Life Theology

Jesus Needs to Be Savior Before Example

This morning as I am spending time with the Lord, I’m in John 13:1-7.  In this passage, I noticed five observations about Jesus that have huge implications for our lives as Christians.  Most people say that this passage is about serving like Jesus.  That’s true, but it stretches beyond that.  These verses are loaded with rich doctrine and wonderful insights into the mind of Christ.

  • Jesus rested in God’s sovereignty. “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, rose from supper” (vv. 3-4).  Obviously, we are not sovereign, however, we can extrapolate some application questions from this: “Do I trust that God is sovereign in my life?   Do I believe that my reward and inheritance is in eternity, so that I am able to humbly serve in this life?”  We must believe that our service here on earth will bring great reward in heaven.  That only comes if we understand our humble position before Almighty God.
  • Jesus was vulnerable before his disciples.  “He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist…and began to wash the disciples’ feet” (vv. 4-5).  God doesn’t take risks, but from our vantage point as humans reading this narrative, it was risky for Jesus to bend low, strip his clothes, and do a task that was reserved for the lowest person in the household.  We can ask ourselves, “Do I put myself in vulnerable situations and risk my reputation in order to be a servant?
  • Rank and privilege aren’t occasions for arrogance, but are cause for greater service. “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand” (v. 7).  Peter didn’t understand Christ’s role as Messiah.  Even though Jesus appeared to be the lowly one in the room, there was absolutely no doubt who the leader was.  Simply ask yourself, “Do I use my leadership positions or skills to boast and dominate or to be humble and serve?”
  • Jesus needs to sanctify us because we are still in an imperfect state.  “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” (v. 10).  Peter and the disciples didn’t understand this.  Jesus here speaks of justification and sanctification.  Peter didn’t need to be washed all over — he was already saved.  But there were parts of Peter’s life that needed to be cleansed.  And Jesus also points to the fact that Judas was never fully washed in the first place by saying, “Not all of you are clean” (v. 11b).  Judas didn’t fall away from God; he was never with God.  For the Christian, we must ask, “Do I ever not allow Jesus to do what he wants and needs to do in my life?  Do I ever resist his sanctifying work?”
  • Jesus is first Savior and Lord before example. “For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.  Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master” (vv. 15-16b).  The key is in verse 16b.  Jesus says, “You aren’t greater than me, if I am your master.”  Jesus cannot, nor will not, be our example if he is not first our master.  Following him as an example will be pointless if he doesn’t rule your heart.  The most important question we can ask ourselves in light of this passage is, “What parts of my life is Christ merely an example and not Savior and Master?”  Let Jesus rule over your life as the great King and General he is, that you might do as he did. 

May we seek to know these things with our heart, and not just our mind.  May we seek to do them out of joy and delight and not duty and religion.  May we remember that Christ is our Savior, Master, and Cleanser before he is our Example.