Our Higher Priority
OUR HIGHER PRIORITY
1. Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.
2. And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him;
3. Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands and that he was come from God, and went to God;
4. He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself.
5. After that, he poureth water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.
We all know these are the last days of this dispensation of grace. That means falling away, apostasy, lukewarm churches, and Sodom-like sin in the world. Evil in abundance, as it was in Noah's day, and a famine, not of preaching, but of hearing the Word of God shall harden the hearts of men and women, young people and children alike. In the minds of many, God has been squeezed into a box of irrelevance, as if He is way down the list of priorities in the lives of those who claim an experience of relationship with Him. As a result, the work of God and His church suffers a rate of attrition that has all but destroyed the purpose. When describing the condition of the church and culture, Paul, writer of over half of the NT said:
12 For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret.
13 But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light.
14 Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.
That lean revival prophet from Tecoa said to Israel:
Woe to them that are at ease in Zion,
I. LEAVE THE TABLE
Do you serve a higher purpose or do you serve yourself? You see, you cannot have service in the kingdom of God until the feeding has been ended. God gives food for service, and says, "I give seed to the sower." "I don't give seed for your entertainment, or pleasure, but I give seed according to your appetite." God fuels those who serve. He does not feed for enrichment, nor pleasure, but He gives strength for those who serve Him and "where He leads, He feeds." He gives seed, you plant it, others may water it, But God gives the increase, and it comes back to you.
In our text, Jesus is nearing the end of His earthly mission. Isn't it interesting that at the end, with only a few days to live, Jesus is feeding and serving; the cup and the towel. If you knew that you only had a few days to live, would you be fussing with people, and doing all kind of evil speaking, and sowing discord, and gossiping about things that don't matter? I think not! You would probably prioritize and do the most important things with the time you had left. It seems strange to me that in the last days of His life, He would wash feet. Jesus was down on his knees, in the floor, serving. They call it the bucket list. You see, you will never reach that place of servitude as long as you are stuck at the table; feeding, getting all that you can get and filling yourself up with God's grace and mercy, doing what matters to you. Over and over again, a habit of choosing the fleshly carnal pleasures of this world, rather than humbling yourself under the mighty hand of God. You should be exercising faith during the week, fueled by the strength you received on Sunday. To stay at the comfortable seat at the table as opposed to kneeling on the floor is the real question of true discipleship.
II. HE LAID ASIDE HIS GARMENTS
It has been well said, "the clothes make the man." What we choose to wear is a kind of badge that says volumes about our personality, our worldview, and our identity.
Golf Balls: Titleist, Calloway, etc.
Soft Drinks: Coke, Mountain Dew, Dr. Pepper, etc.
Caps: Baseball Caps, Beanies, Painters Caps, (Braves, Ala, Aub)
One thing is for sure, in order to serve the Lord Jesus, a disciple must "Lay aside garments," and die to ourselves, give up our personal agenda, and take up the cross and follow Christ. You need to understand self-centered, self-aggrandizing, and proud, heady, high-minded, arrogant people don't serve anyone but themselves and their own. They don't serve the Lord, they don't serve their families, neighbors, or their generation. It's all about them and their comfort, and well being.
Now don't get confused here. Those kind of selfish people are not going to serve but they love to be served, and they have high standards and expectations of those who serve them. Its true, they can offer harsh criticism when service doesn't meet their expectation! Their response can be sharp and very severe! You see, Jesus said, "I did not come into the world to be served, but to serve, and give my life a ransom for many." If our Lord had that kind of mindset, then there is no level of wealth, or social standing, or political power that will exempt anyone from being the serving disciple Jesus expects us to be. Listen, stuff is just stuff! It will not help you when you really need help. There is a higher reality: "I will lift up my eyes unto the hills from
whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord."
III. HE WASHED THE DISCIPLES FEET
Jesus "girded Himself with a towel." A towel about the loins was the common garb of a slave in biblical days. And one who knelt upon the floor was one who was in submission. The one who washed feet usually did that first as guests came into the room. The problem of dirty feet, sitting at a table where Jesus was feeding needed to be corrected. It took the most important person at the dinner to demonstrate servitude to the disciples who had argued and contended with one another about who would be greatest in the kingdom of God. Walking was the principle means of travel in biblical times, and sandals and feet would bear dust and filth from the journey. Upon entering a house, the host would either wash the feet of his guest, or servants would refresh the weary traveler by washing his feet. It was a hosts way of saying "I want your coming to my house to be a refreshing experience for you. I want you to find joy, peace, rest and comfort at my house." O, Child of God, our Lord would have you know this morning, that its time for us to stop eating at the table with dirty feet. Let us arise from taking in and jumble ourselves to the the floor of servitude. Can you get this? Jesus is about to leave this world, and the disciples are arguing about who is gonna get what. Like families at a funeral, what am I gonna get outta this? Everybody wants to be next! You want to see this place get up and shout and dance and rejoice? Just let me tell them that they are next! That's the great problem in marriages. Everybody wants everything to be about them! Everybody wants to take! If there are no givers, folks, the takers will be so unhappy that the marriage will fail! When two selfish people marry, it won't be long until they start making a list: You didn't do this, and you didn't do that, and expectations aren't met and soon you're sitting at the counselor's office telling him, "I'm just not happy. No your not happy, because you are a taker not a giver, and when you don't get your way, and don't get what you want, it's time to leave that person and go find another giver that you can sap the life out of for as long as he or she will allow it.
You see a selfish daddy, and a selfish momma will raise selfish kids, and they will all be fighting for turf, control, and money to make them happy. Fighting, calling one another mean things and making accusations, cussing, in a rage because they aren't getting what they want. Pride, my brothers and sisters, is at the heart of all contention. That's the problem in business, if the takers outnumber the givers, the business will end in bankruptcy.
Ask yourself this question: "What do people get when they get you, and what do they lose when they lose you?" What is your purpose? Are you only about getting what you want? Or is it your desire to get up from the table, throw aside your pride and selfish desires, and be a servant to the Lord and those around you. Jesus washed the feet of the man who was responsible for nailing his feet. Jesus was serving a higher purpose. I know you've got bills to pay and family to support, but let me ask you, is that all there is? Things? Bring it in the front door and throw it out the back door. Is there not something in you that is greater than the house you live in or the car you drive? Is there not something greater? Or are you in the business of sustaining you that you have no higher purpose? You see, worship in songs and prayers is one thing, worshipping in your life is another. And one reason why people can't worship in God's house is because there is nothing bigger than them in their lives. They are under such pressure to get and have that they are self-centered and not Christ-centered. So consumed with what is going on with them and not what is going on with anyone else.