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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
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.
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? 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.
Question number two: How would your family describe you? 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.
Third: How would your co-workers describe you? Driven, easy-going, loving, fun, successful, intelligent, energetic, powerful, organized, creative, serious, religious.
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 die – 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?
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. 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.
And all I can tell you is, 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? Or you’re a servant.