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John 13:1220, 3338comment (0)

December 5, 2013

By Dale Younce

Related Scripture: John 13:1220, 3338

Explore the Bible 
Professor of Christian Ministries, University of Mobile

Serve Humbly

John 13:12–20, 33–38

In general, adults prefer being served by others rather serving others humbly. Yet Christians have often been told that humble service is inherently part of living the Christian life. Thus many believers “get it” and intentionally serve in their churches as well as serve others around them. Some believers have intermittent bursts of serving. Still others seem content to live as receivers rather than givers. Jesus explicitly modeled humble service and directed His disciples to follow His example. Consequently Jesus expects His followers to exhibit humble, loving service to others.

Follow Christ’s Example (12–15)

The last 24 hours of Christ’s earthly life and ministry were especially significant. After sundown that Thursday night before He died on Friday He met with His disciples in an upper room in order to celebrate the Passover. It was during this Passover meal that Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper (Luke 22:14–23). During this shared meal, Jesus, in an acted-out object lesson, taught the disciples a lesson of serving with humility.

Apparently near the beginning of the meal, Jesus got up from the table, took a servant’s bowl filled with water and then, wrapping a servant’s towel around Himself, He began to wash the disciples’ feet. Normally in the culture of that day, a servant performed this lowly task. It was needed because the feet of people were covered with dust and dirt as they walked the dusty roads. Afterward He explained to them that His action was an example or pattern for them to follow in serving others. Jesus had established the model for humble service to others. His example and teaching compel us to serve humbly.

Remember Who Sent You (16–20)

Then Jesus reminded His men that He was the One sending them to serve. They would do well to recognize that servants are not greater than their master. Since the disciples knew these things — the example of humble service, the truth that the servant is not greater than his master — the disciples would be blessed if they practiced them. Knowledge without obedience is not blessed. We need to remember that Jesus is Lord.

Serve in Love (33–35)

As the time of His death drew near, Jesus for the first time addressed His disciples as “little children,” a term of endearment. This prepared them for His giving them a new commandment: “Love one another, even as I have loved you.” This was not a new commandment in the sense of time; the Old Testament called for loving God and one’s neighbor (Deut. 6:5; Lev. 19:18). But it was new in the new standard, “as I have loved you,” and a new empowerment, the Holy Spirit under the New Covenant (Ezek. 36:24–26; Gal. 5:22). Jesus made it very clear that their mutual love would be the strongest possible evidence for the validity of Christianity. We show ourselves to be truly Jesus’ disciples when we serve each other in love just as He did.

Resist Boasting (36–38)

When Peter asked where Jesus was going and then declared he would lay down his life for the Lord, Jesus rebuked and humbled Peter by predicting that Peter would deny the Lord three times before the next sunrise. We need to remain humble in our discipleship and serving; no disciple is immune from temptation to falter in faith. We must remember that the cost of serving is high but the cost of failure is higher.

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