Leading by Serving

  • Tuesday, January 5, 2010
  • As we begin Chapter 13 of John's gospel, we leave the account of Jesus' public ministry. The first twelve chapters of John account for roughly 3 ½ years of Christ's words and actions, all very public and involving diverse audiences and multitudes. We will now slow down since the next 5 chapters will literally account for only six hours. Jesus begins a very private time of preparation and prayer, with the only "witnesses" being the twelve disciples.

    And what do you suppose is the first principle our Lord endeavors to share with His disciples? It is NOT with words, but with a deed - the humble task of washing the feet of the disciples.

    "You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you." John 13:13-15

    True leaders "serve their way to the front..."

    If we are honest with ourselves, we really are in favor of servanthood, but only as long as we are the ones being served! It is simply not in our nature to put the interest of others ahead of ourselves.

    Jesus' outrageous act of love in putting others first by girding a towel around Himself and stooping to wash the dirty feet of the disciples is all the more amazing when you stop you remember that one of the pair of feet belonged to Judas who was already preparing to betray Him! And Jesus knew this!

    The interaction of Jesus with Peter also reveals Christ's focus on the heart. The picture of only washing the feet (and not the whole body) paints a picture of God's grace (we are saved through faith) yet we continue to sin.

    We may find it hard to make sense of Judas' cold-heartedness toward Jesus, but often we exhibit the same reactions. Our body may be in a worship service, but our heart can be far, far away from worship! The heart of the matter is a matter of the heart!

    Jesus' act of service is a model for us to adopt for great blessing and promise follows those who are wise enough to learn from this example..."If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them." John 13:17

    So what does it mean to serve? How about "tune your eyes to recognize the needs of others and then release your body to meet them..."


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