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. (John 13:12 – 17)
Theme: The Local Church
Thanks for the comments on yesterday’s post. There were some great exchanges!
So far, we have considered lessons the local church can learn from Jesus’ passion for people and God’s mission. Today we will consider Jesus’ passion for servant leadership, and the implications for the local church.
In most human institutions there are levels of authority. Typically, those with higher rank and power enjoy prestige and superior privileges. In today’s lesson we examine how Jesus discharged his legitimate authority as teacher and lord, and the implications for the local church.
Our passage today is from John 13:12 – 17 (presented above). In a powerful object lesson, Jesus teaches his disciples how authority should be exercised. He doesn’t present a false utopia where there is no hierarchy. He acknowledges his position of teacher and lord. However, he elects a posture that has him positioned physically lower than the disciples to perform a humble act of service. This object lesson would be somewhat hollow if it wasn’t consistent with how Jesus lived every day, but we realize with awe that despite all the power Jesus had at his disposal, his passion was always service, and his posture was always humble.
The clear message to local churches is that positions of authority should not be used to wield self-promoting power. In a parallel passage in Luke 22, Jesus said, “the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves.” There is a popular quote which says, “power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Jesus has demonstrated that this does not have to be the case.
Please prayerfully read the passage above and answer the question below.
Whether you are in church leadership or not, how can you encourage a commitment to humble service in your local church?