Wednesday, March 25, 2009,

The Last Supper, Part 3 of 15

TEXT: "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. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, ‘Lord, are you going to wash my feet?’ Jesus replied, ‘You do not realize now what I am doing, but later on you will understand.’ ‘No,’ said Peter, ‘you shall never wash my feet.’ Jesus answered, ‘Unless I wash you, you have no part in me.’ ‘Then Lord,’ Simon Peter replied, ‘not just my feet but my hands and my head as well.’ Jesus answered, ‘A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.’ For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not everyone was clean. 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" (John 13:3-12 NIV).

IDEA: Jesus demonstrated by His actions at the last supper what it means for us to acknowledge Him as Teacher and Lord.

PURPOSE: To help listeners realize that our worship should show up in our attitudes and actions.

Do you celebrate communion or the Lord's Supper or the Eucharist at your church?

Where did the Lord's Supper originate? In 1 Corinthians 11:28, we read: "The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, 'This is my body which is for you; do this in remembrance of me . . .'"

Do you remember how "the night Jesus was betrayed" started out?

I. The disciples came to that meal with a bad attitude and dirty feet.

What did the setting for that final meal before Jesus' death look like?

Leonardo de Vinci pictures the scene with the disciples lined up on one side of a table with Jesus in the center (as though they were lined up for a team photograph). Is that accurate?

The group didn't sit on chairs as we do. The Jews, like the Romans, ate while half-reclining around a long low elongated table. Two-thirds of the table was covered with a cloth while the remaining third and the end of the table were left bare for the dishes to sit on. The disciples sat around that long low table in a horseshoe arrangement. Each one of them occupied a separate couch or reclined on large pillows. The diners reclined on their left sides and leaned on their left arms. With their heads toward the table and their feet stretched backward away from the table, they took the food with their right hands.

If you look from the open end of the horseshoe where the dishes were placed, you'd see Jesus as the host reclined at the head of the table with the disciples around on the sides.

Three other articles were present in that room as a matter of course: a pitcher of water, a basin, and a towel. Why were they present? Who would use them?

According to Luke, Jesus took the bread at the start of the meal and the wine at the end of the meal and used them to symbolize the meaning of his upcoming death: Luke 22:19-21 gives this account: "And [Jesus] took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, 'This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.' In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, 'This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you. But the hand of him who is going to betray me is with mine on the table.'" What was the meaning of this?

You might think that the disciples would be overwhelmed with the significance of what Jesus said and did. (Just as you might think that Christians today might be deeply moved when they celebrate the Eucharist or the Lord's Supper.)

Instead, the disciples got into an argument about which of them was the greatest, Luke 22:24—"A dispute also arose among them as to which of them was considered to be the greatest." Their dirty feet reflected their dirty attitudes. They wanted to be served, not serve.

Their dirty feet, therefore, were not merely a social flaw. They reflected a spiritual flaw. If anyone of them had washed the feet of the others, he would have taken the position of a menial slave. The water, towel and basin were there waiting to be used, but none of them would use them.

II. Those dirty feet revealed three things about their attitudes:

The disciples had the values of the society they were called by God to convert. They would not serve one another. They were caught up in "the pride of life."

Those dirty feet would not go out into the world. They would never spread the gospel nor serve the church.

They could go through the motions of taking the bread and cup, but it made no practical difference in their lives.

III. Jesus brought the filthy feet and the water together and washed His disciples' feet.

Jesus on the night when He was betrayed showed us what we should be and what we should do.

John 13:2-5, 12-15—Jesus took the position of a menial slave and washed the dirty feet of the disciples as an example for us.