Jesus’ Example: What Brings Fulfillment?

John 13:1-5, 12-17  NIV, 1673

            It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.

The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. 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, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

Prayer: Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit, and they shall be created. And You shall renew the face of the earth. O, God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever enjoy His consolations. Through Christ Our Lord. Amen.

  1. Today is Pentecost — the coming of the Holy Spirit. It has been 50 days since the Resurrection of Jesus and the Ascension of Jesus. In John 14, Jesus says that “the Father will send the Holy Spirit – the Advocate – when he is gone – so that the Spirit will “teach you all things and remind you of all things.”
    1. It is in these passages that Jesus is reassuring us that he will always be with us until the end of time.
  2. The prayer that was just said is the “Come Holy Spirit Come” – and is used in the Walk to Emmaus or now Seven Mile Walk with Jesus — the UMC spiritual renewal programs that helps draw each of us closer to Jesus.
  3. We need to face the simple fact that if we try to follow Jesus without the Pentecostal power of the Holy Spirit it doesn’t work.
    1. We just cannot do it.
    1. From a biblical point of view, it appears that everything that happens before Pentecost is a preparation for this gift of Wind and Fire.
    1. This world was created so that in following Jesus Christ, we can have friendship with the Father and be given the Holy Spirit.
    1. God-made-flesh lived, died, and rose so that our eyes would be opened to the unfathomable depths of God’s love and we would be ready to receive God’s Spirit.
    1. The message of Pentecost is that there is a new power available, the very power of the kingdom of heaven.
  4. It is in the gift of the Holy Spirit as we seek to understand our lives in relationship to Jesus – that we can experience fulfillment in our lives.
  5. Let’s see just how this can work for each of us.
  6. Today, our scripture comes from the Gospel of John.
    1. At this point in the Gospel of John, Jesus has been teaching and healing.
    1. Jesus has gone to Jerusalem for his final Passover celebration.
    1. He has been preparing the disciples and his other followers for his death.
    1. Jesus does this by alluding to and speaking about it specifically.
    1. He also does it by telling them things that they will need to know after he is gone.
  7. Today’s Scripture is one of those practical theology lessons for when he is gone – it’s a message about humility and servanthood – one that we struggle with in grasping for our own lives.  
  8. How do we live out the message from Jesus washing the feet of his disciples? This is a good question —- it is an example we can ponder for us. but not that we have to stop an make the effort to wash another person’s feet.
  9.  Foot washing was a necessary thing in biblical times — after walking around the dry and dusty Palestinian roads in sandals.
    1. It was necessary not only for comfort, but for cleanliness for the person and the house. Usually, a host would provide water for a person to wash their own feet.
  10. Foot washing was considered one of the lowest jobs of the socio-economic system of the time.
    1. It was considered so degrading that even a slave could not be compelled to do it.
  11. The disciples have had Jesus with them  for three years, but they have been inconsistent in their understanding as to who Jesus really is!
    1. Soon Jesus will be gone.
    1. They will have to carry on.
    1. Jesus physically demonstrates what it means to be his disciple in a very intimate, personal way as to what it means to be able to love our neighbor as our self.
  12. This foot washing example that Jesus provides is not only where disciples are drawn into relationship with Jesus, but also with each other.
    1. It is suggestive of the love that we have not only with God but also with in our community and with our neighbors.
  13. Today, we’re talking about sacrificial service. Service to others that we would most likely not be willing to do.
    1. For Jesus it is a preview of the ultimate sacrifice that he makes for his disciples, makes for us, as he says in John 15: 13, “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (NLT).
    1.  Jesus’ example of foot washing takes us out of our comfort zone and into the real needs of the world with humility and service.
  14. BUT — and a big But!
  15. We live in world of possessions.
    1. Especially our American culture send us messages that happiness comes from materialistic stuff.
  16. The problem with this message is that, no matter how much wealth we acquire, there is always something better.
    1. Even after you buy that new car or those new shoes, soon after your acquisition, the objects lose their appeal.
  17. The truth is, happiness doesn’t come from the exterior possessions but from giving of ourselves.
  18. Here are several thoughts to help us discover what fulfillment can be.
  19. Contribute to others.
    1. Authentic fulfillment comes from contributing to others.
    1. People enjoy engaging in charity work because it both helps others and feels good.
    1. When we work for others, we feel more connected and our efforts increase our compassion for people.
    1. Facing the reality of our own mortality aids our ability to make meaningful connections to others, which opens our hearts and changes our perspective on life.
  20. Here is another thought “Live in the present moment”.
    1. Let go of your never-ending self-talk. Take a short break without scrolling through the endless entertainment of your smart Phone. Pause, and just be present.
    1. When an old computer has too many programs running at the same time, it slows down. — the same with us!
    1. The more that you can connect to the stillness of the here-and-now, the lower your anxiety and frustration, and the greater your focus.
    1. When you’re immersed in the present moment, your happiness will skyrocket.
  21. End our sense of entitlement.
    1. Most of us feel like we “should have” certain things happen.
    1. We “should have” gotten that promotion; we “should have” felt appreciated for our good deed; we “should have” had more time to meet a deadline.
  22. The truth is, we construct the small room to which we’re imprisoned. When we set expectations for what should happen, we contribute to feeling frustrated, anxious, and depressed.
  23. We need to shift our focus to what is and start being grateful for what we have instead of brooding over what we don’t.
  24. Finally, Connect to something larger than yourself.
    1. Just as giving helps us feel more empathetic with others and appreciative of what we have, sometimes it’s important to feel how small our problems really are.
  25. When we immerse ourself in the mountains or swim in the vastness of the ocean, we realize how meaningless your complaints are in the long run.
    1. We often give power to our problems and make them larger than they need to be.
    1. Stop expecting and start appreciating.
  26. Paraphrase the story about Habitat for Humanity on page 100 to 102 —
  27. In the Scripture lesson for this morning about Jesus and the towel washing the feet of the disciples, Jesus is teaching us that service to others is the key ingredient of a rewarding life.
    1. Jesus dedicated his entire life in service to others.
  28. I cannot over emphasize how important this is. Self-absorbed people who live only for themselves and their immediate family will never be content.
    1. Self is to small of a god to serve.
    1. True fulfillment only comes through service to others
  29. So how do we end up this message – several words:
    1. Be generous
    1. Be generous with your time
    1. Be generous with your love
    1. Be generous with your life
    1. Be generous!
  30. Thanks be to God.