Countdown to the Cross
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Lesson Three • His Towel
Pastor Roy Townsend

We have heard over and over in the church that we need to serve people, but many of the ways that we serve people are done through the programming of the church.  

1. Can you name some of the programs that our church uses to serve people?

We attend programs and serve people through those programs, but when called upon to meet their needs in their everyday lives on a personal level, it is different.

2. Do you see the difference? How so?

3. How have you served in church programming?

4. How have you served people without the use of church programming?

We are often taught to follow Christ’s example and be “people of the towel.”  A servant’s heart is one of love, just like the love which paid the price for our sins.  Please remember that Christ’s love was demonstrated at a great cost. Therefore, we have the example that our love for others will have a cost.

5. Do you believe that loving others will have a cost? Why or why not?

John 13:1-11 reads, “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. During supper, when the devil had 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 back to God,  rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. 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.  He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, ‘Lord, do you wash my feet?’ Jesus answered him, ‘What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.’  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.’ Simon Peter said to him, ‘Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!’  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.’ For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, ‘Not all of you are clean.’”

Jesus is serving a very real need of the other disciples.  The disciples' feet were dirty because they were walking in a desert, and the culture used animals to help transport materials around the countryside and cities.  So we know that they were walking in a technically dirty situation with only sandals to protect their feet and keep them clean.  Some commentators look at this section of Scripture and see another picture of the Son of God coming into existence to serve mankind.  

6. Is it important for the church to serve the very real needs of people? Why?

Philippians 2:5-9 reads, “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name.”

7. Do you agree with this picture?

Matthew 20:28 reads, “Even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

We can see from Scripture that Peter knew that Jesus was the Son of God, and knew that He came to serve, but this is not what Peter saw in this situation.

8. Why was Peter upset or concerned about what Jesus was doing?

John 13:13-17 reads, “You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. 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, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.”

Jesus’ actions here are an “example” that we must help our brothers and sisters in taking away the day-to-day dirt of the world by serving one another.  It is dirty work if you are going to be involved in serving others, but let us challenge our body of believers to serve others for Him.

9. List areas that God is moving you to serve others?

10. What is holding you back from serving others?


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