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ENCOUNTERING JESUS IN THE GOSPEL OF JOHN
About this series
Jesus Unfiltered - Love
When we get past the poetic, ideal of love and dig down to the practical, day-to-day details, “love” begs some questions: What does it really mean? How does it think? How does it behave? In this third volume of his series Jesus Unfiltered, Chip Ingram explains, through John chapters 11-15, what love really looks like for those who call Jesus, Lord.More from this series
The year was about eighty-five A.D. The apostle John, who had walked with Jesus, lived with Jesus, had seen Him raise people from the dead; the Church had grown massively, tens of thousands of people around the known world.
And I happened to be in Ephesus and I got to be in Patmos, and this isn’t religious thinking and talk. This is a real man who lived in a real place called Ephesus, who wrote a real book after five decades that could be verified, with over five hundred real eyewitnesses of God who visited the planet, and then was raised from the dead and walked upon the earth for forty days, and that has shaped all of world history.
And what we want to understand is: Who is this Jesus? What does He want for us? And by His grace, what does He want from us?
And so the first five chapters was Volume One. It was about belief. The next five chapters were His call to follow. And then these five chapters are about what it really looks like to love.
And so if you’ll open your notes, look at the very front page. I want to do a little exercise with you to help you love the people who are in your world – your friends, your family, and your co-workers.
And sometimes the best way to love others is if you can get a picture or an understanding of how they view you. So we are going to do just a really quick, little exercise. If you have a pen, pull it out. If not, just do it in your mind.
And the question is this, I’ve got three lists. And what two words in each list below would others say best describe you? And then I am going to read three questions and I’ll read the list very quickly, and this is one of those tests you take where, don’t think about it, Well, I’m sort of that, but could be more that. Just the first things that come to your mind. You got it?
This is, okay, read it through and if I had to choose, boom, boom. And I want you to circle two of them. Are you ready? Okay. Good, good, good. Okay. Here we go.
How would your friends describe you? Driven, easy-going, loving, fun, successful, intelligent, energetic, powerful, organized, creative, serious, religious. Your friends. Choose two. You can only choose two. People you hang with, people who know you, they would just circle this one and that one. What would they circle? Some of you are thinking too hard. Just circle what comes to your mind.
Question number two: How would your family describe you? These are the people you live with. Driven, easy-going, loving, fun, successful, intelligent, energetic, powerful, organized, creative, serious, religious. Your family. What would they say, Oh, here’s what they would circle. Don’t bail out, don’t, Ah, I’ll think about this later. No, choose two.
Third: How would your co-workers describe you? Driven, easy-going, loving, fun, successful, intelligent, energetic, powerful, organized, creative, serious, religious. Just go to work. You’re on the job site, on a construction site, the people in the cubicle next to you, the boardroom, wherever it is. Just the first two things you think they would circle.
Now, what you might want to do later today is get with someone and say, “This is what I thought and I circled. Do you think this is pretty accurate or not? What do you think?” That might be an interesting experiment.
But at the very bottom, there is this amazing passage, this overarching picture of what is most important in every relationship. And in Galatians 5:6, the apostle Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit would say, “The only thing that really matters is faith working itself out in love.”
When it’s all said, it’s all done, there are relationships, there’s work, there’s family, there’s life, there’s pressure, you live, then you did – the only thing that really matters is faith working itself out in love.
So here’s the question I have for you. There is no trick here, and I will not ask anybody to raise their hand. Of the list of your friends, family, and co-workers, how many of you have loving as circled? They see you as a loving person.
When Jesus was asked, “What is the most important commandment of all the Old Testament?” He said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, your soul, your mind, and your strength; and love your neighbor as yourself.”
When the apostle Paul would write he said, “If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have all knowledge and all faith and I can do miracles,” in other words, If I had this amazing impact and super spiritual, “but if I don’t have love, I am like a noisy gong, a clanging cymbal. I’m worth nothing.” He said, “Now, today, in our world abide:” – right? “faith, hope, and love – but the greatest of these is love.”
So if love is the most important thing in terms of loving God and loving people, and by the way, all those things are good. Being organized is good, creative is good, powerful is good, intelligent is good, being fun is good. All those are good. But the most important is are you a loving person?
And as you turn the page, the question that then needs to be answered, at least for me, and I think for you, is if loving is the most important thing you’ll ever do in your life with your family, with your friends, with co-workers – then the question is: How do you know if you’re really a loving person?
I don’t mean just emotions or good feelings. I mean way beyond that. I mean love, if God from heaven, looking down on your life and being able to see every heart and every attitude and every relationship and every behavior – would He say, You are a loving person? And maybe more, would you know?
And what I am going to suggest is the answer to whether I am a loving person or you are a loving person is in John chapter 13, because Jesus is going to model for His followers then and His followers now, This is what love looks like.
Now, context is really important. As you learn to read and study the Bible, you don’t just go around picking verses and this says this. You have to read it in context, in the flow.
And so I put the context in your notes here. And what you see is that we are in the last week of Jesus’ life. In fact, it’s the last night that He would be upon the earth.
Earlier in the day, He sent two of His disciples to prepare the Passover meal. That’s where they are going to celebrate the deliverance from Egypt. And there’s a lot that went into that.
Just before this happens, we will learn from another gospel, chapter 22 in Luke, that the disciples, the twelve, actually are walking together toward this secret location in an upper room, where they are going to share the Lord’s Supper with Jesus.
And they are having a discussion, and the discussion goes something like this: I’m the greatest! No, you’re not, I’m the greatest! No! I’m the greatest. John, tell him. I’m the greatest. No, I’m going to tell him I’m the greatest! So after three years of walking with the Son of Man, the very last night with Him, the big discussion is who is top dog?
If you’re Jesus, there’s part of this that has to be pretty discouraging. He timed it in such a way where they went on ahead and He would arrive just a little bit later.
If you were living in that day, and you went to something very formal or a special invitation. People didn’t have bathrooms. You would go to a public bath and you would then put on clean clothes and probably your nicest togas or outer garments. And then you would have to walk through dusty streets. And so when you would come there would be a large jar with a basin, and the lowest servant in the household would take water and they would wipe off your feet, because you are going to eat.
And when you would eat in the Middle East, the tables were about this high and it would be a U-shape. There would be a table this way and tables this way, contrary to the picture that we see by da Vinci. And there would be cushions on the left, and you would lay on your left and eat with your right hand like this.
Jesus would be in the center and then we will learn that the disciple whom He loved, John, would be on His right. And this will be very important, Judas will be on His left. And these are the two seats of honor.
So each guy is thinking he is the greatest. And when you walk in, only the lowliest person does that job, so, one, two, three, eleven, twelve disciples walk in and no one is going to humble themselves to do the lowliest job.
And, by the way, when you’re leaning this way and your feet are this way, they were very close to someone’s face. Now we pick up the story. Little did they know that even later that night they would experience an arrest, a gang would come out with clubs and torches, and every one of them would flee for their lives. And this is a story of Jesus preparing them for what will occur, but in each time, He is going to give us three specific events in this evening that will let you know and me know: Do you really love people, or not?
“Now it was just before the Passover Feast and Jesus,” notice, “knew the time,” or, “the hour had come for Him to leave this world and be with the Father, having loved His own,” notice His motive in all of this, “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.”
Notice the repetition, “Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under His power,” number one, “that He had come from God,” number two, “and that He was returning to God.” Purpose clause, in light of those three facts, “So He got up from His meal, He took off His outer clothing,” it was a seamless robe, a very expensive robe, probably given by one of the very wealthy women who supported the ministry. By the way, that’s why they didn’t divide it at the cross. It was too expensive, it was too nice.
He took that off and had His regular garments on, “He wrapped a towel around His waist, and after that, He poured water into a basin and He began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was around His waist. He came to Simon Peter, who said to Him, ‘Lord, are You going to wash my feet?’”
And in the Greek, it’s emphatic, “What? This is totally, no! No, no!” He felt bad at this point, he’s thinking, I wouldn’t lower myself, but the one person in the room that should not be doing this is You. His shame and His pride are revealed. “‘You do not realize now what I am doing,’ Jesus said to Peter, ‘but later you will, you will understand it.’ ‘No,’ Peter said,” in fact, literally it’s, “No! Not ever!” Double emphatic.
“‘You shall never wash my feet.’ Jesus said, ‘Unless I wash your feet, you have no part with Me.’” So Peter, being the impulsive, Okay! If that’s it, I want the whole deal. “‘Then not my feet and hands only, but all of me.’ Jesus said, ‘A person who has had a bath already needs only his feet to be washed, 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 of you.’
When He had finished washing their feet, He put on His outer robe and He returned to His place in the center,” as the teacher and as the rabbi.
And then He asked a provocative question to each of the disciples after their three years: “Do you understand what I have done? You call Me Teacher and Lord, and rightly so, for egō eimi. I am.
Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you should wash one another’s feet. I set for you an example,” a type, a picture, I want it blazoned in your mind – they don’t know I am going to leave, they don’t get all the things, I want a picture in your mind: this is what greatness looks like. This is what love looks like. It’s not being on top, it’s not how many people report to you, it’s not what other people think. This is greatness.
“I have set you an example, that you should wash each other’s feet. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor a messenger more than the one who sends him. Now that you know these things, you are blessed, you are happy, you are joyful when you do them.”
As you look at your notes, Jesus washes their feet. Notice He clarifies His motive and His mission. His motive is He loves them. And it’s interesting, He says, “I am going to demonstrate,” after three years of teaching and conversations, “I’m going to demonstrate to these twelve how much I love every one of them, even the one who betrays Me.”
And then notice His mission is clarified. He knew God had placed all authority, had given Him power. He knew where He had come from, and He knew where He was going. Do you know why none of the other disciples and why, for you and me, it’s so hard to humbly serve other people? It’s because we are desperately insecure.
Ever since the Fall, down deep in your heart and my heart, and I don’t care who, how famous, how smart. They can be the CEO of whatever, they can work at Yahoo!, Google, Apple. They can be a star, they can be Taylor Swift. I don’t care who you are, how famous you are, how much money you have. In the heart of every human being is this fear that if anyone really knew who you really were, that they would reject you.
And so we put layer after layer after layer of, I look this way, I talk this way, I have these things. And we compete with one another to look good and be great. And some people hide their insecurities with very strong, outward, I’ve got it all together, look who I am, look how I dress, look what I own, look how smart I am, look what I have done, look what my kids have done.
And other people hide out of an overt, deep shyness, and they won’t connect and they withdraw. But the goal of both is to keep people far enough away so you don’t get revealed.
Jesus was perfectly, completely secure – not in being that He was God. Everything Jesus did, He did fully human. Yes, He was fully God. But all of His obedience was modeling for us dependence on the Holy Spirit. Here’s what He knew: God had set this for Him and given this to Him, like He has given it to you. He knew where He had come from and He knew His mission, where He was going, and therefore, it didn’t matter what other people thought.
And that’s why He could serve and He didn’t lose His credibility. In fact, it was increased. And when you serve and when I serve, when we take the platform that God has given us, and ready? Here’s the application. You want to know whether you love people or not? Love humbly serves those we lead, even when we are entitled for them to serve us.
Even when your role in the family or your role with your friends or your role in the company or the manager or the supervisor – believers, followers of Jesus, the mark of our life is we are like Jesus when we serve those we lead, even when we are entitled for, We should get that parking spot, we should be served first, we should have this, we should have that, because of…
In fact, you read more and more of the management books, what is a five-level leader? It’s a servant leader, right? Great businesses aren’t super charismatic men or women leading them. Level-five leaders are people who get, I am here at the bottom of the pyramid to serve other people.
And this is an action, but it’s a set of glasses that you start to wear where you see yourself as a servant. You are here to help and to lift up other people.
I put it in your notes: Philippians 2:3 and 4, it’s a classic passage that I have memorized to remind myself of this. It says, “Do nothing from selfish ambition, do nothing from selfish ambition or empty conceit, but with humility of mind,” are you ready for this? “Consider others more important than yourself. Don’t look only on your own interests, but also on the interests of others.”
And so if you’re a dad in a family, you’re a leader in your family, the goal isn’t that everyone makes your life work out. You serve them. You don’t have a recliner mentality.
If you’re a leader in your school, you serve other people. The guy who really helped disciple my life was a bricklayer. And his life was one of servanthood. I watched him serve his wife and take her out on a date. I watched him serve his kids.
We would be in that old van of his and he would have all that equipment in the back. And we were in a hurry, if someone was broken down, Dave pulled off. Dave had time for people. And I would be going, “Dave, give me a break, man. Let’s get there!”
See, when you drive fast and cut in front of everyone, what you are saying is, you know what? Where you’re going is way more important than where anybody else is going. See, a servant goes to a restaurant and says, “Where is the best view?” and then sits so someone else gets that. It’s a mindset.
A servant walks into a bathroom and there’s junk all over the floor and it’s a public bathroom, or the toilet, the place is trashed. I don’t mean you clean up everything, but after you wash your hands, you say, Someone else is coming after me. What might I do to make this a better place?
And I had a guy just serve and love me and demonstrate that, he challenged me on these areas. A servant tells people what they really need to hear, not what they want to hear. Peter heard what he needed to hear, “Peter, you’re arrogant. But I love you.”
That same bricklayer would meet with me at McDonalds once a week or so and we would read the Bible together and review verses we were memorizing. And he would observe me. I lived in a little garage apartment and I taught school and coached basketball, and then we led, it started out as a little ministry with college students and grew.
So he would watch me relate to everyone. And every so often he would read Proverbs 27, verses 5 and 6. And I knew what was coming. “Chip, ‘Better are the wounds of a friend, than the kisses of an enemy.’” That meant, You’re going to hear some stuff about you that you don’t really like, but I think serving and loving you, and helping you be the man that God wants you to be is more important than you liking me.
And I remember one day he just looked me right in the eye and said, “You’re just really arrogant.” And he was really right. “You do lots of good stuff, but you do it to impress people. I watch you and you don’t…” And he gave me some verses. “That which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God.” That’s your image management verse. “How could I be a servant of God if I’m trying to please people?” – Galatians 1:10
Men, God wants you to serve; women, God wants you to serve. Having eyes of how you drive, what you do, where you go, seeing yourself not as, How do I climb over other people to get to this role? But, How do I actually help other people be successful? What do they need to hear? What do they need to do? What tools do they need? How do I help my kids be, not make me look good, but be successful in their relationship with God and how God has wired them?
When you begin to think that way, it will transform things. Now here’s the thing. The promise is that when we live that way, what did Jesus say? “Blessed are you.”
The word makarios. It means, “happy,” “joyful.” Here’s all I can tell you, this is true in a family. You are either a consumer: What do I get? What do I get? Who is coming through for me? What about this? And no matter how much you can consume, it’s never enough.
Or you’re a servant, and you are helping other people be successful. And as you give your life and give your time and help others, God fills you up with joy and out of His goodness, often gives you the things you dream about.
Have you ever wondered why people who are mega, mega, mega wealthy get to a point where it’s like, you can’t consume anymore! How many steaks can Bill Gates eat in a day? About the same as you. How many vacations can he go on? How many jets can he buy?
So whether it’s Gates or whether it’s Carnegie, or whether it’s Buffet, or whether it’s the Ford foundation, almost every person who gets mega, mega wealthy has this crisis of life and realizes – what? The only thing that matters is helping other people. So they start a foundation.
You know what they are realizing? They are just realizing what Jesus taught. The only thing that is really going to matter very much out of your life, out of my life – we think it’s all about the achievement and what people think and what we acquire. The only thing that will really matter is faith working itself out in love.
And wherever you are, whether it’s here at church or in your home or with your roommates or at work, when you begin to say, I want to serve, I will tell you, a paradigm shift, and something begins to happen that will change the course of your life, not only for you, but guess what? People will begin to see a Christian living like a Christian. Love humbly serves those we lead, those that we have influence with.
Second, we are going to see the next picture is He is going to be betrayed. Pick up the text with me if you will, in verse 21. “After He had said this, Jesus was troubled in His spirit, and He testified, ‘I tell you the truth, one of you is going to betray Me.’ His disciples stared at one another, at a loss to know which one of them He meant. One of the disciples, whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to Him. Simon Peter motioned to this disciple,” it’s John, “and said, ‘Ask Him which one.’ Leaning back against Jesus, he asked Him, ‘Lord, who is it?’ Jesus answered, ‘It is the one I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.’ Then dipping the piece of bread, He gave it to Judas Iscariot, son of Simon. As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him.”
Jesus turns to His left, “‘What you are about to do, do quickly,’ Jesus told him. But no one at the meal understood why Jesus said this to him. Since Judas had charge of the money, some thought Jesus was telling him to buy what was needed for the feast, or to give something to the poor. As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out.” And I think this is both accurate and metaphorical, “And it was night.”
Darkness is coming. Evil is going to reign for a very short season. Jesus predicts His betrayal because the disciples need to know this is not an accident. And then He does something that is absolutely mind-boggling. He has Judas seated at the second place of honor.
And I can’t go through it in time, but if you knew how a Passover happens, the meal is very mechanical, if you will. You do this, then there’s a glass of wine for redemption, and you tell the story, and there are the herbs, and then you get to a certain place and then what the leader does is he takes a piece of bread, it’s like flat bread or like falafel bread.
And he would take it and there would be a dish with part of the lamb, and he would dip it in and then he would offer it to the guest of honor. And it was a point in time where they were talking about, This dish and this dip was for the forgiveness of our sins. They have been passed over by the grace of God.
Jesus was extending love and opportunity and forgiveness to Judas. And Judas rejects it. And he gets up and he leaves, and he cooperates with Satan.
And for a period of time, then, evil will reign. And the disciples, now that the tension has gone out of the room, can you imagine? Some of you, can I just ask you to think back to when you have been betrayed? Some of you have been betrayed in business, right? Some of you had a mate walk out on you and hook up with someone else. Some of you have had a boyfriend or girlfriend that you came in and found out…
Some of you have walked into a room and seen either your girlfriend, your boyfriend, or your husband, your wife logged on and looking at pictures that you’re thinking, What about me?
Can you, I’ve been betrayed two or three deep, deep times and the level of anger and hurt was almost overwhelming. Can you imagine the kind of love that extends forgiveness to someone? Earlier, He washed the feet of the very person who He knew, remember? I said, repeated, He knew His time has come. He knew.
Application: When you look on the front of that sheet and say, Am I really a loving person? It’s not a lot about emotion, sometimes. It’s not about an ooey-gooey feeling. It’s about humbly serving those we lead and then it’s about intentionally serving those who hate us, even when it doesn’t change their behavior.
Sometimes you hear the great stories, and I have certainly told my share. And it is amazing that sometimes we love those who hate us and we do good, those who do evil against us and good is more powerful than evil and Romans 12, right?
That great principle of 17 to 21, “If your enemy is hungry, feed him. If he is thirsty, give him a drink. And in so doing you heap burning coals on his head.” And that’s not a picture of burning their brains out. It’s a picture, in the ancient near East of repentance.
You do good to your enemies, you love your enemies. Jesus would say in Luke 6, I put the passage there, “What profit is there if you love those who love you? If you lend money, who lend the money to you.” But when you love your enemies, when you pray for those who desperately use you, when you love those who persecute you, this finds favor with God, because then you are being a son or a daughter, in other words, like the Most High God.
Because God is a God who gives mercy to the good and to the evil. If we could grasp how good and how kind God is to everyone, and the apostle would say it is the kindness of God that leads to repentance.
And so I am telling you that your love quotient – are there ways that that person even who has betrayed you…? Now, don’t get me wrong, there has to be some boundaries. This doesn’t mean you’re a doormat. You might have to do it anonymously, because you can’t have a relationship with someone who has abused you.
But good is more powerful than evil, and the kind of love that turned the world completely upside down was a group of followers who started washing each other’s feet. They didn’t come to church as consumers. They didn’t say, “Well, this children’s ministry is like this. I kind of like the worship at that church a little bit better. I liked this. And you know what? They are doing too many of those kinds of songs and I want them to do more of these kind of songs,” and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.
That’s a consumer mentality. Christians who live like Christians come and say, God, how do You want to use me? Who is here that is lonely? Who is here that is hurting. I have been through a divorce, I’ll bet I could help someone. I had an abortion, I’ll bet I could help someone with that. You know what? I’ve got a business and I am looking for people. You know what? I’m going to probe. Maybe there are some people who need a job. I am coming to serve, I am coming to love, and I am even going to do it to the people that I know hate me.
Our impact in the LGBT community will be being truthful and holding true to Scripture, and then loving them in ways where they shake their head and think, I thought you were the narrow, bigoted, evangelical, anti-intellectual people who blow up clinics and hold up signs and call us names.
And, unfortunately, many of them have experienced Christians like that, and they will meet you at your work and in your neighborhood, and our deep, genuine friendships and they will just meet someone who loves them.
And you know what? We won’t agree with the sin in their lives anymore than the fornicators and the idolaters and the drunks and the porn addicts that we have in our church, right? Right? I’m sorry, I didn’t hear you. Right? Okay.
So, sexual sin is sexual sin. But I got to minister in Santa Cruz for twelve and a half years. And before things got big here, it was way, way big there in terms of the LGBT community. And they picketed the church and thought we were crazy and on and on. And we just teamed together and we drove HIV patients to the doctor. We drove all the HIV patients to the grocery store, and we told them, “We will only tell you about Jesus if you ask.”
And then we launched a ministry to runaway teens and then we fed the poor downtown. And the mayor, who was an avowed homosexual, he and I began to get to know one another. Literally, his view of us was that some of us have jaundiced, prejudicial view of people. You think all people in the LGBT community are like this or like that. You know what? They are people. Real people with real personalities, with real issues.
And we can disagree and there is a sin issue there, like I have my sin issues and you have your sin issues. But what helped me was not people telling me how bad I was. What helped me was a group of people who actually loved me.
And they didn’t compromise the truth, but they loved me. And as we did that, I watched God turn that whole little city around. And that’s His plan for this.
But you know what? That’s got to happen where you work. This isn’t like how are we going to react. How do we proactively serve those people? And whether it’s…think of what happened when the Church responded the way they did in Charleston. Think of what has happened in the Middle East as people have responded with forgiveness, even as their family members get their heads cut off.
The real Jesus, the historical Jesus, the supernatural Jesus, the power of God – that is what is going to change the world. The day of: I believe in God, I come to church, the guy is fairly interesting, he is semi-motivating, the music is okay, or maybe it’s really good, depending on your style, and I want to be kind of a nicer person. That Christianity is gone. It’s done. This is following an historic, fully God, fully man, Lord and Savior of the world as historic, cataclysmic events are aligning in a way, and we are followers, and we serve.
We serve those we lead, we serve those who hate us, even if they never change. And they know that, You know what? Our relationship with you isn’t based on, “Now you start coming to church, now you repent, now you come to Christ.” I pray they will. But Judas didn’t change, and Jesus washed his feet. Judas didn’t change, and Jesus offered him the place of honor.
Scene number one, He washes their feet. Scene number two, Judas betrays Jesus. Scene number three, Jesus prepares His disciples for His arrest. And we pick up the story in verse 31.
“When he was gone,” speaking of Judas, Jesus now responds. Whew. What has happened? A prophetic moment. Darkness has happened, the plan is going to go, He will be arrested, there will be three mock trials, He will be beaten within an inch of His life, they will take thorns and put it into His scalp, there will be this moment in all of history where the sin of all men will fall upon Him and the Father will turn away. And He will bury your sin and my sin, and He will cry out in anguish, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”
And what He knows is He has got to prepare these disciples to make it through this. “Now is the Son of Man glorified and God is glorified in Him. If God is glorified in Him, then God will glorify the Son in Himself, and will glorify Him at once.”
Here is His perspective to the betrayal: All authority and power has been given to Me, I know where I came from, heaven; I know where I am going. I am on mission. And Isaiah, in prediction would say, “And He set His face like a flint. Now I know…”
Glory means something is revealed. It is enhanced. The Hebrew word means, “weight.” The weightiness, the reality, the truth, the love of God is going to be made known, because God the Son will die for you and me and then rise from the dead. That is His response to suffering.
Now He wants to prepare His disciples because He realizes they are going to be scared to death and they are going to fail. And so He says, “My little children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for Me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you know: Where I am going, you cannot come.”
He uses a very interesting word. It’s not just “brothers.” He literally, it’s a word for a smaller child. He is being like a father to them. “I am going to leave, and you can’t come right now.”
And now He gives them a new commandment to sustain them. “A new commandment I give unto you: That you love one another. That you love one another just as I have loved you.”
So it’s new. The word means, “fresh commandment.” The old commandment was what? Love your neighbor as yourself. So the bar is, I need to love you the way I want to be loved. He goes, No, no, no, no, no. The bar goes up. I want you to love each other the way I loved you.
And if you’re a disciple sitting in that room, how did He love them that night? He took the lowliest position and washed their feet. In a few hours, they will realize, Here comes Judas. Who are all those people with him? And the clubs and the sword? He’s the one. And in their mind they will go, He washed his feet. He gave him the seat of honor.
And the reason we are in this room is there was a very small band of struggling people who lived out loving one another and washing each other’s feet and being servants to one another and servants to people who hated them in such profound ways that love never fails. And it turned the world upside down.
And then what happens is any good thing that starts as a movement, what happens? It gets institutionalized, right? And then people want status and then there are all these roles. And then if you have a big role, then they put your face in stained glass and then you get connected with politics.
Did you know that forty percent of the people who are followers of Jesus don’t go to church at all anymore, in America? Because they have had such a bad church experience. Or they have been burned. And someone let them down or someone gossiped about them or there was immorality or they got used.
Application: Love passionately serves those in the body of Christ. Love passionately serves those in the body of Christ. Love doesn’t come to a service. Love passionately serves.
Hebrews 10:24 and 25 here, it says, “Let us consider one another, how to spur,” or spark, stir up, “one another to love and good works, not abandoning the habit of assembling, as is the manner of some.”
In other words, the expectation of the New Testament is that we will be doing life in community and know one another and spur one another on by our example, by our love, by our servanthood that I would want to walk more with God because I get to hang out with you. I watch how you love your family, I watch what you do at work, I watch the sacrifice of your time and your energy and your money to help other people. That’s the picture. It’s iron sharpening iron.
If you went back to that front page and you looked at: so what gets circled? Probably our energy is going into those things that we want people to think about us. And, by the way, they are all good. They are all good.
But the greatest of these is: it’s love. So the question I have for me, the question I have for us is: Are we going to be people who love each other? Are we going to be people who love those who hate us? By our attitudes, by our words, by our sacrifice. And are we going to be people who are willing to wash each other’s feet?
You live and I live in such a consumer oriented culture. It is in the air, it is in the water, it is just not – it’s almost impossible to come to a church and not be evaluating what they offer or what they don’t offer and how you think it could be improved, as you sit in a seat and do nothing and give nothing and care little for anyone but you. That’s the church in America.
And let me say this really delicately. In the next three to four months, and you can just start wherever. In the next three to four months, make a commitment to say, I am going to serve. And, by the way, a lot of the service ought to happen outside this church. Some of you are leading Bible studies in corporations and you’re involved in helping unwed moms and we are involved in all kinds of…I lead a thing with ethnic pastors once a month and building relationship and we are helping other churches.
It doesn’t have to be all on this campus, believe me. But you’ve got to serve.