John 12:37-50

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 efforts to share your experience of the good news about Jesus doesn't get any 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 prestigious 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 can be 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.

John 13:1-20

"Jesus answered: 'Unless I wash you, you won't belong to 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. After Jesus had set an example to them by washing everyone's feet, He had to explain to Peter that, if he didn't allow himself to be washed by Jesus, he could not 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 cannot become 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)

The characteristics of a servant

According to the Oxford Dictionary, a servant is: “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.” Here are some characteristics of a servant, according to the Bible:

  • One who worships. (Joshua 24:14-15;Joshua 24:24; Exodus 23:25)
  • One who identifies with a master. (Matthew 20:28; Galatians 2:20; Philippians 2:7)
  • An obedient person. (Deuteronomy 10:12; Ephesians 6:5-8; Philippians 2:8)
  • One with the right motivation. (Proverbs 28:20)
  • A "right-thinking" person, who follows God's word. (Proverbs 23:7; Romans 12:1-2; Philippians 2:5)
  • One who surrenders to God. (Romans 12:1-2)
  • One who is God-centred not self-centred. (Matthew 5:19; 10:24-25)
  • A humble person. (Philippians 2:7-8)
  • One who is thankful. (Hebrews 13:15-16)
  • One who is whole-hearted. (Ephesians 6:7)
  • A merciful person. (Luke 10:36-37)
  • A hard-working person. (Ephesians 2:10)
  • One who aims to please God rather than people. (Ephesians 6:7; Romans 1:1)
  • A single-minded person. (1 Corinthians 4:2; Philippians 2:19-21)
  • Someone under a master's protection. (Exodus 15:26)
  • One who is helpful. (Matthew 25:35-36; 2 Chronicles 28:15; Job 29:15-16; 1 Corinthians 16:15-16)
  • One who is Willing to carry others’ burdens. (Galatians 6:2,10)
  • A non-conformist person. (Matthew 5:1-12)
  • Giving when others take;
  • Loving when others hate;
  • Helping when others abuse;
  • Going 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 walk in the perfect will of God. (Romans 12:1-2)

There is only one chief

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. There is no place for pride or ego 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, know God’s plan and consider ourselves servants to Him as our 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 a proper attitude, we see our function in the body of Christ primarily as a responsibility, for which we have to give an account. This is possible when we call on the Holy Spirit to empower us to be servants of all.

Being a servant

Many Christians today are anxious that you should know all about their "ministry" - their particular calling or gift as part of the body of Christ, the church. There are some important warnings in Scripture of which we must take heed:

  • Are we willing to serve others? (1 Samuel 2:1-11; Matthew 20:25-28)
  • Are we willing to submit to others? (1 Peter 5:5)
  • Do we appreciate others' worth? (Philippians 2:3)
  • Do we think of ourselves more highly than we ought? (Romans 12:3)
  • It does not matter who gets the credit - Matthew 23:12.
  • Do we consider our value lies only in our job or function within the body of Christ? (Romans 7:6)

Your attitude determines your altitude!

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