When Jesus Took Up the Towel and Loved us to the Uttermost

The Gospel Of John: The Visible Image, Volume 4

If we grasp this passage in John we won't need any more instruction and our life will be a source of glory. We see a picture of Jesus' service to us through the washing of the disciples feet. Jesus lowered Himself to wash the unclean feet of the disciples which is a picture of how He lowered Himself from heaven to wash us with the blood of His cross. This truth should grip our hearts and compel us to worship our King.

Todd WagnerNov 11, 2012John 13:1-17; John 13:1-3; Ephesians 3:14-21; Luke 22; John 13:6-8; Titus 3:4-5; John 13:17; John 13:3-5; John 13:12-16; John 13:8-11; Philippians 2:6-11; Isaiah 64:1-4, 6
John 13:1-17

In This Series (18)
No Mean Love
Todd WagnerDec 9, 2012John 13:31-38; Galatians 6: 9-10; Luke 6:27-36; John 13:31; John 13:33; John 13:34-35
The Sovereignty of God in the Sabotage of Judas
Todd WagnerDec 2, 2012John 13:18-33; Luke 9:1-6, 10; Isaiah 55:6-11; Philippians 1:15-18; John 13:18; John 13:19; John 13:20-21; John 13:26-28
When Jesus Took Up the Towel and Loved us to the Uttermost
Todd WagnerNov 11, 2012John 13:1-17; John 13:1-3; Ephesians 3:14-21; Luke 22; John 13:6-8; Titus 3:4-5; John 13:17; John 13:3-5; John 13:12-16; John 13:8-11; Philippians 2:6-11; Isaiah 64:1-4, 6
Israel and You: A Good Example or a Horrible Warning
Todd WagnerOct 28, 2012John 12:35-50; Isaiah 53:1-12; Isaiah 6:1-13; Romans 1:18-32; John 12:35-38; Acts 7:51-52; Isaiah 6:10
For This Purpose He Came: Unveiling God's Glory in His Humiliation
Todd WagnerOct 21, 2012John 12:23-36; Hebrews 1:1-3; John 12:29; 2 Corinthians 2:14-16; John 12:30; John 12:23-36; Hebrews 12:18-25; Revelation 12:10-11; John 12:32; John 12:34-36; John 2:4
John: Where We've Been and Our Intention Moving Forward
Todd WagnerOct 14, 2012John (all); John 3:14-18; John 6:26-69; John 12:23-28; John 1:1
A Perfect Message if you "Wish to see Jesus"
Todd WagnerAug 26, 2012John 12:15-28; John 3:16-21; Zechariah 9:9-10; John 12:12-36; John 12:15-36
King Jesus: Why the Leaders Missed Him, Why You Must Not
Todd WagnerAug 19, 2012John 12:9-15; John 12; Luke 4:16-19; Zechariah 9:9-10
Albert: A Living Picture of Lazarus a Man Once Dead
Todd WagnerAug 12, 2012Hosea 4:1-6
Lazarus: A Dead Man Who Becomes a Picture of Life
Todd WagnerAug 5, 2012John 11:14; Romans 5:12-21; Galatians 3:24; Ephesians 1:3-6; Ephesians 2:1-10; Revelation 22:12-17; Colossians 3:5-10; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; John 14:22-24; 1 Peter 2:12; John 15:18-20; John 13:34-35
The Pivot Point That Is Personal Belief and The Rightness of Radical Response
Todd WagnerJul 8, 2012John 12:1-11; Romans 12:1; John 12:1-11; Luke 7:37-39; Philippians 3:7-11; Mark 16:1
What Should and Shouldn't Matter To You
Todd WagnerJun 24, 2012John 11:45-57; 1 Samuel 15:22; Matthew 12:22-42; Genesis 50:20-21; John 11:51-53; John 11:45-12:11
Jesus versus the Ultimate Predator
Todd WagnerJun 3, 2012John 11:1-44; John 11:9-10; Philippians 1:21-30; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; Matthew 10:28-31; John 11:12-44
The Reason for Everything and How We are to Respond to It
Todd WagnerMay 20, 2012John 11:1-25; John 11:1-44; Hebrews 11:32-40; Ezekiel 18:29; Matthew 18:7-9; Job 1:1; 1 Corinthians 10:31
The Identity of the Good Shepherd and the Attributes of His Sheep
Todd WagnerApr 22, 2012John 10:22-42; Ezekiel 34:1-31; John 10:22-42; John 9:29-34; Romans 8:28-32; Psalms 82:1-8
The Good Shepherd: What He is Doing, Why He is Doing It, and How it's Going to Get Done
Todd WagnerMar 25, 2012John 10:1-21; John 9:35-10:21; John 3:16-19; Matthew 11:7-14; Micah 2:1-13; Proverbs 15:2; Malachi 4:5
A Blind Man You'd Better See Yourself In
Todd WagnerMar 4, 2012John 9:1-43; Isaiah 35; John 9:2; John 9:11; John 9:1-41
Sons, Slaves and Freedom Indeed
Todd WagnerFeb 26, 2012John 8:31-59; John 8:36; Psalms 37:1-4; John 8:32-36; John 8:30-31; Romans 4:1-3; Romans 9:6-8; John 8:42-59; Ecclesiastes 8:1

In This Series (18)


Elizabeth Lampkin: Well, we were looking for a place for our kids, and we really (Jeff and I) felt like we were kind of too far gone and messed up too much. We knew we had a responsibility to our family and our children, so initially we found Watermark because of the kids' program. The bonus and the icing and all the wonderful things about this place is that Jeff and I have realized that actually there's hope for us, and we're really excited about that. Thanks for making room for us.

Jason Shyung: Thanks for making room for me.

Ginger McFadden: Thank you for making room for me.

Miles Dake: Before Watermark, I was hanging out with friends, and we were… I was expected to be drinking and just running after girls. It was just not a very good lifestyle for me.

Kristen Donner: About five months ago, I become a young widow and didn't know where to turn or who to turn… Well, I knew one person, the only one I could turn to. I started reaching out and found GriefShare.

Miles: At Watermark, I just feel like people really allow me to be myself, and they're not expecting me to be someone I'm not. That's really what's been so great about Watermark. Thanks for making room for me.

Kristen: I just really and truly don't know what we would have done without GriefShare and Watermark and the new family we found through the hard times that are behind us, but the good times are before us. We just are so glad you guys made room for us.

Justin: Thanks for making room for me.

Laura Simpson: Thanks for making room for me.

Skinner Son: Thanks for making room for us.

David: My divorce was completely final…no child support, all those other things involved in that…in November of '07. God was telling me it was time to make a change in my life.

Heather Davis: I was done with life. I just really didn't see the point in my job or anything I was doing.

David: On the recommendation of a friend, I came to the church. I circled the lot a few times, terrified by the volume of people who were out in the parking lot. I bit the bullet, found a parking spot, came in…

Heather: I needed to be around people who knew who I was, who would miss me if I was gone.

David: I've always been known for what I can do and the things I'm capable of. Here, people want to know me for who I am, and that is very refreshing and very encouraging. Like the church, I wouldn't trade that for anything.

Heather: I think God has shown me through the people I've met, through Celebrate Recovery, that I do have value, that God has a mission for me, and that I am here for him.

Michael McIntyre: Thank you so much for making room for me.

David: Thank you for making room for me.

Donner Son: Thanks for making room for us.

Michelle: Thanks for making room for us.

Linder Son: Thanks for making room for us.

Heather: I have found a real and passionate relationship with Jesus Christ. Thanks for making room for me.

[End video]

Todd Wagner: Hey, those "Thanks for Making Room for Me Videos," are they just not money? I mean, I watch those, and I go, "What else do you want to do? What else do you want to do but be a part of somebody's story of grace?" Gary mentioned that there are some folks… We know from last week some people who are still struggling. That's all right. We're making room for them.

If you're here this morning and you're still struggling, we've made room for you. We want to tell you about the God who has pursued you, who is pursuing you. If you'll just run to him, he'll never let go. One of the things he promised to do is make you miserable if you run away from him. One of the things that's true of my life is that ever since I trusted Christ, I haven't stopped sinning, but he changed me. It was no longer that I hated it when I got caught. I just began to hate it.

It is true. Some of the folks who have really understood the goodness of God… And this might be you this morning, and you're not abiding with him. Let me tell you. You're getting the worst of both worlds, because you really can't enjoy Jesus (I'm going to talk about what it takes to enjoy Jesus today), but you also really can't enjoy sin, because there's just something in you. There's a change in the nature of who you are.

You might still go back there, but the Spirit of God who you are one with is not going to let you enjoy it. If you are practicing something you know is out of the will of God and you have no problem with it, right in there is the best evidence that you have not really done business with God. That's why it really concerns me when I see entire churches formed around certain expressions of sin, saying, "We're really good with this." You might be, but the Spirit of God isn't.

Listen. We're going to make room for you. We love you. Every single one of us has come filthy, vile, dirty, wretched, and needing cleansing. So, we're inviting you in and saying, "Let's celebrate this God." I don't know if you've noticed, but there's been a theme to the songs we've looked at and sung this morning. It's declaring to you some great stuff. I hope you get it.

Let me start and say this. What a perfect day, too, for us to be where we are in the gospel of John, because it's talking about service. It's talking about Christ's love for us. It's way too easy. You guys know there's something every weekend that is… National Confectioners Week. I don't know. National Welders Month. Listen. I'm grateful for welders and confectioners especially, but there are a few things we just need to stop and pause for.

Memorial Day weekend. Labor Day weekend. Those are supposed to thank America's workforce. They're supposed to thank those who sacrificed their lives for us and memorialize them. Today is Veterans Day, and we don't often enough stop in here and recognize, not just those who are serving, but families who are serving here quietly left behind as folks go away.

When I leave my family for three or four days, or eight days sometimes when I'm going overseas, I'm counting the moments till I get back. There are guys who go 6, 12, 18 months…little 3-year-old boys without their daddy…because a lot of men and women serve. Let's thank them for their service to us and what they're doing. When you have folks who wage war for your freedom, and especially are scarred the rest of their life for it, it is to produce in you something.

I want to tell you what. That's why we're here every week, because there is somebody who is going to war for us. He has been scarred. It ought to produce in you something. If you are still trying to earn your freedom, you have not been paying attention. You have not been the one who is going to battle against sin.

Just like guys like me who, for whatever reason, missed out on that opportunity to serve our country and even to sacrifice so you might have freedom. I have a lot of freedom because a lot of men went to Europe and never came back. A lot of guys walked on two legs to Afghanistan and came back with some mechanical structure strapped to their hip. I don't want to just walk by that like we often do, so I do mean that. Thank you, men and women who serve in that way.

I'll tie it right into the, "Thank You for Making Room for Me" video. There are people whose lives have been changed because some of you have gone to work. You've scarred up your schedule. You've reprioritized your life. You've been willing to be wounded by folks who misunderstood you when you talked about who Jesus was. Way to go. That's even been better than men who have been scarred in Afghanistan, because it has an eternal effect, but it's not an either/or. It's a both/and.

Whether you're a soldier for this country or a soldier for Christ, you do it, hopefully, because you're following the greatest warrior who ever lived. I don't worship a weak king. I don't worship a prophet, a teacher, a rabbi, or a professor. I worship a warrior who took on flesh. That's who we're going to talk about this morning. Let me pray.

Father, I thank you for my warrior king, Jesus, who is not just mighty, but he is tender. He is loving. He is kind. He is humble. Would you make me like him? Would you open the eyes of those who are in this room who do not know him or see him in all his glory? In Christ's name, amen.

I'm going to tell you the truth. If I could preach this passage the way it was supposed to, I would never have to preach again. If you can get your arms around, frankly, just the very first part of what I'm going to show you this morning in John 13, it would change you forever. I would never have to preach again.

Now, you might have to meditate on it again, because this is what the Scripture says: "How blessed is the man [whose] delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night." You walk through a world that is constantly bombarding you with other messaging, other ideas, but if you will keep this idea continually before you, you will be a worshipper. I won't have to ask you to do Operation Christmas Child, because your whole life will be Operation Christ Exalting. Operation Give My Life Away. Operation Follow the One Who Gave Himself for Me.

That will be your life. You won't be trying to earn any favor. You will be exactly what the Bible says should be produced: a person radically exposed to love whose heart has been won, who wants nothing more than to respond to that love with all the gladness and fullness in their heart. You will no longer be a legalist. You won't check boxes. You won't keep forfeiting yourself with the sin and fleeting fancy in this world. You will be free, and your life will be a source of glory.

If I could teach this message correctly, that's what would happen. Otherwise, we'll have a bunch of petty do-gooders who think we're doing God favor by showing up, tossing a few bucks here and there toward him, sliding a frozen turkey needy people's way at Christmas and Thanksgiving, and begrudging the fact that we have to contribute to make room for others by our own sacrifice and gospel sharing. I pray this morning God overcomes my fallibility as a man and preacher and lets you see his glory. It will change you.

There are three, maybe four depending on how you count them, great discourses…lectures, if you will, or long messages…in the Gospels. One of them is in Matthew, chapters 5, 6, and 7. It's called the Sermon on the Mount. It's where Jesus comes as the final prophet, where he tells you, "I'm going to let you know again about the holiness of God." He says some amazing things in there.

"You thought you just shouldn't commit murder or sleep with a woman or sleep with a man who is not your husband or your wife. No. I tell you, if you look at somebody inappropriately, if you think you hate somebody or call them a fool, you are murderous. You are not good like God wants you to be good."

You take the most religious sect of people who ever lived on the face of the earth, the Pharisees, and he says, "Unless your righteousness surpasses them, you're not going to enter into the kingdom of God." He's the final prophet who lets you know you must be perfect like your heavenly Father is perfect, or you have no chance. Which is to say you have no chance. The Prophet is letting you know about truth, that you might respond to it.

In Matthew, chapters 24 and 25, you have the Olivet Discourse. It happened on the Mount of Olives, so we call it the Olivet Discourse, where you see Jesus is the final King who will rule forever. He's not hoping to be elected. It doesn't matter what the world does and what the world says about his definition of righteousness and truth, he said, "I am the righteous and true one, and you cannot hold me back." So, you see in his last great discourse that he is the final King.

The other one you may or may not count is in Matthew 13 where he tells a series of stories about the coming kingdom. He says, "This is the final and true kingdom." So, you have the true Prophet. You have the true King, and then you have one more in John 13 through 17. We call this the Upper Room Discourse.

It happens the Thursday night before he is crucified. It is when he sits with his inner circle, those who have now believed he is the light, who have left the darkness of religion and the ways of man, who have recognized him for all he has communicated. In fact, if you go back and even look, whenever Christ does a major sign, in John there's almost always a long explanation about it.

After he fed the 5,000, he pulled his guys away. He said, "Let me explain to you what just happened." He said, "I'm the Light of the World." He pulls them aside, and says, "Let me explain to you what I mean by that." You'll see that again and again throughout John. Really what John 13 through 17 is, is him pulling his disciples away, taking all of the seven signs in John 1 through 12, and saying, "Let me explain everything now that just happened and is about to happen to you." It is about the final Priest.

Who is Jesus Christ? He is prophet, priest, and king who is telling you about the true and coming kingdom. The three places he goes the longest about, he needs to let you know: "I am the fullest expression of every high office of man. I am the final Prophet. I am the final King. I am the perfect Priest. When I am done with my sacrifice, I sit down, because it is finished." Only the perfect King can provide perfect provision for those who are in perfect need. He tells you a bunch of stories about how you can be a part of that.

John 13 through John 20 (you have a little summary coming after that) is, as you can tell, almost half the book. It really involves about 24 hours. If you push it through the resurrection, almost 72. There is something going on here. This is a real privilege. This is getting called into the captain's bridge, the officer's quarter. This is the war room.

I got to go through the White House one time. I've always thought, "If I could spend a weekend somewhere that would be really tremendous, I'd rather, frankly, be on a Black Hawk helicopter fast-roping down into Osama bin Laden's little tract there in Northern Pakistan." At least I fancy I would like that. As I've gotten a little older and can hardly do a pushup without losing my breath, I've thought, "You know, I'd love to be in the war room and see what's going on."

One day I was going through the White House. I was downstairs and walked by the kitchen, and the door to the war room opened. I mean, like downstairs in the basement just off the West Wing, where all that satellite hookup is where that picture of Obama was when he was watching what was going on in Pakistan. I got me a big old gander in there. I didn't care if they arrested me or not. I was like, "All right. Is there an empty chair? Can I go in there?"

I can't imagine how awesome it would be to be called in and really get a glimpse of what was going on and people understanding strategy. This is better than all of that. Jesus is saying, "Come on in. Get you an earful of this. I'm going to tell you about everything that's going to go on." You need to know that. Here's why. Look at John 13 with me.

"Now before the Feast of the Passover, Jesus…" Watch this. "…knowing that His hour had come, [knowing] that He would depart out of this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end." I'm going to come back to that idea in a moment. Look down there in verse 3. "Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and [knowing] that He had come forth from God and was going back to God…"

You see, what's happening right here is Jesus is saying, "Listen. I know some things, so what's about to go down isn't going to wig me out. You need to know these things. You don't have it yet. You've been running with me for a long time, but sit down, boys. This is how the war is going to go. This is the battle I'm going to let them win, but this is the ultimate victory."

How many of you all have sat down and TiVo'd something. You can't wait to get home and watch it, and somebody drops the score on you or ruins exactly what's going to happen? It's really an awful thing. This happened to me, though. One time when a team I enjoyed watching because I had some friends on it was significantly down. This guy was TiVo'ing this thing away from it.

It was the World Series. Does that still hurt you guys? A couple of years ago when that happened with the Cardinals? I'm sorry. No. I'm just kidding. Some of you all still lost your breath from that moment. There's nothing worse. Just imagine this. You're a big Cardinals fan, and you're hoping they win to push to game seven against the Rangers. You have somebody tell you, "Oh, they won," when you wanted to go home and watch it.

I want to tell you what. It might also be fun to go home and watch it if you knew somehow, with down by two runs with two strikes and two outs and nobody on, that there was no way you were going to come back. You go, "Wait a minute. I'm not going to panic. I'm not going to get upset," if I'm foolish enough to get upset about fleeting things like sports. Aren't we all fools?

Watching that and not even believing that. Not just once but then twice after Hamilton homers that second time. You go, "No problem. All good. Get an out on us. Get two. Get two strikes on us. I know how it's going to turn out." Because you have knowledge, there is no stress. There's no elevation. Somebody would look at you and say, "You must know something I don't know, bro, because this is wigging me out."

This is why Jesus calls them into the room, saying, "I'm going to TiVo history for you. I'm going to tell you the outcome. Now, you're going to watch this thing. If you don't reflect back on my sovereign insight, understanding, and knowing my knowledge, you are going to bail, so you need to know these things."

If you're wondering why you can't live a noble, honorable, warrior, faithful Christian life, it's because you don't know John 13 through 17. You don't know the Olivet Discourse. Your King is saying, "Come listen. I am sovereign. I am over all things, so you lock in." This is why apologetics is important. We said that during that little conference we had about having a rational reasonable faith.

Let me tell you something. Emotions are good. We shouldn't deny our emotions, but they are not reliable. Do you understand that? You can't go back to how you feel on any given moment. No. Fact has to pull your feelings. Faith has to inform how you live. Faith is not believing in something you know not to be true. That's not what faith is. The opposite of faith is not rationality. The opposite of rationality is irrationality. The opposite of faith is non-belief.

We have a faith that goes, not against reason at all, but there are certain things that are suprarational, that are beyond reason, that we have through revelation that has, by the way, been anchored in the context of history, which tells you the preponderance of evidence would suggest this one you can trust in every way he can be tested, you can trust in areas he cannot be tested. This is Jesus' conversation in John 13 through 17. "You don't know what I know, but what you know about me, remember. If I am reliable in every way, as I have shown you, then maybe you ought to believe me in this." He gives them one last sign.

He says, "Now, when I go out there and get whupped and get down by two runs, with two outs and two strikes, don't freak out. I'm putting myself in that situation. I'm going to let them call me out. Then there will be a protest, and the sovereign umpire will say, 'No. That is a righteous one. We will raise him from the dead, and he will live again.' I will come to get you. Meanwhile, I'm going to leave you here to take this message to others, that others might be saved as you have been because you believe in me."

You have to know these things. What allowed Jesus to stand firm was his knowledge of truth, not just some feeling he got at a worship set or some summer camp or after some conference. He said, "I am going all in here. I have done my due diligence, and I'm in." He's calling the disciples to believe the same thing. Watch this.

It says he did this and, "He loved his disciples to the uttermost." The word there is telos, to the end. Completely. Nothing left. Let me say it to you this way. Even God can't do any better than this. He went from the heights of heaven, the holiest of holies, down to the depths of rebellious, sinful men. He went all the way. In fact, if you have a Bible, take a good look there with me at verse 3. Verse 3 says, "Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come forth from God and was going back to God…"

Now you should see right there in verse 4 an asterisk. Look real closely at your Bible. Do you see a little asterisk right there or you maybe see something italicized? You should see it several times through there. There's a reason for that. You might even look over in your margin. The reason they put that in there is because there has been… The translators have made a change for you. They have tried to make it more readable, because there is a word form, a verb form…it's called a historical present…that is just awkward for us if we read it.

What it does is it puts it in the past tense, but that's not the way John wrote it. John wrote it the way he did intentionally, because he wants you to feel the tension. When we read this on our own or we would maybe sometimes be working through this, it would seem wooden or awkward to today's reader. Which I think is a mistake. Trust us. We'll work our way through it. Just bring it across like it's supposed to be. This is what it really should say. It should be like this:

It said, "Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come forth from God and was going back to God…" Then,"He is getting up from supper. He is laying aside his garments. He is taking on a towel. He is girding himself with that towel. He is pouring out the water into the basin. He is beginning to wash their feet. He is wiping their feet with the towel with which he was girded." What John is saying here is, "Can you believe what you are seeing? This is an amazing moment." He's trying to build this thing up a little bit.

I heard a guy say this one time. He's exactly right. It's like saying… I don't know. Let's use the Cowboys since we're in Dallas, as painful as it might be to some of us. He says, "DeMarco Murray off to the right side. He's at the 15. He's at the 20. He's at the 25. He breaks a tackle. He's at the 35. He's crossing midfield. DeMarco Murray is at the 45. He's at the 40. He's at the 35. He's at 30. He's at the 25. DeMarco Murray is at the 10! He's at the 5!" You go, "Oh, my gosh!" You feel the tension building. It's the homer call of the week, some might call it.

John is saying, "Watch this. He is getting up. This King who came from God and is God is rising from the table. He is disrobing himself. He is dipping down to take on a servant's role. He is girding himself. He is bending his knee. He is pouring water. He is washing their feet. Can you believe it?"

This act was so lowly that a Jewish slave in that society… When you became a slave in Judaism, it was always because of some debt or obligation. You would only be there for, at the maximum, seven years, often less. When you were indebted, when they foreclosed on your life, if you will, because you had lived irresponsibly…the society said, "Listen, bro. You can't keep saying one thing and doing another. You're going to work for this man."

Even when your life had been that obligated to somebody else that you were indebted, in bonded servitude, he could not make you do this act. They wouldn't let you defile yourself to touch what is unclean in order to serve another man, because you serve something greater than a man. You serve God. A Jewish man would never be made to do this.

This is why John the Baptist, early on in John, when they asked him, "Are you the Prophet? Are you the final Prophet?" he said, "Not only am I not the final Prophet, this one who is coming, I'm not even able to untie his sandal. He is so much better and greater than me. If I were the lowest slave, I wouldn't be low enough to have the privilege to wash his feet."

What you're going to see here… This is John's effort at what Paul later does in Philippians, chapter 2, where it says that although Jesus "…who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself…" In other words, he took off his royal robe. He rose from the throne of God. He took on a servant's clothes.

"Being made in the likeness of man and being found in the appearance of man, he girded himself, and he bent." Paul says in Philippians 2 he became obedient like a servant even to the point of death, death on a cross. Therefore, God highly exalted him and gave him the name above all names, that at the name of Jesus, every knee will bow. Every tongue will confess that this is the greatest God who ever has existed, who ever could exist, that we wouldn't even dare to dream.

That is what John is doing here. This is his saying, "Do you see what's happening?" This is a theological observation by John. He has made a case in John 1 through 12. "You can't do the things this man did unless he is God. This man has claimed he is God, and look what he is doing. He is loving you to the end, being made as a servant in the likeness of a man. He is going to become obedient, even to the point of death. He's going to go all the way. He's going to love you to the uttermost."

This is Ephesians 3. Ephesians 3 talks about what Christ has done, and this is why you worship him. This is why I said if I could just do my job this morning, you would never have to hear me teach again. You would just be able to go back and meditate on the miracle and the wonder of this. Paul writes, "For this reason I bow my knees before the Father…" For what reason?

In Ephesians 1:2… This is so important. You need to get this, because there is never a command to do something in Scripture until you get clarity on truth. What you know always is to inform what you do. What you believe is always supposed to have implications for how you behave. The Word of God is what brings a different walk. The doctrine is what brings forth a different doing. The orthodoxy brings forth a different orthopraxy.

Ephesians 1, 2, and 3 is all the doctrine. Paul goes through, and he talks about who Jesus is. He's saying he is the Holy One of God who has come to do for you what you can't do for yourself. He goes through all that in Ephesians 1, 2, and 3. Then, in verse 14, he says, " [In light of all this] I bow my knees before the Father…"

Some of you guys have a hard time serving God. Why? Because you aren't informed about what has happened for you. You don't have your arms around the good news. The gospel isn't clear to you. You still think you have to cleanse yourself. No. Jesus said, "Come here. One more time, I'm going to review why I'm here loving you to the end. Because you need a washing."

Paul said, "You got a washing. You are now holy and blameless in his sight. You have been covered by the blood of Christ. He is finished. It is done." " [Knowing this] I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened…" Watch this. "…with power through His Spirit in the inner man…" You are strengthened by truth, and it should change the way you live.

Jesus is saying in John 13, "You come here. Believe in me. Let this truth dwell in your hearts." That's verse 17. Paul says, " [I'm praying you would] be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints…" Watch this. "…what is [the uttermost of his love] the breadth and length and height and depth…" He goes on, and he says, "… [I wish you knew] the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God."

What Paul is saying is what I said, basically. I wish you knew Ephesians 1, 2, and 3:1-13, because it would change you. Can I tell you why you're still not loving your wife the way you should? Why you're still looking at porn? Why you're still a money-grubbing, materialistic, comfort-myself-with-the-pleasures-of-this-world, living-in-anger, wondering-why-you're-not-better-looking, wishing-your-car-was-in-better-shape person? Because you and I forget this truth.

Would you agree with me? Would you, just for a second, play along with me? If there is such a thing as God, if we are accountable to him, if he is holy, if the standard is perfection and there is no way we can have fellowship with him unless we're perfect, if the way he deals with those who are imperfect is not with annihilation and a lightning bolt that just moves you on into dirt, but he preserves you in his glory and power and allows you to live forever without him in judgment because he's an eternal God…

You've rejected his eternal goodness, so he's going to put you in a place that you will forever suffer in light of your rejection of him and there is nothing you can do about it. That is your state. That is your destiny. But he loves you. He dips down, and he rose up from his glory. He disrobed. He laid aside. He became like you to walk and remind you of his goodness, to show you his love, to reveal grace and truth like you've never known.

Though he was rich, for your sake he became poor. He made provision for every one of us that we might acknowledge our sorry state and the brokenness of the world, and we might come back to him and be reconciled to him. We might be coheirs with him. That he would then not send us away from him forever but bring us into his presence forever.

If that were true, if there were such a story that wonderful, wouldn't you go, "If that could just be true, Todd, it would change everything about my life"? Gang, I'm betting everything on that. God has not just told us a story. He's anchored it in the context of history. This isn't poetry. This isn't an idea. This isn't a Grimm's fairy tale. This isn't Lewis Carroll.

He said, "Go read. Go look. I don't care if you call BCE Before Common Era." The common era started and pivots on one man because one man's tomb is empty, because one man was not a man. He was the God-man who came to do all the things I've said this morning. I'm saying it's true. I'm saying it ought to change us, and we ought to quit trying to earn our way into favor with him. We ought to just respond to the favor we've been given.

There's a reason. I don't have to time to read it, but if I went back and showed you a parallel emphasis here… It's in Luke 22. It's in all the other Synoptics, the gospels that look with a similar eye. John is telling it in a more theological book, but John doesn't talk about the Last Supper, the beginning of Communion. Why?

I think the reason John doesn't, when he talks about that same meal, is because this is now 30, 40, 50 years later. What happened is the church became very focused on doing this thing called Communion and had lost the heart about what it means to really love this God. So, he doesn't even go there. He doesn't even talk about the fact of, "Break the bread. Drink the cup."

I want to tell you something. You can take Communion all day long, and if you don't truly know Jesus Christ, Communion is not going to help you. You can get baptized every other year, and if you don't really know Jesus Christ, it's not going to help you. Those are outward expressions of an inward faith. John is trying to grab your heart and go, "Do you know who he is? Do you know what he's done?"

You know what's so amazing about this text? Guess what the church did after John's gospel? It added another ritual. They go, "Oh! Oh! Well, John must have written this because we're not just supposed to take bread and wine; we're supposed to wash each other's feet." By and large across the world, it was never foot washing as a definitive ritual. It was never adopted like baptism. It was never adopted like Communion, because it was never commanded in that way, but there always have been some.

To this day there are certain large denominations that, on Maundy Thursday, the ecclesiological order takes off their high holy plumage and dips down and washes the feet of those underneath them. Now, look. I have to tell you. That doesn't really matter if you're not dipping down and serving them all the time. Does it? Do you think God goes, "Oh, that's what I wanted you to do. Once a year remember I did this. That's what I want you to do."

If you don't believe me, just do this. Treat your wife like a wretch 364 days a year, but on Valentine's Day, go all in. All right? Flowers. Chocolate. Furs. Lexuses. Whatever you're supposed to do. See how that works out for you. He goes, "Hey, babe. February 14. I rocked it." She's going to look at you… In fact, you're not going to be able to find her, because she's going to be on a date with somebody else. That's what's going to happen. Some of you guys aren't laughing, because you know that's what happens.

John didn't even go to the whole Communion thing here, because he's trying to emphasize that… In fact, if you go and read the other ones, do you know what happens? What happens is Jesus is saying, "Listen, guys. I'm going to be out of here." Immediately, a fight ensues about, "Okay. Well, who is going to be the boss when the boss is gone?" They start arguing about who's the greatest.

He just rises up, takes off his robe, and he says, "I'm going to show you boys greatness, because you ain't nothing like me. Let me review. I'm God. I created you. I know where I'm from and where I'm going. Pilate? My pigeon. I'll point that out to him in a few chapters. You, I made from dirt, and this is why I'm great: because I love you. Now, stop fighting. You want to be great?" It's an amazing text. Now watch this. I have to go quickly.

"Then He poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. So He came to Simon Peter. He said to Him, 'Lord, do You wash my feet?' Jesus answered and said to him, 'What I do you do not realize now, but you will understand hereafter.'"

There's a theological point he already made about who he is that John was trying to drive home, but he's also trying to teach Peter and the rest of the guys something. "You still don't have clarity in who I am. You're not locked in on my full Messiahship. You still think I'm going to rock the world, and that the Olivet Discourse is already going to happen in just a few hours. No. There's going to be a season, and you need to know this. This season is: I'm going to be broken. It's going to look like I'm beaten. You don't understand what I'm doing here, but this is symbolic of something else." Now watch.

"Peter said to Him, 'Never shall You wash my feet!' Jesus answered him, 'If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.'" You have no meros. No portion. No land. No share with me. "If I don't do for you what you need, you can't get where you're going." That's the same word used when they went back and injected the language of the New Testament into the Old.

They used that word right there, that word part for the land that was given, the portion that was given to all the different Israeli tribes in the Promised Land God gave them. The Greek word is meros. It's where we get our English word merit. "You have no merit with me." Do you all remember this? It's so funny. Let me tell you. I love…

Yesterday I was on my back porch, and I'm talking to my daughter. We're sitting there and just laughing a little bit together. We were talking about what she had read in the Bible that morning. I was sharing with her a little bit of stuff. She was actually in Isaiah 64. I go, "Well, I'm actually going to use that tomorrow."

She goes, "That reminds me, Dad. I need a new Bible." I go, "Really?" She goes, "Yeah. I have pink one with sparkles all over it. I'd like a leather one with flowers all over it." I thought to myself, "Hey, bozo. I don't care what kind you have. Just read the one you have." Whether it's leather with flowers or pink with sparkles, let's build it into our hearts. Okay?

So, we talked about that, but I laughed at that, because that's like me sometimes. There was a time I didn't memorize some stuff because I wasn't sure what translation to memorize it in. I think God was up there going, "Are you serious? Why don't you just memorize it the best you can? Later, if you find some other translation you think is more correct and accurate, we'll move on then."

Anyway, she was in Isaiah 64. Last week when we were here, at the beginning of our message, we sang a song that talked about, "Love came down." Love came down and did something, and how great it would be if God came down. This is John 13. It's also Isaiah 64, where my little girl was yesterday. Watch this.

"Oh, that You would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains might quake at Your presence—As fire kindles the brushwood, as fire causes water to boil…" That you would just come down and stir it up. "…to make Your name known to Your adversaries, that the nations may tremble at Your presence!

When You did awesome things which we did not expect, You came down, the mountains [the world powers and authorities and principalities] quaked [when they saw what you were doing] . For from days of old they have not heard or perceived by ear, nor has the eye seen a God besides You, who acts in behalf of the one who waits for Him." That's really what Jesus is saying. He goes, "You wait for me Peter. I have to do for you what no one else can do, and I've come down to do it."

When you get to verse 6 of Isaiah 64, it says, "…and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy [rags] …" I told my daughter, "Do you know what that means? Long before there were sanitation projects, those 'filthy rags' is a reference to what women would use during the time of month when they were menstruating."

She goes, "That is disgusting." I go, "Yes, it is. When we try and have a portion with him by clothing ourselves in our own merit, our own works, he goes, 'You have to be kidding me. Have you been paying attention? The bloody discharge of men is supposed to make you look glorious in my sight? No. You need a different kind of washing.'"

This is Titus, chapter 3. I'm going to show you the Bible… I did a message a couple of weeks ago in John. It was called The Bible Collapses Here. The Bible collapses all the time. In other words, it keeps pointing you back to the same thing. Titus 3 talks about when we were once disobedient, foolish, malicious gossips.

Then he gets to verse 4, and it says, "But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy…" Watch this. "…by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit…"

A buddy of mine from college got married. We were standing there talking, catching up. His wife had this beautiful dress, knit and embroidered. We were standing there talking, and my buddy was next to me. His wife was over behind us. She was sitting there holding a big glass of red wine. She turned around, and he said to her, "Come on over here, Sweetie."

She turned around, and at the same time, somebody over there turned the other way. She turned, and she got hit. That glass of red wine went up, hit her right in the chin, and went all the way down. She looked like a skunk with a big red stripe. She just froze. She's sitting there holding that… The wine glass was empty. She just froze. She couldn't even shake.

I mean, out of nowhere, like hawks, there were three bridesmaids who came. They swooped down on this woman. They dragged her into a bathroom about 15 feet away, and for the next 30 minutes, it was like bats out of hell running in and out of that bathroom, over to the bar, and back and forth. We tried to talk to them. They were out of breath. They wouldn't look at us.

The guys kind of stood back and started watching. Back and forth. As sure as I'm standing here, 35 minutes later, that woman came walking out of that bathroom, and there was absolutely nothing on that dress. I became an absolute believer in club soda at that moment. I was like, "You have to be kidding me." Now, it was a little damper right there, but I go, "That is incredible."

Let me tell you something. What Jesus is saying to Peter right here is, "Listen. Look. You're already cleansed because you're believing in me, but you need a washing that I'm going to give you that you can't get. There is an inkblot you can't get out. You can't Shout this one out, Peter. You can't club soda this one out. You'd better let me do this." Peter says, "Well, then not my feet, but my whole body."

He said, "No, Peter. Listen. You're already washed by the regeneration that happened when you believed in me, but you need to know something. We're going to finish this process." I want to tell you. This is both true in one moment where you receive the washing of what Christ does that makes us holy, and it's also what Jesus is saying. "If you want to have ongoing fellowship with me, you're going to have to continually agree that you're nothing like me."

Let me say it to you this way. What Christ is going to say is, "You boys are always wandering off. You're arguing now about who is great. You're nothing like me. You have to come to your senses and repent. If you want fellowship with me, you're going to have to continually confess that you ain't like me. You have to agree I'm holy, and you're not. As you go through…"

What happened is there are two actual words here that are used for bathing. One is the word niptó. The way I think about that is it's the one that goes when you're saying you just washed your hands or your feet. You have to nip sin in the bud. That's how I remember it. As you go through life, even as a believer, as you walk…

There's another word. I'll tell you this. It's loúō. It's where… Have you ever been in England, and they go, "I'm going to go to the loo." "I could really care less. What the heck is a loo?" Well, it's an abbreviated, informal way to say lavatory. It's like saying WC instead of water closet. It comes from this word. It means to completely bathe.

A Jewish man would go, and he would dip in the mikveh. He would be ceremonially clean, but then he would go on about his day. As he walked through the world, he'd pick up nasty. He'd pick up gross. He'd pick up filth. When he came home, he didn't need to bathe again, but he did need to get rid of the nasty that was on his feet.

What Jesus is basically saying is, "Look, guys. You're already made completely righteous by your belief in me. You have been washed through regeneration when you trusted in me, but you have to continually let me remind you that you ain't like me. You have to niptó sin in the bud. We have to confess our sin to one another.

Men aren't real good at this, are they? We are not good at this. You can go back and look through history. Aaron: "Well, Moses. They gave me a bunch of gold and jewels, and I fired the fire. Out came this calf. I have no idea what happened." How about this one? Adam: "What? What are you talking about? Oh, oh, oh. That thing. Yeah. Uh. The woman who you, by the way, gave to me… It wasn't a prayer request. You know? That thing…"

That's why you find Job in chapter 31 saying, "Have I hidden my sin like Adam? No." Job is sitting there being accused by his friends. Job is saying, "I'll tell you everything I've done." Men love to do this. I can't help people, by the way, when they come to me, and they want counsel… They want to be fixed. They usually want you to fix stuff, but they don't want to get the log out of their own eye. I can't help them.

That's why Jesus said to the great priest when he came, "Blessed are the poor in spirit… Blessed are those who mourn…" because of their sin. You have to see your state. That is true to come to him, and I'm going to tell you something. That is true for us to have fellowship. We can't get along unless you and I reckon with each other.

"You know what? I just drove some nasty through this house. I'd better wash my feet. I'd better ask your forgiveness. I'd better humble myself, be sober of spirit, and acknowledge, 'You know what I did? I just dragged some stuff in here that was Todd not God. Some me, not Spirit.'" That's what's going to allow me to have fellowship with him and restore fellowship with you.

That's what we do. We're not perfect people. We walk through this world, and we get some nasty on us. We get caught up, and we have to constantly fellowship with Christ. I do believe that is why every time we eat we're to remind ourselves before we break bread and drink wine…which is a reminder of a spiritual provision in our lives…that our God who, though he was rich, for our sakes became poor.

I have to ask myself between breakfast and lunch, "How have I done at modeling that for him and for others? You know what? I haven't treated the folks I work with that way. I haven't treated my wife that way. She said this when I left this morning, and I just acted like I didn't hear it. Last night when that baby was crying, I acted like I was in the deepest of REM sleep. That golf game I agreed to? That was really about me. I didn't factor in my family. I'm just dragging nasty in. There's dirt and filth all over this house, so I don't want to act like we're clean."

Jesus said, "Boys, do you want fellowship with me? You're going to have to constantly dip down and let my Word (which has bathed you and regenerated you) in, but you have to humble yourself. "… [when] my people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will [start to heal your little marriages] ."

The last little part of this section right here, Jesus says in verse 12, "So when He had washed their feet, and taken His garments and reclined at the table again, He said to them, 'Do you know what I have done to you?'" He's going to give them a third lesson here. There's this big theological idea. He said, "This is why we're going to keep fellowship, but let me tell you something. This is the way you should live." Now watch. I have to go quick.

"You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a slave is not greater than his master, nor is one who is sent greater than the one who sent him.""You have to love and live the way I love and live. This is what I'm asking you to do."

Some of you guys take the Dallas Morning News. About six months ago, one of the guys on staff came to me, and he goes, "Wagner, every year they do this thing called the "Top 100 Places to Work" in Dallas. I think this is the best place I've ever been. I'd love to enter it. I go, "What are you even talking about?" So, he told me.

The folks around here emailed the Dallas Morning News and said, "We'd like to be entered in the 'Top 100 Places to Work.' Off we go. We entered in. All our employees had to fill out an anonymous thing with the direct access to the website of some company that does this all across the country. Then they give an award every year. I didn't even know this existed, but they give an award every year for the best small company, the best mid-sized company, and best large-sized company. The best places to work in Dallas.

It turns out, it's in the Dallas Morning News today. There's a big pullout section. They have two big pages of our body right here that says Watermark ended up being this first year… It was the first time a church had ever won. I go, "Is that the first time a church has ever entered?" They go, "No, churches enter all the time. It's the first time a church has ever won." We got second in small businesses, employees from 0 to 150.

I didn't know this, but there's this huge luncheon. I went down there to this luncheon. There were a thousand people there. I mean, Crate & Barrel, Gaylord Texan, folks at Interstate Batteries who have won every year when they've been a part of this, led by one of our members over there, and other believers. I saw my buddy Matt Levy and his friends at Credera, a company run by Watermark folks. They were down there. Anyway, it turns out that they announced when we get down there that we took second place, so I have to go up there and speak. You know what I said?

I stood up in front of everybody, and I said, "Well, let me tell you. I need to ask y'all's forgiveness, because I work at a place where I'm trying to respond to the greatest God, to the greatest King, that ever was, who doesn't ask me to labor for him in a way that he would then compensate me. He has already dealt with every insufficiency I have. He is a servant King. I'm supposed to model that for my staff. Apparently, I don't do it well enough, because we're second. I want to ask your forgiveness that we're not first."

I did. I told them. I said, "You know, that's who Jesus is. Some of you all maybe don't want to labor for the King because you've not really ever understood what it's like to work for him. You don't work for him. You respond to his love." I talked about a famous day here at Watermark years ago that we were growing. A bunch of folks who work in the business world, the folks who advised us from a business perspective, said, "You guys have to get a policy. You have to get some human resource things working."

They spent hours on this thing. They came. They put this book together. They presented to the whole staff, about 50 of us at the time. They got done, and they go, "Okay, Todd. We're done." I go, "Great. Everybody take those folders, and you can throw them away as far as I'm concerned." They went, "Wow."

I said, "I'm serious. Here's why. Listen. Rightly did they put those things together. We have to have some rails to run on, but the reason there are human resource manuals and the reason there are policies and labor management disputes is because people are abusive to one another. We put laws in place to keep people from abusing one another. If you want to relate to me in a legal way, you can do that, but I don't think you're going to like it. We're supposed to relate to each another in another way, and that is in a loving way."

The Bible says, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law." I actually shared this a little bit down there, too, the other day. I go, "How many of you guys know there's a better way than employee-management relations the way the world does it? How many times has HR come to you and said, 'Hey, I need to talk to you. You are being way too good to the employees. There has been way too much kindness coming out of this office. We are too loving to those who work with us'"? There's no law against those things.

Let me tell you something. When you're around that kind of husband, when you're around that kind of friend, when you date that kind of person, you go, "I am blessed. This is the best marriage in America." I want to tell you this morning, if your employees, your spouses, your children, your neighbors don't go, "This is the best neighborhood in America because I live next to…" then we're not understanding Jesus when he says, "I did this as an example for you." He says, "If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them." Everybody loves that kind of leader.

Folks, that's who we are. We're people who love that kind of leader. It is a joy. This is the best faith in the universe, because we're not trying to earn our righteousness. We're not trying to fill up shoeboxes or write checks so he'll love us. We're doing it because we love him. Do you know him? If you don't, I pray you'd come and let him wash you, as you let his Spirit pour over you, his blood cover you, his Word renew you. If you know him, let's serve. Let's love. Let's respond to that gospel. Amen?

Father, would you burn this in our hearts, that we might glorify you? If there are some who are out there who are still trying to get the inkblot, if you will, the wine stain off their dress, they're trying to prepare for that day they meet you, would you show them, "This kind doesn't come out that way? You need me to wash you"? Would you teach us? Would you save them? For those of us who are saved, might we go with gladness and worship our King. In Christ's name, amen.

Have a great week of worship.