How we do what Jesus did
How do you act when you are treated poorly, when other people are mean to you, when you are treated unjustly? How do you wish you would respond?
How does God want you to respond? And how do we do it?
In John 13, Jesus is with the twelve disciples for His final meal.
John 13:1 Now before the Feast of the Passover, Jesus knowing that His hour had come that He would depart out of this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.
When John tells us Jesus loved His disciples to the end (V1), iIt may mean Jesus never stopped loving them. But it probably means He loved them to the the uttermost, completely, perfectly.
And look at the context for Jesus' love,
John 13:2 During supper, the devil having already put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, to betray Him,
Here’s Jesus being Jesus, loving us. Yet what does He know, He knows His hour has come, and Judas already turned his heart against Jesus. Judas has determined to hand Jesus over to those who wish Him dead.
Jesus is the only one in the room who knows this. And He knows all the other guys will also abandon Him.
Instead of get mad, call them names, He loves them completely, without reservation, to the uttermost.
A reminder for you, when you’re this way with God, or when others act this way to you—this is how God acts toward you.
Jesus shows us God acting in love even when we act in selfishness.
This is the grace of God that we find hope in. God’s favor toward you does not correlate with your love for Him.
Jesus takes full responsibility for loving you. Even when your sin abounds, God’s grace superabounds.
One of the incredible things about Jesus was how free He was to love, and by that we mean Jesus was free to act in love unmeasured, to the uttermost.
Generally, we treat others based on how they treat us.
But we can love the same way Jesus loves us, for the love we need does not emanate from us, it is expressed in us by God. It is given to us through faith.
Even in Galatians, after pointing out so many of the bad things we’re naturally capable of in our anger and unlove, Paul says,
Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
Notice Paul doesn’t say, “Hey now that you’re a Christian you have to be patient and kind. Start being more generous, have more self-control.”
Instead, Paul says, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness...”
This is not a law—it’s a declaration, a promise! It's also Jesus' invitation: Turn to Me. Rely on me.
If you simply react out of what your heart seeks and your eyes see, you will sin and you will not love.
If, rather than react in the flesh, go with your own assessment and feelings, you remember who you are and seek and find Me in this situation, I will give you peace, patience, kindness, self-control.”
If we think we have to be such and such a way, that puts everything on us. Grace is what makes the gospel good news. It brings Jesus and His power into it. Grace sees every command as a mercy of God, knows every command comes with a promise, and Jesus can be trusted to fulfill it in us…
We see Jesus doing thinking through this very process in John 13:3.
Jesus didn’t love His faulty friends because He knew He should nor because He’s so loving. Jesus loved by faith, based on what He believed (V3),
Despite betrayal from his own inner circle, even knowing what was to come,
John 13:3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come forth from God and was going back to God, [knowing His identity, trusting the spiritual reality. Knowing that God sent Him on this mission, God gave Him the world and the kingdom and all things, knowing He’d go home to a rich reward with the Father—Jesus] 4 got up from supper, and laid aside His garments; and taking a towel, He girded Himself. 5 Then He poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded.
Not dwelling on the fact He had horrible friends, not feeling sorry for Himself, questioning God’s favor—but knowing the hidden reality of His identity and God’s purpose Jesus was free to serve them, to love them to the utmost.
As a church, we need to remember who we are, what we’ve been given and why we’re here. In the midst of betrayals at work, coworkers who stab us in the back, an entire culture telling us we’re evil for believing what God says.
Knowing who we are to God, what we’re given, and where we are heading, we can love. We can forgive. People don’t experience that. We can tell a cutthroat culture the Source of love and forgiveness, and we can even declare God’s to them forgiveness in Christ. And if they accept it, well that would be awesome.
Jesus is about to suffer immensely, yet He recalled hidden truths to mind.
He remembered who He was and He anchored His emotions and His actions in His relationship with the Father. Thus He loved and even served those who would fail Him, all as an act of faith.
John 13:6 So He came to Simon Peter. He said to Him, "Lord, do You wash my feet?"
It sounds holy but it’s amazing how arrogant we can be. No Lord I’ve got this. We want to prove to Jesus that we are fine as we are; but we’re not.
We want to serve Jesus and prove our sufficiency; Jesus wants to serve us and nurture our dependency.
John 13:7 Jesus answered and said to him, "What I do you do not realize now, but you will understand hereafter." 8 Peter said to Him, "Never shall You wash my feet!" Jesus answered him, "If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me." 9 Simon Peter said to Him, "Lord, then wash not only my feet, but also my hands and my head." 10 Jesus said to him, "He who has bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you." 11 For He knew [Judas] the one who was betraying Him; for this reason He said, "Not all of you are clean."
The bath is a picture of trusting Jesus and being born again and made sparkling clean with God. “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.”
What about Judas?
People often wonder what happened to Judas after he died? Did he lose his salvation for betraying Jesus? Jesus makes it clear that Judas never believed. He followed Jesus, but he expected Jesus to be something He wasn’t. He never trusted Jesus was who He claimed to be. Judas was never born again.
But the point Jesus made is this, Sin sticks to us. Sin dirties our lives!
A believer doesn’t need a whole other bath all over again; i.e., we don’t need to be saved again. We don't need to rededicate our lives to the Lord over and over to be right with God.
You are declared by Jesus to be right with God from the moment you trust Him! Jesus ensures this. Yet, if we don’t deal with the sin in our lives it cakes up, changes our priorities, leads to more sin.
When sin is allowed to settle in our hearts it can take over and prevent us from loving others. Hurt and anger, guilt and shame build up and we need Jesus to wash us. The Gospel is always Jesus dealing with the need, not us.
Jesus wants our hearts clean, free to love, and to know who we are to God in this world. He does this is by dealing with our daily grime, washing our spiritual feet, healing the wounds, dissolving sin’s power, unpacking our baggage, bleeding out our anger, so that shame and pain and anger don’t overwhelm our conscience and drag us back to into what Jesus freed us of!
Jesus invites daily conversation—confession, humility, relational honesty, letting Him love and clean us, tell us who we are to Him.
Then Peter, who never did anything halfway, said,
John 13:9 Simon Peter said to Him, "Lord, then wash not only my feet, but also my hands and my head."
Moments ago Peter didn’t even want Jesus to wash his pinkie toe. Now He wants Jesus to wash his feet and hands and head. This is a picture of "God’s grace leading to repentance." When we have that aha moment, when we get that Jesus isn’t trying to ruin our life, or make us do something we don’t want.
Repentance isn’t you turning your life around, you taking control of your problems, you fixing things so Jesus can give you a thumbs up for being so good.
Repentance isn’t saying I repent, but "Lord, help me. I welcome Your help. I welcome your power and authority and your way. Without you I’m unable." And then giving Him permission to lead and act in your life.
As a church, we aren’t able to make ourselves bigger, more godly. Through our planning and willing, we aren’t going to convert Northampton and liberate those who bullied, deceived, and herded like cattle by sin.
But Lord, cleanse us as a church and make us sparkle. Renew our hearts for your vision and purpose for this church in the Pioneer Valley.
See all of this is going somewhere. Jesus washes their feet to teach us something. All of this is meant to change us, to transform how we live…
John 13:12 So when He had washed their feet and taken His garments and reclined at the table again He said to them, "Do you know what I have done to you? 13 "You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. 14 If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. 15 For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you. 16 Truly, truly, I say to you, a slave is not greater than his master, nor is one who is sent greater than the one who sent him. 17 If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.
We know these. Blessed are we to do them. Others are blessed through us.
Knowing and believing our identity and our righteous standing in Christ is not the end-all-be-all. It’s meant to be the beginning of a changed life.
We’re not given this new identity and made to be a precious member of Jesus' church to feel good about ourselves, nor to rest in our new identity, but to live differently as a result. Trusting Jesus. Drawing near. Free from the world’s list of demands. Lord, we are your people. We are your body.
After ten years, we haven’t become the perfect church, we’re not fully mature, we still have some of the same problems, we’re a mess at times. We admit it.
But let us press on together in faith, trusting Jesus, that He is sovereign, that He is forgiving, that He has all power and authority, and He is building His church. And He does this best through His church being the church and introducing our friends, neighbors, coworkers to Jesus.
Tell a friend
This month. For their sake. For the church to carry out our identity before the world. Each one, reach one. We’ll offer labs to equip you for this. We also have a new community outreach team getting started.
And for your sake, longterm health, nutrition, connect with God’s people. Identify with the people of God. Worship together each Sunday. And it may seem boring, busy, inconvenient but Life Groups—
Acts 2:42 They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
Acts 2:46 Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.
It’s not sexy. But meeting together from house to house, devoting ourselves to the apostles teaching and fellowship, sharing meals together, praising God, it’s part of healthy Christianity and Grace United’s DNA.
Put your gifts into service for the sake of others.
Consider how you might serve, or who you might serve. The youth or children. Women? Men? Unbelievers? Your life group? But make the gifts God gave you available to help others.