Sunday Sermon: ‘Loving One Another’

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This morning we continue in our study of the church. Our goal is to rediscover who we are as the church, and why we exist. Today I want us to consider the importance of ‘Loving One Another.’ Let’s begin our study with something Jesus said recorded in John 13.

I. Christ’s Command to Love

“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” (John 13:34-35)

We all know that we are saved by grace through faith in the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ. We are saved by faith and not by works. (see Ephesians 2:8-9) We are not saved by keeping the Ten Commandments. Why then does Jesus refer to a ‘new commandment’ for His followers?

What is Christ’s new commandment? It is to love others the way He loves us? How does the Lord love us? He loves us unconditionally and sacrificially. He loves us through grace.

Though we are saved by grace, grace does not free us to live anyway we please. Actually, the Bible teaches us that grace enables us to finally live righteously. One of the big differences between the Old and New Testament is that during the days of the Old Testament, men were trying to live righteously through their own effort. They believed that if they could obey the Ten Commandments, they could be righteous. The only problem was – they couldn’t obey the Ten Commandments. The Bible teaches us that our human flesh is too weak to obey the Law of God. (see Romans 8:3)

In the New Testament, or perhaps we should say – under the New Covenant, man is not trying to live righteously by his own strength. God helps us. God empowers us. The Bible says that God writes His law upon our hearts and then through the new birth, He places His Spirit within us to help us. (see Jeremiah 31:31-34; Ezekiel 36:24-28)

II. Christ’s Example of Love

Jesus never commands us to do something that He Himself has not done. Before we say that we can’t do this, we need to pause and take a serious look at our Savior. Jesus began this lesson on love with a dramatic illustration. 

John 13:1 Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end. 2 And supper being ended, the devil having now put 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 was come from God, and went to God; 4 He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. 5 After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded. 

A. Jesus Loved His Disciples

1. Jesus Demonstrated His Love by Washing Their Feet

There are a number of passages throughout the Bible that refer to the washing of someone’s feet. As you well know, during that day everyone wore sandals and as they walked along the dusty roads, their feet often became dirty. Therefore, it was necessary for their feet to be washed often.

This was especially true when you consider how they ate their meals. During Bible times, people did not sit in chairs around a table like we do today. They would sit on the floor and lean back on one elbow. That being the case, your head wasn’t too far from someone else’s feet as you were eating. Therefore, it’s pretty easy to understand why washing feet was a good idea.

Foot washing was so important that in many towns, there were public pools where a person could pause and wash their feet. Whenever you entered someone’s home, water was provided so that you could wash your feet. In the more affluent homes, a servant was provided to wash your feet for you. Washing someone’s feet was looked upon as one of the lowliest of all services in that society.

Having said that, it’s hard for us to grasp the full magnitude of what Jesus did that night for His disciples. Jesus, their Lord and Master, humbled Himself and washed their feet like a common slave.

Perhaps we should also note that Judas was still in the crowd when Jesus did this. Can you believe that? Jesus actually washed the feet of the man who was in the process of betraying Him. Jesus also washed the feet of Peter who would deny Him and Thomas who would doubt Him.

What Jesus did that night wasn’t natural; it was supernatural. It as the supernatural love of God on display.

2. Jesus Demonstrated His Love by Laying Down His Life

Jesus washing His disciples’ feet was only the prelude to what He was about to do. In less than twenty-four hours, Jesus was going to lay down His life for their sins.

We read from the book of Philippians: 

Philippians 2:6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

The laying aside of His physical garments in the upper room was a symbol of Jesus laying aside His heavenly garments so that He might become a servant to His Father and die for the sins of the world.

B. Peter’s Struggle with Christ’s Actions

The King James Version indicates that this happened ‘after’ the supper was over, but all other translations indicate that it happened either just before the supper began, or probably during the supper. Get the scene in your mind. They’re all sitting there together, participating in the Passover Meal. Luke’s gospel tells us that sometime during that same evening, the disciples had been arguing over who among them would be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. So here it is: they’re sitting there, doing this religious thing, but mad at each other.

Then Jesus quietly gets up, lays aside His outer robe, takes the towel and basin of water, kneels down before them, and one by one begins to wash their feet. I’m sure there was dead silence in the room.

1. The Need for Jesus to Wash Peter’s Feet 

John 13:6 Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet? 

Peter was reluctant to let Jesus wash his feet. Probably part of his reluctance was due to the fact that he couldn’t understand why Jesus, their Master, would be the one doing this. If anything, they should be washing His feet.

In addition, perhaps Peter’s conscience was bothering him. Jesus was preaching a strong message without using any words. 

John 13:7 Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter. 8 Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me. 9 Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head. 10 Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all. 11 For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean.

Jesus said, “If I do not wash your feet, you have no part with me.” Peter took that to mean that unless the Lord washed his feet, he wasn’t saved; yet I don’t believe that’s what Jesus was saying.

Jesus said, “The one who has been washed all over (bathed), does not need to be bathed again. He only needs to have his feet washed.”  In other words, “Peter, you don’t need to be saved over and over again. You have been bathed once and for all.” “But, you do need to continuously have your feet washed.”

Do you take a shower every time just before you eat a meal, or do you wash your hands? No doubt most of us only wash our hands. Why do we wash our hands but not our entire body? We don’t need to take a complete bath to eat a meal, but we do need to wash our hands to remove the germs we have picked up along the way. That’s what Jesus means by this. “Peter, you don’t need to be saved again. You’re clean. But you do need to wash the grime from your feet before we can enjoy a fellowship meal together.”

Here’s an amazing thought: Jesus is still washing our feet. 1 John 2 tells us that if we sin as followers of Christ, we have an advocate who stands to our defense. An advocate is a like a defense lawyer. Revelation 12 says that Satan is the accuser of the brethren and no doubt every time we sin, he not only attacks us, he tries to attack the Lord Jesus Christ. “Some Savior you are. Look at what they’re doing.” But as he does, Jesus stands to our defense, only Jesus doesn’t argue our righteousness; He argues His sacrifice for our sins on the cross.

2. The Need for Us to Wash Each Other’s Feet

Part of the reason Jesus washed their feet was to demonstrate Peter’s salvation relationship with the Lord. Part of the reason was to demonstrate Peter’s service to his brothers.

John 13:12 So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you? 13 Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. 16 Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. 17 If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.

We are in series of messages where we are trying to rediscover who we are as a church, and why we exist. Here’s a major point that many believers miss. One of the major reasons every follower of Christ needs to be an active part of a fellowship of believers is so that we can wash each other’s feet. I’m not talking about a ceremony that a body of believers might periodically do. I’m talking about something that we will need to do every day. In order to have a Christian home, we must be willing to wash one another other’s feet. In order to maintain spiritual unity within the church, we have to be willing to wash feet. And according to 1 Peter 2, we will sometimes even need to wash the feet of those who don’t know Christ. Part of our testimony and witness to the world is Christlike sacrificial love. 

III. Christ’s Promise to Those Who Will Love

John 13:17 If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.

Jesus said that much of our fulfillment as a believer comes through our Christlike service.

But let’s be honest about it. It’s not easy. It’s not easy to die to self and serve other people, especially when they are your enemy. How can we fulfill this important command? Look with me at John 14.

John 14:12 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. 

Is that possible? Could we do greater works than Jesus did? Many believe that Jesus is not talking about greater from the aspect of quality. What could be greater than raising someone from the dead? The greater doesn’t have to do with quality, but quantity. We will do more. How will we do more? We will do more as the church because the Holy Spirit will indwell each of us and empower us to do God’s will. Through the indwelling Holy Spirit, the ministry of Jesus will be multiplied millions of times over. That’s not all. Notice what else Jesus said: 

13 And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it. 

Wow! A wide-open door to pray to God the Father and ask anything in Jesus’ name. But I don’t believe that ‘anything’ has to do with a new car or a new house. It has to do with fulfilling the ministry and mission of Christ. Jesus then said: 

15 If ye love me, keep my commandments. 

What has Jesus just commanded His disciples to do?

“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” (John 13:34-35)

Jesus has commanded them to love each other in a manner similar to the way He loves us. He’s commanding them to get down on their knees and wash each other’s feet. He’s commanding them to love and care for each other.

We are extensions of Christ’s ministry. We are extensions of His love and grace. Look at John 15.

John 15:1  I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. 2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. 3 Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. 5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. 6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. 7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. 8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. 

9 As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. 10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. 11 These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. 12 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. 13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. 14 Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. 15 Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you. 16 Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you. 17 These things I command you, that ye love one another. 

To sacrificially love other people, even those who mistreat us, seems pretty bizarre. As a matter of fact, I will go so far as to say that it’s impossible without God living in and through us. Jesus is the vine and we are the branches and in order to bear His fruit, we must abide in Him. Our relationship with Him must be very real.

Will this work? Will we actually experience Christ in a new way if we learn to love one another the way He loves us? Will we actually experience joy from making sacrifices for each other? Look with me at Acts 2.

Acts 2:42 And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. 43 And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. 44 And all that believed were together, and had all things common; 45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. 46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, 47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.

There are several important truths in the fellowship in the early church that helps to emphasize the importance of showing Christlike love.

A. There was harmony and unity in the church

B. There was spontaneous worship

C. There was joy and gladness both in the church and in the homes

D. The church was having an impact upon the lost

Conclusion:

So, who are we as followers of Jesus Christ? We are extensions of Him and His ministry. We are branches connected to the vine, drawing spiritual nourishment from Him and bearing His fruit. Scripture teaches us that as the first believers did this, there was not only joy in the church, there was outreach into their communities.

 

 

 

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