Wash One Another's Feet

"One Another"  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Big Idea:
To love like Jesus, we need to be Humble, Loving Servants.


Good morning, Church! If this is your first time at Utah Valley Church or if you are tuning in online for the first time, UVC is a collection of “micro-churches” that meet throughout the week and then gather on Sundays for one large gathering. If you don’t know who I am, my name is Noah, and I am currently interning at UVC. I have several projects I am working on and that I will be doing in the church, but right now I’m mostly the guy who sets up the coffee table. You’ll be seeing a lot more of me for sure, and now I get the chance to be the guy who is talking to you from up here. I have the privilege today to preach the final message in our “One Another” sermon series. Well, I say I have the privilege, but really Kyle and Matthew told me I had to or I was fired.
But in all seriousness, I am really excited to be bringing you this message. I think that this has been such an awesome series of messages, and it has such an important impact on our lives as we interact with our fellow believers. Today I think we have a really important command, straight from the mouth of Jesus.


Y’know, sometimes it can be really hard to love like Jesus...
We are told to be like Christ, and we will often say that we need to love people like Jesus did. That’s really hard! You’re asking me, a sinner who often prefers his own selfishness, to love people like the eternal and sovereign Son of God? That seems like an impossible task.
[insert an illustration (“watch me, now you try”?)]
(Illustration of making slime in day camp)
So for several years in highschool and college, I spent my summers working for my town’s recreation department. One of my main jobs was to put together and run day camps with my coworker. One day, I was solo-leading day camp. I am not a very crafty person, but I decided that today the kids would make their own home-made slime. I thought it was a great idea. I had found instructions online, so I simply gave the kids the ingredients they needed and told them how to do it.
At one point in the process I got distracted or went to check something else, and when I snapped back to what the kids were doing at the table, all I could see were concerned faces and hands plastered in slimy goo that was not coming off of their hands.
I started panicking and thinking; I’m all alone, there’s no one to help me! What if their clothes are stained? What if I stain the table? What if parents come to get their kids and they are all messy? I was freaking out and didn’t know what to do, and the kids were in the same boat.
Eventually we figured it out and the slime monster slowly became a tamable little piece of fun slime that DIDN’T stick to everything.
I think my biggest problem was that I told these kids what to do, but I didn’t show them how to do it.
In today’s passage, Jesus Himself is going to not only tell us, but show us how we can love like Him by being humble loving servants.


Gospel of John
The Last Supper
Some of Jesus’ final words to His disciples
Beginning of the “Farewell Discourse”
[Read Entire Passage]

Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.

Throughout the Gospels, we see several examples of Jesus telling those around Him that “His time had not yet come”. As we start digging in, we now see that Jesus is fully aware that this was the hour, and this was His time. It was time for Him to go. As we look at this reflection, we see that Jesus loved His own, meaning His disciples and followers, and that He had loved them to the end. Jesus had been loving His disciples since day one, and now as He is approaching the end, we see that His love for them carries on to the very last moments of His life. In a world where we live with abandonment and rejection of others, it can be hard to imagine someone loving us with every thing they have, and to the very last moment as well.

2 During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him,

This is a very important verse to note as we continue reading this passage. We’ll be coming back to this later, but for now, just remember these three things:
Judas was sitting at the dinner table with Jesus
Judas knew He was going to betray Jesus
Jesus knew Judas was going to betray Him
Okay, now we’re going to keep reading and come back to that later.

3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, 4 rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. 5 Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

Okay, so with everything we’ve read and know about so far, this does NOT fit what we expect to happen next. We get a peak into the mind of Judas and see that Satan is in him, and that he is ready to betray Jesus. We know that the end is approaching for Jesus and there will probably be some pretty significant stuff to say and do before He dies.
In verse 3 we read that God the Father had given all things to Jesus, that Jesus came from God, and was going back to Him after death. Jesus literally has it all and more! So after all this we expect some magnificent action, or some great speech on the deep theology of God or who Jesus is, or the disciples realizing the depth of His majesty and love, or maybe we expect Him to righteously punish Judas somehow. What do we get instead? Jesus gets up from relaxing at the dinner table, gets everything needed to give everyone a foot bath, and washes all His disciples’ feet.
I’m sorry, what?
The context surrounding this event does not seem to point out that foot washing is what is about to happen. This seems pretty odd to us who are reading this passage today, but we need an understanding of what exactly is going on here to truly grasp how important this is.
For the people in Jesus’ time, it was the norm that when you entered someone’s home that you would wash your feet. People bathed, but because the land was so dusty and dirty and they wore open shoes, their feet would become filthy. Like super gross. People who usually have a servant who would wash the feet of their guests to show them honor or to show that they are welcome.
Foot washing was the lowest of all possible tasks that a person could do. This job was specifically reserved for servants or slaves. It was a pretty gross and humiliating job, and those who did it would only do it because they had to. Foot washing had significant purpose, but those who actually washed the feet were insignificant and low.
Snap back to Jesus with His disciples now. In this seemingly odd event, Jesus took on the role of a servant or slave and got up from their meal, prepped the water and a towel, and bent low and washed every single one of His disciple’s feet. Just moments ago we read that God the Father had given all things to Jesus, and that Jesus came from God and was going back to God. If anything, the disciples should have been washing HIS feet! Why in the world would Jesus, the Lord and Savior, do something like this?
We’re going to keep reading and find out exactly why.

6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” 7 Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward? you will understand.” 8 Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share? with me.”

As far as we know, Peter is the first one of the disciple’s to speak up as Jesus began the foot washing. First we see that Peter is shocked that Jesus is even doing. Jesus knows that the goal He is trying to accomplish will not be accomplished through just sharing some kind of teaching, instead it is going to take an action. Peter almost seems to get mad at Jesus here - Oh, Peter - and tells Jesus that this is not his job or place to be washing feet!
Now we might be thinking that this is the turning point, maybe Peter will realize that he should be washing Jesus feet, and all the disciples will snap out of it and go serve Jesus, the one who really deserves it!
Instead, we get another twist in our expectations. Jesus tells Peter that if He doesn’t wash his feet, Peter will have no share with Him. Peter won’t be a part of Jesus. Peter won’t have everything Jesus offers if his feet don’t get washed. Peter won’t have fellowship if Jesus doesn’t wash his feet.
What was a low and menial job just gained the utmost importance. Jesus just made a small task a really big deal. He made it a bigger deal than any kind of life or death scenario.
Let’s keep reading to see how Peter responds.

9 Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” 10 Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “Not all of you are clean.”

Peter switches from refusing to let Jesus wash his feet to begging Him to wash his whole body! When Peter finds out that he won’t be connected to Christ if Jesus doesn’t wash his feet, he quickly changes his perspective. Being separated from Jesus sounds terrible! Peter doesn’t want that at all.
Jesus has to walk Peter through this as Peter’s human mind does not fully grasp what Jesus is saying. This physical washing isn’t what gave Peter fellowship and access to Jesus. This is a spiritual lesson rather than a physical one. Jesus is giving a demonstration of what is about to happen as He approaches death on the cross. Jesus sacrifice of His life offers the cleansing that He is talking about. He is telling Peter that he has already been washed - his sins are forgiven and he has fellowship with God! The foot washing is simply a humble act of service that is representing this great cleansing Jesus offers.
What Jesus said about not being in fellowship without being washed is a scary statement, and I’m sure the disciples were on the same boat with Peter and did not want that. Jesus lovingly reassures them that they are clean. They have already obtained the cleaning power of His sacrifice on the cross.
He mentions though that not all of them are clean, because as we read earlier, Judas was getting ready to betray Jesus.
Again though, we’ll get back to that later. Continuing on...

12 When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you?

Other than Jesus and Peter’s short conversation, it seems like this whole ordeal was silent. Jesus went to each one of the twelve and washed their filthy feet. If they were this silent, they were likely embarrassed and definitely did not understand what was going on. So Jesus, as He often needs to with the disciples, goes into explanation mode.
He says...

13 You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet!. 15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.

Jesus makes it clear for His disciples that He really is their Teacher and Lord. Just because He did the work of a servant doesn’t lower His title or status. Rather, the fact that He did this with His title and status is even more impactful. Jesus is showing a true humility in this act.
Philippians 2:6-7 says...

6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.

Jesus took on humility and wore it tightly to Him. The man who was equal to God didn’t consider that something to be proud of or lord around to everyone.
Because of His status and how He humbled Himself, Jesus can confidently tell His disciples to do as He did. The disciples are no where near who Jesus is. He is the Son of the living and sovereign God, and they are lowly sinners. If the King of Kings and savior can stoop down to wash someone’s feet, surely a sinner can do the same. Jesus set an example for His disciples.
That’s what Jesus is telling them! “I did this for you, now you do this for each other”. If Jesus is able to play the role of a servant towards His followers, certainly the disciples can play the role of servant to each other. Jesus needed to do this rather than just speak this. Jesus telling the disciples this as a time of teaching would not have had the same impact. It probably wouldn’t have had the same impact for us either! Instead, Jesus needed to set an example for His followers to walk in His steps.
As Jesus entered His final hours, He intentionally took the time to lovingly and humbly serve His disciples. Jesus is giving them the command to them that they should do that from this point on. To be humble and loving servants to each other. He’s not saying that all He wants them to do is wash each other’s feet, He wants them to have a complete heart and priority change. He wants them to be able to humble thesmelves and see themselves for who they really are, and then He wants them to be so motivated by love for Him and each other that they intentionally and sacrificially serve each other.
Jesus finishes explaining His lesson in the next two verses...

16 Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.

Jesus drives His point home by telling them that they, the servants, are not greater than Him, the master. Therefore, if Jesus the master can step down and be a humble loving servant, then so can the actual servants of the master. His example has allowed for absolutely no excuse for the disciples. If Jesus has done this and humbled Himself in such a way, they can too.
To put a cap on this great demonstration, Jesus tells His disciples that they will be blessed if they do as He has demonstrated. He makes sure to tell them that first they must know it, but knowing is not enough. They have to actually be humble loving servants. The result of this is being blessed. So that’s a really confusing word. “Blessed”, or “bless-ed”. What does that mean? What this word means is happy.
In Psalm 1, this word “blessed” is used to describe a righteous man who’s focus is on God.

1 Blessed is the man

who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,

nor stands in the way of sinners,

nor sits in the seat of scoffers;

2  but his delight is in the law of the LORD,

and on his law he meditates day and night.

The Psalm goes on to describe this man as a fruitful tree planted by water. That word “blessed” means happy, at peace, content, and joyful. Jesus is saying that the one who truly pursues humble loving service will be all of those things. He will be blessed.


So, what about us?
This command was not only for the twelve, but it is for us today. When Jesus tells His disciples to wash one another’s feet, He is telling us the same exact thing.
Now you’re probably looking at the people around you wearing sandals and thinking “Ew… even those feet?” That’s not quite what Jesus was saying. His command for us is to be humble loving servants. It is not just the command of washing feet, but to sacrificially lay yourself done and serve others with their interests in mind.
Let’s take a look at what it means to be a humble loving servant.


What does it mean to be humble? My personal definition is:
“To have an accurate view of yourself in light of God and man”
When you have an accurate view of yourself, this means that you are not thinking too highly of yourself.
We need to understand that we are sinners, and the only reason we have anything and can even be pursuing such a great calling is because of Jesus. We have everything because of Him, and we are nothing on our own. That means we cannot think of ourselves as higher than anyone else around us. We are all in the same boat as humanity. This means that if Jesus could wash feet, so can we.


To be loving, that means you are intentionally and thoughtfully considering others before yourself. When we look at the example of Jesus, He knew who He was and how much He deserves, but instead He specifically looked out for the interests of His disciples. This was right before His death, and He could have been spending a lot of time dwelling on that terrifying reality. Instead, He was thinking about how He could show His disciples He loved them.
To be loving, we must be willing to look outside of ourselves and focus on the needs and desires of the people around us. In the good moments when we’re excited and doing amazing we need to do this, but we also have to do this when things are hard and all we want to do is focus on ourselves. We have to think about others more highly than ourselves in order to be loving.


To be a servant you must intentionally act based on your love for others and out of the accurate perspective you have of yourself. Jesus didn’t just feel love and say that He loved His disciples. He acted on it! He made the effort to get up from dinner, take off His outer garments, fill the bucket with water, tie a towel around Himself, and then go one by one to all the disciples and put in effort to show them His love.
When you serve someone, you have to go out of your way and make some sort of sacrifice. It may be time or money, but as you serve you are laying yourself down for the benefit of another and ACTUALLY DOING SOMETHING! You have to get off your feet, put in some work, and help someone out and serve them.
These are the three qualities that Jesus is talking about when He gives the command to wash one another’s feet. If it was just the physical action, that wouldn’t mean much. It is easy to do an action. It is much harder to change your perspective of yourself, alter your motivation for others, and do something that will intentionally benefit someone else. Jesus has set the example for us to follow! If He can do it, we can do it too. He hasn’t given us any command that is too hard without His power in our lives.
So start thinking. What areas of your life do you need to humble yourself? Maybe you’re good at your job and you think that makes you a big deal. Maybe you have some kind of title or status that feeds your ego. Maybe you think that because God has set you up as a husband, or a wife, or as a parent, or as an older sibling, somehow that gives you greater status than others in your family. Maybe you have shifted from being confident in Christ to being confident in the mighty and wonderful faith you have. Pray for God to humble you, and reorient yourself with the truth of who you are.
Who are you naturally and easily loving towards? Who is difficult for you to love? Who do you need to spend more time thinking about and praying for that is normally easy for you to dismiss? Who has become difficult to love in your life that you need to change your attitude towards? Orient yourself in such a way that you can love these people in your mind and through your actions.
What do you actually do for the people in your life that you should be serving? How are you going out of your way for the people you say that you love? Are you laying yourself down for them? Or are you just doing enough so you don’t have to get your hands dirty? Pray that God will show you ways to serve those around you, and that He gives you the strength to do it.
I am asking all of these questions for myself as well guys. And honestly, I am not in such a good place as I may think I am sometimes. I easily let myself get prideful, and for such stupid reasons. I do this at work, in ministry, and in my marriage of all places. When it may be hard to love, I quickly turn away and would rather not do anything or think anything good towards those difficult people. When it gets down to it, I don’t like to get my hands dirty and really make some sacrifices. I like to stay comfortable, so I don’t let myself go outside of that comfort zone.
It’s hard. I’m not doing too great at being the humble loving servant that Jesus wants me to be. And I need as much grace as you and everyone else in this room. Jesus offers that grace. And He doesn’t just expect us to do this all on our own. He first set the example for us, and now the Holy Spirit lives in us to give us the strength we need to be the humble loving servants that Jesus expects us to be.


I’m gonna invite Doug up as I wrap this all up for today. Before I finish, I want to touch back on something I kept saying we would get back to: Judas. At the beginning of this passage we saw that Judas was already planning on betraying Jesus, and Jesus knew the whole time that He would. But guess what? Jesus washed Judas’s feet too. Some even say that Jesus washed his feet first. I don’t know if that’s entirely true, but nonetheless, Jesus acted as a humble loving servant towards Judas. Judas, who was going to offer Jesus up to be killed for just a couple pieces of silver, had his feet washed by the Messiah. Remember what Jesus said about washing and how that allows for fellowship with Him? When Jesus washed Judas’s feet, He was giving Him another chance. It was like He was saying “Hey man, I know what you’re thinking. But I love you anyway. You don’t have to do this. See what I’m doing? I’m doing this because I love you and want to be with you. Come to me instead.”
I don’t even think we can fathom that kind of love. Jesus looked His betrayer in the eyes and still lovingly and humbly served Him. I don’t know where you are at today in your relationship with God, but know this: it’s not too late to turn back to Him. You could have already completely rejected Him and spat in His face, but He still loves you and He still wants to be with you. Don’t let the filthiness of your feet keep you from Jesus. He wants to wash your feet! He doesn’t expect them to already be clean! Come to Him, wherever you are right now.
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