on a Sunday, it’s actually happening on Thursday night over 2,000 years ago-Jesus has sat down to eat with His buddies
And John and eye witness of the event describes it this way…
John 13:3-5 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5 After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
Oh my, again, it’s hard for us to even imagine how out of place this is, how humiliating of a job this is that Jesus is doing…ILLUSTRATION: In high school, I worked at JC Penney, my job was to break down boxes and put pricing tags on clothing. I was, for all extensive purposes the low man on the totem pole. One day, a call came over the radio that they needed someone up near women’s clothing to clean up a “spill”. My boss was over the custodial staff as well as my department. He looked over at me and said, “Wagner, you’re up, the custodian is sick today…”. You ever have one of those moments where you think, “this job is not worth it!” This was one of those moments for me. See, it was not just a “Spill”, a little girl had been at Baskin robbins eating pink bubble gum ice cream and had skipped the entire way to JC Penney. Only to get inside and be standing by her momma and to let it all go. I’m telling you, it was disgusting. I looked around at all the other employees for a little help, maybe an escape, but all I got was that look like, “we’re sorry, it was nice knowing you…” I grabbed the mop and began to wipe up this poor little girls bodily fluids. Oh, man.
Now just imagine if I had gotten there and instead of low man Wagner mopping it up, the CEO of all of JC Penney was there mopping it. It would be amazing for me, but for him, how humiliating. That’s what they pay people for.
Jesus is not just washing their feet, he is performing the role of the lowliest of slaves. Someone who has no other choice than to obey their master and to wash the dirty fisherman’s feet.
This is humiliating. So much so that if you were to continue to read you would see that Peter wants no part in it. -Can you picture Jesus on His knees, taking his time to wash each disciple’s feet, even Judas’-can you see this moment of incredible humiliation
Oh, I know it sounds nice, everyone wants a leader like that – but VERY few of us, when we are the leader, are willing to humble ourselves, to drop down under those we lead and serve. We pay people to clean up the pink messes in our lives.
Here is what I want you to hear in that verse we just read that may have slipped past you. I know it has slipped past me before-John references the amount of knowledge that Jesus has about himself – the things He saw in Himself
Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power-that he had come from God-that he was returning to God
Jesus, at the end of His life, was acutely aware of who He was and whose He was. He knew He was powerful, He knew that everything He had was from the Father
Could you imagine having such confidence in who you were? I want you to notice the conjunction that John uses at the beginning of vs. 4John says, Jesus knew who He was, the power that ebbed through His veins
SO. So, Jesus got up and became a slave to His students. I don’t know if I can tell you in our world just how incongruous those two clauses are that John is tying together
That Jesus is the most powerful entity to ever walk the face of the earth SO he became a slave. What, are you kidding me?
Turns out becoming a servant is not a position of weakness. Becoming a servant is a choice lived out of a position of strength
Think about it for a moment – humbling yourself and taking a position of lesser value than you are actually worth takes incredible amounts of selflessness
In his book, Lead like Jesus, Ken Blanchard says that we all struggle with an EGOEdging God Outand our Ego’s present themselves in two ways – Fear and Pride. We either worry about how we are being perceived and try and manage others’ perceptions out of fear or we are arrogant and believe we are God’s gift to this earth and we live in a way demanding what we want and forcing others to bend to us.-Jesus’ choice to serve is the ultimate flexing of His muscle. He is willing to take on the lowest role possible in order to love those who are put under Him.
Listen to how He wraps it up… John 13:12-1712 When 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. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.
The genius of Jesus is that He did not just come to shift religious ideologies-He came to institute a new Kingdom, and in this Kingdom, there are completely new paradigms
and one of the very core values of this Kingdom is the great must become last and least-that serving others like Jesus served MUST guide every area of our life.
This is why Paul says Galatians 5:13 13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.
In Jesus, you are free – but rather than using your freedom for yourself, use it to show the love of God by serving one another
Let me ask you a question, do you know whose you are and who you are?-do you have a strength from the Father that allows you to live out of a life of peace and joy instead of fear and pride?
God has called you and I to serve those we walk alongside. To be the face of Jesus to them. -Our world needs followers of Jesus who will follow in the genius of Jesus-I’m telling you, this way of living is so counter to the way the rest of our world lives – THEY will take notice -“Everyone will know you are my disciples”
You need to let go of the fear of what people think of you and start to grab ahold of what God thinks of you-you are His joy, His beloved, you are His great song, His powerful thought, you are all of those things. You need to humble your pride before Him and recognize that anything you have has come from Him. He is the giver – your power is only because of Him
Know whose you are and who you are so you can serve your wife, your husband, your children, your employees, coworkers, and more. That you could learn to come underneath them and actually care about them and who they are, not just the bottom line. Not just your selfish ambitions. When we care like that, the world will know who Jesus is.
And it starts with me today.
CLOSING: I clean peoples shoes