“For I did not come to judge the world but to save it.” John 12:47.
Jesus had performed many miracles, but most people still didn’t believe in Him. Like those in Isaiah’s time (Isaiah 6:10) they would not believe, despite the evidence (John 12:37). As a result, Jesus says, God “hardened their hearts.” They had chosen a lifetime of resisting God and had become so set in their ways that they wouldn’t even try to understand Jesus’ message. Don’t be discouraged today if your witness for Christ doesn’t get results. Just keep sharing Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit and leave the results to God.
There were others who believed but refused to admit it. This is just as bad and Jesus had strong words for such people. (See Matthew 10:32,33). People who do this are afraid of rejection or ridicule from others. Many Jewish leaders wouldn’t admit to having faith in Jesus because they feared excommunication from the temple, which was their livelihood, and loss of their superior place in the community. We should be concerned much more with God’s eternal acceptance, which we receive when we are in Jesus Christ, than with the approval of other people, which is changeable and short-lived.
If you want to know what God is like, study the person and words of Jesus Christ. He came not to judge people, but to show them the way to find salvation and eternal life (1 Corinthians 15:51-57; 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18; Revelation 21:1-8). We must remember this when we are feeling condemned and guilty over a situation that we have repented about.
Jesus answered: “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.” John 13:8.
Now we are going to consider the teachings of Jesus to His disciples, privately, on the night before His arrest and death. Jesus takes the time to point out to Peter that, if he is not washed by Jesus, he cannot belong to the kingdom of heaven or be at one with God. So it is with us. If we do not receive the washing of the blood of Jesus, giving us forgiveness of sins, we are not part of God’s family.
In the previous lesson (“Dying to live and Living to die“) we saw that the only way to be a follower of Jesus Christ is the way of the cross: dying to our own desires and obeying what the Father tells us to do, by the Holy Spirit. Jesus now gives a very practical lesson to His disciples about serving each other and so dying to themselves. He says that we have to do this too.
“Now that I, your Lord and teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.” John 13:14.
What is a servant? “A person who has undertaken to carry out the orders of an individual… especially one who lives in the house of a master. Also a devoted follower, a person willing to serve another.” Oxford Dictionary.
Characteristics of a servant
- Worship – Joshua 24:14-15;Joshua 24:24; Exodus 23:25.
- Identification with the master – Matthew 20:28;Galatians 2:20; Philippians 2:7.
- Obedience – Deuteronomy 10:12; Ephesians 6:5-8; Philippians 2:8.
- Right motivation – Proverbs 28:20.
- Right thinking, according to the word – Proverbs 23:7 Romans 12:1-2; Philippians 2:5.
- Surrender of body to God – Romans 12:1-2.
- Being God-centred not self-centred – Matthew 5:19; 10:24-25.
- Humility – Philippians 2:7-8.
- Thankfulness – Hebrews 13:15-16.
- Whole-heartedness – Ephesians 6:7.
- Mercy – Luke 10:36-37.
- Hard work – Ephesians 2:10.
- Pleasing God not people – Ephesians 6:7; Romans 1:1.
- Single-mindedness – 1 Corinthians 4:2; Philippians 2:19-21.
- Under the master’s protection – Exodus 15:26.
- Helpfulness – Matthew 25:35-36; 2 Chronicles 28:15; Job 29:15-16; 1 Corinthians 16:15-16.
- Willingness to carry others’ burdens – Galatians 6:2,10.
- Non-conformist – Matthew 5:1-12.
– Giving when others take;
– Loving when others hate;
– Helping when others abuse;
– Go when others stay;
– Being patient when others get annoyed;
– Joyful when others are miserable;
– Not complaining when others murmur;
– Claiming no rights when others shout for theirs.
Our attitude should be: “God, I’m Yours. In view of all that You’ve done for me, what do You want me to do for You?” We must renew our minds by allowing a complete change or metamorphosis to take place in our thinking, so that we will walk in the perfect will of God (Romans 12:1-2).
“Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:43-45.
If we have any position in the body of Christ, we must exercise authority as a servant, not with pride, ego or letting everyone know about it as is common in many organisations and institutions.
Our attitude controls how others react to us and how we react to others and to the Lord. When we have the mind of Christ and know God’s plan and consider ourselves servants to Him as Master, we will be totally identified with Him. Our desire will be to serve and our life will be one of meeting the needs of others and lifting up Jesus, not ourselves. That is true prosperity. When we do this and maintain the proper attitude, our function in the body of Christ is our responsibility, for which we have to give an account. All we have to do is call on the Holy Spirit to empower us to be servants of all.
Want a ministry?
- Serve someone else – 1 Samuel 2:1-11; Matthew 20:25-28.
- Do not use people – 1 Peter 5:5.
- Appreciate others’ worth – Philippians 2:3.
- Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought – Romans 12:3.
- It does not matter who gets the credit – Matthew 23:12.
- Your value is not in your job or function in the body of Christ – Romans 7:6.
Your attitude determines your altitude!!
Home challenges for Power Up! – No. 20: Too many Chiefs and not enough Indians!
1. Read the first section of the notes about John 12:37-50. Is there any part of your life in which you have confessed sin, but still feel guilt and where you especially need to apply God’s word into the situation (verse 47)?
2. Read the rest of the notes: “Too many Chiefs and not enough Indians!”
3. a) Do you think that having a ministry is more important than being a servant? Why?
b) Have you been expecting God to give you a ministry, but have not been willing to serve someone else’s?
c) What does God want you to do to put this right?
4. Which characteristics of a servant do you find easy and which do you find difficult?
5. As Jesus is the model servant, are you willing to follow His example? Who can you serve today?
Read John 13:21-30 and Matthew 26:17-30.
6. How do you think Jesus was feeling at this time?
7. How do you think the disciples were feeling?
8. a) How do you think Judas felt when Jesus told everyone what was going to happen?
b) What happened to Judas after he took the bread?
9. Describe in your own words what Jesus did and said as He celebrated the Passover. (Matthew 26:27-28).
10. Do you receive encouragement when you receive communion, remembering Christ’s death on the cross for your sins, and reminding yourself to look forward to the coming kingdom of God?
Read John 13:31-38 and Matthew 26:31-35.
11. Who is going to be glorified through the crucifixion?
12. What is the “new commandment” that Jesus gives?
13. If we obey this commandment, what will it show to other people?
14. What commitment did Peter make to Jesus?
15. What prophecy did Jesus give about Peter?
16. What was Peter’s immediate response in Matthew 26:35?
17. Have you ever felt as passionately as this about Jesus, only to be so disappointed the next time you let Him down? Please share.
18. a) Choose one verse from this passage and memorise it.
b) Try and sum up what you have learnt in one short sentence.