Service Principles


John 13:13-15

You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘Lord’, rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and teacher, have washed your feet, you also should was one another’s feet. 15 I have set you and example that you should do as I have done.

The night before his crucifixion, in the upper room, Jesus taught his disciples much.  He shared a Passover meal with them, and tied it to his coming sacrifice.  He left the observance of bread and cup as a perpetual reminder of his sacrifice, and he washed his disciples feet.

what was Jesus teaching?  He was teaching us how to be a servant, more than what to do.  Sure, sometimes we have foot washing ceremonies, but that is not what Jesus was trying to accomplish.  He was teaching the principle of service; see the need, meet the need.  Jesus says (v15) “do AS I have done” … not do WHAT I have done.

So, quickly, what are the service principles I see here?

1. Recognize

you call me teacher and Lord

There is a difference in calling him “teacher and Lord”, and actually allowing him to be those things to you.

phoeo = to name, to call, to cry out.  We have called him teacher and Lord, but are we actually learning from him and obeying him?  We cry out to him for our needs, but are we listening when He calls to us to serve Him by serving others.  We need to recognize him as teacher and Lord

Lord – kyrios = lord, master, owner, ruler.  To be his servant we have to recognize he owns us, he leads us, he rules us, is the boss, Sovereign in all things including my life.  If we recognize him as Lord, we will never say, “But Lord,”… we will just say “Yes sir.”

Teacher – didaskalos = master teacher.  Sure we don’t always know how or what … but we have a teacher.  He will teach us didactically, thoroughly, if we allow him.  More on that in a moment.  But

we also need to recognize the need.  In this case, dirty feet.  There were no servants in this house, so the custom was for the first guest to wash the other guest’s feet.  But no one had recognized the need by action.  Why?  Pride.  The disciples often fought over who was greatest.  So, they weren’t going to serve.  But Need is greater than pride or position.  Recognize the need

Need > Pride/Position

2nd principle

2. Ask

To the disciples credit, they did often ask, when they didn’t know.  Of course they spent 3 1/2 years with Jesus, who was doing stuff that they weren’t used to seeing.  So, they often asked:

Lord teach us to pray

Lord Increase our faith

Lord help my unbelief

v6 Peter said “Lord are you going to wash my feet?” i.e. What are you doing? Why are you doing this?

We have to ask.  Remember James 4:3, “you have not because you ask not.”

Jesus said “God is always at work around us.”  If we want to know what the need is ask.  If we want to know what to do, how to do it, ask.  And our teacher and Lord will tell us, teach us, how, what, when, or who

principle #3

3. Watch / Listen / Learn

Can you imagine the stunned silence while Jesus didn’t scold them for their lack of service.  They failed to do the most obvious thing in the room.  This wasn’t something they didn’t know, they knew.  This was custom, this was expected, they just didn’t do it.  But often, refusal to serve is contagious.  First guy showed up and no one was there to wash feet, so he should have taken up the towel and served, but he didn’t.  So, the next arrives, and he doesn’t serve, “well he didn’t do it, he should have, well I’m not.”  And then each one that arrived made the same decision.  Pride reigned.  But Jesus is Lord, they called him Lord, and when Jesus reigns, the need reigns.  See the need, meet the need.  So, Jesus took off his privileges, and put on service.  This is Philippians 2:1-11 in action.  When we watch our Lord and Teacher, we can’t help but serve.

now that I have … I have set an example that you should … 

We have to pay attention.  We have to practice, to try.  Don’t fear failure IN action, but failure TO act.  The only failure is if we don’t try.  Trial and error is learning.  Failure to try is disobedience and failure to learn.

The final principle is

4. DO

Trying, practicing, learning, leads to DOING as a lifestyle.  Service then becomes ingrained in life.

This is not  box we check with a one time action, and then we are done.  We don’t get our “service badge”.  No, we serve, humbling ourselves, recognizing the needs, following the example of our Lord and Master Teacher, laying down our lives for others.  That is the love of Christ within us.  That is a spring of living water bubbling up out of us.

Please know that I am not writing this as Mr. Service, like I have all this together,  but as a learner trying to learn.

But as we learn.  As we stop trying to please ourselves, serving others, we find our pleasure we find our happiness.

v17 “now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”

– markarios = blessed, happy, fortunate.  Oh we have it backwards.  “If they would just do for me, I would be happy, fortunate.” NO … the blessing, the fortune, the real happiness, is in serving.  Happiness follows service, because service follows Jesus, and following Jesus causes the Father to say, “well done.”

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