A Night Unforgettable
|John 13 (NKJV™)|
|1||Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.|
|2||And supper being ended, the devil having 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 to God,|
|4||rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself.|
|5||After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded.|
New King James Version®, Copyright © 1982, Thomas Nelson, Inc. All rights reserved.
Some days are frozen in time because of the magnitude of an event. You will always remember September 11, 2001 and where you were when the towers fell. The night America bombed Baghdad or the night John Lennon was murdered may be permanent memories captured in your mind. This was the final night Jesus spent with His own disciples and it would be unforgettable. Let’s discover how what seem like ordinary moments can be extraordinary appointments.
"But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name" John 20:31.
Believe:879 is an epic journey through the book of John led by Pastor Skip Heitzig of Calvary of Albuquerque. As we explore each of the 879 verses of this gospel, we'll grow in grace and in our knowledge of Jesus Christ. From His pre-incarnate existence, to His public ministry, through His death and His resurrection we'll traverse familiar territory and embark on new adventures of faith.
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Pondering the Principles:
Hebrew Terms: pesach - Passover
Figures Referenced: Mary Jean Irion; Josephus; Graham Scroggie; Ralph Waldo Emerson; Erma Bombeck; Leonard Bernstein;
Cross References: Esther 4:14; Psalm 90:12; Isaiah 14:12-14; Isaiah 14:15; Matthew 4:19; Matthew 9:35-38; Matthew 10:1-5; Luke 22:24; John 1:29; John 2:4; John 7:6-8; John 8:20; John 12:23; John 12:27; 1 Corinthians 11:25; Ephesians 5:16; Philippians 1:6; Philippians 2:5-8; Philippians 2:9-11
Keywords: Supper, Passover, Judas, His hour
Let's pray together. Father our hearts go out especially to those in Japan at this very moment, who have suffered great loss. A little movement in the crust of the earth causes such damage. We understand how frail we are upon this earth and how much we depend upon You. And so Lord we who depend upon You cry out for our neighbors across the sea, in Japan, especially our brothers and sisters, some of whom we know personally, some who are in ministry in serving in churches and on the field, and we pray that You would keep them. And also, keep them in the right frame of mind to share the love of Jesus, with those who are suffering very deep and profound loss.
We want to remember Father our men and women in the military who are out of the country and placed themselves all over the world, some in harms way. Just a special prayer for them that You direct their steps and guide them and keep them. Bring them home to families who have allowed them to go out. And Father we pray for ourselves here at home that we would see this as a special moment that You have something that You want to say to us, and our hearts would never be too calloused nor hardened to open them up and hear a fresh word from heaven, so speak, in Jesus name, Amen.
I discovered that so far in my life I have had 20,318 nights. Now, before you write that down, I'm trying to do the math of exactly how old I am. I did the math and that, 20,318 nights, many have been ordinary, and a couple of them standout to me as being very important. One obviously, would be the night in spring many years ago, when I asked Lena Farley to be my wife. I'll never forget the night nor will she, because she had no idea what I was actually saying to her.
In fact as I'm stumbling my way through it she finally stopped because, "Are you trying to ask me to marry you?"
So, I was grateful for the help.
Another night that stands out was the summer night that I've prayed to receive Christ into my heart. I was watching television and Billy Graham says, "If you're watching television --" and I was, and so I prayed to receive Him. Now, of those 20,318 nights that I've had, those two nights changed my life forever. They were pretty special. I could add a couple to that. The first night I was a dad, six months ago the first night I was a grandpa. These are life changing nights. At every Passover, a child will ask the father at the Passover meal, "What makes this night different from all other nights?" That's a question written into the liturgy of the "Passover meal." Because, God thought it was important enough that His people would forever remember, the land that was slain in Egypt, and the blood placed over the lentils and doorpost as the remembrance of their deliverance out of bondage.
We're dealing with that meal in this chapter, the Disciples and Jesus gathered together for what we have known as "The Last Supper Meal." The Disciples had spent many a meal with Jesus, and at least two previous Passovers. But this night, was different from all other nights in their life. This would be a night that they would live to remember as being very, very special. It was so extraordinary a night that John, the writer of the gospel, views these chapters 13, chapter 14, chapter 15, chapter 16, chapter 17 and part of chapter 18 to record a single night. It was a night that was unforgettable, a night to remember.
Now, in the course of the event of that night, one of the things the Lord does is give what we called "The Upper Room Discourse." Remember that, because we're going to be studying it in chapters 14, 15 and 16. He alone gives us the information recorded as Jesus unfolds His heart to His Disciples and trains them. You also are going to have some special nights in your life. I don't know what they are, but there's going to be some that standout to you as being very special. You might not know they're special at that moment, but they will turn out to be key moments, hinge points.
It caused one author named Mary Jean Irion to write this, "Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are. Let me learn from you, love you, savor you, bless you before you depart. Let me not pass you by in quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow. Let me hold you while I may, for it will not always be so. One day I shall dig my nails into the earth, or bury my face in the pillow, or stretch myself taut, or raise my hands to the sky, and want more than all the world, your return."
Well, let's find out why this night was so unforgettable, verse one. Now, before the feast of the Passover when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father. Having loved His own who are in the world, He loved them to the end, and suffer being ended the devil, having already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son to betray him. Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, rose from supper, and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded himself, after that he poured water into a basin and began to wash the Disciple's feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which he was girded.
Now, in your worship folder, you have an outline and if you don't have that with you, I'm going to give five reasons why this night was so special and so different from all other nights. Number one, this night was framed by a sense of timing. I want to explain that, it was framed by a sense of timing. First of all, there are words in the text that indicate a special time. The first is the word Passover. That was always a special time annually for the Jews. They would gather together, and if you lived anywhere in the vicinity of Jerusalem, it was one of the three mandatory feasts you had to be in the city of Jerusalem. If you live further away, in fact if you lived anywhere else in the world, you wanted to be there. To this very day, at Passover, one of the last things Jewish people say in the meal together is they close by saying, "Next year in Jerusalem!" That was their hope, to spend at least one Pesach or Passover season in the holy city. It was a crowded event even 2000 years ago.
Josephus the historian tells us that at one Passover season during this era, 256,000 lambs were slaughtered in the temple for Passover. The ratio is ten people per lamb, so we can safely say there were at least 2.75 million people in the city of Jerusalem to celebrate Passover. The lambs were slain, and after they were slain, the lamb was given to the family or to the group. They took the lamb home, they roasted it. They had a leisurely meal together as they celebrated that moment of their history, the moment of deliverance. But, on this night, it was different. The Disciples weren't just celebrating the lamb that was killed that day in the temple, or the lamb killed thousands of years ago in Egypt. They were celebrating something different, they would discover, the lamb sitting at the table with them, Jesus, whom John the Baptist called the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.
Look at verse one. There's something else about timing. Now, before the feast of the Passover when Jesus knew that His hour had come, that He should depart from this world to the Father. You're familiar with that phrase by now, the term, His hour or My hour. Six times in the gospel of John, that phrase comes up. It's very significant John really hammers this theme throughout the book. The first time we encounter it is chapter two. He's at the married supper at Cana of Galilee. Mary, Jesus' mother suggests that Jesus do something to introduce Himself as the messiah to the nation. Jesus turns to her, remember what He said? "Woman, My hour has not yet come."
Then we go to chapter seven and chapter eight, Jesus is in Jerusalem at the temple. He says and does some controversial things, they tried to grab Him, but the Bibles says, "no one laid a hand on Him, because His hour had not yet come." Few chapters later, He's again in Jerusalem in chapter 12, He goes into the city on that donkey, on Palm Sunday. And arriving in the temple He says, "The hour has come for the Son of man to be glorified."
A few minutes later he says, "Now, my soul is troubled and what shall I say? Father save me from this hour? No, but for this very purpose I came to this hour." So, all the way through, He speaks about the timing, His hour, His hour, His hour."
So, what makes this night different from all other nights? That's the question asked to Passover. One of the Disciples must have asked the question that night. What makes this night so different? Is this hour, this moment in history, this Passover when Jesus the Lamb for sinners slain, was about to be offered up. It's because of this hour that John devotes almost six chapters to that single night. And I want you to remember something. I've told you this, a couple of times before, but these facts move over us quickly. There are 89 chapters in total in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Add them all up, you have 89 chapters. Eighty-five of those 89 chapters focus on the last three and a half years of Jesus' life on earth. Of that 85 chapter, block 29, focused on the final week of Jesus on the earth. And 13 deal with the last 24-hour segment of His life.
That's the main focus. Five hundred and seventy-nine separate verses in all four gospels zero in on the hour, or this moment, this time, the 24-hour period where Jesus gives His life for the world. No wonder Graham Scroggie, the great Biblical scholar said, "You cut the Bible anywhere and it bleeds." It's all about this. And folks, this explains why Christians focus a lot on the cross, on the crucifixion. That bugs some people, "Why do you always talk about the cross, the blood, the cross?" And, this also explains why every year, when we commemorate our Savior's death, we refer to it as Good Friday. An outsider would say, "What's so good about it? He died." What's so good about it, in fact we should call it Great Friday. Because, what's so great about it, are the results, the result is forgiveness. God is able to wash our sins away, as we look to Jesus as the offering for our sin.
I want to encourage you to make the celebration of this hour, the cross a priority in your life. Make it a personal ambition if you will to whenever you hear there's a communion service that is offered, go to it, partake. Jesus said, "Do this often, in remembrance of me." So, that's the first thing that makes this night so different, so unforgettable, so special. It was framed by that sense of timing, 'My hour.'
Second, it focused on a private gathering, go back again to verse one. Before the feast of Passover, Jesus knew that His hour had come, that He should depart from world to the Father. Now watch this, having loved His own who are in the world, they loved Him to the end. Now, that's who is in the room with, His own. Who's His own? The 12 Apostles, those are his closest friends. They would be regarded as intimate Disciples, His own. So, this is important. This isn't a public gathering. This isn't an evangelistic crusade, or a public sermon. This is a private meal, a private meeting with a close group of friends that Jesus shares behind closed doors. Think of it as a coach gathering the team before the big game, giving them the plays of the other opposing team. Or a general gathering his soldiers before a battle, and encouraging them before they hit the field, so Jesus training His Disciples discipling them in chapters 14, 15, 16 or even here by the very event that we read about.
Here's the question. Why would Jesus, if He's about to leave the earth, He's about to die, why would He spent the last moments of His life with His own Disciples? I mean, they already know him, they are already saved, we would say. They believed in Him. There's a whole crowd out there. There are thousands of people that don't believe and don't know. Why wouldn't Jesus leave that room, go out there, do some miracles, say something and get as many people as possible, even give an altar call.
That's a good question. There's a good answer for it. The answer is, because that's their job as Disciples, not He's job. He's job is to train them and equip them to go out and do it. I think it's an important distinction to make. At the very time Jesus called his Disciples who are fishermen. He said something to them, "Follow me. I'm going to make you become fishers of men. You guys are going to follow me for a few years, you're going to watch me fish, but basically I'm training you to do it. You're going to be the ones to do it, not me. You're going to do it." And they would become that.
I'll put a marker here. Go back if you don't mind to Matthew's gospel, chapter nine. I want you to see these principles, the best example I know of it, Matthew chapter nine. So, go back three blocks to the gospel of Matthew. The street marked nine, Matthew chapter nine verses 35. You there? Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. You get the picture that Jesus is doing it all, but, but when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered like sheep having no shepherd. Then he said to His Disciples, "The harvest is truly plentiful, the laborers are few, therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest."
Now, I'm going to imagine that the Disciples obeyed Jesus and did exactly that, maybe got together that day. James with John or Peter and they bowed their heads and they said, "Lord, like just Jesus told us, we pray that You'd send out more workers, it's a big harvest field. There's lot of people out there, they need to hear about Jesus. And we just pray You'd send people out there." Not knowing, how that prayer was about to be answered. Chapter ten, "And when He had called His 12 Disciples to Him, He gave them power over unclean spirits to cast them out, to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease." Verse two, now the names of the 12 Apostles are these, and they're listed.
Go down to verse five. These 12, Jesus sent out. Get the picture? "Guys, I want you to pray, we need workers out there. Lord, send more workers." A couple of days later, "Hey, guess what guys, you're prayers have been answered. You're going. I'm sending you." Now, here's the principle, I don't want you to miss this. You get saved, you get Discipled, and you get turned loose. That's the principle. You get saved, you get Discipled, prepare, and you get turned loose. So, that's what Jesus is doing in that upper room. This private meeting is to train His own, to prepare them to impact the crowds that are outside of that room in days ahead.
I love calling people to faith, I love doing altar calls, we do them quite frequently. And, this Wednesday night we had a great, great altar call. A lot of people came forward. Last night same thing, but that's all of our job, that's all of our opportunity. So, what makes this night so special? It's not just another Passover where we looked back to a lamb slain thousands of years ago in a country called Egypt. This is the night. This is the last night that those Disciples are going to eat a meal with Jesus before He goes to the cross to die. And Jesus will train them, and Disciple them. And they don't even know how important that night is. They will later on, but even at that moment they have no clue how monumental this evening is.
Here's another principle. Learn to live by a sense of timing, divine timing. What looks to you like just a normal ordinary day, a normal ordinary night, not so extraordinary may actually be a hinge moment, an extraordinary special time. You recall the words that in the book of Esther, Uncle Mordecai said to his niece Esther, who was in the palace of the king. Remember the words? He said, "Who knows that you didn't come to the kingdom for such a time as this. This could be a special moment what seems to you Esther like an ordinary day maybe a special moment of deliverance that God will use you for."
Another, one of my favorite, verses Psalm 90 written by Moses incidentally. He says, "So Lord, teach us to number our days, that we might gain a heart of wisdom." I find that interesting that when we reckon time according to that Psalm, we're to think not about how many years we've lived, but how many days we've lived. Teach us to number our days.
Let me throw out a thought to you. If you're 40 years of age, you have effectively only 500 days left to live. You go "Skip, you need a math class really bad," because the average American will leave to be 78.4 years old. That's now the average. So, how can you tell me if I'm 40 that I've only got 500, I got way more than that. No, actually if you were to subtract all of the years accumulated in your life that you will spend eating, sleeping, working, that's about right. You see, 25 years of the average American's life, 25 years total, will be spent sleeping. From 18 to 25 years will be spent working. So, you just subtract those. Another eight years will be spent as the average watching television, and some will watch 28 years worth of television.
But the average is eight years. And subtract medical visits, hospitalization, et cetera, that effectively, at the end of that in the next 37, 38 year if you live to be the average, you only have 500 days left to live as you will, as you wish. Teach us to number our days that we might gain a heart of wisdom. The issue isn't counting time as much as making time count. Put in the words of Paul the Apostle, "Redeeming the time." Might be a five minutes here, ten minutes here, 20 minutes here, redeeming the time because the days are evil.
Listen to the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson he writes, "Guard well your spare moments. They are like uncut diamonds. Discard them and their value will never be known. Improve them and they will become the brightest gems in a useful life." So, it was framed by a sense of timing. It was focused on a private gathering.
The third reason it stands out as unforgettable. It featured an act of serving. You noticed on verse four and five that Jesus rose from the supper, laid aside his garments, put a towel around Himself and started washing the Disciple's feet. Ever wonder about that? What's up with Jesus washing feet? What's that all about? It's dinner! Well, here's the deal, 2000 years ago, in Israel, the weather is a lot hotter than it is typically here. They didn't have closed toed shoes, they had open toed sandals and the roads were not paved, no sidewalks, with all dirt, dust, mud. So, your feet get pretty gnarly just walking around. Because of that, at the entrance of most homes was a pot of water and typically a servant who would wash the feet of the guest who would come in. But, we're told from the other gospel accounts that this was a room, a private owned room that was lent, given to the Disciples and Jesus for their Passover meal.
Apparently, it didn't come with a servant. Jesus starts washing the feet of the Disciples. But, there's something else, that unless you know this, this doesn't make much sense. It's a clue found in the gospel of Luke. I'm just going to read it to you, it's the same account, and it's the Last Supper account. This is Luke now, chapter 22. He gives us some helpful information. It seems that in that room that night, the tension had been mounting. They were engaged in a very lively conversation. I'll read the verse, "Then they began to argue among themselves as to who would be the greatest in the coming kingdom." So, they're around the temple, "I'm going to be pretty great in the kingdom you know, because I will --." "Well no, I'm going to be even greater than you are." They're talking about this at dinner time.
After that supper, Jesus washed their feet. Now, who should have washed feet that night? Servant wasn't around. I can answer that. Anyone of the Disciples could have done it. I'm not going to say Judah should have done it, everybody could have done it. But, can you imagine the conversation? I'm sure that if you were to interview any of the disciples they would say, "I've volunteered to wash Jesus' feet." But, they wouldn't wash each others. Now, maybe Peter said, "I'm not going to do it, I'm the Rock." I got the answer right in Matthew 16.
"I'm the Rock, besides that I'm going to be the first Pope." No, he wouldn't have said that.
Thomas would have said, "Yeah, whatever, I doubt it."
John might have said, "Well, I'm the Disciple Jesus loved. In fact I've got a book to write about this night, so I'm going to be very busy during the meal, so I can't do it." Thomas would have said, "Yeah, whatever, I doubt it."
Judas might have said, "Oh, I'll wash your feet if you pay me."
But, none of them lift a finger, so Jesus starts washing their feet. There's something you have to notice, verse one tells us a little bit of information. It says, "Having loved His own," that's those 12 men, "Having loved His own, who are in the world, He loved them to the end." A better translation, "He showed them the full extent of His love." Okay, there's another verse, it's all before the washing of the feet. Verse three. Look at it, "Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands. That he had come from God, and was going to God." Now, stop right there. That's the introduction to the feet wash, "Here's Jesus, He is all power, all authority, given to Him by God," it says. He knows that He came from. He knows His going back to heaven. So, what does he do? Well, you think He might stand up and say, "Do you know who I am? Now, I demand that you stop arguing and I command that you start helping out around dinner a little bit and wash each others feet." Now, again here's the flow of the text, "Jesus with all power and all authority, and knowing that He had come from heaven and was going to heaven." He started washing their feet.
Okay, if you'd still don't think this is odd. Let me put it to you this way. Let's say you go to the gym, if you go to the gym and you see those guys who workout so much, they have pecs and biceps like, they'll intimidate the mirror.
And, it's like, "It's not a Tooma." It's one of those kinds of big buffed guys. Okay so, I dare you to do this, walked up to one next time, and say, "Hey, Mr. America, what you're going to do with all those muscles?" Do you think he'll go, "wash feet?"
I don't think so. He didn't train to get all of that power to wash feet. This isn't a job for the Messiah, this is a job for a slave, and the Disciples knew that, the job for a slave. This is sort of like if the president of the United States cleans his own toilet at the White House. Or the Queen of England washes her own bed sheets at Buckingham Palace. Or Elvis tunes his own guitar. And there are people who do that for you. Jesus did it for them. And don't miss the spot, it's all predicated upon Jesus knowing that the Father had given Him all power and all authority. And so he washed their feet. He was thinking about them. Here's the principle, it's a powerful one. If you know who you are, you don't have to prove who you are to anyone else. Your identity equals your security. You know who you are. You don't have to prove it to anybody else. Jesus knew what was ahead. He knew there was suffering, he knew there was death, he could easily be consumed with Himself, with my problems, with my issues. He wasn't, He knew who He was. He knew he had all power, all authority, He knew He was from heaven, He was going to heaven. And that enabled Him to freely love these bumbling, floundering, argumentative, bickering Disciples.
Now, I have a question for you. What can you think of that you would consider, to be a menial task in your life, something below your position, your station? Some task that you would say at work, "It's not my job, we have people to do that here." Let me ask you another question that goes along with that. Who in your life can you think of that you find it hard to love, hard to serve, hard to forgive? And then you think of what we've just read. You see, when you're at peace with your past, and you're secure in your future, you're free to love in the present. That's what frees you to be able to love people. You're so consumed with them, not you because you're secure in your future, you're at peace with your past, you can love them freely. That's the principle outlined here. It featured an act of serving.
There's a fourth reason that made it so special. It was filled with shades of meaning. Now, you noticed in verse one, it says, "He loved them to the end." That's the final little phrase, "He loved them to the end." And I'd told you that a better translation is He wanted to show them the full extent of His love, right?
So, here's my question. Is washing feet the full extent of Jesus' love for mankind? I don't think so. I mean that's very nice and it's a good example, and He's going to press home that example, next week we'll see that. But, this isn't the full extent of His love, but he wants to show them the full extent of His love. He wants to love them to the end. What's the full extent of Jesus' love? The cross, what's coming up in hours ahead? So, what I understand this to be, isn't just that He's washing dirt off of their feet, but He's acting out in parable form, what's coming that night in a greater fashion.
So, follow me, look at verse four. It says He lays it aside -- or, first of all, it says, He rose up from the supper. So, He gets up. He's voluntarily about to do something, He gets up. Didn't Jesus, already in greater form rise in heaven? He got up to come down to the earth voluntarily. You know, it sound like in heaven, they had a contest and Jesus got the short straw, so He had to be the one to come. He opted for it, He volunteered to do it. He rose up from supper.
Second thing it says, "He laid aside His garments." How suggestive is that? Philippians chapter two, says, "He emptied himself, He poured Himself out, He divested Himself of the garments of glory to come to the earth.
Third thing it says in our verse, "That He took a towel and He girded Himself," again, very suggestive. Jesus came, and though He was deity, He wrapped His divinity in a towel of humanity. He was God in human flesh. Notice also, He poured water into a basin, began to wash their feet. In a few hours He would pour out His blood to wash the world of sin. And then there's this added thing that I find it sort of interesting, it says, "And to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded." Now, why did John think that was important? "Jesus wash feet but I also want you to know and I'm going to use ink to put on a page, so that you would know that Jesus also dried their feet." Okay, thank you John. Why does he do that, I think it's simple. He wants us to know that when Jesus starts something, He completes the task.
We're told again, the book of Philippians, chapter one, "The good work that He has began in you, He will complete it, He will bring it to its completion." So, whatever He starts in your life, He's going to complete, He's going to dry your feet. Or if you'll allow me, He's not going to let you stay a drip. He's going to mature you, He's going to Disciple you, He's going to further you.
Fifth and finally this night was special and different. You'll notice it was followed by sinful planning. We're told that not only is Jesus in that room with His Disciples but the devil came to dinner as well, and have something to do with Judas Iscariot. Verse two, supper being ended the devil having already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son to betray Him. Why is that included in here? Here's a paragraph of the last meal introducing a great and wonderful message Jesus is going to give. In an act of serving by washing feet, why does John dumped that in here? Simple, it's a contrast. Here's an act of sacrifice, in contrast to an act of selfishness. Here's Jesus, here's Judas. Here's Jesus, who thought of everyone but Himself. Here's Judas, who thought of no one but himself. Here's Jesus, whose motto was give, here's Judas whose motto was take. And they're shown side by side to see what a star contrast they were. In effect you have here, in one little verse, the difference in the devil's philosophy and Jesus' philosophy. How the devil and Judas, how do they life and how Jesus does life.
Now, listen to the comparison in star terms. Here's the description of Jesus, Here's the way of Jesus, this is Philippians two, "Though He was God. He did not demand and cling to His rights as God. He mad Himself nothing, He took the humble position of a servant or slave appeared in human form. And in human form, He obediently humbled Himself even further by dying a criminal's death on a cross. That's Jesus, do you compare that to Satan.
Isaiah chapter 14, "How are you falling from heaven or Lucifer son of the mourning, for you have said in your heart, I will ascend to heaven. I will exalt my throne above the stars of God. I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds. I will be like the most high." Do you see the difference here? Jesus says, "I'm going to leave heaven and come down to earth and serve." The devil goes, "I'm going up to the top and I'm going to rule." You're never more like Jesus, than when you serve. You're never more like the devil, than when you refuse to serve and you want to be seen and you want only to rule. That's the contrast. Oh, by the way, God the Father has the last word. Because Jesus said, "Father, I'll voluntarily rise up and go down and serve, and in that very passages are therefore God has highly exalted Him. And given Him a name above all names. But, when the devils said, I'm going up, up, up. God says in Isaiah, "Therefore, you will be brought down to Sheol Hell, the lowest parts of the pit. So, Jesus says, "I'm going down to serve." The Father says, "Then I'll make sure that you go up, I'll exalt you." The devil says, "I'm going up!" God says, "You're going down, and it will be permanent."
Now I'm going to close by giving you three wrapped up principles to take away with, wraps this whole thing up, just three little things to walk away with. Number one, learn to place more value on personal relationships. Learn to play some more value on personal relationships. You go, "I don't really like my personal relationships, I like to get rid of a few of them and get some different ones."
Well. How about a different tact, how about enjoy or at least use the personal relationships that you have to cultivate and minister to, minister in? See, a lot of everything, "Well I need a bigger venue, I need more people, I have something to do and say it in you," how about just the personal relationships, one on one. You don't know the kind of affect you can have in a one on one kind of relationship, mentorship, discipleship. Learn to value personal relationships. That's the first principle
Second principle, capture, spare moments. "I got ten minutes. Well, what I'm going to do? It's sort of a waste of time, what I'm going to do?" I try it on television, although that could be some special moment that you could capture, that could be used. What seems to you like an ordinary normal day or night could turn out to be very extraordinary. I've always appreciated Erma Bombeck and her humor. She was a great writer, she wrote for a lot of newspaper columns. Listen to how she put it, she said, "Seize the moment. Remember all those women on the "Titanic" who waved off the dessert cart.
Are you thinking about that one? Think of all the women on the Titanic who waved off the dessert cart. The dessert cart came by, they're on the Titanic, it's going down, really soon and they go, "No, no, no. I'm going to watch my weight, I'm not going eat dessert." "Are you kidding? It's the Titanic. Have it all." Seize the moment.
Here's the third principle, "Use your power to serve." Now, all of you have a position of power, in some regard with someone, some place of authority. You might be a mother, you have authority over children. You might be a husband, a father. You have authority in that home. You might be a middle manager, you might own a company, you have a position of authority, a position of power. What if you were to use your power to serve? Because you see, when servants serve, so what? It's what's expected, it's the norm. When leader serve? It's profound. It's so influential, it makes people stop.
Leonard Bernstein was asked by an admirer, "Mr. Bernstein, what's the hardest instrument to play in the orchestra?" He said without wavering, "Second fiddle." It's the hardest instrument to play, because I can fiddle, I can get first violinist all day long who will volunteer for the position. But, for me to find somebody who'll play second violin with as much enthusiasm, or second French horn, or second flutist, it's very difficult. You see but without seconds, there's no harmony. Isn't that beautiful, isn't that suggestive?
Serve, use your power, your position to serve, Jesus did and He's the prime example. He had all the power in the universe, He knew He was going back to where He was sent from, and that is heaven, so He washes feet.
Let's bow together. Father, it's hard really to get our minds around this kind of love, this kind of servanthood. We can talk about it, we can even call ourselves servants, but when we see it displayed in the person of Jesus Christ, we fall hush, there's nothing to say. We're amazed. We're amazed partly because, truly not a part of our culture, it's not really a part of many of our lives. We loved to be called servants. We just don't like being treated as servants. It's hard to love. It's hard to serve some folks. But, when we think that we're doing it for you, and you're pleased with it because it's so much like you, and it defeats the devil and His schemes, it's something that we should shoot for.
Lord, then I think of the way you serve by coming to give your life on a cross, to pour out your blood to wash our sin. To show the full extent of your love that was simply a parabolic, symbolic act something you were going to do in a much greater fashion and form that evening later on. As you would volunteer yourself to go into a garden to be arrested to be beaten, to be mocked and to have your blood flow on a cross, to wash sins away, thank you.
Lord as we close, I just want to thank of those who maybe here today, it's a normal day, it's an ordinary day. But, it might be an extraordinary moment where you'll reach out and touch their lives, and rescue them and save them. Maybe their relatives or friends of somebody, they got talked in to come in to church, wouldn't their idea, they wouldn't be here, but they came. Maybe you just decided, I'm going to get a hold of that one. They've had an appointment with me all along, they just didn't know about it. Make this an extraordinary special moment for them.
Maybe you've come today and you've never received Christ personally, or maybe you're just not walking with Him today, you've walked away from Him and you need to come back home. Some of you are sitting inside, some you are next door in a hub facility. Some of you are outside in the amphitheater. Inside here I stand in the hub, another passer stands outside. Another passer stands. If you want to give your life to Christ today, and experience why Good Friday is so good and so great and experience the results of forgiveness, or if you want to come back home to the Lord and experience like the Prodigal Son, a fresh forgiveness. If you want that, wherever you're seated, inside, outside or in the hub, I want you to raise your hand up right now. I'll acknowledge your hand. And I'll pray for you as we close this service.
By raising your hand, you're saving, "Pray for me, I want to give my life to Jesus, I need to do this, its something the Lord's dealing with me and just raise your hand up. God bless you, and you, to my right toward the back, anyone else? Right up here in the front, you too, right over my head, sorry I missed you. Right over here to my left couple of you in the family room, God bless you guys, all of you. Right over there, thanks for waving it a little bit, anyone else? Slip that hand up. God bless you toward the back, right in the middle of that section, right up here, yes. Two more on my right, on the side, if you're outside, if you're in the hub, you raise your hand up. A passer is going to acknowledge you right there.
Father, we pray for all of these, who have raised their hands, we know the hand is connected to them, it's their life. And I've prayed for them, I pray Lord that you'd reveal the full extent of your love to them that they would know how special they are to you. That Lord Jesus, you came to the earth to die for them, to redeem them. Let them experience how much you love them today, as they begin a new journey, a new walk with you in Jesus name, Amen.
Let's all stand. We're going to sing a final song, and as we do, I saw hands go up around the auditorium, some in the family room, some right up front. I'm going to ask you to get up from where you're standing right now and find the nearest isle, and walk forward and let me pray a prayer with you to receive Christ. As we sing this song, if you raise your hand, you'd simply come forward and stand up here. And I'm going to lead you into prayer.
If you're over in the hub or outside, the pastor is going to walk you over here, in just a moment from one of those two places. You come on up, don't put it off any longer, come on up, this is your day. It's your appointment. Now those of you who have come forward young and old and every age in between, I want to lead you in a prayer. I'd like you to pray this prayer out loud after me from your heart. Say these words to the Lord and mean them.
Lord I give You my life. [Lord I give You my life]. I admit that I'm a sinner. [I admit that I'm a sinner]. Please forgive me. [Please forgive me]. I believe that Jesus died. [I believe that Jesus died]. That He shed His blood for my sin. [That He shed His blood for my sin]. That He rose again from the dead. [That He rose again from the dead]. I turn from my sin. [I turn from my sin]. I turn to You as my savior. [I turn to You as my savior]. I want to follow You as my Lord. [I want to follow You as my Lord], today and every single day, [today and every single day], in Jesus' name, [in Jesus name]. Amen. [Amen].