Gleans from Monday Bible Study with Pastor (Dr) W.F Kumuyi.
DLBC Ayobo location, Old Alimosho, Lagos HQ
5th March 2018
Study 44 – CHRIST’S HEAVENLY VIRTUE OF HUMBLE SERVANTHOOD
John 13:1-17; Matthew 20:20-27
You need to know that the contents of John Chapters 13 to 17 are recorded only by John the Beloved and these materials are special and sublime. The Lord Jesus Christ has given us something very great in these chapters. In Chapter 13, the Lord was very close to His Betrayal and Crucifixion, but the disciples were more concerned about their own position of supremacy (Matthew 20:20-26). Seeing their condition, the Lord did what we are looking at in our Bible Study today – the washing of the saints’ feet. There had been conflict and argument among the disciples as to who was the greatest, and John and James quickly went to the Lord Jesus Christ to seek for the position of the greatest – to sit on His right and left sides. When the remaining ten heard they were indignant. Jesus had to call and tell them that the Kingdom of God is not like the kingdom of the world. He said, “….. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant” (Matthew 20:26,27). But it appeared that the doctrine of this humility had not sunk deep into their hearts, hence what He did here – He washed their feet. The disciples were surprised that He was carrying out the duty of a servant and slave in the house. Yet He was teaching them what they needed to learn – this virtue of humility, by example, washing their feet. He then told them to follow His example and do same to one another.
Point 1. THE CONDESCENSION AND WILLING SERVANTHOOD OF THE MASTER
John 13:1-3; 15:13; 3:35; 1 Samuel 25:41; John 13:14; Philippians 2:2-11
He is the Lord, Master, Saviour, Shepherd of the sheep, and yet He condescended and He served them. “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” (John 13:1). At this time Jesus knew that His hour was come. This was the week of the Betrayal and His Crucifixion, yet in that condition, He loved His own to the very end. Even though they failed Him and were sleeping when He took them along to pray, yet He loved them to the very end. They were arguing among themselves who will be the greatest, still He loved them till the very end. Jesus is giving us an example that whatever our brethren have done, or are doing, however immature or weak some people may be, if we are going to be like Christ, we should love them till the very end. By His grace we shall be like Him, in Jesus Name. Jesus knew that Judas Iscariot was going to betray Him, and yet He loved him till the very end. What if you had a challenge and you could see the problem right before you, will you still have the mind of loving the children of God? One of the reasons some House Caring Fellowships are not thriving and growing is because when people have personal challenges they leave the Fellowship, but Jesus despite the challenges and problems, still loved His disciples till the very end. Pray that this same love will come into every heart, house fellowship and church in Jesus Name. Though He is a King in Authority, the Father having given all things into His hands (John 13:3), yet Christ of Authority was going to condescend to wash the feet of the disciples. Have you ever thought of it, that you, so high up there in your office, school or community, come to the church and sit next to somebody that does not even merit being a porter in your place of work? Yet because of the love and humility of Christ we relate with one another as brothers and sisters and do not look down on one another. We show this love of Christ that there should be no discrimination, difference between high or low, men and women, but that we love one another in the love of Christ. “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). Christ, God, and Master, was calling His disciples His friends. They were actually His servants that He sent out to go and preach, and yet He called them friends, to be on the same platform with them. He then took a bowl, poured water into it, and washed their feet. He was teaching us a lifetime lesson here. If you are a believer and you have all the lands, money, authority and power and people are praising and exalting you, how humble will you be? Jesus is teaching us that we should remain humble whatever our position, power and privilege. May the lesson of this virtue of humility sink deep in our hearts and may we possess it in Jesus Name.
“He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. 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” (John 13:4-5). The responsibility of washing another’s feet is the work of a servant, a slave, and lowly person, as Abigail portrayed in 1 Samuel 25:41. She was humble, and the Lord expects this humility of believers. That you are humble does not mean that you don’t understand who you are nor does it cancel the fact of who you are. You know your position, possession, authority and what you have, yet you lay all aside and wash each other’s feet – not literally, but the picture of humility. (John 13:13). “If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet” (John 13:14). This example of Jesus Christ you don’t find again in Acts of the Apostles, because it wasn’t something they were to practice literally; it was to demonstrate humility, the virtue Jesus Christ wanted to pass across to them. It was not for a particular day, but as a lifestyle of no pride, supremacy or ‘I am better than you are’ attitude. The Lord will do this in your life in Jesus Name. When Jesus washed their feet, it was not a selective service; He just did it uniformly for everyone. So our service of humility should be for everyone, not selective or discriminatory. May God give us the grace (Philippians 2:2). “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves” (Philippians 2:3). There are things that you can do that another person cannot do, and others as well that they can do that you cannot. You fill a place in the Kingdom of God that another cannot fill. We should exalt and appreciate each one, esteeming others better than ourselves. You are appreciating, helping, lifting up and encouraging others, wanting them to be their best, and preparing them for greater and more confident work when you ‘wash their feet’. It is a motivation from a mind of lowliness, meekness, humility, and we are to have this mind of Christ as we wash one another’s feet (Philippians 2:5). See yourself as a servant, laying aside your title and position. “And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:8). The Lord Jesus humbled Himself and we are to do same. Then there will be no pride in our midst, families, house fellowships, local communities and the whole church in Jesus Name. When you humble yourself you lose nothing, but rather gain much more. (Philippians 2:9-11; Matthew 23:12).
Salvation is very essential; it is the number one thing. You cannot be humble according to the pattern of Christ without the enabling grace of salvation. You must be born again to be truly humble. These disciples whose feet Christ washed were born again with their names written in heaven. They were separated from the world and belonged to God. Their sins had been forgiven, they were different from the world. (Luke 10:17,20; John 14:17; 17:8-10,14-16). “…having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end (John 13:1b). Christ-like humility can only be practiced by those who are already born again, not those who are trying, demonstrating or pretending to be humble. Without a definite experience of the New Birth, all else is worthless. Humility without salvation is worthless and vain in the sight of the Lord. It is not a mere human virtue, it is an heavenly virtue. The Lord grants us the experience of salvation through His Sacrifice and then He gives us the example of servant hood for our acceptable service. True humility leads to confession and conversion, and then Christlike humility will lead us to consecration and condescension.
Point 2. OUR CONSECRATION AND WILLING SUBMISSION TO THE MASTER
We are born again and the Lord is teaching us a lesson, and you never say ‘No’ to the Lord. You accept what He is doing and wants to do. “Then cometh he to Simon Peter and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet? Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter” (John 13:6,7). Jesus did not explain to the disciples with all the Bible references we have now to support everything and help our understanding and knowledge. He just washed their feet, and He wanted them to get the lesson, and the Spirit of God to interpret everything to them. The other ten disciples (minus Judas Iscariot) accepted and submitted, but Peter did not accept. There are people like that who have a mind of their own and their own opinion. We are talking about the whole Body coming together and becoming submissive unto the Lord, and yet one is saying he has a mind of his own. The Lord is telling us that as we come together as the Body of Christ, our own kind of idea, specialty, distinction, way of thinking and background, everything should be flushed away because now, we are the same in the sight of God. Peter did not understand that – “Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt NEVER wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me” (John 13:8). It seems to be a little thing and an insignificant thing, but even that little thing, if you show pride, resistance and wanting to be a man of your will, way and word, and are an individualistic person, you are going to miss the Kingdom of God.
As we look at this, let us consider the following
- Consecration before Understanding – John 12:16; Micah 4:12; Hebrews 11:8; Proverbs 3:5
The problem of Peter was, I don’t understand that, therefore I will not obey nor submit. There are people like that, they don’t understand therefore they are not going to obey nor follow. They think they are being courageous or spiritual, but what the Lord is asking for is that we consecrate our lives to Him in total obedience even before we understand. “These things understood not his disciples at the first: but when Jesus was glorified, then remembered they that these things were written of him, and that they had done these things unto him” (John 12:16). The others did not understand too yet they did not rebel nor reject; they just obeyed and submitted themselves to Christ. You are not going to understand everything nor be able to analyze, interpret or understand everything before you obey. Even though we don’t understand, He wants us to obey and submit. Submission, obedience and consecration even before we understand honour God. (Micah 4:12) How can you know the thoughts of the Lord before you obey? If you say now you understand and want to obey, you are coming too late. Before you understand, go ahead and be obedient to the Lord. “By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went”(Hebrews 11:8). This was why the Bible called Abraham the father of faith, the faithful friend of God because he obeyed even though he did not understand and did not know where he was going. The Lord is saying the same thing to you today, when the word of God comes to you, there is but one thing to do ‘just obey!’ “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5). You may not understand all the doctrines of the Bible such as the Rapture, the Great Tribulation, and all the details of Eschatology, but look at what the Lord is telling and teaching us from His word, and you will not lean to your own understanding before you obey. Waiting to obey Christ until we understand all His actions and commandments only reveals lack of consecration, sanctification, circumcision of heart, honour for Christ, humble exaltation of Christ, crucifixion of self, total freedom from depravity, and heavenly-mindedness. This was the problem of Peter here (John 13:8). Think about a disciple talking to his Master like that, Peter of all people talking to Jesus like that.
2. Condemnation of an Unbending Will – John 13:8b; Matthew 16:21-22; Acts 10:13-16,20
People in the Church who make up their mind and say, ‘whatever is preached, taught or said, this one thing will never happen, you will never see me in that pathway of obedience bending myself so low in submission or allowing this, even if others do’, are like Peter who said, Thou shalt NEVER wash my feet. He had unbending, unyielding will. There are times when you need to look at your life, and take to the Cross and crucify all those peculiarities, individualism, egoistic attitudes, and brush them away from your life. “Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee” (Matthew 16:22). You will see that this is a peculiar weakness of Peter. He didn’t understand that Jesus Christ had to die for the salvation of the whole world. Even Caiaphas eventually understood that one would die for the salvation of the whole nation. But look at the attitude of Peter who walked on water, was with Christ at the Mount of Transfiguration, a first mentioned among the disciples, an important person, and part of the team of the Lord, and yet that peculiar situation of unbending will could have cost him eternal life. We see him again even after the Holy Ghost Baptism (Acts 10:13,14) “And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill and eat. But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean”. He knew that it was the Lord talking, and yet, ‘not so Lord’ – what contradiction in terms! That kind of character we see coming from the gospel of Matthew, then John, and now in the Acts of the Apostles, after the Holy Ghost had come upon him. He had even healed the sick, and a lot of other things had happened through him, and here without even asking for explanation, he just categorically rejected the Lord’s command. If you are like that and will not condescend nor yield yourself until all the details are explained to you, and Christ must show Himself personally and plead with you, what kind of disciple and what kind of life are you going to live, when you are unbending and unyielding.
3. The Consequence of seeming Little Act of Self-Will – John 13:8
If you refuse firmly, totally and completely, the consequences are eternally painful, and it implies that there will be:
(a) Loss of Partnership with Christ, no part with Him
(b) Loss of Acceptance and Recognition by Christ
(c) Loss of Benefits of Conversion
(d) Loss of Previous Promise of Reigning with Christ
(e) Loss of Future Revelation and Impartation by Christ; and
(f) Loss of Heaven eventually
“Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head” (John 13:9). He now realised that this was not just a little thing that he can just push aside, and he now surrendered himself to Jesus to be washed thoroughly. “…. He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all.” Jesus Christ was referring to Judas Iscariot who had gone to the devil and to the point of no return; you will go to a point of no return. He was a disciple, even the Treasurer, important amidst the team of the disciples of Christ, but because of covetousness and love of money, he went to the point of no return, no grace, mercy or love any more, nothing, he’s gone (John 13:10). But you will be clean in Jesus Name. The carnal pretenders in religion will give partial obedience to God’s word. Those who are truly converted and consecrated to Christ obey in all things without pretense or counting any of God’s word as unimportant. Who gives you the liberty and audacity to count any part of the word of God as little or minor? There is no little part of the word of God, and the Lord will give you the grace to be obedient to the total word of God in Jesus Name.
Point 3. THE CALL TO WILLING SELF-SACRIFICE LIKE THE MASTER
John 13:12-17; Matthew 11:29; Luke 14:11; 9:23; 6:46; 12:47,48; 1 Peter 5:5-6; James 4:6,10; Revelations 22:14
“If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them” (John 13:17). He is not just talking about washing of feet, but many things He has taught us on humility, lowliness, love, self-denial, sacrifice and other things, to do them. The blessedness of obedience will come upon you in Jesus Name. (Matthew 11:29) Learn of Christ, He is lowly and meek, and as you put on that character of Christ, you will find rest for your soul. “For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted” (Luke 14:11). When you are exalting yourself above the word of God, you are not difficult but proud, a man of selfish interest, self-centered and unyielding. (Luke 9:23) Don’t deny the word of God, deny yourselves, don’t deny Christ from washing your feet, don’t deny the example that Jesus had laid down, don’t deny the example of humility and lowliness but deny yourselves “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46). If you say He is my Lord, Saviour, Sanctifier and King of kings, then demonstrate this by your obedience and submission to His word and teachings. The people that are unbending, and bragging that they are men of their own will and opinion, they will be beaten with many stripes. Pray that you will escape the judgement of God (Luke 12:47,48). The Lord is telling us that He appreciates, loves and commands a humble heart, humble disposition, humble attitude in the midst of His children. Don’t be the odd person out; have humble behaviour, humble self-sacrifice, humble service, humble obedience, and a humble self-evaluation. Don’t promote nor exalt yourself above what you are. Only genuine salvation and sanctification will give us this kind of humble heart. The Lord Himself wants us to bow down and bend low to the word of God. Peter himself having now realized and understood the lesson wrote – “Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:5). You will learn the lesson as the grace of God comes to you. Let the Lord do the lifting up, but you humble yourself before the Lord (James 4:6,10). “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city” (Revelations 22:14). We are going to the Heavenly City. You will be there and I will be there. What Christ has taught us today on humility, lowliness, as well as condescension, bending low and being able to obey the word of God, He wants us to carry out, and you will not be the odd man out, but you will say Lord I accept, believe and will be obedient to Your Word, and the Lord grant you grace in Jesus Name. Amen
Ponder on this! The Lord grants us the experience of salvation through His Sacrifice and then He gives us the example of servant hood for our acceptable service. True humility leads to confession and conversion, and then Christlike humility will lead us to consecration and condescension. Pastor (Dr) W.F Kumuyi.
Reflection – Waiting to obey Christ until we understand all His actions and commandments only reveals lack of consecration, sanctification, circumcision of heart, honour for Christ, humble exaltation of Christ, crucifixion of self, total freedom from depravity, and heavenly-mindedness. Pastor (Dr) W.F Kumuyi.
Words on the Marble – The carnal pretenders in religion will give partial obedience to God’s word. Those who are truly converted and consecrated to Christ obey in all things without pretense or counting any of God’s word as unimportant. Pastor (Dr) W.F Kumuyi.
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Thanks Niall, delighted you like it