SERVING

9 Mar

lords supper

John 13:1-17:

Now before the Feast of the Passover, Jesus knowing that His hour had come that He would depart out of this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.During supper, the devil having already put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, to betray Him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come forth from God and was going back to God, *got up from supper, and *laid aside His garments; and taking a towel, He girded Himself.

Then He *poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. So He *came to Simon Peter. He *said to Him, “Lord, do You wash my feet?”Jesus answered and said to him, “What I do you do not realize now, but you will understand hereafter.” Peter *said to Him, “Never shall You wash my feet!” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.” Simon Peter *said to Him, “Lord, then wash not only my feet, but also my hands and my head.” 10 Jesus *said to him, “He who has bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you.” 11 For He knew the one who was betraying Him; for this reason He said, “Not all of you are clean.”

12 So when He had washed their feet, and taken His garments and reclined at the table again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? 13 You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. 14 If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you. 16 Truly, truly, I say to you, a slave is not greater than his master, nor is one who is sent greater than the one who sent him. 17 If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.

A reporter  wrote about the time when she was at Union Station in Washington D. C. on a particularly busy day. The first thing she remembers about that experience was the noisy hubbub of sounds.

The public address announcer was calling out arrivals and departures.

Scores of pagers, walkie-talkies, and cell phones were crying out for someone’s attention.

You could hear horns honking, machines clinking out change, and babies crying.

A security guard was yelling at a man who was about to enter a forbidden area.

Three women stood up from their bench in order to argue with each other more loudly.

And a man in front of her was nervously pacing in a tight circle.

But then she heard someone singing.

“What a friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear;
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer.”

Slowly a change came over the noisy crowd. The voice continued:

“O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer.”

The quarreling women stopped their talking and quietly took their seats. People who’d been tense and hurried; seemed to slow and relax – and they strained to hear the voice singing the remaining verses of that old hymn.

The reporter realized she was singing along. So were the three women who had been bickering. And few others as well.

The man in front of her, who had been behaving nervously quietly said: “Nice, huh? I don’t even believe in Jesus, but that’s nice.”

Music has a way of changing our lives.
When we share it, it can affect the lives of people around us.

But now, iPods aren’t designed to allow you to share your music. Now, don’t get me wrong. An iPod is a marvelous music machine capable of holding your entire musical library. It’s capable of holding hundreds of albums of music, thousands of songs and all in a small little box you can put in your shirt pocket.

But there’s no speakers on these things.

Granted, you can buy an adaptor to play the music through your car sound system. OR you can pay $100 or more for a unit that will hold your iPod and play music on external speakers. But for the most part, iPods are PERSONAL music machines.

They’re designed for your PERSONAL enjoyment… not for that of others. As a result, folks who use iPods have a tendency to shut other people out.
It’s THEIR iPod… THEIR music.
And when they’re listening to THEIR music thru those tiny earphones called ear buds they often spend that time shut off from others, in their own little world.

Now, if you owned an iPod and you wanted to share your music with someone you could share your earbuds with them, or two or more people could plug their earbuds into one iPod.
Of course, this kind of practice (as you might imagine) isn’t for casual strangers or people you meet on the street. You gotta really like somebody to do this. It has to be somebody you REALLY WANT to share with.

Our Text this morning tells us about 12 men who aren’t into sharing.
These are the Apostles.
They’ve been with Christ for about three years now. And they know the end is coming. They’re gathered in an upper room to eat the Passover meal with their teacher but they don’t realize yet this is the “Last” Supper.

For three years they’ve lived together, ate together and learned together at the feet of Jesus. But a conversation comes up that tells us these guys haven’t understood one of the main things Jesus wants them to understand. In fact, according to Matthew and Mark, they’ve had this conversation before.

The conversation always started with the disciples arguing over which of them would be greatest in the coming Kingdom.

Jesus’ answer was always the same… Matthew 20 gives us one of the times he answered that question.
YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND! My Kingdom is going to be different than the kingdoms of this world. In My Kingdom – My church – the greatest will be the one who is the best servant.
(“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:25-28)

In other words – if you want great in the Kingdom of God, you’ve got be a servant. You’ve got to learn how to share your life with others.

Now, remember, this scene in Luke 22  is describing the Last Supper where Jesus… “took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you”. Luke 22:19-20

Eventually the meal is finished. They’ve taken of the bread and cup… and then Jesus leaves the room.
When He comes back into the room what’s Jesus carrying?
He come back in with a towel wrapped around his waist… carrying a basin of water and He proceeds to wash their feet.

Now, why’s He doing this?
Well… in that day, most roads were dirt and as people walked from one place to another, their feet got dirty. As a result, if you entered a person’s home for business or for a personal visit it was customary for you to wash your feet before entering… or (if the family was wealthy enough), for a servant of that family to wash your feet.
BUT the master of the house NEVER washed feet. That was demeaning. That was work that only a servant would do.

That’s why, in John 13 we’re told that Peter got so upset when he saw Jesus washing their feet. He tells Jesus: “No… you shall never wash my feet.” John 13:8
Jesus was their teacher – their master – He shouldn’t disgrace Himself this way.

But of course… that was exactly the point.
After He washed all their feet, Jesus said:
“Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.” John 13:14

We tend to think of the Lord’s Supper as being a personal thing. Kind of like people who have their iPods… it’s a personal experience. And we tend to think of communion that way–something just between us and God.

Now, I don’t want to take away from that… but that’s not entirely true. In Acts 20:7 we’re told “On the first day of the week (the church) came together to break bread.”

You CAN take communion all by yourself but Jesus designed communion to be a time when we would “come together” and eat this meal along with other Christian brothers and sisters.
It’s meant to be more than a religious ceremony.
It’s meant to be a reminder that Jesus “made himself nothing” and took on the very nature of a servant and died to save us .

 …but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

He gave us an example of how we should become servants of one another. Every time we take of the loaf and the cup – that’s one of the things we should remember.

Servanthood lies at the very heart of what it means to be a Christian. In Ephesians chapters 5 and 6 Paul drives that home to us. Ephesians 5:21 tells we need to “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”

Throughout the rest of the Ephesian letter, Paul tells us what it means to submit:
• Wives need to submit to their husbands by respecting them and honoring them.
• Husbands need to submit to their wives by loving them and giving to them and being willing to die for them.
• Children need to submit to their parents by obeying them in the Lord.
• Father’s need to submit to their children by not “exasperating” them, but instead training them up in God’s way.
• Employees (slaves) need to obey their bosses (masters) as if obeying Jesus Himself.
• And Employers (masters) must treat their employees (slaves) well – remembering that he and they both share the same master.

Servanthood lies at the heart of who we are as Christians. And communion reinforces this for us.

The early church took part in that lesson every week when they took the Lord’s Supper. And when they did that right – it was a beautiful thing.
But now, there was a church, at a city named Corinth, that didn’t do it right. In fact, they messed up the Lord’s Supper so much that Paul writes and says
“In the following directives I have no praise for you, for your meetings do more harm than good”  I Corinthians 11:17

What were they doing wrong?

I Corinthians 11 tells us.

“When you come together, it is not the Lord’s Supper you eat, for as you eat, each of you goes ahead without waiting for anybody else. One remains hungry, another gets drunk.
Don’t you have homes to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you for this? Certainly not!
For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.”
In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep.” (I Corinthians 11:23-30)

What was the problem?
Well, in the church at Corinth they’d eat a potluck meal before they took of communion. But there was a twist to their pot-lucks. If you came to church and didn’t have a pot… you were out of luck. The rich would bring their steak… and the poor brought their beanies and weenies… and nobody shared with anyone else.

And then they took communion.
Or at least – they thought they did.
Do you remember what Paul tells them?
“it’s not the Lord’s Supper you eat.”

Their communion time had become a time of ritual.
It was a PERSONAL thing between themselves and God… and they didn’t need anyone else. They didn’t want to be a servant of anybody. They didn’t want to share their food (or much of anything else) with others within church.

The Lord’s Supper is more than just a personal thing.
It’s a time when we gather with Christian brothers and sister and eat together with Jesus.
It’s a time when we’re reminded that Jesus gave us a powerful example of servanthood.
And when we learn that, it makes all the difference in our faith.

A few years ago, I read an article by a woman named Esther who told this story:
“My brother and 5 sisters and I had had our differences growing up. They festered into deep resentments in the years after we left home. I didn’t realize how deep until Mother died.
After the funeral our grievances boiled over.
• George was upset that Mom had left Mary the antique black walnut bedroom set – “It’s worth a lot and Mary already has more than the rest of us together.”
• I got the flatware.
• Evelyn would inherit the house because she had lived with Mother.
• Becky and Betty some china and Mary the piano, which she’d bought for Mom.
• But Dorothy, Mom’s primary caregiver, resented that some of us were absent during Mom’s final days.

It was 5 years before we all got together again. The night before, Dorothy said, “If we can get through tomorrow without any major explosions, it will be a miracle.”
At first things felt awkward as we all struggled to behave. But by dinnertime it was better. We laughed as we told stories about our childhood. The memories were so sweet, but there was something missing.
Afterward, I took out a loaf of bread, and said “Since we’ve all been apart so long and since my husband is a preacher, I thought we might share communion.”
Everyone agreed. We read Scripture and prayed.

Her husband said the words, “Do this in remembrance of me.” He broke the bread and gave it to us. Unbelievably, grievances and hurt dissolved. “We hugged,” she said “and became a family again, together in God’s grace, our missing ingredient.

You see, Jesus designed communion to be a time where we would think about each other. It would be a time when we’d examine our attitudes towards one another. And when we finally get communion right… it’s a time when we learn to love each other so much that we really want to be servants of one another.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: