Community Group Study Notes
- What does it mean to “embrace the humility of Jesus”? How would this impact the way we live?
- Why does knowing our identity free us to honor others? According to the “one another” verses, what are some practical ways we can honor one another?
- What is one action step you can take in response to what you heard in Sunday’s message?
"Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves." Romans 12:10 (NIV)
So like many of you may be doing this weekend, we are celebrating a high school graduate in our house. My youngest son is graduating from high school this afternoon. And some of you ... Yeah, let's hear it for Tanner. Tanner, tanner. All right, sorry. Sorry. So many of you are experiencing the same thing right? You've got maybe a niece or nephew, or you've got a son or daughter, or you've got a grandchild who's graduating this weekend or who graduated recently. And so with that, we had the opportunity not only to have kind of a party for him yesterday and kind of celebrate him, but we had a bunch of family that have come up. So I've got lots of family. I think last count there were 430 people staying at my house. We got two bathrooms. And I still haven't met some of them. I'm like walking in, "Hey, I'm sorry. Did I interrupt?"
So we've got all of these family members that are here, and I'm just reminded in everybody being together, there is a special kind of, a uniqueness of love when it comes to family. There's just something about it right? I mean family has a way of, in either brother sister relationships or whatever, you just have a way of not wanting injustice to happen to anybody in your family and wanting to be protective of your family and all those kinds of things. I can remember back when I was at college at the time, at the University of Georgia, and my brother who is just a little bit younger than me, was maybe, I don't know, a junior or a senior in high school. My sister was in middle school. And she was down just a couple of houses playing in the the neighborhood, and there was a kid that lived a couple of houses down who was a knuckle head.
And he was a knuckle head with a BB gun. That's not a good combination. And so this kid started shooting at my sister's feet and telling her to dance. Well, she brought that information back to her brother. And her brother went over there and let me just put it this way. It never happened again. I'm not saying what he did or didn't do, I'm just saying it never happened again. I'm reminded, I think about all of these stories that come to mind about how we do what we do. There was a time where we were playing football, my brother and I, out it front of our street. I think I was probably in middle school at this time. My brother is a couple of grades younger than me.
And we were just playing out in the street. And there was a big strong kid who lived on the other street in our neighborhood who was playing with us. As a freshmen, he was on the varsity high school football team. He looked like a grown man as a freshmen. You know those people? They're like grown men as a freshmen, right? It took me until like last week when I was a grown man. This guy is a monster. His name's Eric. I hope he's not watching, because I like you. I don't want any trouble. But he had a gun for an arm, and he ended up ... He over-threw my brother, Steve, by a million miles. A million miles. And then he's blaming Steve. And Steve's just walking back to the huddle and Eric guns the football at his face, and Steve's like, [inaudible 00:02:51]. He's crying.
So I jump all in the midst of this and I'm a good like four eight and a half. 78 pounds. Something like that. I blew all up in him. And then I caught the business end of one of his lefts and that was all she wrote. But there's this impulse ... I wish it ended better. It doesn't. I got smoked. That's just how it went, all right? But there's this impulse inside of us when we've got a brother or a sister in trouble or whatever, or if they've been treated unfairly, there's this impulse inside of us that we're kind of like we want to be protective. Because there's this uniqueness to love in family that we experience.
And that's why we also gather as family to celebrate if somebody's graduating from high school or college, or a special event, a marriage, whatever. We just celebrate that, right? Well, the reason that I tell you that is because when we're finishing today our series called Honor Culture, I want us to actually endeavor to understand what it means to honor one another in the family of God. We've talked at length already about what it looks like to honor people generally, everybody that has been created in the image of God. There is an inherent worth and a dignity and a respect that we should show to those people. Even if they don't behave like we want them to behave and do what we want them to do, there is an inherent dignity because they are image-bearers of God.
And in this series, we've talked about what it looks like to honor God because the scripture teaches us that. And what it looks like to honor authorities, and the scripture teaches us that. What it looks like to honor parents, and the scripture teaches us that. But what we find when we look through the New Testament, particularly in the Apostle Paul's writings, we find him over, and over, and over again teaching us what it looks like to honor one another in the family of God. Let me just show you a quick snapshot verse. It's in Romans 12:10. It's kind of an anchor for what we're talking about today. And here's what it says.
"Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves." Now I want to leave that up there for just a moment, because you may be thinking,, "Well, what does this have to do with family?" Well, when you're reading it in the english language, you can't really see it as clearly. But when you read it in the Greek language, like I'm sure you were doing right before you came here, when you read it in the Greek language, which is the original way it was written, what you find is that it is blowing up on the page talking about this idea of a family style love.
You see this word, "Devoted," right here is a compound word. And kind of the first part of it is [phila 00:05:27], where we get the word Philadelphia, which means brotherly love. It's phila, and then [storge 00:05:33], which is a different kind of love. So it talks about devotion as in a family kind of devotion, as in a brother sister familial kind of devotion. And then it says, "Be devoted to one another in love." Well, in english, we just have one word, love. And we have to figure out its context to know what it means. But in the Greek language, there are at least four, probably five, words that talk about love in the Greek language, and this word is the word Philadelphia. Again, brotherly love. So, "Be devoted to one another in love, or brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves."
In other words, the context for this idea about honoring one another is that at its foundation is this family type of love that we are supposed to embrace. Now, the reason that I tell you all of this is because Paul talks about this idea over and over and over about how we should treat one another in the family of God. If you read through Paul's writings, just Paul. We're not even talking about John or any of the other writers, James, or any of the other writers of the New Testament, just the Apostle Paul, and you were to look at the times he uses the phrase, "One another," where he's talking about how we are supposed to act toward one another, what we are supposed to do for one another.
You see kind of this sample group of really a lot of categories that he talks about. And it all has to do with this idea of honoring one another above ourselves. In fact, I'm going to give you just a quick survey. We're going to run through them pretty quickly. Those who are note takers are going to be frustrated. Here's what it looks like, all right? Let me give you a few. "We are members of one another," Paul says. Notice what he says in Romans chapter 12. "So in Christ, we, though many, form one body and each member belongs to all the others." In other words, that's part of what it means to be in the family. We are members of one another.
But Paul also teaches us to bear with one another. Listen to how he phrases it in Ephesians four. He says, "Be completely humble and gentle. Be patient, bearing with one another in love." Then he goes on to teach us that we are to encourage one another. Listen to what it says in first Thessalonians five. "Therefore encourage one another and build each other up just as in fact you are doing." Paul also says that we are to do good to one another. Notice what he says in first Thessalonians, later on in chapter five. "Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else."
Paul also teaches us to carry one another's burdens. Listen to how he phrases it in Galatians six. "Carry each other's burdens and in this way, you will fulfill the law of christ," this love that we are supposed to embody. Then notice what he also teaches us. He teaches us to forgive one another. In Ephesians chapter four he says this, "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other just as in Christ God forgave you." We're also taught that we are to submit to one another. You're going, "How many of these are there?" There's a bunch. And we're only like a third of the way. Kidding. I'm almost done.
"Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ." This is what Paul teaches us. And how about this? "Live in harmony with one another." This is how we're supposed to operate in the family of God. Here's where he teaches that, Romans 12:16. He says, "Live in harmony with one another and don't be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Don't be conceded." And then maybe I'll give you a last one. "Value one another above ourselves." And here's where we learn that, in Philippians chapter two. "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, rather in humility, value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interest, but each of you to the interest of the others."
You see, when you start surveying Paul, and when we look at this kind of exhortation that we've been given to honor one another, you start looking at all that he says about the one anothers that are in the New Testament. Some of you right now are going, you're asking people next to you, "What was that second to last one?" You're doing that right now. Just go back, Chapel.com, and you'll be able to see it later on this week, because I'm not slowing down for nothing, all right? So here's what I want you to pick up on, the foundation for all of these things is that we have this family-like love in the body of Christ. In the way that we have this impulse to make sure that our brothers and sisters are protected and are loved, and by the way, women in the body of Christ should feel like sisters. They should feel cared for by brothers in the body of Christ.
This should be a really safe place for women who are surrounded by a bunch of younger and older brothers who care about them. And it ought to scare the life out of all those dudes who are trying to pick them up. Now, here's what I want you to know. The foundation is a family-like love, but there is a key that we need to pick up on today if we really see this in our lives, we'll then be able to honor one another. And the key was actually found and a few of these verses. Paul actually highlights this idea either in the positive sense or the negative sense. Like do this or don't do this. But he really brings it out in that last verse that I shared with you in Philippians chapter two.
Look at it again. He says, "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, rather in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interest, but each of you to the interests of the others." In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus. You see, this idea of humility is one we need to grab hold of. Now, I'm not talking about ... Sometimes when you hear the word, "Humility," you don't know what we're saying when we say that and you kind of go, "I don't know what that means. Does that mean to think less of myself? Woe is me, I'm a dirty dog, I'm a scumbag." You just walk around life like that. No, no, that's not what I'm talking about.
Humility is not thinking less of yourself. It's just thinking about yourself less. That what you're really trying to do is think about others instead of just always thinking about yourself. Humility, the picture of the word humility is the idea of power under control. That's actually the idea behind humility. It's almost like kind of a bit in a horse's mouth, and you've got reins, and you've got this incredibly powerful animal. If you've ever ridden a horse, I've been on one a few times, and when that things started kind of galloping, I was just doing this. And then when it broke out into a sprint, it was like whoa, what's going on? It was crazy. And that thing is powerful and strong, but man, with the turn of a rein, or the pullback on a rein, I can control it.
That's the idea of humility. It's this power that's under control. Now, saying all of that, when we talk about the idea of humility, the reason that we're even paying attention to it is because of what it means to honoring one another. That we really can't get at this idea of honoring one another if humility is not present. So that's why Paul is highlighting this idea in the life of Jesus. And maybe I could say it simply if you want kind of a big idea to jot down, you could write this down. To truly honor one another, we need to embrace the humility of Jesus. To truly honor one another, we need to embrace the humility of Jesus. You see, here what Paul's doing. When Paul writes, "Honor one another above yourselves," he didn't just pull that out of nowhere as some kind of exhortation.
"I think this would be something good to do." He didn't just pull that out of nowhere. Paul is actually trying to pull our attention back to Jesus. This is what Paul does when he writes. He's actually trying to pull our attention back to Jesus. And since Paul, by telling us to honor one another, is turning our attention back to Jesus, as he does all through the New Testament, using Jesus' example of humility, then I figure what I want to do is I want to illustrate this idea of humility by taking us back to the life of Jesus in a particular moment in time. You'll recognize this moment. It's after Jesus came into Jerusalem for the very last time. He came in on a donkey. And people were celebrating. "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna, Hosanna, save us now," they're saying.
And he comes into Jerusalem, and there's people there that are welcoming him. "Is this the messiah? Is this the one who came? This is the one who rose Lazarus from over the hill over there in Bethany." And there's a big stir in Jerusalem about who Jesus is and what he's done. But as the week progressed, that was on a Sunday. But as they got toward the latter part of the week, it's an interesting turn in John's gospel. Because as John records, he's recording all of the events and from chapter ... Basically from chapter, kind of late chapter one, all the way through to chapter 12, he's talking about how Jesus interacts with people and religious leaders and people who've sinned and all this kind of stuff, but then in chapter 13, there's a turn.
And the turn in chapter 13, it's like from that point forward, Jesus is really just interacting with his disciples. He's teaching them. He's teaching them what he's going to do. He's teaching them who they're supposed to become. He's praying for them and praying over them. That's kind of the turn that happens in John's gospel. And you remember what that turn involved. It involved a last meal with those disciples that were following him around and spending this last three years with him. Here's what it says in John 13, beginning of verse one and two. John tells us it was just before the passover festival. "And Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the father. And having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end." Some of your translations say, "He showed them the full extent of his love."
And then it says, "The evening meal was in progress." In other words, it was mid-meal. "And the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus." So that's the setting that we're in. They're all together for a meal. The devil is already kind of working his plan out and wanting to prompt Judas toward this betrayal. And they are in the midst of this final meal during the time of the passover timeframe in the festival, and the time of the passover meal. But what Jesus does next is really extraordinary. And here's what I don't want you to miss. What Jesus does next is not only extraordinary, but it's instructive for all of us.
Because if we want to see an example and a picture of humility, we will see it in what Jesus is about to do. And I want us to be able to pick up, listen to this, I want us to pick up three things. For my three you probably could add a bunch. But I'm giving you three for the sake of time and for the sake of how I'm going to walk through this passage. And I want you to see three things that will help us in terms of humility, and here's why we're looking at humility. Because humility is what gets us to being able to honor one another. That's how we can do it. Here's the first thing that I want to point out for you in our passage, that we've got to know our identity. We've got to know our identity. Now, as I was just telling you a moment ago in John, it kind of begins by telling us that it's the time of the passover, that the meal is already in progress, and here's everything that's going on.
And then the next verse says this in verse number three. "Jesus knew that the father had put all things under his power and that he had come from God and was returning to God so he got up from the meal, he took off his outer clothing, and he wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and he began to wash his disciple's feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him." Now, I don't want you to miss this because John is actually helping us to understand something. John does not just rush headlong into saying, "Hey, Jesus started washing the disciples' feet." No, John gives us some explanation first. And do you know what that explanation is about? It's about Jesus understanding his identity.
Here's what Jesus knew. He knew where he had come from. He knew what he had right now, because the father had put all things under his authority, and he knew where he was going. Ladies and gentlemen, I can tell you this. That because Jesus knew where he had come from, that he had come from eternity with the father, that he was God the son, before he was even incarnate in flesh, when he was born at a point in time about 2000 years ago to a woman named Mary, he knew where he had come from. He knew where he was right now, that he was facing down the cross, that he was looking at dying a death for the sins of humanity so that he might be able through is resurrection to satisfy the justice of God and reconcile human beings who put their faith in him to relationship with God.
He knew where he was, and he know where he was going. That he was going to rise from the dead, he was going to declare the kingdom of God, and the victory of God, and he was going to ascend back to the father, and he would be where he was when he began at the right hand of God. Jesus knew where he came from. He knew where he was, and he knew where he was going. So he took off his outer garment and he put on a towel and he washed his disciple's feet. Do you see the connection. You see, Jesus understood his ... Listen to this. Jesus understood his exalted position. And because he understood his exalted position, he didn't have any problem taking the low position. It was no issue for him because he knew who he was. He knew what he was doing. He knew where he was going.
You see, I think one of the great struggles that we have in the church of Jesus in our present context, listen to this, is that believers don't know who they are. And when you don't know who you are, when you haven't gotten straight the me, it does not help the we. Because we put ourselves into really funky positions because now, we feel intimidated all the time, because we look at our friends who are on social media, and it seems like they've got it all together, and so we're competing with them. Or we're jealous of them. Or we're fearful, or we're intimidated. And do you know what that does to relationships? It does not give us a place where we honor one another, we compete with one another. You see, that's the struggle.
The struggle is we don't know who we are. We answer that question by saying, "This is what I do." We can't answer who we are. I wish we could. I wish we could see it. Listen to this, for those that are children of God, I wish we could see who God says we are. Maybe this little visual reminder will help you. So take a quick look at the screen.
Who am I? Am I what I do? An artist? An accountant? A teacher? A mother? Or am I what I've achieved? An honor student? An MVP? A winner? Am I the things I've done right? Or am I defined by the things I've done wrong? Am I a saint? A sinner? What about what others think of me? Am I all of these things? None of these things? Who am I? How I identify myself determines how I approach life. If I am what I do, I'll always need to do more and achieve more to find my value. If I am what other say, I'll always try to please people instead of my heavenly father.
But if I listen to God says I am and embrace his identity in me, I'll find the freedom to live out all he's planned for me. God calls me his child. He says I am wise and restored, that I'm a brand new creation in Christ. I am chosen and holy and blameless before God. He called me his masterpiece. I am loved by God. He says I am made complete through the grace and mercy of Jesus my savior. And when I see myself the way God sees me, I walk with confidence, because I trust the one who answers the question, "Who am I?"
Yeah, that's something you can celebrate for sure. You see, when we get to understand what God says about us, when we look into the mirror of the word and he can point out the things that need correction and help, but he can also say things over us that we don't even believe about ourselves because of his grace, then it's extraordinary. Listen to this, when we start to understand who we are, it changes the dynamics of the relationships that we're in. You see, we understand if we pay attention, we understand where we came from, that we were in the muck and the mire, and that what God did is he reached down and took us out of the mud and the mire and he set our feet upon a rock and he gave us a firm place to stand and he put a new song in our mouth. That this is what God has done.
He has taken me from this place and he has put me in this place and he has made a promise that I am going to be with him forever. I then can know where I came from, where I'm at, and where I'm going. And the Bible says this, listen to this, the Bible says that I have been seated in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus. The Apostle Paul writes that in the early part of the book of Ephesians. I've been seated in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus. That is an exalted position. That's why I don't want you to miss this. Listen to this statement. When we understand our exalted position by grace, we can take a lowly position by choice. When we understand our exalted position by grace, as children of God, we can then take a lowly position by choice.
Why? Because we know who we are. You see, that's the beauty of what this passage is teaching us and it helps to focus us in on what humility does to enable us to honor one another in our relationships. So we got to know our identity. But let me give you a second thing real quick before the power goes out. We got to know our pride. We've got to know our pride. Why do I even say that? Because of what happens next. Jesus put on a towel and he began to wash his disciple's feet. But notice what the text tells us, beginning in verse number six. It says that Jesus came to Simon Peter who said to him, "Lord, are you going to wash my feet?" In the Greek, when you read that, it's really beautiful. He says, "Lord, my feet you are going to wash?"
It's an emphasis on mine and yours. And then what Jesus says is this. "You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand." "'No,' said Peter, 'You shall never wash my feet.'" Just a heads up, quick reality check. Don't say that. When Jesus says he's going to do something, don't go, "No, you ain't doing that." That's just a bad move. Jesus answered, "Unless I wash you, you have no part with me." Then Lord Simon Peter replied, "Not just my feet, but my hands and my head as well." And Jesus answered, "Those who've had a bath, they need only to wash their feet. Their whole body's clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you, for he knew who was going to betray him." And that's why he said not everyone was clean.
Now, when we first read this, here's what we know about Peter. When Jesus comes to Peter when he's washing feet, Peter talks. By the way, that's just what Peter does. And it's interesting, I'm glad that Peter was going to get a foot washing, because typically it was in his mouth. He had to pull it out to talk. This is what Peter did all of the time. And so Jesus comes to Peter, and Peter's like, "Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. Hang on a second. I think I speak for everyone here. We should be washing your feet, not you washing our feet." Now that impulse, by the way, is the right impulse. Wouldn't that be your impulse, by the way? If you were sitting around a table with Jesus, and Jesus drops down to his knees, covered in a towel, and he starts washing your feet, you'd be like, "Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey, hey, hey, hey, hey, hey. Quick TO. I should be doing this, Jesus, not you."
That's your natural impulse, and I think that that is an impulse that is clothed in a sense in humility. We'd be like, "Wait just a second." So when we read this passage, we start to think about, "Okay, Peter is demonstrating his humility." Not so fast. Peter's humility is also at odds with his pride. Because Jesus gets down to wash his feet, and Peter says, "Wait a minute, you are going to wash my feet?" And Jesus says, "Yes, it's what I'm going to do." And Peter's like, "Uh-uh, not happening." Is that a response of humility? When you say to Jesus, the son of God, "Uh-uh, that's not happening." Is that a response of humility? Or is that a response of pride?
Pride that's trying to control what Jesus is doing. And so Jesus says, "Well, if I don't wash your feet, then you've got no part with me." And Peter's like, "Well then wash my head and my hands as well." And Jesus is like, "It's just your feet bro. That's all. That's all I was doing. Why do you keep adding things on? I want to wash your feet. I'm not washing your head, I'm not washing your hands. I'm washing your feet." Even then, Peter is still trying to control the narrative. In other words, here's what's happening. Jesus says, "This is what I'm going to do." And Peter says, "No, this is what you're going to do." That's not a response of humility. That's a response of pride, even under a false humble mask.
You see, why do I tell you that? Here's why. Because what you and I need to understand is that we've got to actually have enough self-awareness to know when pride begins to creep in. Because pride ruins everything. Pride is like water. It knows its way in. It somehow finds its way into some crack and some crevice. And it will always find its way out. It will manifest itself somehow. And the only way, ladies and gentlemen, that we can fulfill the exhortation to honor one another is if we are people of humility. But when we can't recognize our own pride, we're going to have a really difficult time trying to honor one another. Because pride blows up everything.
Have you ever been in a relationship, friend, family, spouse, anything, you've been in a relationship and kind of you have a falling out? And you know what it's around? Pride. Because you're right, you're right, and it's, "I'm digging in." Right? We can't humble ourselves. We can't seek forgiveness. We can acknowledge we might have been wrong. And so you know what we don't do? We don't honor one another. Because we let pride get involved. Pride blows up everything. That's why we have to not only know our identity, we've got to know our pride. Sometimes, people help us to see it when we can't see it ourselves. But there's another, a last thing that I want you to see, and I don't want you to miss this.
We've got to know how to also receive. If we're going to really embrace kind of the life of humility of Jesus so that we can truly honor one another, we've got to know how to also receive. Notice how this passage finishes. Here's what it says, "When Jesus had finished washing all of their feet, he put on his clothes and he returned to his place at the meal. 'Do you understand what I've done for you?' He asked them. 'You call me teacher and Lord, and rightly so, for that is what I am. But now that I, your Lord and teacher have washed your feet, you also should,'" here it is, "Wash one another's feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master. Nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them."
Now, when we read this story that we read in John chapter 13 about Jesus washing his disciple's feet, the first thing that we get from this story is the example of Jesus' humility. And that's right. And what we take from it is the example of Jesus' servant-hood, and that's right. Because what Jesus did is he took himself to a lowly position. You say, "Wasn't it the position of a servant in the ancient time to wash people's feet?" Yes, but actually in some of these contexts, in the ancient world, servants, Hebrew servants, didn't do this. Sometimes gentile servants did. But Hebrew servants didn't even do the foot washing. You know who did it? A woman or a child because of how they were viewed in the ancient world.
So any way you slice it, Jesus is putting himself on the level with a servant, a woman who didn't have the same rights, and they were kind of marginalized in that society, and a child. He just put himself on that same level. Why? Because he knew where he came from. He knew where he was. He knew where he was going. He knew his identity. So he was willing to put himself in a lowly position. But when Jesus is doing this, we learn from that example, and we should, but we also should learn not only that we serve one another in humility, listen to this, but we have to learn how to receive.
You see, that is a thing here in this passage of scripture that I want you not to miss. Picture the setting with me for just a second. They're mid-meal. This isn't at the beginning of the meal. Do you know that the washing of feet would always occur when people arrived to the particular house? That's when that occurred. They would wash their feet then. It was kind of a sign of hospitality. "We're washing your feet. You've taken a journey to get to our house. We're hosting you." That's when it happened. That didn't happen in this setting. They all get up there. They're involved in the passover meal and halfway through the meal Jesus gets up, takes off his outer garment, wraps a towel around him, and he gets a water basin and he begins to go around and get on his knees, where his disciples are, and he begins washing their feet.
Let me ask you a quick question. Peter not withstanding, do you think the place was silent? Imagine if that's you. Are you just carrying on your normal conversation? Like "Yeah, blah, blah, blah, yeah. How are the Yankees doing? Blah, blah, blah. How are the Braves doing? Yeah, the Braves are a little better than the Yankees. Blah, blah, blah, blah. Everybody believes that and should, blah, blah, blah." Are you just still having that conversation? Is that the same conversation that you're having when Jesus, the one you've been walking with, the one who rose Lazarus from the dead, the one who just came in a few days ago on a donkey like a king in fulfillment of prophecy, and people are waiving palm branches saying, "The messiah has come," and now he's with a towel and a water basin and he's down on his knees washing your feet. Are you just carrying on? No you're not.
You're silent. Do you know why? It's because of what you're feeling. Do you know what you're feeling? Humbled. You're feeling humbled. Why? Because you're having to helplessly receive from one who doesn't owe you anything. You are the undeserving recipient of his act of grace. And you are humbled. You see, we have to actually learn how to receive. It was years ago, I think I was 22, maybe 23. I was working at a church in Atlanta. And some of the staff members and deacons and administrators in our church, together we took a bus, kind of one of those mini buses, and we went to this small church, I don't know, hour and a half, two hours away. And I can't remember if it was a full day or if it was an overnight deal, but our job was to come in. This church had asked if we would come in and equip them in a variety of different areas.
I was working at the time in student ministry, and so my job as to come in and take their youth leaders and all of that and kind of help to train them. And it was a small place, so I had only a handful of them. And we had our deacons that came in and helped their deacons understand what deacon ministry looked like, and we had our administrators come in and teach them how to order kind of what they did and music people. So it was one of those deals. Well, after it was over, we were getting ready to leave, and we're kind of standing next to our kind mini bus thing, and they're all ... The recipients were all there and they were saying bye to us, they wanted to pray for us and thank us.
well, the pastor came over to me, the pastor of that church came over to me and he handed me an envelope. Well, when he was doing so, I was assuming this must be some kind of gift. I don't know if he gave me 20 bucks or something for coming to help him out or some kind of gift. So he's handing it to me, and I was like, "No, no, no. Pastor, listen. No. Listen, this is ... I'm glad to be here. This is my pleasure. It's my privilege. Please don't. No." And then he was like, "No, please." And I was like, "Really, no. I can't take it. I really can't."
And so that went on for like the better part of 60 seconds to the point where it started to get uncomfortable, and he's looking at me like, "Dude, like take this." And I'm 22 or 23. By the way, when you're 22 or 23, I don't know if you know this, but you know everything. I straight new everything. Until the deacon that was next to me, after that interchange, he didn't do it in a way to embarrass me or call attention, but he just kind of pulled me aside and he said, "Hey, young man, let me talk to you for a second." I was like, "Okay." I knew where this was going. It wasn't like he was going to, "Hey, can I bend your ear? Could you tell me everything about life?" It wasn't that he was going to do that.
He just said, "Hey, can I offer something up to you?" I said, "Sure." He said, "You need to learn how to receive." I said, "I'm sorry?" And he went, "This man, these people, it was their great blessing to give you something. They were honored to do that. And you couldn't take it. You need to learn how to receive." He said, "Because once you start to learn how to receive, you will start to understand grace in a different way than you did before." I felt a bit like Peter because what was happening in that moment, it was as if Jesus in his voice was saying, "Hey, what I'm doing for you now, you won't understand, but you'll understand later."
I began to understand what the grace was in receiving. Do you know what it was? Humility. Because you are the helpless recipient from someone else's good grace. Isn't this the heart of the gospel? Isn't this what the gospel teaches us? That us undeserving people are recipients of the extraordinary grace of God demonstrated in Jesus Christ, that while we were yet centers, Christ died for us, that he initiated this love relationship with us, and that we undeserving as we may be, what we have to do is simply receive the grace of God. And listen to this, do you know what that does to us when we rightly understand the gospel? It humbles us.
Because we know we don't deserve it. We know that God has acted in such an extraordinary way that is beyond our ability to understand. You see, this is why I believe Jesus said, "Do you guys understand what I've just done for you?" He said, "What I've modeled for you, you call me Lord and teacher, as you should, that's what I am. But what I've done for you in washing your feet, here's what I want you to do. Wash one another's." Why did he say, "One another's?" Because he not only wanted us to learn humility in service, he wanted us to learn humility in receiving. Because both of them are designed for humility. Because when humility's at play, you know what we can do? We can truly honor one another.
To truly honor one another, we have to embrace the humility of Jesus. Are you following this? Are you seeing this? We have to truly embrace the humility of Jesus. That's why I think Paul, when he highlighted this in Philippians chapter two, he highlighted it even more fully when you read the fullness of the passage, because what Paul was doing was calling our attention to Jesus. Listen to what he says, Philippians chapter two, beginning in verse three. "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility, value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests, but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus, who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage, rather he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant and being made in human likeness, being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death, even the death of the cross."
You see, we are a people that need to be a culture of honor. Why? Because Jesus demonstrated it to us. And what we should be as a people, our nature should reflect the nature of the life of the king that's in us. And do you know ... Listen to this. Do you know how we could actually characterize the king? He's a humble king. Anyone who would do what we just saw demonstrated in John chapter 13, anyone who would come for us when we were undeserving is one who is bathed in humility. We actually, listen to this, we serve a king who served us. He's a humble king. Now, what I want you to do for just a moment is I want you to take just a couple of moments to reflect.
Mark and Kelly are going to sing a song over us about this idea, and here's what I want you to do, I want you just to reflect on the nature of Jesus as the humble king. But I also want you to reflect on what that looks like in your life when the life of Jesus is being lived out of you, it will result in a clear Christ-shaped humility. So take just a few moments, if you want to bow your head you can, and make this song your prayer to Jesus for these few moments. See to truly honor one another, we have to embrace the humility of Jesus. His life in us. This is what will enable us to be able to honor one another in this family that we call the family of God.
And maybe you're here, and maybe you're new to church. Maybe you're a guest today. Maybe you're kind of kicking the tires on the whole God thing. Here's what I'd hope. I hope that you wouldn't let your pride keep you from knowing the king who died to rescue you. That you could set your desire to be your own savior and your own king aside and recognize that Jesus, the great servant, is the way of the truth and the life, and no one comes to the father except through him. And that when you turn from your selfish ways and sinful pride and all of those things, and you cast yourself at the mercy of Jesus, you can be forgiven, and set free, and made new, and be a new creation in Jesus.
And if that's your need today, when we dismiss in a moment, I'd ask you, whether you're in this room or the East Worship Center, just to come through the atrium, there's a room called the Fireside Room. There's some pastors, some other friends that are in there. They'd love to talk to you for a moment about what that looks like in your life. Maybe for those of us who know Jesus, could I ask you this? What would it look like for humility to play out in all of your relationships? The ones that are a little bit messed up right now. Maybe the ones that are even good right now. What would it look like for you to allow the humility of Jesus to have his way in those relationships? What would that look like? Maybe you could ask the holy spirit to speak to you along that line, and to give you the strength of obedience. To do whatever he asked you to do.
Because ultimately, the only way we really can honor one another is that if we have a family-like love and we embrace the humility of Jesus. Father, thank you for these sweet folks who've been kind enough to listen. And I pray that by the power of your spirit, through your word, that the seed of your word would fall on fertile soil. That you would take whatever I have done in the water of this creation and you would make it wine in the lives of the hearers. So that it would be fruitful, not only for their lives, but it would be fruitful for the relationships that they have in the body of Christ and the family of God. Because the world is looking to us as a counterculture, as a different kind of people.
And that we should be a people who give the world an aroma of our king, the humble king who knew where he had come from and knew who he was and knew where he was going and so he could put on a towel and he could wash feet. May you help us to understand the beauty of the exalted position that we have in Christ by grace so that we can choose, day in, day out, a lowly position by choice. And would you make this applicable to every facet of our relational lives so that the world can see a people who look like Jesus. I pray this for us all in Jesus' name. Amen.