foot washingSo we have been in a series where we are studying Jesus.  We are doing this by asking this question; how in the world did the people of his time miss him?  I mean seriously, how is that possible?  Well it’s possible because of a couple of things.

First and foremost they just could not grasp grace.  They didn’t realize just how much God loved them, so they had no concept of just how far he was willing to go save the world.  That’s why we opened this series talking about grace because if you don’t get grace you will absolutely miss Jesus.  We still struggle to understand grace today…and sadly many, many people miss Jesus today for that reason.  That’s why it was so important for us to walk through those questions in the introduction to the series.  Because we want to tear down the barriers that are keeping you from understanding grace!

Another reason they missed Jesus is because they were expecting a King to come to save them from the Romans.  They were told a King was coming to save the day…and while Jesus is the King they were waiting on, he didn’t look like a King at all!  He was pretty much the opposite of everything that they thought a King should be.  You see, the way God looks at power, and the way us humans look at power are two completely different things.  Ken opened up this part of our series looking at the first symbol of a King.  You see they were expecting a warrior King, who would come and change their circumstances when in reality Jesus didn’t come to change their circumstances…he came to heal their hearts.  He came to heal them from the inside out and they rejected him.

So as you can see, the reasons that the people of his time missed Jesus, are the very same reasons that we miss him too!  We don’t understand the grace and love that Jesus came to give us.  And we certainly aren’t really happy to hear that while Jesus could change our circumstances; that his primary mission wasn’t to change your circumstances but to heal our hearts.  That can be extremely frustrating can’t it?

Today we are going to look at another reason that we can miss Jesus.  I think this may be a new thought for you today…but when you think of a King you don’t think of a King serving you do you?  I know I don’t, I think of a King who we serve, not one that would stoop down to serve me!  Yet that is exactly what Jesus came to this Earth to do…to serve, and to model for us how to serve.  Today we are going to look at Jesus, The Servant King.

Mark 10:45 “That is what the Son of Man has done: He came to serve, not to be served — and then to give away his life in exchange for many who are held hostage.”  (THE MESSAGE)

Well that doesn’t sound very kingly does it?  What king would stoop down into our mess and serve the very people he came to lead?  Well the answer is Jesus.  Let me ask you something, is this a new thought for you today?  Jesus is a king unlike any king human kind had ever seen…he was a servant.  So if he came to serve, then the million dollar question of the day becomes this…

Are you willing to let Jesus Christ, the Savior of the Universe serve you?

You know, one of my favorite people in the Bible is Peter.  I think Peter is great because all his flaws are just kind of out there for us to see.  The thing I love about him is that Jesus sees such greatness in him, and we get to watch as he walks with Jesus, learns from Jesus, screws up time and time again…and in the end figures it out and becomes the very foundation that Jesus builds the church on.  Peter loved Jesus.  I believe he would have done anything for him…and Peter struggled to let Jesus serve him.  As we read this story, I wonder just how many of us could relate to how Peter must feel here.

John 13:1-17 Just before the Passover Feast, Jesus knew that the time had come to leave this world to go to the Father. Having loved his dear companions, he continued to love them right to the end. 2 It was suppertime. The Devil by now had Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot, firmly in his grip, all set for the betrayal.3 Jesus knew that the Father had put him in complete charge of everything, that he came from God and was on his way back to God. 4 So he got up from the supper table, set aside his robe, and put on an apron. 5 Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the feet of the disciples, drying them with his apron. 6 When he got to Simon Peter, Peter said, “Master, you wash my feet?” 7 Jesus answered, “You don’t understand now what I’m doing, but it will be clear enough to you later.”8 Peter persisted, “You’re not going to wash my feet — ever!”  Jesus said, “If I don’t wash you, you can’t be part of what I’m doing.” 9 “Master!” said Peter. “Not only my feet, then. Wash my hands! Wash my head!” 10 Jesus said, “If you’ve had a bath in the morning, you only need your feet washed now and you’re clean from head to toe. My concern, you understand, is holiness, not hygiene. So now you’re clean. But not every one of you.” 11(He knew who was betraying him. That’s why he said, “Not every one of you.”) 12 After he had finished washing their feet, he took his robe, put it back on, and went back to his place at the table.  Then he said, “Do you understand what I have done to you? 13 You address me as ‘Teacher’ and ‘Master,’ and rightly so. That is what I am. 14 So if I, the Master and Teacher, washed your feet, you must now wash each other’s feet. 15 I’ve laid down a pattern for you. What I’ve done, you do. 16 I’m only pointing out the obvious. A servant is not ranked above his master; an employee doesn’t give orders to the employer. 17 If you understand what I’m telling you, act like it — and live a blessed life. (THE MESSAGE)

This is a pretty incredible moment.  Jesus, God in skin is now stooping down to wash the feet of his own disciples.  This is a very humbling act.  You see back in the day these dudes weren’t wearing Nike’s.  They had on sandals.  They walked on dirt roads.  They walked on the same dirt roads that donkeys and horses, and livestock walked on.  Their feet were covered in sweat, dirt, poop, and who knows what else.  Washing people’s feet was not something a king should be doing and Peter really has a hard time with this.  Check out verses 6-8 again…

John 13:6 When he got to Simon Peter, Peter said, “Master, you wash my feet?” 7 Jesus answered, “You don’t understand now what I’m doing, but it will be clear enough to you later.”8 Peter persisted, “You’re not going to wash my feet — ever!”  Jesus said, “If I don’t wash you, you can’t be part of what I’m doing.”

The reality is that if you don’t allow Jesus to serve you, you can miss him.

I believe that Peter had reasons to struggle with this just like you and I do.  Let’s look at a couple of the barriers that would keep us from allowing Jesus to serve us.

Three Barriers that are keeping us from allowing Jesus to serve us.

  1. We just don’t feel worthy!
  2. We still believe that we have to earn his love, so we are completely focused on our work and not His!
  3. We simply don’t want Him to!

So the first barrier is that we just don’t feel worthy of Jesus serving us.  I think this is Peter’s big issue.  He just doesn’t believe he is worthy of this type of love.  If you think about it he comes about this mentality pretty easily.  You see Peter has been pretty beaten up by the world over the years.  Back in the time Peter lived, everyone went to school, but not everyone got to keep going to school.  You see they would cut kids.  I know we would never do such a barbaric thing as have a kid get cut from anything but back in those days if you weren’t considered smart enough, or if they didn’t see potential in you for more you would be sent home from school to learn the trade of your father…and that is where Jesus found Peter.  Fishing, learning the trade of his father.  Peter was rejected and told he wasn’t valuable by the world…so why would he not struggle to see his value now?

The world that we live in works hard to smother us out.  It works hard to communicate to us that we aren’t worthy of this kind of servant hood.  This is what the world is trying to do, to get you to agree that you are a loser.  That you aren’t worthy of the love of God.  This is big, because if you agree…you will struggle to allow Jesus to serve you too.  If you don’t allow him to serve you, you can miss him all together.

Maybe you have made some mistakes in life.  Maybe you have squandered some great opportunities along the way.  I know I have.  You go to school, and do your best there…let me ask you something kids, is it cool to be smart and do well in school?  Nope you get made fun of by your friends.  You go to work every day, doing a job you don’t really like…for a boss who just cuts you down constantly.  You can’t get ahead of your bills.  Your wife is stressed out and wants you to lead the family well…and her way of trying to “help” you be leader is to cut you down publically and emasculate you every chance she gets…and you are just beat down.   You are tired.  People are cutting on you and before you know it you begin to agree with them.  I spent years believing those lies about myself.  That I just “was what I was” and that I deserved a difficult life because of the past that I had lived…or that I never would deserve the kind of grace that Jesus was offering and it’s just not true.  The scary thing is that you can be a Christian for years and years and years…and still feel this way about yourself.  You can forgive others, you can love God…but can you let go of the hurts inside of you that keep you believing that you aren’t worthy of God’s love?  You have to get this…you have to know just how much God loves you.  You have to understand that you are God’s amazing creation…and that He is absolutely amazed by you.  You have tremendous value.  You are one loved by God!  Peter walked with Jesus for years…but this was still a difficult thing for him to understand and it is for us too!  Why?  Because your enemy is trying to beat you into submission.  You are getting crushed from all angles.  We must understand just how valuable we are…we are worthy of Jesus serving us!  If we don’t get that…we can miss Jesus.

The second barrier is that we get stuck in the idea that we have to do something to earn God’s love
and acceptance.  This makes it very hard for us to allow Jesus to serve us because we are busy trying to serve him! 
This barrier is very common, and in reality it is another shot for me to bag on religion for a bit.  When you are stuck in this barrier you can never settle into the grace of God.  You work harder, and harder, and harder to get close to Jesus…and you can never understand why nothing you do is working.  This person is going program, to program to program.  They have walked through one system after another and just can’t figure out why they can’t seem to find the answer.  The reality is that this mentality just won’t work.  There’s only one way to get that done…

Acts 4:12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved. NIV

If you find yourself restless, frustrated, and wondering why you continually are looking to another program, person, or system to get you where you want to be…you could be stuck in this barrier.  If you are too busy serving Jesus, you can miss Him because you are not allowing Him to serve you.

The third barrier is that we just may not want Jesus to serve us.  Now this isn’t something we would really say out loud, especially at church but let’s face it…we actually may want to keep living the way we are living.  You know there is this story in Matthew where Jesus asks probably the craziest question of all time.  Check this story out…

John 5:1-9 Soon another Feast came around and Jesus was back in Jerusalem. 2 Near the Sheep Gate in Jerusalem there was a pool, in Hebrew called Bethesda, with five alcoves. 3 Hundreds of sick people — blind, crippled, paralyzed — were in these alcoves. 5 One man had been an invalid there for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him stretched out by the pool and knew how long he had been there, he said, “Do you want to get well?”7 The sick man said, “Sir, when the water is stirred, I don’t have anybody to put me in the pool. By the time I get there, somebody else is already in.”8 Jesus said, “Get up, take your bedroll, start walking.” 9 The man was healed on the spot. He picked up his bedroll and walked off.  (THE MESSAGE)

Did you catch it?  Jesus walks up to a dude that has been laying there as an invalid for 38 years.  This man is laying with in feet of what he believes will heal him, and he just can’t seem to get it done…and Jesus asks a crazy, question?  Do you want to be healed?  Well isn’t that interesting?  Jesus is not stupid…and we know that time and time again he looks right into the heart of a person, and asks the really penetrating question.  I believe this is another example of that.  Maybe the dude really isn’t looking to be healed I mean…what’s almost as interesting as the question, is the fact that the guy does not answer him!  If the question is super obvious, I’m pretty sure the answer is even more obvious than the question!  So is there more to this?  I think there is.

Some people start to find their identity in their unhealth.  Not only that but sometimes there is a thing inside us that doesn’t want to be healed.  What are you talking about Sam?  Well I’m talking about the battle that we are all fighting inside each and every want of us.  We are selfish and self-centered by nature.  Sometimes we just want to do what we want to do, when we want to do it.  We want to do what feels good today.  We want to live in the now, and we don’t want anyone to tell us different.  Now don’t get me wrong when we get into trouble, or get caught doing something we shouldn’t be doing we will come back and beg God for his forgiveness…but some people, are more than fine living their own way.  They don’t allow Jesus to serve them because they simply don’t want him to.

Maybe Jesus’ question isn’t so stupid after all.  Maybe it is the question that Ken or I should lead with when people come and sit down with us one on one.  It is such an interesting moment to sit across from someone, who is devastated in a moment…and listen to them explain to you every reason why they are going to live the way they want to live…and every reason why they deserve to!

Think of it this way, the person who is constantly complaining about their busyness and stress.  Can you picture them standing in front of Jesus, and complaining to him about everything they have going on?  After they explain how terrible their life is, Jesus asks…do you want to be made well?  Then they explain every reason why they can’t.  Maybe they are busy and full of clutter because they put themselves there.  Really if you can keep moving…you never have to deal with the deeper issues of your heart do you?

How about the person who’s stuck with the financial issues?  Some people have legitimate issues that get them in the spot they are in with their finances…others, well they are just cursed with this terrible affliction of “wanting nice stuff” they weep and moan about their financial situation but in a way, they don’t want to do anything different.  They like having nice stuff.  They like appearing richer than they are.  They like having better things than the next guy and they aren’t planning on doing a darn thing about it.  So again, is Jesus question really so bad?

We could do the same thing for the person struggling with lust, with drugs, with alcohol…with all sorts of sins of our flesh…they feel good in the moment.  The problem is that we are trading in a complete, amazing life to the full that Jesus promised for single moments of temporary pleasure.

The question Jesus is asking is not a crazy one, it is a very important one, because if you don’t truly want to be healed Jesus can’t serve you…and if you don’t let him serve you, you can miss Jesus.

Is this a new thought for you today?  Have you ever thought that we have to allow Jesus to serve us?  This is a big moment, Jesus tells you that he came to serve not be served.  That is such a different way of looking at a king then the way we think isn’t it?

So how do we allow Jesus to serve us? 

Look, if you are not connected to Jesus.  If you aren’t spending time with Him.  If you aren’t focusing on him daily in prayer, if you aren’t reading scripture and connecting with him…you are not allowing Jesus to serve you.  Here’s a brand new scripture for you for today!

Matthew 6:6 “Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace.  (THE MESSAGE)

This is it…this is how you allow Jesus to serve you.  You enter into a relationship with Him.  This does not mean you go and sponge off of someone else’s relationship with God.  This doesn’t mean you need a pastor to pray with you or touch you every Sunday.  This doesn’t mean you need another program, curriculum, or spiritual cleansing…this literally means that you spend time with him each and every day and when you do…

  1. You will begin to sense his grace.  This means that you will start to understand how loved you are.  This means that you will begin to live differently and you will grasp how valuable you are!  You are worthy of His love!
  2. When you begin to engage Jesus each and every day you will begin to stop working so hard to find peace, and joy, and love.  You will begin to realize that you are freely given everything you used to work so hard for by Jesus and what he did for us on the cross!
  3. When you begin to engage Jesus each and every day and allow Him to serve you, you will start to grasp just how huge all of life and eternity is…and just how short one solitary moment is.  You will stop pursuing temporary pleasures…a quick buzz, some new thing, some sexual moment…and you will begin to live the life to the full that can only come through Jesus and what he did for you and for me on the cross.

You know, some of us are like Peter…and we can’t handle the idea of the Savior of the Universe getting down and washing our stinky, dirty feet, because we are losers, we have sinned and screwed up…and we think we are just getting what we deserve.  Some of us are just too busy trying to earn our salvation to allow Jesus to serve us.  Really we don’t have time to allow Jesus to serve us because we are busy trying to serve Him!  In the culture that we live into, I think a lot of us are like the man laying for 38 years by the pool, maybe we aren’t really looking to be healed because let’s face it we are having a good time right now, living in the now…whatever may be keeping you from allowing the savior to serve you…we have got to knock that barrier down.

When you knock down those barriers, and allow Jesus in…life changes.  The focus of your life changes…and you begin sense his grace.

Some are sitting here today thinking…there has to be another way Sam…cause your way just seems like it would put me out…I got a lot going on, and that sounds like I have some work to do in it.  I mean where in the world could I find 30 minutes to give to God each day?  Well it just doesn’t work trying to muscle through life on your own.  You must allow Jesus to serve you…Listen to Paul here…

Romans 7:15-23

15 I don’t understand myself at all, for I really want to do what is right, but I can’t. I do what I don’t want to-what I hate. 16 I know perfectly well that what I am doing is wrong, and my bad conscience proves that I agree with these laws I am breaking. 17 But I can’t help myself because I’m no longer doing it. It is sin inside me that is stronger than I am that makes me do these evil things.

18 I know I am rotten through and through so far as my old sinful nature is concerned. No matter which way I turn I can’t make myself do right. I want to but I can’t. 19 When I want to do good, I don’t; and when I try not to do wrong, I do it anyway. 20 Now if I am doing what I don’t want to, it is plain where the trouble is: sin still has me in its evil grasp.

21 It seems to be a fact of life that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. 22 I love to do God’s will so far as my new nature is concerned; 23 but there is something else deep within me, in my lower nature, that is at war with my mind and wins the fight and makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. In my mind I want to be God’s willing servant, but instead I find myself still enslaved to sin.

So you see how it is: my new life tells me to do right, but the old nature that is still inside me loves to sin. Oh, what a terrible predicament I’m in! Who will free me from my slavery to this deadly lower nature? Thank God! It has been done by Jesus Christ our Lord. He has set me free.  TLB

If you are not spending time with Him…you are not allowing Jesus to serve you.  If you aren’t willing to allow Jesus to serve you, you could miss him altogether.  Don’t miss Jesus because he can do things in your life…that you simply can not.