The Servant King

John 13:1–17

Søren Kierkegaard said, ‘To love another person is to help them love God.’

C.S. Lewis said, ‘To love is to be vulnerable.’

And as we said, two weeks ago, the fifth law of spiritual success is, at heart, all about loving one another.

To love another person you have to let down your guard. You have to move towards them without any protection, and open yourself up to rejection and pain. Most of us don’t like doing that. Most of us build walls to protect our sensitive hearts from hurt.

Loving well means that when your own heart is hurting and your own problems are about to crush you, you put others first. When you are feeling rejected, worthless and unloved, you still put others first and seek their welfare before your own.

This is a tremendous challenge, as you well know. Striving after this kind of love has been the biggest challenge of my spiritual life, and I’m still not good at it. Just ask my wife. How many times have my thoughts been more important to me than what she was saying? Does God do that to me when I come to him in prayer? No, he doesn’t. God gives me his full attention. This is how I should be.

I am so very sorry to everyone who has had to suffer from my shortcomings. They are many. Please forgive me. Let’s all strive to help each other be better at love, because when we love we cast out fear.

One reason we are so bad at love is that we are so selfish. We are obsessed with ourselves. We are self-centred, arrogant, proud and insecure. We are narcissists.

There is a very good reason for this. It is explained in Genesis, which tells us the story of the fall of man in the garden of Eden. The reason is sin. You are infected with sin. You were born with sin. All around you are people who have sin. You don’t know anyone without sin, and you think it is normal.

The Bible tells us that sin is abnormal. We were created out of love to be beings of love in the image of the God of love. Love is normal. Other-centred living is normal.

Try to think how you judge all the things in your life as either good or bad. How many times do you call things ‘good’ because they please you, or ‘bad’ because they displease you. That is a self-centred world view, it is a self-centred paradigm. It is vain, egotistic.

Take for example the state of our planet. How many of you went without air conditioning this summer in order to help the planet? And how many of you turned it on, even with a guilty conscience, because you felt you ‘needed’ it. How much did you care about the planet, and the millions of people who will die from climate change, and how much did you value your personal comfort?

There are so many examples. At lunch after the service, do you wait until last so others can get Yuri’s best sandwiches or the best seats? Or do you go first? Do you help clean up after, or leave it for others? It is natural to think of ourselves first. But it is wrong. The fifth law of spiritual success requires you to stop living this way and to put others first.

We have made a good start on this. As Christians we have repented of our past and asked Jesus to cleanse us of our sins. We have put Jesus in charge of our lives, asking him to run our lives the way he wants. We have promised to learn how to be obedient disciples. We have invited the Holy Spirit to come and dwell in us to give us the strength to follow Jesus.

What else can we do to get better at living for others?

Selwyn Hughes says there are three specific things we can do.

Let’s look at the first one today and the other two next week.

The first thing that will help is for us to focus our thoughts on what our saviour Jesus wants for each of his children. What Jesus wants is this, that we all should give ourselves to others just as he daily gives himself to us.

That is what he said, isn’t it – ‘Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.’ It is written in John 13:34.

Jesus is our saviour, he is the Jewish Messiah, he is the one man in all of history who has lived totally for others. Jesus is the only person ever who has lived a life totally free from self‑centredness. He tells us why he came into the world.

‘The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.’ – Mark 10:45

‘I am among you as one who serves.’ – Luke 22:27

The apostle Peter said of Jesus that ‘he went about doing good’. Jesus put others first all the time, even to the point of death. He showed us how to be other-centred. He longs for us to live as he showed us. He prayed for us, ‘May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me.’

We need an attitude of washing the feet of each other. It used to be the job of a slave, who was posted at the door of a home to wash the feet of guests as they arrived and slipped off their sandals. But Jesus did this job, not a slave. When everyone in the room thought they were too important to wash the feet of others, when everyone in the room was hoping to have their feet washed, Jesus picked up the basin of water and washed the feet of all the people.

Look at the Bible passage we read earlier, John 13:1-17. What do you see?

People with proud hearts. They were ready to fight for a throne, but no one wanted to fight for the towel and the bowl of water.

What would you have done? Contrast yourself with Jesus. It is one thing to read about this story, but another to live like this. Do you want to follow this example in your life, applying it to all you do all day? Jesus said his action was an example for us to follow.

Verse 15 – ‘I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you.’

The first thing to do then is to take Jesus’ example seriously.

Let me finish with a poem by Ruth Harms Calkin.

I Wonder

You know, Lord, how I serve you
With great emotional fervour
In the limelight.
You know how eagerly I speak for you
At a woman’s club.
You know how I effervesce when I promote
A fellowship group.
You know my genuine enthusiasm
At a Bible study.

But how would I react, I wonder,
If you pointed to a basin of water
And asked me to wash the calloused feet
Of a bent and wrinkled old woman
Day after day
Month after month
In a room where nobody saw
and nobody knew.

~

전 궁금합니다/알고 싶습니다

전 알고 싶습니다.

그런데 주님, 아시지요.

제가 주님을 어떻게 섬기는지
제가 정말 열정적으로 섬기지 않습니까?

무대의 조명 아래 있을 때는요
아시지요, 주님.

제가 얼마나 열심히 여선교회 모임에서
주님에 관해서 이야기 하는지
아시지요, 주님,
성경공부시간에는 얼마나 열심히 배우는지
그러나 전 알고 싶습니다.

과연 내가 어떻게 행동할는지
만약 주님께서 저에게 물동이를 가리키시면서
딱딱하게 굳은살이 배인 발을 씻기라고 하신다면.

구부러진 허리에 주름살이 온 몸에 가득한 어느 노인의 발을
몇 날 몇 칠, 여러 달 씻으라고 하신다면.

그것도 아무도 쳐다보지 않고 알지도 못하는 방에서 말입니다.

Amen

About Pastor Simon

Pastor at Jinju International Christian Fellowship. Formerly of Eastbourne, East Sussex, UK. I am Simon Warner of Jinju Church. We speak English at Jinju Church, South Korea.
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