When Voices Of Hope Evangelistic Team is ministering in Word and Song, their Fire Choir will sing several songs and then lead the Congregation in singing. Since that isn't possible, please click here and may you be blessed by singing along with "'Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus."
Good Morning from the Voices Of Hope Evangelistic Team to all who are listening to or reading this message. What a glorious day to worship God!
Today is the Fourth Sunday of Lent and the title of our Message is “Trusting Jesus.”
Heavenly Father, thank You for giving us the most precious reason to observe Lent with gratitude and praise. Thank You for sending Jesus to be our Savior and Redeemer.
We are continually humbled at the love You displayed through the sacrifice of Your Son; may we commit to remembering the price He paid as we offer our own sacrifices for Lent.
May our focus be on You now in adoration and praise. Our hearts are full of deep gratitude for how You’ve worked in our lives. In the days leading up to Resurrection Sunday, help us recall the many blessings You’ve given us.
May we let this season of Lent be a time of thanksgiving, rejoicing in our souls to You, the God who saves us. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Our Bible reading comes from the New Testament Book of John, Chapter 13, verses 1 through 17. This is a familiar passage, Jesus washing the feet of His disciples. Interestingly, John is the only one of the four gospel writers who records this.
This event occurred during the Passover Supper and it was the last time Jesus and His disciples broke bread together before His death on the cross.
Now reading from John 13:1-17:
13 Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.
2 During supper, when the devil had already put it 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 had come from God and was going back to God,
4 rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist.
5 Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?”
7 Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.”
8 Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.”
9 Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!”
10 Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.”
11 For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “Not all of you are clean.”
12 When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you?
13 You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am.
14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet.
15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.
16 Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.
17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them
Since Jesus spent some of His last hours before His arrest on this act, let’s look at its significance for both His disciples and for all Christians who strive to follow Jesus’ example and teachings.
As I researched these scriptures, here are three of the most commonly taught lessons.
1. For Jesus, it was the display of His humility and His servant-hood.
2. For the disciples, the washing of their feet was in direct contrast to their heart attitudes at that time.
3. For us, washing feet is symbolic of our role in the body of Christ.
One of the many things that I appreciate about our Lord is that He never asks anything of anyone that He isn’t willing to do Himself. His entire life was a demonstration of a life laid down for others and living only for the glory of God.
Looking at the first lesson – Jesus' humility and His servant-hood - we need to understand the purpose of washing people's feet during Jesus' time on earth.
Walking in sandals on the filthy roads of Israel in the first century made it necessary that feet be washed before a group meal. Tables were not the height we have today and chairs were not used. Tables were low to the floor so people reclined at the table and their feet could be easily seen.
During those days, washing the feet of guests was a responsibility of a household servant. Usually, the lowliest servant performed this disliked duty of washing the dirty, filthy feet of strangers or travelers before they entered a home.
But here we see Jesus Christ, God’s Son, approaching His disciples with a towel around His waist and a basin of water. This selfless act displayed Jesus’ amazing humility! He took the role of a servant to wash the dusty and dirt-covered feet of His disciples. He did what the lowliest slave would do.
Jesus was setting an incredible example of what it is to be “Christ-like” through His humble actions. Status, pride, or even dirt did not stop Him from rolling up His sleeves to serve the men who had been at His side throughout the duration of His ministry.
And this brings us to the second lesson. Although a servant was not present at the time, not one of the disciples came forward to perform this necessary task. Up until this time, they were more concerned with important things like "who would sit where" and their own places of recognition in the Kingdom.
Sometimes people feel that they are too distinguished to do the humble things; they feel that they are too important to have to do some menial task. JESUS WASN’T LIKE THEM!
The disciples must have been stunned at this act of humility and condescension, that Christ, their Lord and Master, should wash the feet of His disciples. It would have been more proper for them to have washed Jesus' feet.
But when Jesus came to earth the first time, He came not as King and Conqueror, but as the suffering Servant that Isaiah described in Chapter 53.
Jesus used this simple illustration to get their attention for the days to come. The world would need to see a group of committed followers of Christ who were willing to do anything for the sake of the Kingdom.
Jesus raised the act from one of menial service to one of great spiritual significance. You see, to be unwashed by Christ is to be unclean, to have no part with Him.
Peter was profoundly uncomfortable with the Lord washing his feet, and never being at a loss for words, Peter protested, “You shall never wash my feet!”
And Jesus' answer to Peter brings us to lesson number three of our role in the body of Christ.
Jesus said to Peter: “Unless I wash you, you have no part with Me.” Now Peter's love for Jesus was genuine and Peter said: “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” basically requesting a complete washing.
Jesus is speaking metaphorically, while Peter is taking Him literally, much like Nicodemus did when Jesus said “Ye must be born again.”
Jesus was talking about spiritual cleansing and helps us understand about our salvation.
Notice the radical change in Peter’s response when Jesus explained that this washing was necessary. Peter, upon realizing the necessity of such cleansing for himself said in essence, "wash all of me, Lord!" verse 9.
Those who have experienced the cleansing of salvation don’t need to be washed again in the spiritual sense.
Salvation is a one-time act of justification by faith, but the lifelong process of sanctification is one of washing from the stain of sin we experience as we walk through the world.
This truth is just one of several that we Christians can apply to our own lives.
First, when we come to Christ for the washing of our sins, we can be sure that it is permanent and complete.
No act can cleanse us further from our sin, as our sin has been exchanged for the perfect righteousness of Christ on the cross.
But we do need continual cleansing from the effects of living in the flesh in a sin-cursed world. The continual washing of sanctification is done by the power of the Holy Spirit, who lives within us.
I read another explanation of all this that is simple and easy to remember.
When we are saved and receive God's Holy Spirit, we become spiritually clean before Him and come under His grace and mercy. Jesus Christ's blood covers us entirely and washes completely away all our sins. The old sinner has been discarded, crucified, and buried. In that old sinner's place, a "new person" has risen. We are set apart from the world even though we remain in the world.
The pulls and temptations of human nature, however, still exist. As we live our lives, of course we will still sin, but we're no longer sinners. We're Saints living in a sinful world who sin.
When true Christians do sin, God does NOT treat us as if we were never saved or received His Spirit. We are still His spiritual children. God, as a loving parent, sees our sin in a sense as a setback and a flaw we need to repent of and overcome. In His eyes His children have only gotten ourselves a little dirty. As in the sense that we need our feet washed.
Further, when Jesus washed the disciples’ feet, He told them (and us), “I have given you an example that you should do as I have done to you.”
In those days as in many times today, humility is seen as a sign of weakness.
But washing the disciples' feet shows not only the true character of Jesus, but also the character He wants all believers to develop.
As I said earlier, Jesus makes it plain that He doesn't expect something from us that He Himself did not do. This is the mark of a true spiritual leader.
And unless we allow Jesus to wash our feet, we can't wash the feet of others. In doing so, Jesus gives us the spiritual provision we need day by day, above and beyond the service He gave in offering His life for our salvation.
Think about this. We can't pray without His empowering us in prayer; we can't grow in holiness without His forming holiness in us; we can't lead others to faith without the working of His Spirit; we can't serve others without the service He first offers to us.
As His followers, we are to emulate Him through the power of the Holy Spirit living within us, serving one another in lowliness of heart and mind, seeking to build one another up in humility and love.
Jesus' simple act of foot-washing teaches us the kind of humility God wants us to have.
When we seek greatness, we displease the Lord who promised that true greatness in His Kingdom is attained by those with a servant’s heart. When we have that servant’s heart, the Lord promised, we will be greatly blessed.
An example of humble service by Christ would now be used to pave the way for the future actions of Christ’s followers for thousands of years to come.
The clincher to this point was made very clear by Jesus in the text given to us in verse 15. Jesus stated, "No servant is greater than his master."
As Jesus revealed in Matthew 20:28, He came “not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” The humility expressed by His act with towel and basin foreshadowed His ultimate act of humility and love on the cross.
This shows us what Jesus does with absolute power...He serves.
In the past, all of this is what I had taken away from these scriptures.
But with this particular message, the Holy Spirit touched my heart in a different way. There's something I hadn't seen before when Jesus wanted to wash Peter's feet and Peter said no.
Jesus was asking for Peter's trust – for Peter to place his feet in Jesus' hands.
I hadn't seen that trust issue before. Maybe it touched me because having participated in foot washings before, I had no problem in washing the feet of my sisters. My willingness to serve wasn't an issue.
But when another was ready to wash my feet, I participated reluctantly. My willingness to submit to being served made me uncomfortable. I felt like Peter...no, let me serve you.
I had to do much soul searching and ask myself: Why am I uncomfortable trusting another sister with washing my feet? That brought up more questions.
Do we treat our relationship with Jesus the same way? Are we eager to submit when Jesus asks us to do something we can accomplish in ourselves? Yet when He asks us to do something that requires our trust in Him to accomplish the task, then do we hesitate?
Years ago, when God called me to lead Voices Of Hope and I finally said yes Lord, I spoke with my Pastor. I said I had no problem with other ministries God had entrusted to me years before. I felt confident in my abilities to do them. But in this, I felt inadequate. I asked Pastor, why would God call me to do this? Pastor said, maybe, Sandy, it's because God wants you to trust and depend on Him, not yourself.
What God wants from me is to trust in His ability and to allow the Holy Spirit to use me.
Let’s ask ourselves this question: If we had been there that day, what would our response have been when Jesus came to wash our feet?
Life gives us opportunities to serve and opportunities to allow others the blessing of serving us.
Jesus didn’t come to create a religion but a relationship. Jesus said: “I am the way, the truth and the life.” not “I know the way, the truth and the life.”
Jesus didn’t come to create a system, a set of doctrines, a list of do’s and don’ts. He came to engage us in a life changing relationship where He is at the helm of our lives.
Jesus asks us to trust Him not just with our feet, but with our lives. Will we do that?
What is God calling you to do? Whatever it is, are you willing to say yes, to trust Him and His abilities instead of saying, “I can't”?
Maybe you can't, but God through you can, if you will let Him use you. Lord, help us be more trusting, more willing to submit, more fully depending on You and Your abilities, not our own.
Jesus Christ has empowered each one of us to demonstrate to others on a daily basis that we are serious about this business of servanthood.
What will our response be to those He places along our path who desperately need to see Christ’s love and compassion demonstrated to them in tangible ways?
We are in the Fourth Sunday of Lent. This is a time when we prepare our hearts and minds to once more live through the events of Holy Week and Easter, Jesus’ death and resurrection. It is through those events that we are assured of God’s ultimate and complete love for us, and we can know the reality of God’s hope that is ours.
John 3:16 says: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
Jesus is the only Savior for all mankind. The Bible says in Romans 6:23, “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” And in I Corinthians 15:22 and 45: “For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. The first man Adam became a living being’; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit.”
Two thousand years ago Jesus came into our world. He was born of a virgin, tempted by Satan but lived a perfect, sinless life. Jesus died on the cross as the sacrifice for the penalty for our sins so that we would not have to be controlled by sin.
If you haven’t trusted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, I encourage you to do so right now.
I John 5:13 tells us: “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.”
Jesus has provided the gift of salvation to us which gives us not only hope for today but hope for eternity.
In Romans 10:9, we are told that “if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”
We receive salvation when we:(1) Repent of our sins.
(2) Trust Jesus Christ as our Savior.
(3) Confess Jesus Christ as Lord.
If you haven’t accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, invite Him into your life right now.
Or maybe there are those who are far away from Jesus. Have you allowed your comfortable, personally focused desires to act as an eclipse between you and God? Is Jesus obscured or completely blacked out of your life? Do you miss Him?
All it takes is to open yourself and say "I want things to be different. I know things need to be different. I know what’s wrong, what doesn’t belong and I invite You, Jesus, to come and change me.”
When we turn back to Jesus in repentance, when we ask for forgiveness, intending to live a godly life, God’s mercy reaches out to us with a message of love. God is a God of mercy, of redemption, of restoration and of renewal. Just come by faith to the throne of grace to receive it. He is waiting for you with open arms. Repent all over again and get back to fulfilling God’s plan in and through your life.
Heavenly Father, during this Lenten season, may we all take time to draw closer to You. I pray that we spend time studying Your Word and that we spend time in prayer with You. I pray that we use the gifts You’ve given us to serve and honor You. I pray that we find ways to share Jesus with our brothers and sisters through our words and deeds.
In Jesus’ name,