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During the American Revolution a man in civilian clothes rode past a group of soldiers repairing a small defensive barrier. Their leader was shouting instructions, but making no attempt to help them. Asked why by the rider, he retorted with great dignity, “Sir, I am a corporal!” The stranger apologized, dismounted, and proceeded to help the exhausted soldiers. The job done, he turned to the corporal and said, “Mr. Corporal, next time you have a job like this and not enough men to do it, go to your commander-in-chief, and I will come and help you again.” It was none other than George Washington.

That’s an impressive example on a servant leader...but how about the God of the universe washing your feet?
I have tagged this morning’s text
Basin Theology: What happens when love goes low.
The clock is ticking t-minus 15 hours to the cross.  It is his last night with His friends, one last chance to talk to them about what mattered most, what they could not afford to forget. How could He take the wisdom of the ages, filtered through all the teaching, all the conversation, all the activity, and distill it down to one final lesson?
They had given up everything to follow Him for three years, and now the end was rapidly approaching. It was only a matter of hours now.
And to top it all off, they had been arguing all day about which of them was the greatest. Maybe none of this stuff was sinking in at all. They were ready to fight for a throne but not for a towel.
Maybe it would have to wait until after He was gone. Maybe then they would look back and remember.
While the disciples are fighting over who gets to sit where Jesus silently picks up a towel and a bowl of water. Before anyone is aware of what’s happening, the first sandals are off.  The one whom king Uzziah saw sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up is bowing down. The one who stood on nothing and spoke everything into existence picks up the basin.  The one who holds everything together is picking up the towel.  Never has one so high stooped so low.
It was His act of servitude that arrested their attention.
This text, because of our culture, doesn’t land on us with as forcefully as it did in Jesus day. We live in a culture that has created an 8.5 billion dollar industry around foot beautification.  In Jesus day it was a job primarily for Gentile slaves.  The duty was so menial, so low that Jews would not allow their Jews slaves to perform such an act.  It was a task of humiliation.  However, in our culture, it is a job of respectability requiring education and certification.
Knowing we have a substantial obstacle blocking our full understanding and comprehension of this text.  Let us ask our great teacher and illuminator to give us ears to hear, a spiritual mind to understand, and a heart ready to obey.
Let us first ask ourselves;

Why is this story in our Bible?

This story exists because Jesus primary message was still not being exercised.

Instead of fighting over who was going to wash feet they were fervently fashioning their argument for superiority. 

Luke 22:24 ESV
A dispute also arose among them, as to which of them was to be regarded as the greatest.
There years with the Savior and they still fail to understand His message.  A message that he not only gave verbal instruction to but visual illustration of.
Matthew 23:11–12 ESV
The greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.
Matthew 20:26–28 ESV
It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Jesus could have at this moment practiced Pilate’s type of basin theology and washed his hands of these self-centered prima donna’s. His love remained faithful while theres falter.
However, he chooses to wash their feet because of John’s words in verse 1;
John 13:1 ESV
Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.

This story is in our Bible to show us the essence of God’s love.

He has a special love for his children.

John 13:1 ESV
Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.

He has a standard love for his creation.

Does God love everyone? Yes. Does God love Christians more than He loves non-Christians? No. Does God love Christians to a different extent than He loves non-Christians? Yes. God loves everyone equally in that He is merciful to all. God has a unique relationship with Christians in that only Christians have His eternal grace and mercy and the promise of His forever love in heaven. The unconditional love God has for everyone should bring us to faith in Him, receiving in thankfulness the great conditional love He grants all those who receive Jesus Christ as Savior.
The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God by D.A. Carson


In November 1984 the band Foreigner on their Agent Provocateur album stated that they wanted to know what love is.
I want to know what love is, I want you to show me
I want to feel what love is, I know you can show me
The entirety of Jesus ministry can be summarized in this action.


Jesus life was marked by verbs.
John 21:25 ESV
Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.
However, this occasion because of its time-frame needed an extreme visualization of His verbalization. Jesus actions was a visual answer to their debate. Jesus isn’t against greatness just greed. Jesus isn’t against exaltation just ego. Jesus teaches that only those who expend themselves for others will be exalted.
True love, real love is rooted in humility.

Humility is thinking of yourself less

while humiliation is thinking less of yourself.


This event not only demonstrates how we are to serve but how we are saved. 

There is an undeniable connection between service and salvation.
Matthew 20:28 ESV
even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
This verse is recorded in Mark 10:45 as well.  Matthew and Mark record the instruction, John records the illustration.  We don’t serve to be saved. We serve because we are saved.  We are saved to serve not saved by serving. Look at how the text uses His service to demonstrate our salvation.

We are completely saved by His sacrifice.

We see this example in verse 4;
John 13:4 ESV
rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist.
This phrase “laid aside” is used in
John 10:18 ESV
No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”
Notice what verse 4 says next; and taking a towel, tied it around his waist.” This is breathtaking.  Jesus is taking on the form of a servant. The Savior was acting as a slave. He substitutes himself in their place because of their sin. When they should have been washing greatness they were worried about greatest. When they should have been washing the Divine Son of God they were captivated by debate.  This is Philippians 2 in living color
Philippians 2:5–11 ESV
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
John 13:8–10 ESV
Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.”
The word for bathed is [loo-o] which means washing the whole body.  God bathes us at conversion.  There is no need for double-dipping.  Jesus is straightening out Peters theology.  Jesus is reminding Peter that his justification is a one-time permanent act, all of his sins are completely forgiven.  He stands before God the Father perfect because of His faith in Christ perfect life.  This is why Jesus says you are completely clean.  Jesus washing of their feet is an example of sanctification.

We are continually saved by his sacrifice.

Justification is a one time act.  It is a legal declaration by a judge.  Once a verdict is rendered it cannot be overturned.  Justification also places on us an identity, sinless.  Just as if we had never sinned is a definition of justification.  Sanctification is the process by which God works out our justification.  Justification always precedes sanctification.  We are completely clean because we have been bathed in Christ righteousness but we need continually washing for our relationship with Christ.
Jesus is teaching us that even after we are saved a Christian will still sin.  Those who have been completely bathed still need washing.  The word for wash is [nip-to] meaning to sponge off feet. As we walk in this world we will be soiled by sin.  John would go on to explain what Jesus means by “the one who has bathed does not need to wash except for his feet” in
1 John 1:9 ESV
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.



John 13:14 ESV
If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.
Jesus said; “you also ought”. You cannot identify with Jesus in salvation without identifying with Him in service. To refuse to follow Jesus’ example of humble service is to pridefully elevate oneself above Him.  Peter and the other ten were saved but had not yet understood servanthood.
Our motivation for service comes from an understanding that the one who was perfect and worthy of serving went low by taking our sin by substituting himself as a slave who died a criminal’s death.

Jesus was able to perform this act of utter humility because of His keen understanding of who He was, where He came from, and where He was going.

John 13:3 ESV
Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God,
The one who has all things in His hand, washes feet!


John 13:15–16 ESV
For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.
The motto of the Prince of Wales is “I Serve” and there is nothing nobler or more royal than service.


John 13:34–35 ESV
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”


John 13:17 ESV
If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.
The aim of servanthood is joy not justification.  Joy comes from doing the things that a servant does.



Hebrews 12:1–2 ESV
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.


Ephesians 5:1 ESV
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.


Philippians 2:5 ESV
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,
Everyone person in this room will pick up a basin.  Pilate picked up his basin to avoid his rightful responsibility.  Jesus picked up His basin to take on His responsibility that of; I came not to be served but to serve and give my life as a ransom for many.
Who are you most like today?  Who do you most want to be like?  If you have never been bathed by Christ, then you must start there.  If you have been bathed by Christ; do you need to be washed this morning?
If you have been washed are you ready to pick up the towel that is being passed to you this morning?
If so, spend time this morning asking Christ to wash you.  Then move to the communion table and partake of communion as a sign of commitment.  Then take one of the lapel pins to wear daily as a reminder of your commitment.