Spiritual Success or Distress?
Quarter 1, Lesson 5
Jesus: The Humble Servant
Text: John 13:1-20
Most people regard some requests, some acts, some tasks as being "beneath me."
Something that is "beneath me" degrades me and demeans me. It attacks my sense of
self-respect and dignity. Commonly, an American says to himself or herself, "I am important. I
have worth. I have rights. I am entitled to respect. I am a person, not a piece of property. I
should be treated as a person, not an object or a nobody." With that attitude, it is too easy to
consider serving others as "beneath me."
Jesus, the servant, did not view any person as meaningless or worthless--not a leper, not a tax
collector, not a prostitute, not a Samaritan, not the blind or lame, not the diseased, not even
the demon possessed. Jesus did not regard any act of service as being "beneath him." Jesus
was not just a servant. He was a humble servant.
Read John 13:1-20.
The focus of this lesson is on Jesus the humble servant. Next quarter, we will consider the
lessons in this same scripture that Jesus intended for the twelve [and us] to learn. In this
lesson, please concentrate on Jesus.
- List the specific things that Jesus did when he got up after completing the meal (verses 5,6).
- Please take note of the fact that this was an intentional act. He was responding to a physical need that addressed the state of the disciples' hearts. Discuss the emotions and feelings that must have stirred in the disciples' minds and hearts as they watched Jesus prepare for and perform the act of washing their feet.
- What did Jesus say about their comprehension of what occurred (verse 7)?
- What is the first thing Jesus did when he completed the task of washing their feet (verse 12). What question did he ask them?
- What did they call Jesus (verse 13)? Were they right to address Jesus in this manner? Why?
- If as their Lord and Teacher Jesus could wash their feet, what should they be able to do (verse 14)?
- What did Jesus give them and what did Jesus expect (verse 15)?
- What two illustrations did Jesus use to stress the importance of their learning humble service from him and his actions (verse 16)?
- When [or how] would they receive a blessing from their knowledge (verse 17)?
- Please note that Jesus intentionally stressed the fact that he was their example.
- For the twelve, was allowing Jesus to be their example optional or essential?
Explain your answer.
- For us, is allowing Jesus to be our example optional or essential? Explain your answer.
Washing feet was a demeaning responsibility. Commonly, this was a task given to a slave
who had no rank, no standing, no significance before the master. A Jewish master did not
require this deed of Jewish slaves who had indentured themselves.
When Jesus took his outer clothing off, tied a towel around his waist, prepared a basin of
water, and stooped before each of them, he looked like their slave, not their master. The
enormous respect they had for Jesus was genuine. What an embarrassing moment it must
have been to see their master deliberately assume the look of a slave!
Thoughts to discuss:
- We know that the twelve expected Jesus to become king and they anticipated that they would be his administrators. We know that James and John wanted the key, prestigious positions in that kingdom. How would those expectations and this incident clash?
- On more than one occasion Jesus taught them that the least in the kingdom would be the greatest. On this occasion, how was Jesus the living example of this truth?
Jesus is humility's well. If the Master and Lord is to be our example, we must draw from that
well and drink.
Link to Teacher's Guide Quarter 1, Lesson 5
Copyright © 1999, 2000
David Chadwell & West-Ark Church of Christ
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