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The Servant Savior
07/31/2011
Scripture: Luke 7:36-39; Luke 7:44; John 12:1-6; Jo...
Track 6 of 8 in the Slaves of Christ series
Running time: 1 hour, 09 minutes
There are some major images of Jesus in the scriptures. We hear preached and we sing about his birth as a baby in a manger, we see him as a teacher on the road to Jerusalem speaking with his disciples and others who flocked to hear his messages. We visualize him as a firebrand overturning the tables in the temple and as the lamb that was sacrificed on the Cross for our sins. There is the image of Jesus as a servant but for most of us, our image is more romantic than real. Jesus didnt see himself a servant, he saw himself a slave in every sense of the meaning.



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Mike Nobis Speaker: Mike Nobis
Sunday School Teacher, Former Elder at Madison Park Christian Church. Mike is President of JK Creative Printers & Mailing in Quincy, IL. He is married to Pam and has three children, Tom, Tyler and Jennifer. Mike has three grandchildren: Ryne, Ivy and Alicia.

View all sermons by this speaker.


The Servant Savior

There are some major images of Jesus in the scriptures. We hear preached and we sing about his birth as a baby in a manger, we see him as a teacher on the road to Jerusalem speaking with his disciples and others who flocked to hear his messages. We visualize him as a firebrand overturning the tables in the temple and as the lamb that was sacrificed on the Cross for our sins. There is the image of Jesus as a servant but for most of us, our image is more romantic than real. Jesus didn’t see himself a servant, he saw himself a slave in every sense of the meaning.

When we hear Jesus the servant, what is the first example of Jesus in scripture that comes to your mind?

For most, the image of Jesus washing the feet of the disciples is the ultimate image of Jesus as a servant. But what is rather fascinating, many Christians miss the real dynamics of the event. In fact, to bring to a feverish pitch, the writers of the Gospels are setting the reader up to feel the full brunt of the moment. They make us ready to fully see what Jesus wants each of us to do in our lives today and the attitudes we need to stay away from.

For example:

Luke 7:36-39 Now one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, so he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume, and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them. When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.”

What is the attitude of those around Jesus who saw this woman washing Jesus feet with her hair?

Luke 7:44 Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair.

How about this example:

John 12:1-6 Six days before the Passover, Jesus arrived at Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages. He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.

What is the attitude of those around Jesus who saw Mary washing Jesus feet with her hair?

In both situations something is really different than what we see in the account of Jesus washing the disciple’s feet. As we look closer at this, I want you to especially watch and imagine Peter. I want you to put yourself in his place and I want you to ask yourself what you would have done. What would you have thought and would you have accepted the image of your Savior washing your feet?

Jesus and Peter really are the central characters in the account of Jesus washing his disciples feet. I find it fascinating that only John records this event. To me this is a huge act and I am surprised that the other writers didn’t record it. Luke especially; he does spend time recording the woman who washed Jesus feet with her hair but he leaves this act of Jesus out of his account. I wonder why?

As I read this account, I want you to think back and try to imagine what the room looked like, what it smelled like and the atmosphere that must have hung in the air. Too often, just like when we read about Jesus birth and miss the real meaning of why his birth was recorded the way it was, so too do we miss the real message found in the passage when Jesus washed the feet of his disciples.

John 13:1-5 It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love. The evening meal was being served, and the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 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.

Imagine you were there. You are Peter. What do you see, what do you hear, what are you smelling? Are you relaxed and having a good time?

John 13:6-12 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.” “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!” Jesus answered, “A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean. When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place.

It shouldn’t surprise us that Peter is the one who raises an objection. John doesn’t record it but maybe everyone felt the same way as Peter but no one had the guts to express what Peter was feeling. I do find it fascinating that Matthew doesn’t record this event and he too was present. Luke, a former slave also stays away from this conversation between Jesus and Peter. But, in Luke’s Gospel, he does reveal for us some things that happened right before this powerful night that might have prompted Jesus to act.

The week before Passover, Jesus and his disciples are traveling to Jerusalem. A number of things happen, there is an argument as to who is the most important. Then the mother of James and John come to Jesus and tries to bid for the positions next to Jesus on the throne when He reigns in Heaven. Several times before Jesus saw the competition between his disciples as to who was better. Time was running out and that moment was a pivotal one. Jesus had to set the example on how they had to think and how they saw their reality.

Why did the disciples have dirty feet? Whose job was it to wash the feet of welcomed guests?

What was the attitude in the Roman world about the role of slaves? Was it a big deal when a slave washed someone’s feet? Was it a big deal when a woman washed the feet of guests? Why?

What kind of savior, what kind of Messiah were the disciples looking for?

John 13:6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”
Matthew 3:14 “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”

From the responses of these two men, what was their attitude about Jesus, the Messiah?

It is hard for us to imagine the deep sense of shock the disciples would have experienced to see who they believed to be the Messiah to undress, take on the look and position of a slave and then perform an act of slavery; an act that they themselves would never accept for their own lives. Not only would they have been shocked, they would have be repulsed, disgusted.

What is interesting to me is how Jesus answers both men. He used the same answer to both questions:

Matthew 3:15 “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.”
John 13:7 You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”

What basically did Jesus say to both men?

As we look at Peter here, we see a lot of his personality. He was one of these guys who first reacted or made a statement before he actually thought about what he said or planned to do. Peter was a person who resisted anything that he didn’t personally believe in. He didn’t see the Messiah as a servant and refused to let the servant Lord wash his feat. He didn’t see himself ever abandoning Jesus but retreated after cutting off the servant’s ear and then denied Jesus before his crucifixion. He also never saw himself ever willfully breaking the dietary laws of the Jews but when God called him to eat things unclean, he resisted three times before relenting. Peter was a tough guy and this encounter at the last supper was probably meant more for Peter than anyone.

John 13:12-17 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. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one anothers feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

Have you ever experienced a time when you did something for someone and they had no clue what it was you just did for them? It could be a situation where you saved and scrimped to save enough money to give a precious gift and the receiver never really comprehended what you just gave them and how hard you worked to make that gift possible. How do you respond to an experience like that?

Jesus spent three years of his ministry trying to teach his disciples everything about being a slave. He told them numerous parables about slavery but none of it seemed to sink in. Now he portrays the most humiliating role of a slave, the washing of feet. As they sat there befuddled by the inappropriate behavior, they are left speechless to what Jesus just did. It is also at this point that Judas has slipped out to do his work to betray his Lord.

John 13:12 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.

There is no question Jesus could see in their eyes disagreement on what he just did. In the Roman period, no man placed himself in the role of a slave especially someone who claimed to be the Messiah and later, God himself. That act stunned the group. In no way did they view their Messiah as a slave. It went beyond their imagination to even consider such a thing. But Jesus continued and he stated probably one of the most important principles in the relationship with Jesus.

John 13:13-17 You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one anothers feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

John is the one who records this event but it is Luke who tells us what caused it. The historian Josephus wrote that a free person acting as a slave was shameful. Only John, all those years later, had the courage to finally paint the pitiful picture of the glorious Messiah on his knees washing the dirty feet of his status-seeking disciples. In the Roman world, appealing for man’s attention through acts of grandeur was common. Jesus appealed to his disciples not to be like the Gentiles. That night Jesus reset the definition of greatness, I am among you as one who serves.

Never again do we ever see the disciples argue or even think about who is the greatest among them. Mother Teresa said it best, the best way to learn humility is to be humiliated. But this lesson goes a lot deeper than that. The first verse set the whole act into motion.

Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love.

Love and humility go hand I hand. How do we truly display love to the world, to others? We do it by our willingness to lovingly serve those we meet.

So why is it that the church overall really struggles with serving each other and wanting to be served? Is it that the church doesn’t see its Lord as a slave thus we too want to do what He does?