Proposition: Christ has taken the lowliest place, we must follow him there.
1. The shock of lowliness, vv. 1-11
• Jesus’ shocking lowliness was unanticipated and unparalleled.
• Jesus’ shocking lowliness leads to our forgiveness.
Illustration: The speaker grew up with a “port wine stain” birthmark on his face, which resulted in some difficulties. He was ashamed and very aware of his appearance. So he tried to hide the stain in various ways:
1. The use of cover-up make-up. Daily routine with my mother’s help as a younger child.
2. Attempts to turn my head particular directions in photos/videos in order to evade notice.
3. Finally, after the 8th grade – painful laser surgery to partially remove the birthmark, which successfully lightened the stain a bit.
Our sinful human hearts have attempted stain-removal through such a wide variety of tactics. Good works, law-keeping, philanthropy, church-going and religious deeds, penitence and harsh treatment of the body as payment for sins, to name a few.
The reality is: there is no “clean” apart from Jesus. You and I will never be truly washed and free from the filth of sin until we have encountered Jesus Christ. We will never have a “part with Him” until we have first been washed by him.
What does it mean to be washed by Christ?
1. First it means that we need to be forgiven and purged of our sinfulness. What is at our core? We are sinners, through and through. We are born in sin. We commit sins daily in our desires and thoughts, words and deeds. Sin’s stain goes as deeply as our identity as human beings – But there is “power, wonder-working power in the blood of the Lamb”. Jesus’ blood makes clean!
a. There are some here who are hearing my voice whose hearts remain filthy and need to be washed by Christ. Hear Jesus again: “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.”
b. Let it be understood by everyone here that apart from Jesus’ cleansing blood, we will not have forgiveness of sins. Jesus has offered FREE forgiveness and cleansing for those who would come confessing their need to Him. It is a simple realization, one which a child can make: my heart is filthy, only Jesus makes clean!
2. It also means that, for the Christian who has already been made clean (v. 10) – there is a continual need for washing: not of the fundamental kind – the cleansing that causes us to be declared “clean” by the Savior – but a continual washing of the feet – which comes in contact with the filth of this world and our constant battles with sin. This is a different kind of cleaning than the initial.
a. Though we are clean by Christ, it is as if our feet continue to come in contact with this sinful world and idols. It is our “feet”, then, and not our core being that needs ongoing cleansing.
b. What a comforting word, Christians! Hear Jesus again: “You are clean”! Do you have a particular pattern of filthy sin that besets you? Are your feet covered in the muck of this world? Hear the Savior’s words, words that cut and silence any accusations of the devil, or the condemnation that so easily comes our way: “You are clean!”
2. The call to lowliness, vv. 12-20
• This call is without exception for the Christian.
John 10:26 — “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.
“For there is no love where there is not a willing slavery in assisting a neighbor.” — Calvin
• Responding to this call is true Christian experience.
Christ has taken the lowliest place, we must follow him there.