Servant King

John 13: 1-17 p.136



Imagine Prince William & Kate were going to get married in our Crathie church. We want to do something special to mark the occasion. So we have a competition to design a t-shirt fit for a future king and queen. What pictures would you expect?

Crown, Sceptre, Lion, Shield, Sword, Throne, Jewels?

Depicting the idea of power, importance, riches, control, authority.

No-one would design a bowl, towel, figure kneeling. Would you buy one?



VISUAL: WOMAN’S APRON Any man willing to put it on? How does it feel to for a man wearing an apron? How do you feel seeing a man? Embarrassed?  Not right? Women’s work?


SERMON: John 13: 1-17


PALM SUNDAY  An exciting day. Jesus disciples have publicly welcomed him into Jerusalem as their king. On the following days he clears the Temple of the merchants and money changers then teaches and heals in the Temple.  This was a sign of his power and popularity.  The religious leaders can do nothing to stop him. Surely now he will be publicly acclaimed as the Messiah.


Jesus is their Lord. But then, on the night of the Passover meal he does something nobody would expect a king to do

v.4,5 “Jesus rose from the table, took off his outer garment, and tied a towel round his waist.  Then he poured some water into a basin and began to wash the disciples feet and dry them with the towel round his waist”



Peter: this is slaves work!  Jesus shouldn’t do this. Feels embarrassed.

Jesus a role model. Peter a leader. Would Peter have to do this?



Man forced to wear apron & wash dirty pots. Angry, put down, resentment.

Man voluntary wears apron and washes pots.  Changes how he feels.  Glad to help.


Connection between THOUGHTS / FEELINGS / ACTIONS

QUOTE Shakespeare

“There is nothing either good of bad, but thinking makes it so”



Thought v3 “Jesus knew that the Father had given him complete power; he knew that he had come from God and was going to God”

Feelings  power, security, God’s will, love for disciples

Actions  v.1 “Showed the full extent of his love” (NIV) v.4 Washed feet



Chose to be a servant. Not subservient / doormat. In control. Had power.

Used power to serve not dominate.

To win our love not command it


APPN  How do you feel about yourself? The jobs you do? It depends how you think of yourself.

If we are Jesus disciples we are members of his family, dearly loved children, royal priests, princes & princesses, we are infinitely precious to him.

When we really believe this with our whole hearts it gives us a feeling of security; knowing that we are loved enables us to accept ourselves and to love others as we love ourselves

This enables us to willingly follow Jesus example of humble, practical service



v.14,15 “I, your Lord and Teacher, have just washed your feet … I have set an example for you, so that you will do just what I have done for you”


APPN What does Jesus have in mind? Some have a foot-washing ceremony, either as a separate service or as part of the Maundy Thursday service.

v.1 “Jesus showed them the full extent of his love”


The foot-washing is Jesus way of showing his disciples how much he loves them.  It is a practical demonstration of the depth of God’s love for us.  We, his disciples are called upon to be living examples of God’s love, serving one another humbly in whatever way we can and thus revealing the character of God to the world.




ILLN  Doug Nichols

Doug Nichols was a missionary with Operation Mobilization in India during the 1960’s.  While there he caught TB and spent several months in hospital. He tried to give out Christian tracts and copies of the gospel of John, but no one would take them. They didn't like him and assumed he was a rich Westerner.


After some time he found he could not sleep at night.  He would wake up coughing at 2 am. One night he noticed an emaciated little old man trying to get out of bed. The man couldn't stand up, and began to whimper. He lay back into bed. In the morning the stench in the ward was terrible and everyone was angry at the old man for not containing himself. The nurse who cleaned up even smacked the old man for making such a mess.


The next night the very same thing happened. Doug woke up coughing with his own terrible sickness and weakness. He saw the old man try again to get out of bed. Again he couldn't stand, and began to cry softly. Doug got out of bed went over to the old man. The man cowered with fear. But Doug picked him up with both arms and carried him to the bathroom, and then brought him back. The man kissed him on the cheek as he put him down in bed.


The following morning another patient woke Doug with a cup of tea and made motions that said he wanted a copy of the booklet - the gospel of John. Through that whole day people kept coming to him and asking for his booklets even though he could not speak their language.


v.15-17 “Jesus said, I have set an example for you, so that you will do just what I have done for you.  … Now that you know this truth how happy you will be if you put it into practice.”


When we follow Jesus example, serving one another willingly and gladly, we shall experience the blessing of his joy in our hearts, and we shall reveal the character of God to the world.