Servant Leadership

Servant Leadership

J.C. Thompson |

Jesus set an extraORDINARY model of servant leadership as He washed the disciples’ feet. We’ll examine how Jesus commands us to do the same.

Servant Leadership – Message 10
J.C. Thompson
August 28, 2022

A. Introduction (John 13:1-17; Acts 4:13)

  • We are continuing our series entitled extraORDINARY, where we have been studying how ordinary people can do extraORDINARY things because of our extraORDINARY Savior, Jesus Christ.
  • Let’s turn in our Bibles to John 13:1-17
  • If you remember, when we started this series, we discussed the story of the disciples in Acts.
  • Acts 4:13 (NLT) - The members of the council were amazed when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, for they could see that they were ordinary men with no special training in the Scriptures. They also recognized them as men who had been with Jesus.
  • These men had seen incredible things, but today’s message involves their response to something that Jesus did that was shocking to them, and it created a response in them that you will encounter often today when getting involved in people’s lives.
  • I asked this week on Facebook, if anyone would give me some examples of leadership in Television and Movies.
  • Examples: Ted Lasso, Herman Boone from Remember the Titans, CPT John Miller from Saving Private Ryan, Aragorn from Lord of the Rings, Mr. Rogers
  • Culture attempts to define for us how we view leadership.
  • It’s been this way long before media.
  • The disciples viewed leadership in a particular way, power, war hero, king. But Jesus showed leadership from God’s perspective.
  • By serving and sacrificing, Jesus shocked the disciples with one incredible act of washing their feet.
  • John 13:15 (NLT) - I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you.”

B. Servant Leadership involves…

1. EXERCISING initiative. (John 13:1-5. C/R: Proverbs 3:27-28, 25:21; James 4:17)

  • John 13:1-5 (NLT) - Before the Passover celebration, Jesus knew that His hour had come to leave this world and return to His Father. He had loved His disciples during His ministry on earth, and now He loved them to the very end. It was time for supper, and the devil had already prompted Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had given Him authority over everything and that He had come from God and would return to God. So He got up from the table, took off His robe, wrapped a towel around His waist, and poured water into a basin. Then He began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel He had around Him.
  • John, The Evangelist, writes a picture for us telling us of the knowledge of Jesus Christ, that He is aware and intentional about this being one of the last moments He would spend with His disciples.
  • Yet, the disciples who are at supper, are refusing to volunteer to wash one another’s feet.
  • This task was seen as the absolute lowest of the low jobs for a servant to do.
  • Yet, I think it is reasonable to believe that any of the 12 would have washed Jesus’ feet, they were not about to wash one another’s feet.
  • But Jesus took the initiative and acted.
  • His decision to act in that moment was important for a number of reasons
  • (1) Timing - The timing of this act was crucial as Jesus was nearing the end of His earthly ministry. Last things last longer in our minds and hearts.
  • (2) Relationship - He is reflecting on His love for them and wants to show His love to them.
  • (3) Opportunity – Jesus was not only washing the feet of those who were faithful, but He also washes Judas’ feet, the one that was going to betray Him.
  • (4) Authority - While Jesus recognized His rightful place of authority, Jesus was also flipping the script on how the disciples viewed power and authority.
  • Timing, Opportunity, Relationship, and Authority are all things to consider when we are thinking about our own leadership.
  • Speaking of our own leadership, I have to share something that I think needs a bit of shaping.
  • Men, you ever heard something akin to I need you to step up and be the spiritual leader here. In your home, in your workplace, in your neighborhood or Bible study?
  • Have you ever been like…ok…but what does that mean?
  • Especially in a day where words are being changed and defined differently, I think it is important to know what that means.
  • So, men, at Brookwood Church, here is where I want you to land on answering this question: How do I know I am leading my family spiritually?
  • This comes from Jeremy Pryor, Director of 1000 Houses – “Spiritual leadership is initiating spiritual activities.”
  • Foot washing was a degrading task. There were no closed toe shoes in those days. Combine that with how dusty the roads were, the heat of their climate and you can begin to imagine how nasty their feet would have been.
  • Not only that but according to Rabbinic tradition, foot washing was such a lowly job that Jews should never wash someone’s feet.
  • So, Jesus not only initiated a spiritual activity, but one in which the disciples would not have expected.
  • But when you look at your life, it is possible that God points out an opportunity for you to show initiative. If He does you should obey.
  • James 4:17 (NLT) - Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.
  • Ill: Are you initiating spiritual activities in the life of those you have influence over?

Servant Leadership involves...

2. ENCOUNTERING shame. (John 13:6-11. C/R: Mark 10:45, Romans 10:11, Philippians 2:6-8)

  • John 13:6-11 (NLT) - When Jesus came to Simon Peter, Peter said to Him, “Lord, are You going to wash my feet?” Jesus replied, “You don’t understand now what I am doing, but someday you will.” “No,” Peter protested, “You will never ever wash my feet!” Jesus replied, “Unless I wash you, you won’t belong to Me.” Simon Peter exclaimed, “Then wash my hands and head as well, Lord, not just my feet!” Jesus replied, “A person who has bathed all over does not need to wash, except for the feet, to be entirely clean. And you disciples are clean, but not all of you.” For Jesus knew who would betray Him. That is what He meant when He said, “Not all of you are clean.”
  • Peter expresses something in this interaction that I think is crucial to understanding service with a gospel aim.
  • Peter’s statement carries with it a certain emotion, shame.
  • Why do you think Peter was shameful?
  • I think it is more than likely a combination of the lowliness of the job and that realization that none of the disciples stepped up for that particular job.
  • Imagine being in Peter’s shoes and seeing who Jesus is and what He has done for countless people.
  • Yet, Jesus is not encouraging this response.
  • Romans 10:11 (ESV) - For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in Him will not be put to shame.”
  • Don’t miss this. Jesus also washed Judas’ feet. He knew it.
  • What do you think Judas was thinking? What would you have felt?
  • If you are living in deep sin and rebellion to God, how does this story strike you?
  • If you are someone who is so angry at the church and how it has hurt you in the past, how does it feel that the very “body of Christ” that you approach with so much anger and difficulty, its leader would proactively search you out to honor you in this way?
  • Jesus is making a statement here. He is not trying to point out wrongdoing. He is providing a relational connection of sacrifice and humility meant to draw them nearer.
  • Jesus declares that they are clean. They are redeemed by His future sacrifice and that this cleansing will be needed for His followers continually as they get roughed up by the world.
  • This happens by faith, by spending time with God in prayer and in His word and also through confession of sin.
  • Peter and most of the disciples felt unworthy to have Jesus wash their feet. And JC’s opinion here.
  • I think that they were all anticipating receiving some sort of superpower to allow them to do the things that Jesus told them they would be able to do.
  • Yet, Jesus by washing their feet and honoring them shows them they are loved, they are capable, and that in order to receive God’s blessing they must open up everything they are to Him.
  • Ill. Is there an area of your life where you feel a deep sense of shame? Are you willing to open yourself up vulnerably in a community of believers? Are you willing to allow yourself to be fully known by God?
  • God will not reject you if you offer your entire self to Him.

Servant Leadership involves...

3. An EXAMPLE to follow. (John 13:12-17. C/R: Philippians 3:17; 1 Peter 2:12, 16)

  • John 13:12-17 (NLT) - After washing their feet, He put on His robe again and sat down and asked, “Do you understand what I was doing? You call Me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and you are right, because that’s what I am. And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you. I tell you the truth, slaves are not greater than their master. Nor is the messenger more important than the one who sends the message. Now that you know these things, God will bless you for doing them.
  • Then after this incredible moment, Jesus sits down to then instruct them on what He just did.
  • Jesus is instructing His disciples and us, that if you are to be His follower, you are committing to a life of service and humility.
  • If Jesus, King of kings and Lord of lords initiates an act of utter humility, then how much more should you be expected to live your life in the same way.
  • Please don’t miss this. Jesus, who we heard Josh teach last week is glory manifest on the earth by humbling Himself by becoming a human being for our benefit. Humble enough.
  • Then stoops down to perform the lowest of the low, the thing that an entire people group couldn’t even imagine doing.
  • Jesus was saying guys this is it. This is the picture. This is what I am calling you to do. To bring the message of the Gospel and the method that you use is servant leadership.
  • Now what some denominations and churches have done is elevate the task of foot washing to the same place as Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. To make it an ordinance.
  • But this is the only time that foot-washing occurs in the Scriptures.
  • While it is mentioned in other locations in the Old Testament as ritual cleansing and in the New Testament in 1 Timothy as one in a group of good deeds that widows should be able and willing to do, it should not be elevated in this way.
  • The heart behind what Jesus is sharing in this example, is one of humble, servant leadership. A willingness to take on a lower role than one might actually hold.
  • 1 Peter 2:12 (NLT) - Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when He judges the world.
  • ILL: Are you willing to do that?
  • Jesus also shares that following His example results in a blessing in verse 17.
  • While it is always true that obedience leads to blessing, (Psalm 1; 119; 128; Proverbs 16; Luke 8) This is one way in particular that leads to God’s blessing, by following the example of Jesus.
  • While many of you work in places that might be pressuring you to not exercise your faith in Christ, I want to encourage you that Christ sees your faithfulness and that you are blessed by Him.
  • We should be willing and able to take on a lower role in order to point others towards the grace of God available to them through Jesus.
  • Conclusion
  • Jesus after washing His feet continues with supper. Next week Josh will close our series and we will take communion together.
  • I want to encourage you to be here for that.
  • If you are in here and God has been nudging you, pursuing you, first we have been praying for you.
  • Second, our Care volunteers are down front and would love to pray with you and answer any questions you might have about beginning a relationship with God.
  • They would also love to pray with you if you are living under an identity of shame.
  • This week, Brookwood family, let’s find some ways to show someone the love of Christ in a way that is undeniable.
  • Let’s lead in our homes, community groups, jobs, sports teams, and schools seeking to follow the example of Christ.
  • Let’s pray.

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