I. Humility: The Acted Parable (vv. 4-5, 12)
A. A Perfect Picture
1. First, there is a perfect picture here of the Divine Christ and His entire eternal redeeming history, with particular stress on His role as a servant.
2. In this passage, Jesus did seven things.
a) First, He stood up (4a),
b) then He put something off (4b),
c) the He put something on (4c),
d) then He poured something out (5a),
e) then He washed His followers with that which He poured out (5),
f) then He went back to His original place and reassumed His original garments (12a), and
g) finally, He sat down again (12b).
3. In these seven actions of Jesus, we can clearly see His entire history "from eternity to eternity."
a) He had spent all of eternity "past" in Heaven at God's right hand
(3) co-existent with His Father.
b) Then, at one awesome moment, He "stood up," from the throne of God, preparing to change locations and assume a human nature.
c) When He stood up in Heaven, He put something off,
(1) "stripping Himself" (the very word that is used in the great "kenosis passage" of His Self-emptying in Philippians chapter 2) of His independent use of His Diving right and powers.
d) Then He put something on, clothing Himself and His full Divine Nature in a human body.
(1) This is pictured in the foot-washing "parable" by "a towel" wherewith He "girded Himself."
(2) What is a towel? In the story, it is a slave's instrument of service.
(3) And what does a slave do?
(4) He just goes around cleaning up other people's messes.
(5) And this is precisely what Jesus came to do - to clean up the big mess we had made of things through our sins!
e) After He put on our humanity, He poured something out on earth.
(1) He poured out His precious blood on the Cross at Cal-vary.
f) Then He washed His followers with that which He poured out,
(1) He cleansed them of their sins with His own precious bleed (Revelation 1:5b-6).
"To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, 6and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen."
g) After rising from the dead and appearing unto many, He went back to His original place and reassumed His original garments of glory.
(1) He returned to Heaven where His prayer was answered: "And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was." (John 17:5).
h) Back in Heaven after His earthly incarnation (and still "wearing" our humanity), He sat down again at God's right hand.
(1) He reigns again with the Father in glory, and is waiting until His enemies are made His footstool.
4. This is the history of Jesus from the infinity of eternity "past" through the infinity of eternity "future."
a) And the entire history is pictured in the acted parable of the foot-washing in John 13.
b) So this acted out parable revealed His humility, His redeeming history, and His everlasting glory.
B. Jesus Humbled Himself (Philippians 2:5-11)
1. "And He was made in the likeness of men."
a) Let these words reach the deep of your person: God became man!
b) The word "likeness" means similar but with a difference.
c) Jesus became a man, similar to each of us - but with a dif-ference!
d) He was fully human, but He was unique among humans in that He was without sin.
2. The New Testament writers use an impressive array of words and phrases to present the incarnation ("in-fleshment") of God in Christ.
a) John 1:14 says that He "became flesh."
b) Galatians 4:4 says that he was "born of a woman."
c) Romans 1:3 says that "He was born of the seed of David according to the flesh."
d) 1 Timothy 3:16 declares that "God was manifested in the flesh."
e) Hebrews 2:14 indicates that "He became a partaker of flesh and blood."
f) And His time on earth is referred to as "the days of His flesh" (Hebrews 5:7).
3. As we approach this Easter Sunday, and every day we live, we must never allow the incarnation of Christ to fade in our minds or hearts.
a) "Jesus" is the human name of God!
b) And we must not confuse this truth.
4. The incarnation is not the deifying of man; it is the humanizing of God.
a) It is not man rising into Godhood; it is God condescending into manhood - He humbled himself!
b) For the first time in His eternal existence, God now had a nature that was capable of dying!
c) So the stage is now set for a transaction of eternal redemp-tion to be made.
d) God is on earth as a man, with a mortal human nature something awfully big is in the making!
e) The vital ingredients of a coming Calvary are now in place.
5. Ernest Gordon's autobiography is entitled Miracle On the River Kwai.
a) Gordon was a British Highland soldier captured by the Japanese during World War II.
(1) He was kept in a POW camp in a Burmese jungle.
(2) The prisoners of war were forced to build a railroad for the Japanese in the jungle.
(3) Gordon nearly starved along with the other prisoners, and became the victim of numerous tropical diseases.
b) He was not a Christian when he was placed in the death house and left to die.
(1) However, a fellow prisoner took Gordon out, shared his food rations with him, and nursed him back to health.
(2) This friend also introduced Gordon to Christ.
(3) Gordon's story is a story of the triumph of faith and it is also the story of Christ's triumph among His helpless people.
c) Years later, when Ernest Gordon was chaplain at Princeton University, he wrote that Jesus Christ "came into our Death House, to lead us out and deliver us to full spiritual health."
(1) But before He could come "into our Death House," He first had to become a man.
(2) When Jesus came to the earth, He might have said, "I am what I was God. I was not what I am man. I am now both God and man."
d) The Son of God became also the Son of Man.
e) He who was totally God humbled Himself and became truly man so that He could pour out His blood to cleanse us from our sin.
f) Then He arose, put His glory back on, and sat down again in heaven.
g) That is the true picture of humility!
And Jesus says to us, today (John 13:12b-17):
"Do you know what I have done to you? 13You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. 14If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. 15For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. 16Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. 17If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them."
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John E. LeHew, Sr.
Bible text is from The Holy Bible, New King James Version.
Note: This sermon is NOT copyrighted. It was originally preached by Rev. Herbert Hodges, and is re-created here from the notes on that sermon.