Do You Have a Towel?
John 13:4, 5
Intro: The word towel is only mentioned twice in the Bible; here in our text in John 13:4 and 5.
Though it is not mentioned often, the usage here is tied in with a lesson of tremendous importance.
The lesson is about the duty of the believer to be actively involved in ministry to others.
This church is special to me for many reasons.
The eagerness of so many to serve and minister makes pastoring this church a joy!
Thank God for the many Christians in this church that have a towel and know how to use it!
The question tonight is simple – Do you have a towel?
I. The Exhibition of Service – vs. 4-5
A. He Left the Relaxation
The meal was one of fellowship and love. – see verse 1
No doubt, Jesus was enjoying this “last supper.”
This would be the last time He got to enjoy the company of all His disciples on this side of the cross.
This time has been immortalized with the famous painting, The Last Supper.
No doubt He would have loved to just sat and enjoyed the sweet fellowship.
But – he riseth from supper.
He left the table. He left the food. He left the comfort of the pillowed seat.
He left the sweet fellowship. He left the pleasures of the food and fellowship – to serve.
There’s a time to eat.
There’s a time to fellowship.
There’s a time to relax and be refreshed.
And then there’s a time to serve; to work; to labor; to roll up your sleeves and get busy.
The songwriter said it like this:
Verse 1 There is peace and contentment in my Father’s house today, Lots of food on His table and no one is turned away. There is singing and laughter as the hours pass by, But a hush calms the singing as the Father sadly cries,
Chorus: My house is full, but my field is empty, Who will go and work for Me today. It seems my children want to stay around my table, But no one wants to work in my fields, No one wants to work in my fields.
Verse 2 Push away from the table. Look out through the windowpane, Just beyond the house of plenty lies a field of golden grain. And it’s white unto harvest, but the reapers, where are they? In the house, Oh can’t the children hear the Father sadly say,
Jesus set an example. He laid down his napkin and picked up a towel.
He laid down his fork and spoon and picked up a towel.
He left the plate, the food, the fun, the fellowship, the relaxation and WENT TO WORK!
B. He Laid aside His Robe
Some things you can’t do with good clothes on!
He took off His outer robe; His go-to-meeting clothes and put on His go-to-ministry clothes.
C. He Lowered His Reputation
- 5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
- 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 most menial of tasks was pouring water in a basin, and washing the feet of other people.
Yet Jesus demonstrated this servant’s heart here in this story.
II. The Explanation of Service – vs. 12-15
I love how Jesus worded His question in verse 12.
He didn’t ask them, “Know ye what I have done FOR you?”
He asked them, “Know ye what I have done TO you?”
Everything Jesus did during that 3 ½ years had a purpose – to teach and prepare the disciples for ministry.
There was so much He knew that they didn’t know.
Notice just how many times in these few verses it emphasizes what Jesus knew.
Vs. 1 – “…when Jesus knew that his hour was come…”
Vs 2 – the devil having put into the heart of Judas Iscariot…to betray him… see vs. 11, 21, 26, 28
Vs. 3 – “Jesus knowing that the Father had given him all things…”
Vs. 3 – “Jesus knowing…that he was come from God and went to God.”
Vs. 6, 7 – “What I do thou knowest not now, but thou shalt know hereafter.”
Jesus was always teaching.
In this passage, He wanted to teach them the importance of serving.
They had already been given a lesson in this, but they weren’t paying attention.
SEE Luke 7
- 44 And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head.
- 45 Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet.
- 46 My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment.
Jesus is busy teaching; are we learning?
Have we learned it yet?
NOTE: This story in Luke 7 has always spoke volumes to me.
He came in EXPECTING someone to give him water for his feet, but nobody did.
He came in EXPECTING someone to kiss him, but nobody did.
He came in EXPECTING someone to anoint his head with oil, but nobody did.
And then when someone did, everybody in the room got critical.
I have noticed this – the most critical people in the church do the least.
They won’t lift a finger to do anything, but they notice every fault, every failure, every mistake, everything.
III. The Expectation of Service – vs. 16-17
Jesus made no bones about it. The lesson was more than an exhibition of service.
There was also an expectation of service.
If I being your Lord and Master have washed your feet, ye also ought to wash one another’s feet.
- John 13:15 For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.
My question tonight is this – DO YOU HAVE A TOWEL?
If so, are you using it?
- Whose feet have you washed?
- Who have you served this past week?
- Whose load have you helped carry?
- Whose heart have you encouraged?
- Whose spirits have lifted?
- Who have you demonstrated true, Christ-like charity to this week?
Conclusion: The key to this story is verse 17.
- 17 If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.
The key to true happiness is learning how to rise from the supper, lay aside your garments, and take a towel and gird yourself.
Want to be a happy Christian? You’re going to need your towel!
Want to please the Lord? You’re going to need your towel!
Do you want to let others know you care? You’re going to need your towel!
Do you want to let a lost and dying world know you love God and the people of God? You’re going to need your towel!