Serving

Serving

Reading from Luke 10, the Good Samaritan – (read verses 25-37)

We have been on a spiritual journey looking at our mission in Christ.  We began where Jesus told us to, seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, then we turned our attention to the saving mission where we saw how we receive God’s saving grace, we share it with others and are willing to suffer to get the saving message to as many as we can.  Today we turn to our final mission: serving like Christ in the love of God.  The parable of the Good Samaritan helps set up this great mission.  Jesus shows us that this mission is an expression of obedience to the commandment: love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus told about how a man who fell among thieves and was left for dead was not served by a priest and levite who saw him in that dire condition, but passed on by.

Then Jesus does the uncomfortable thing.  He makes the hero of the story an enemy character, a Samaritan.  This natural enemy of the Jews sees this Jew in dire need, feels compassion and takes action to meet his need.  He goes to him, treats his wounds, brings him to an Inn and pays for his healthcare.

The Scribe had asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?”  After telling the parable, Jesus asked the Scribe, “Who was a neighbor to him who feel among the thieves?”  The answer is clear, but not easy.  It was the one who showed mercy.  Jesus then issues the charge: “Go and do likewise.”  That sums up the serving mission of the church well.  But Jesus didn’t just teach, Jesus also lived it out.  Open your Bibles now to John 13.

Jesus shows us how to express our love for one another.  Love motivates us to acts of serving and giving, does it not?  How many of you were here this past Wednesday evening for Kendall’s presentation on this?  How many of you participated in the washing of one another’s feet?  Love is both a giving and a receiving matter, is it not?  For those of you who received, those whose feet were washed, did it feel uncomfortable at all?  I can assure you, it was for the disciples in John 13.

The text of John 13 is a beautiful demonstration of the love of Jesus Christ for his disciples that passover evening.  There they gathered to partake in the final meal Jesus would eat before being crucified.  And it was not just any meal, it was passover.  A meal remembering the deliverance of Israel from Egyptian slavery by God’s mighty power.  This celebration was centuries old, but never lost it’s significance.  God had chosen a people to make into a royal priesthood and holy nation, a people belonging to Himself.  God was fulfilling His promises to Abraham that His descendants would be delivered from Egypt, and would become a great nation and through them God would bring a blessing for all nations.

This passover evening as Jesus gathered with His disciples, God was ready to bring about that blessing for the nations, and this meal, this passover meal, that they had gathered to partake, would become a marker for the gift of God, the seeking, saving, serving God who demonstrated His glorious love in the sacrifice of His only begotten Son.

Matthew, Mark and Luke had not even mentioned what John goes into detail to tell us.  Instead of reminding us again of the new covenant in the bread as Christ’s body and the cup as His blood, John reveals the serving love of Christ in a unique personal story that the other gospel writers don’t tell.

When it was evening, Jesus came with the 12, Matthew, Mark and Luke tell us.  Luke reveals things Matthew and Mark leave out, that there was more than one time when they drank from the cup.  Before giving what we continue today as the Lord’s supper, Jesus took the cup of thanksgiving and gave it to them and stated, “I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the Kingdom of God shall come.”  Luke contextualizes this Lord’s supper in the meal of the Passover by doing this.

After that, comes the unleavened bread, which Jesus blessed and gave to His disciples, saying, “This is my body which is given for you, do this in remembrance of me.”   Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is shed for you.”

These two parts of the passover have been handed down through the years by followers of Jesus Christ as we gather to break bread and share in the cup of blessing, remembering His body and blood, given as a sacrifice to take away our sins.

Luke’s gospel, chapter 22:24-38 gives us more of what happened than Matthew and Mark do at this passover.  We learn of the argument about who is greatest, and some of Jesus’ instructions about serving one another.  But John takes the ball and runs with it, giving us five chapters of discourse of Jesus including the priestly prayer of Jesus for himself, his disciples and all who would believe through their word.

It is in John 13 that we read of Jesus demonstrating his love by washing the disciples feet, giving them a humble example of serving love.  God gets on His knees and washes the feet of His followers.  All of them needed it, and none of them was willing to do it.  They’d rather just eat with stinky, dirty feet than break out of their comfort zones and do that.  In fact, what they do is break into an argument about which one is the greatest.  Can you imagine?  Sounds more like a political convention than a passover service, does it not?  As this argument erupts, Jesus does the unthinkable.  He gets up from the table and leaves.  They may be wondering what will happen next. When Jesus comes back, He has taken off His robe and brought with him a bowl and a towel. He then starts in washing their dirty feet.

Jesus knows how to get His point across, does He not?

If you were uncomfortable doing this last Wednesday, how do you think these disciples felt at this passover church service when their Lord and Master washed their feet?  Jesus was showing them His love.  He was serving them as an example as well as a foot washing servant.  This was not a show of power, but a demonstration of love, serving, love… God’s love.  In another way Jesus was also disciplining them.  Peter blurts it out, but I’m sure they all felt it. “Lord, no. You can’t wash my feet.”  I can guarantee you this: not one of them thought they deserved to have Jesus wash their feet.  I don’t know this for sure, but I dare say Jesus had never done that to them before. The power of the moment here is not in its familiarity, but its rarity.  Not that Jesus was above this action before this, but Jesus knew the times and it was time for Him to not only wash the dirt away from their feet, but also wash their sins away with His blood.  They couldn’t do that for one another, but they could wash each other’s feet.  That is, if they were willing to love and serve.  If they were willing to get past what is comfortable and do what is needed.  Remember, Jesus’ service here was not exactly welcomed.  Jesus wants us to break past the barriers that we put up that are a hindrance to love and serving.  He did what He knew they needed.  It was not just a change for their feet, but for their hearts and their relationships with one another.

Actually, there are two lessons in this.  When Peter tried to refuse Jesus service of washing his feet, Jesus made it clear: “If I do not wash you, you have no part with me.”  That’s when Peter cried out, “Lord, not just my feet, but my hands and head as well!”  Peter did NOT want to lose his relationship with his Lord.  Serving cuts two ways in discomfort.  First, it is uncomfortable to do it, and second it can also be uncomfortable to receive it.  For us to share the love of God and be servants to one another we must allow for both!

I can’t wash anyone’s sins away, but I can serve you with what I have.  I also need to allow others to serve me.

Sing this song with me:  It is called the Servant Song.  Some of you may know it.  It is easy to learn the tune.

Will you let me be your servant  Let me be as Christ to you  Pray that I might have the grace  To let you be my servant too
We are pilgrims on the journey  We are travelers on the road  We are here to help each other  Walk the mile and bear the load
I will weep when you are weeping  When you laugh, I’ll laugh with you   I will share your joy and sorrow  Till we’ve seen this journey through
When we sing to God in heaven  We shall have such harmony  Born of all we’ve shared together  Of Christ’s love and agony
Will you let me be your servant  Let me be as Christ to you  Pray that I might have the grace  To let you be my servant too

To serve and be served in Christ is the way we show the love of Christ to one another and prove ourselves followers of Christ to this world.