Have you ever knelt on the floor and washed someone's filthy feet? It's hard to imagine, isn't it? Mostly today, we wash our own feet, don't we? Back in Jesus' day, when everyone walked around in sandals, feet got super dirty and the least slave or servant in the house would be assigned the miserable task of cleaning up the feet before people tramped all over the house. We might not need foot washing these days, but there are plenty of icky jobs that still need doing, aren't there? Nicole and Sharon talk about how to be more like Jesus by serving even in the hard areas of life. Ready to be challenged? Have a listen.
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Speaker 1 (00:01):
Welcome to the Sweet Selah Moments Podcast. Spring is on its way and with it the very special Easter season. We hope this Easter series will refresh you as you stop for a little moment and listen in. This Sweet Selah Moments podcast is brought to you by Word Radio and Sweet Selah Ministries.
Welcome to episode 35 Choosing the Hard. We are diving deep into passages of scripture in the book of John that tell us about Jesus’ last days here on earth. And this week we are looking at how Jesus modeled servanthood. Even though he created the entire universe, Jesus served. It’s remarkable. Sharon, how do you manage doing disagreeable tasks and what are some of your worst hard things to do?
I wish I could say I was a willing servant when hard things need doing, but I am not. I don’t like the hard jobs. I can remember holding a sick baby in the middle of the night, dead on my feet and her throwing up literally all over me, in my hair, on my nightgown, down the wall behind me.
Just yuck. And I confess my first thoughts were not noble or caring at all. And yet, how can you be mad at a child?
I mean, they couldn’t help it. So I remember saying to myself, I do not feel like a good mother. I’m mad, I’m tired, I’m disgusted and it smells, but I’m going to pretend I’m a good mother. And so I pretended. I said all the things that a good mother would say, Oh honey, don’t worry about it. And I was literally play acting, but you know what? My attitude caught up with my play acting as I spoke the words I knew, had to be said.
Because my word, it wasn’t her fault. Finally my attitude caught up.
That was one way. And then care giving, wasn’t always fun either. I tried hard to do the right things for Dad Gamble, but there were some hard things that I had to do. It’s hard to explain, but at the end of the hard things was so much joy for me because I’d given him dignity. I’d given him a safe place to be in our home. I’d loved him well. So I didn’t like doing them, but I liked the sort of hug from God that came from serving in a hard way.
Yeah. That’s a good way to look at that.
How about you? How do you manage yucky tasks and how do you teach your children about them?
Well it’s so funny because me and the girls were just talking about this yesterday. About doing yucky things and I’d read this quote and it stuck with me for a while. And the quote is ‘If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if your job is to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first’. And that is from Mark Twain.
Oh my goodness!
What a quote.
So I always tell the girls, we need to swallow that frog. If there’s some horrible and daunting task ahead of you in the day that you just don’t want to do instead of procrastinating and thinking about it all day and dreading it, just get right up and do that one thing quick and get it done. And then the rest of the day you can enjoy it.
That’s actually brilliant.
Yeah, it’s such a gross analogy to think about that they all kind of giggle and gag and say yuck, but it’s a very clear and vivid picture of just tackling those things that are not fun. Just get it done. But in those agonizing moments, when you can’t just tackle a sick baby or quickly potty train a puppy or whatever the hard task is in front of you, what you said, kind of faking it to make it. That’s huge just getting your attitude in check with what your insides are feeling. And prayer is what gets me through it, for sure. It’s all I can do at that point and it’s my best bet to survive the moment and lots of deep breaths. We just got a new puppy recently and she got really freaked out going outside to go potty. A snowplow went by during that big snow storm.
Oh, bless her.
My husband’s snowblower just terrified this poor little thing so that she would not go outside to go to the bathroom. If I grabbed her leash or my coat, she would pee all over herself on the floor instantly. And we bring her back inside and the loud noise would go off and two minutes later, she’d pee all over herself again on the floor. And I was, same thing, just super grumpy and kind of like raging inside. Cause my floor was dirty. The puppy was dirty and smelly. The kids were panicking and it’s so hard to get through those moments when inside you’re just like, ugh, I can’t control anything. I think it’s a loss of control for me that sets me completely off. I can’t fix my sick baby. I can’t potty train this puppy. So what do I do? I choose to breathe and pray and say, God help me as I do one more mopping, one more snuggle, one more bath. And then we get through it. Don’t we?
Yes we do.
And he’s waiting at the end going you did it. You did the hard.
So, so good when you can do it. Absolutely. And servant hood is a part of life. It just is. I can remember back when Ray was in the army, there was this wonderful military chaplain. We were going to an army chapel at the time so he was our pastor. He was high ranking and he could have sat in his office, barking orders at people and they would have hopped to for him because of his rank.
But he wasn’t that kind of guy. I’d seen him sweeping the floor after an event, helping his chaplain’s assistants move the tables. He was a hands on guy that didn’t let rank go to his head. You know, he just worked. He did what had to be done. He’s the kind of guy that would wait at the end of the line, even though with his rank, he could have cut in place.
So he was awesome. And the men loved him because he was willing to get his hands dirty.
The only time he was kind of grumpy was with, he used to call us sometimes ‘women’ because we’d come in with our little Protestant Women of the Chapel and we’d say, we don’t like the color of the candles.
You know? And he’d be like, Oh, women!
He was so used to just getting the job done.
So I loved him. I absolutely loved him and I learned so much from him. So well, we’re going to learn a lot from Jesus today about humility and serving. We’re going to read John 13:1-17. So before we do our precious Sweet Selah Moment, Nicole, would you pray for us to truly hear from God? Not just, you know, hear your voice or my voice, but hear from God.
Lord, be with us today as we read your word and be with our listeners Lord, as they hear your scripture, Lord. Whatever you want us to learn today, Lord, please help it to stand out and really just stay in our hearts. Thank you that you’ve given us these instructions for living. Be with us Lord as we read your word. In Your name, we pray. Amen.
Amen. And I’ll start with John 13:1 and we’ll read through verse 17.
“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.
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’m doing, but someday you will.
No, Peter protested. You will never wash my feet. Jesus replied. Unless I wash you, you won’t belong to me.
Simon Peter exclaimed, well 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 be washed except your 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.
After washing their feet, he put his robe on again and sat down and asked, do you understand what I am 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 others’ 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.
Hmm. Interesting passage.
Well, before we dig into the passage itself, let us discuss foot washing, or feet, feet more to the case. My mother has the funniest story about my dad’s socks. They were on their honeymoon. They got married in England and then they went to the Lake District, which is where Beatrix Potter wrote all the books.
Gorgeous place. And she’s still in the, you know, the honeymoon glow, so happy. They’re hiking, Oh, some mountain. I can’t remember the name of it now and enjoying life. And then, you know, two or three days into the honeymoon, Daddy says, I think I want to go fishing and she said, Oh, that’s great, I want to read my book. You know, happy, happy, happy. So he comes in and he changes, you know, after he fished and he gives her his socks and he says, could you wash these for me? And they were gross. She’s smelling them, looking at them and they’re mucky from being in the water. And she said in her little head, well, I guess the honeymoon is over. Yep, my dad could have washed his own socks. but this is not the purpose of the discussion. It’s just that feet are basically smelly, yucky things in the best of times.
So and, you know, what were the feet like of the disciples? Imagine that for a minute.
Yeah. Open toed sandals. They didn’t have nice paved sidewalks that they brushed and cleaned and, you know, blew the leaves off of. It was dirt roads I think. There was animals. They traveled with animals so I’m sure there was animal poo everywhere.
Stuff there to walk in. And then just the sweaty-ness.
Just gross. So, just like throw up on a wall and in your hair and puppy doo in the wrong place, washing feet was not pleasant and it was usually assigned to the lowliest servant. It’s like you kind of graduated as a servant when you no longer had to watch feet.
That was a ground level, the entry level job.
Exactly. So, but I guess they didn’t have a servant. They just were meeting by themselves.
And it’s interesting to me that none of the disciples said can I wash your feet?
Everybody was just sitting around with dirty feet until Jesus moved into it.
So let’s look at this passage verse by verse and each of us take a verse at a time and just let’s talk through it. I feel like I know there’s great value to reading the Bible in a year. I do know that because you see the overall picture.
But what I love best is one verse at a time, really looking and digging deep into each little verse and digging from it what we can. So that’s what I want to do. So you get the first one, Nicole.
Alright. So we’ll start with verse 13. “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.” So the first thing that I noticed is just the love. He loved his disciples. He loved them to the very end. He knew his hour was coming. He was not thinking about himself. He was thinking about his disciples. I mean, he was going to face this horrible death and humiliation and pain and suffering and he was thinking about them. I just think that’s just beautiful.
It is beautiful cause you’d almost excuse him.
Right. If he was a little distracted right now.
If he needed to kind of go away and get prepared, but here he is loving them.
Yep, right in the middle of them. I like that.
Well, verse two says, “It was time for supper and the devil had already prompted Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus”. So here’s another backstory.
From last week we talked about backstories. Judas made the choice, but the devil tempted him to do it and prompted him. So it’s interesting to me that at this point, Satan was already whispering into Judas’ mind saying, you don’t want to follow this guy. He rode a donkey into Jerusalem. He’s not coming with a sword. He’s not going to beat up the Romans for you. So it kind of teaches me that I need to recognize the enemy. He is always there. And just like he whispered to Judas, he will whisper to me and we just have to be alert. The Bible says to be alert, we have an enemy that walks around like a lion prowling looking for who he can devour, looking for that soft spot in us where we’re going to be tempted to do the wrong thing.
And he found Judas’ soft spot. And at this point he’d already found it. So, and John wants us to know this at the very beginning. So, all right verse three, go ahead.
“Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God.” So I think this versus just kind of reminds us of who Jesus is and that he could have stopped this at any time and said, no, thanks. I’m good. I don’t think I want to save you guys. I don’t want to do this. You know, so I don’t know, just to see his power and to see that he acknowledges that he had come from God and would return to God. So just again, that submission, you know?
So it’s beautiful. I’m so very glad he didn’t decide not to die.
Oh me too. Our story would be very different. It would be very sad.
Yes it would. So, thank you Jesus.
Yes. Amen. Okay, so then verse four. “So knowing who he was, he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist.” I love that knowing who he was, he served.
And that is so significant to me because it wasn’t that Jesus served because he thought he was worthless and you know, he just might as well do it. He knew who he was and in that strength, not in a weakness, but in that strength, he served, we don’t serve because we think we’re worthless or, you know, we don’t deserve any better than to do this awful task.
We serve as daughters of a King who served before us. So that’s, I think, what he’s modeling here, the kind of servant hood he’s asking for us is servant hood that acknowledges who we are, which is precious and valuable, and serving anyway.
So he served from that knowing, and I just loved it. So.
Oh yeah. I think it’s purposeful too. He took his robe, wrapped the towel. He did it in such a purposeful way, you know.
He did and can you imagine the disciples? Whoa, he’s getting up, why is he getting up?
Whoa, he’s taking off his robe…what?
Yeah. He prepared for it. He didn’t just like, all right, fine, if no one else is going to do it, I’ll do it. He prepared and he did it so purposefully.
He prepared himself for it. He did.
“So after that he poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciple’s feet, drying them with a towel he had around him.” That’s interesting cause he had the towel on him so as he’s drying them, he would have gotten the dirt and the yuck on him. I didn’t notice that before. How gross.
That’s true. The towel was to dry, not to protect him.
Right. Yeah. Wow. So I see in this verse love in action. He didn’t just talk about serving. He didn’t say, Oh hey, one of you guys should wash their feet. You know, he served and he started with one of the less desirable ways to serve too. He didn’t start with a less smellier or flashier job. He went right for dirty feet.
What an example for us.
I know. I know. Oh my goodness. Well verse six, “When Jesus came to Simon Peter, Peter said to him, Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”
I love Peter.
Peter’s always saying something, isn’t he?
You and I know Peter. We’re always saying something! It’s what everybody else was thinking anyways, you know, they’re just like, okay, here’s my foot. This is weird.
And Jesus was like, what are you doing? Not Jesus, Peter is like, what are you doing? You know? So, and it’s interesting to me to contrast that with John the Baptist who, when he talks about the Lamb of God, he says, ‘of whose sandals I’m not worthy to untie’. John, the Baptist, in his reverence for Christ is like, I’m not even worthy to be the lowliest servant to untie his shoes.
And yet here that same one is washing feet. So I kind of get why Peter’s going, what are you doing?
Right. He’s touching my dirty feet.
There it is, yeah.
“So Jesus replied to Peter, You don’t understand now what I am doing, but someday you will.” He’s so patient with us, isn’t he?
Even as he’s trying to show this example to the disciples and Peter, hotheaded Peter with the mouth going, he just, again, he’s so patient with them, you don’t yet understand what I’m going to do, but wait, just wait.
Just wait, just hang on there, stop interrupting.
Yeah, let me do my job.
I love it! So Peter of course keeps talking. Verse 8, no, Peter protested, you will never, ever wash my feet. So Jesus very calmly says, unless I wash you, you won’t belong to me.
And that has such a deeper meaning than just, unless I wash your feet. Unless we are washed clean from our sin, we won’t belong to him. There’s a whole wonderful, beautiful thing here of, unless you humble yourself basically, because letting someone wash your feet, have you ever had that done in a church service?
I have. It was harder than I thought to take off my socks and my weird, I have a really weird little toe.
I mean, I have a hard time getting pedicures. I can kind of like, I get uncomfortable with that.
Yeah, and to have people… it’s a humbling thing.
You know, it’s not just humbling. Sometimes it’s humbling to let somebody serve you. You know what I mean? That can be really, really hard.
It is, yeah.
And yet we need to humble ourselves to Christ and accept the service he gave, which is ultimately, what Easter is all about, the service he gave was his life given in ransom for us. And unless we let him wash us clean from our sin, we can have nothing to do with him. We won’t belong to him.
So it’s so important, that humbling before him.
Yeah. Wow. So, okay.
So Simon Peter exclaimed, “Wash my hands and head as well, Lord, not just my feet”. Oh Peter, he was never one to do anything halfway. But isn’t that our sin nature, Sharon? We don’t just accept God’s gift to us freely. We try to make it harder on ourselves and make up extra things, you know like, Oh, well wash everything. You know, I dunno. We try to jump in and do it ourselves kind of thing.
Yeah, he did add stuff that he didn’t need to add didn’t he?
All right then, if it’s belong to you with my feet, well then, how about my head?
And my hands? Just do it all.
Oh my goodness. Well, verse 10, “Jesus replied, a person who is 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”. So Jesus gets practical first of all, just your feet are dirty, okay. So we’re not, we’re not washing the rest of you right now.
Think of the feet.
So you’re clean, but then his heart must have been really focused on Judas because he’s, he adds that, but not all of you are clean, thinking of Judas right away. And I can’t imagine having loved on Judas for three years, having welcomed him to the gang, knowing that Satan not only was whispering to him, but that Judas was listening. It was a hard, hard thing. And you can see Jesus’ sadness, I think, in that verse.
Yeah. Oh yeah. Verse 11, “For Jesus knew who would betray him. That is what he meant when he said, not all of you are clean”. So again, I think Jesus has love and patience even with the one that he knew would betray him. But he knew the whole plan and Judas was part of that even if it meant harm to Jesus.
Jesus knew in the end, it was all for his glory, but it still would have been hard.
It would have been. And of course he washed Judas’ feet, right?
Yeah, he did. Wow.
Yeah, knowing. So verse 12, “After washing their feet, he put on his robe again and sat down and asked, do you understand what I was doing”? So I love that. First he does the object lesson, which is going to stick with them forever because it is, you know, something like that is just so out of the ordinary.
Jesus washing your feet.
And so jarring, You remember best the things that are strange.
They just stick in your brain more, so it stuck in his brain. But after that, he wants to teach. So he starts to teach them.
Verse 13, “You call me Teacher and Lord and you are right, because that is what I am”. He’s equally Lord, governing over them, all powerful. But teacher, a teacher is more of a humble position too, because you do have to put yourself in the same, almost the same level of learning as your students, because you have to understand the material.
Right. Yeah. So, and he acknowledges, yeah, it’s good that you’re calling me teacher and Lord.
But look what I just did as teacher and Lord.
Right. So I’m teaching you, are you paying attention?
Yeah, exactly. And verse 14, “And since I, your Lord and teacher have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet”. So basically if I, God, in flesh who created your feet have stooped to serve you with a towel around my waist to dry them, you should too. So there’s just no place in God’s kingdom for a primadonna.
You know, there just isn’t. If the King of Kings knelt and washed feet, we can never say, I am too good for that job, ever.
That’s real clear.
It just is.
Nope. In verse 15, “I have given you an example to follow, do as I have done”. So there’s our call to action. You know, I’ve showed you, I’ve done it. You are my children, do the same.
Do it. That’s right. So we got a pretty clear command here to do the hard things.
Yeah, Oh yeah.
Yes. Verse 16, “I tell you the truth”. Jesus is still talking here. “Slaves are not greater than their master, nor is a messenger more important than the one who sends the message”. Jesus is affirming here that as master and the message, he’s the greater one, but he’s still serving.
And we also serve knowing our value. It’s not a demeaning thing.
It’s a joy to lay aside our own rights as he did, or at least that’s how we should feel about it.
Right, right. And (excuse me) finally in verse 17, “Now that you know these things, God will bless you for doing them”. So always, always God blesses us for following his commands. There’s always a blessing that follows, I do this. You know, he’s such a kind God.
It’s absolutely true. It’s beautiful. Beautiful. Well, this isn’t the only time Jesus talks about being a servant, but it’s probably the most memorable because of the object lesson in it. There are other passages before where he underlines that we are not to think that we’re some kind of big shot. So obviously they didn’t get it, which is maybe why he literally washed feet. But let’s read one of them. Nicole, would you read Matthew chapter 20:20 -27? Let’s look at another example.
Sure. “Then the mother of James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Jesus with her sons. She knelt respectfully to ask a favor. What is your request, he asked? She replied, In your kingdom, please let my two sons sit in places of honor next to you. One on your right and one on your left. But Jesus answered by saying to them, you don’t know what you’re asking. Are you able to drink from the bitter cup of suffering I am about to drink? Oh yes, they replied, We are able. Jesus told them, You will indeed drink from my bitter cup, but I have no right to say who will sit on my right or my left. My Father has prepared those places for the ones he has chosen. When the ten other disciples heard what James and John had asked, they were indignant. But Jesus called them together and said, You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you, it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be a servant. And whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. For even the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Wow.
What strikes me most about this passage is that Jesus doesn’t just rebuke John and James and their mama. He turns it into a teaching moment. This is not how things are done in God’s kingdom. That’s what he’s telling us. We are in the upside down kingdom where we don’t flaunt. We serve. It’s so different from the way the world does things. No entourages for Christian leaders. Nope. We gotta be in the bathroom, cleaning it up after the meeting.
I know, Jesus is such a good teacher. He didn’t seek to humiliate them or put them down or make them a public example for their less than humble requests. But like you said, he turned it into a teaching moment for everyone.
He sure did. Yep. We’re to stay small and let God be big. That’s really the bottom line. And that was the word God gave me when I became National Director for Moms in Prayer. And he said it real clear. He said, you stay small.
I love that.
You let me be big.
And there’s a relief in that.
There’s a relief in that. I don’t have to be the big one and I best not be. So, yeah. Well, I’m going to read, just real quick, one more passage, Luke 10, and I’m not going to start in verse 14 like I thought I was because of time. I’m going to start at verse seven, Jesus is talking about a dinner, “When Jesus noticed that all who had come to a dinner were trying to sit in the seats of honor near the head of the table he gave them this advice”. Can you just see it? Everybody trying to get to the front?
Yeah, the good seats, right. “He said, When you are invited to a wedding feast, don’t sit in the seat of honor. What if someone who is more distinguished than you has also been invited? The host will come and say, Give this person your seat. Then you’ll be embarrassed and you will have take whatever seat is left at the very foot of the table.”
That would be awful.
It would. And isn’t that human nature to this day. I mean, this was like 2000 years ago and I’m like, Oh, I’m so relating. So the Bible is so timeless. Instead, says Jesus, “Take the lowest place at the foot of the table. Then when your host sees you, he will come and say, friend, we have a better place for you than this. Then you will be honored in front of all the other guests. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled. And those who humble themselves will be exalted. Then he turned to his host. When you put on a luncheon or a banquet, he said, don’t invite your friends, brothers, relatives, and rich neighbors for they will invite you back. And that will be your only reward. Instead invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind. Then at the resurrection of the righteous, God will reward you for inviting those who could not repay you”.
That is beautiful.
It is. He was always, always saying, Whoa, Whoa, Whoa, Whoa, stop thinking of yourself. Start thinking of others just as he did. And he led by such incredible example.
He certainly did. That’s beautiful.
And just the fact that Jesus would stop and wash feet before he was crucified when he had a lot of things on his mind.
I’m sure he did.
Is stunning. It’s absolutely stunning. So let’s pray. We need prayer that we can serve like that.
Oh Father, I thank you so much for the life lessons found in your word. Lord Jesus, thank you for the humility, the teaching that you showed us in everything you did, as you lived out life on earth. We honor you as Lord and Master and we ask that you would help us to model you in the way we serve those least likely to repay us, Lord. In Jesus name, Amen.
Wow. I am going to do my best to remember when I am cleaning up messes this week that Jesus willingly stooped and knelt and cleaned up dirty feet and all this happened right before he was to be crucified yet his mind was on his disciples. What a Savior we serve. Well friends, we hope today’s episode will enable you to serve better wherever you find yourself. Come back next week for episode 36, we called this episode We Need to Remember. We can’t wait to unpack more scripture with you as we get ready to celebrate the greatest gift ever given, Jesus’ Sacrifice for us. We would love to hear from you. You can find us @sweetselah.org/podcast. We are also looking for podcast partners and we have some special surprises up our sleeves for all who choose to give even a small monthly donation to help us air the Sweet Selah Moments podcast. Go to sweet selah.org/donations and write in the comments that you are a podcast partner giving monthly and we will be in touch. Until then may God help us serve with gladness.
Speaker 1 (29:57):
We are so glad you stopped for a while with us. Sweet Selah Moments is a co-operative production of Word Radio and Sweet Selah Ministries. More information about this podcast, including show notes can be found at sweetselah.org and at wordradio.net. Thank you for joining us.
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