Laymanointing

…. they were unschooled, ordinary men …. they had been with Jesus …. the crippled man healed standing with them – Acts 4:13,14

Who’s the super greatest at the last supper? What’s a leader’s heart like? (John 13, Luke 22)

We’ll be exploring the last supper in Luke 22 & John 13.

Luke 22:19, 20 (NIV)
19 And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying,
“This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”
20 In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying,
“This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.

There’s an interesting verse in Luke 22 at the last supper,
right after Jesus blessed the wine and the bread of His covenant in His blood.

Luke 22:24 (MSG, MEV)
Within minutes they
(the 12 disciples) were bickering
over who of them would end up the greatest

There was also rivalry among them concerning which of them was to be counted the greatest

Somehow, this was not photoshop away at the last supper portrait;
rivalry, dispute, contention, bickering, argument, strife
(words used in the various translations of this verse).

In a couple hours, Jesus would be arrested.
In less than 24 hours, Jesus would be crucified,
and the true meaning of the wine and the bread,
the blood covenant which Jesus just spoke about,
would all come true.

While time ticked away … topmost in the disciples’ minds was

Which one of them is the greatest … the best … the super leader?

“anything you can do
… I can do … much better … I’m better”

(“if you want to impress your friends, … this is what you should have”)

And in the midst of this,
John gives us a glimpse of Jesus’ heart at the last supper:

… Having loved his own who were in the world,
he [Jesus] now showed them
the full extent of his love.

John 13:1 (NIV 1984)


What’s a greatness attitude — greattitude?

As a guide, this post is divided into the following short sections.

* a recurring question … who’s the greatest?
* it happened again …
* in the New Testament church?
* why?
* at the last supper
* walk the talk … wash the mud
* Huh? … even Judas?
* And the greatest is …
* Do you love me?
* Servant hearted?  But how?
* some memorable walking sermons …

* Have we found our service gift?
* A portrait of Jesus humility & servanthood 


a recurring question … who’s the greatest?

Before we examine further what happened at the last supper, …
there were 2 previous occasions when this also happened.

Luke 9:43-50 (NIV) — Matthew 18:1-5, Mark 9 :30-41
While everyone was marveling at all that Jesus did, he said to his disciples,
44 “Listen carefully to what I am about to tell you:

The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men.”

Jesus spoke about his soon coming trial and crucifixion.

45 But they did not understand what this meant.
It was hidden from them, so that they did not grasp it, and they were afraid to ask him about it.

46 An argument started among the disciples
as to which of them would be the greatest.

47 Jesus, knowing their thoughts, took a little child and had him stand beside him.
48 Then he said to them,
Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me;
and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me.
For it is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest.”

49 “Master,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we tried to stop him, because he is not one of us.”

50 “Do not stop him,” Jesus said, “for whoever is not against you is for you.”

In Mark’s account of this situation, a further statement from Jesus was recorded,

“Truly I tell you,
anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name
because you belong to the Messiah
will certainly not lose their reward.”
Mark 9:41 (NIV)


it happened again …

The next time, as they approaching Jerusalem, the question popped up again,

Mark 10:32-45 (NIV) — Matthew 20:20-28
Jesus said,
33 “We are going up to Jerusalem,” he said,
“and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law.
They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles,
34 who will mock him and spit on him, flog him and kill him.
Three days later he will rise.”

Jesus spoke about his soon coming trial, crucifixion, … and resurrection!

35 Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him. “Teacher,” they said,
we want you to do for us whatever we ask.

36 “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked.
37 They replied, “Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.”

41 When the ten heard about this, they became indignant with James and John.

42 Jesus called them together and said,
“You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them,
and their high officials exercise authority over them.

43 Not so with you. Instead,

whoever wants to become great among you
must be your servant
,

44 and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.

45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve,
and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Thus, in these 2 passages Jesus defined and demonstrated greatness,

“Whoever welcomes this little child in my name
welcomes me;
and
whoever welcomes me
welcomes the one who sent me.
For it is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest.”

warmly welcome & hangout with the least, the youngest, the nobody …. like welcoming Jesus
welcomes this little child – welcoming, ministering to just one person, a child, etc

in as simple an act of serving as,
anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name
because you belong to the Messiah
will certainly not lose their reward.”

meeting a practical, simple, everyday need,
(without applause)

whoever wants to become great among you
must be your servant,

and whoever wants to be first
must be slave of all.

For even the Son of Man did not come to be served,
but to serve,
and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Rather than rivarlry, competition, independence,
we are an interdependent collaborative team of diverse gifts serving one another in love,
for whoever is not against you
is for you

( Pls kindly refer to a previous post on further sharings on these 2 occasions where the disciples jostled for greatness,
The disciples’ greatest argument, rivalry .. hushed by Jesus humility (click here) )

I can’t even walk, without You holding my hand


in the New Testament church?

This issue of greatness, of being important above others,
did not  simply disappear.
Even in the New Testament church, in John’s personal letter to Gaius, he described one such leader, Diotrephes, in 3 John.

I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes,
who loves to be first
,
will not welcome us.
10 So when I come, I will call attention to what he is doing, spreading malicious nonsense about us. Not satisfied with that, he even refuses to welcome other believers. He also stops those who want to do so and puts them out of the church.
3 John 1:9 (NIV)

Diotrephes — will not welcome other believers,
spreading malicious nonsense about others,
high handed, controlling, domineering, … defaming others
It also seemed Diostrephes desired his group/church to be private, exclusive, ‘by invitation only‘.
Diotrephes loves to be first.

The great fault, I think, in our mission is that
no one likes to be second

— Robert Morrison (1782-1834), missionary to China

Thankfully, in the same letter, John also highlights a shining example

12 Demetrius is well spoken of by everyone—and even by the truth itself.
We also speak well of him, and you know that our testimony is true.

Demetrius has received a good testimony from everyone,
and from the truth itself;
and we add our testimony, and you know that our testimony is true.
3 John 1:12 (NIV, NASB)

Well spoken of, a good testimony from everyone, well spoken by everyone … (both great and least, even from those afar off, like John).

Never praise yourself.
Let others do it.

Proverbs 27:12 (ERV)

Everyone remembered Demetrius,
Everyone had a good word to compliment Demetrius;
he somehow made them feel …. special.

A kindhearted woman gains honor,
but ruthless men gain only wealth.
Proverbs 11:16 (NIV)

Oh, … by the way, … John referred to him as Demetrius,
unadorned by any title or position, or qualifications,
… a servant.


Why?

Its interesting to note that in all three rivalry, leadership struggle situations involving the 12 disciples,
its preceded with Jesus sharing about His suffering and death … give his life as a ransom for many

Perhaps, the disciples were wondering who Jesus would appoint to be His successor to lead everyone else.
What’s His succession plan?

Much like Joshua succeeded Moses, and led the children of Israel into the promised land.
Elisha inherited a double portion from Elijah and succeeded him.

Who’s the ‘chosen one’?

Who’s here, … back on earth, … directing the kingdom
leading everyone else,
while Jesus is away ?

In Jesus case,
… everyone .. was in for a truly great, … unexpected surprise!!

Also, … by how the conversation went, … its clear that the disciples (and us included) lost the plot,
missed Jesus great plan, … miss-understood His kingdom,
… and His greatest act on earth.

a God focused  discipleship & kingdom,
… or ‘me’ focused   discpleship & kingdom?

a God focused reading of the Bible,
… or a ‘me’ focused reading of the Bible?


At the last supper …

Let’s return back to the last supper, … in Luke‘s gospel

Luke 22:24-27 (ESV)
24 
A dispute also arose among them, as to
which of them was to be regarded
as the greatest
.

25 And he (Jesus) said to them,
“The kings of the Gentiles
exercise lordship
over them,
and those in authority over them are called benefactors.

26 But not so with you.

Rather, let the greatest among you
become as the youngest,
and
the leader
as one who serves
.

27 For who is the greater, one who reclines at table or one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table?
But I am among you as the one who serves.

Like us, …. sometimes,
…  the disciples’ competitive, individualistic instincts got a better of their vanity & unity.
No longer a team, … each one jostling for the top job … the greatest …  the leader of the pack, … the alpha leader, numero uno.

Who’s the star performer that’s been consistently scoring the goals, hitting the targets, KPIs ?
Who’s the top disciple, the most attentive with the most correct answers in the Bible study class?
Who’s the most knowledgeable, insightful, … revelationary, visionary?
Who’s the most eloquent?

Who’s the most gifted?
Who’s the most qualified?

Who’s more deserving?
Who’s favored?

the people’s choice award?

Who has the greatest faith … or greatest ministry, .. so far?

Who has accomplished the most?  Number of salvations?  Healings?

How are we ranked?

One upmanship

Their conversation was beginning to sound like the good Pharisee who prayed out loud his accomplishments and achievements
“‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people …”
in Jesus’ parable of the prayer of the Pharisee and tax collector in the temple. (Luke 18:9-14)

Or may be,

the disciples were wondering … why up to now,
Jesus had not drawn an organizational chart of His kingdom,
with functional roles, titles and hierarchies,
… just like the Jewish and Roman leaders?
like the kings of the Gentiles who
exercise lordship over them

What kind of kingdom, … did Jesus had in mind?

So,
… what’s Jesus’ criteria?
What’s Jesus most impressed by?

In times, when such thoughts flood our minds,
its good to remind ourselves of Paul’s words

10 But by the [remarkable] grace of God I am what I am,
and His grace toward me was not without effect.

In fact, I worked harder than all of the apostles,
though it was not I,
but the grace of God [His unmerited favor and blessing which was] with me.
1 Corinthians 15:10 (AMP)

not I
… but the grace of God with me.

Why the rivalry, the dispute?

The kings exercise lordship  (Luke 22:25),
one who reclines at the table  (Luke 22:27), ..  who is served, respected, admired by the rest.

Recognition.  Validation.  Merit.

rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them,
and their high officials exercise authority over them (Luke 22:25)

Power, authority, prestige, importance, … pomp/ceremony.

Succintly, … Jesus described conventional leadership, management models and attitudes.

(On a side note, Jesus did not develop any ‘guanxi‘ alliances with the Jewish leaders or the ruling foreign Roman leaders)

lord it over them, … authority over them

Control, … command, … take charge, … lead from the top
Authority, position,
consolidate power
‘how can I direct others?’
‘how can I build a great organisation?’

conventional organisation
a career path?

Jesus said,
But not so with you
.

the leader as one who serves

Caring, … compassion, … love, … serving all
Humble, compassionate service,
empower others
‘how can I serve others?’
‘how can I build great people, … each and everyone?”
a call

an interdependent body

some leaders are respected,
some leaders are loved & cherished deeply

Perhaps …  the truth is

no one wants to be ranked last,
the short end of the stick,
serving everyone else,
… unnoticed, unknown, unrecognized, …. (unappreciated ?) … anonymous

cleaning up … after everyone’s gone,
the last to go home

servant, … slave of all  

the greatest among you
become as the youngest, (least)

and the leader
as one who serves.   (Luke 22:26)

Jesus lived out and compassionately demonstrated this,
I am among you
as the one who serves.  (Luke 22:26)

This is the third time!! … the third time!!
… such a rivalry dispute happened amongst His disciples.

How would we respond if we were the leader
of such a team?

… especially if one’s about to face the toughest challenge yet.

Let’s observe how Jesus responded graciously, …
patiently repeating his teaching in another manner.

 Love is patient, love is kind …
 it is not easily angered, …
 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes,

always perseveres.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NIV)

In John‘s account of the last supper, John recorded that
Jesus demonstrated clearly the truth
before
He spoke

John 13:14,15 (ESV)
Jesus 14 rose from supper,
Jesus laid aside his outer garments,
and taking a towel, tied it around his waist.

15 Then he poured water into a basin and
began to wash the disciples’ feet
and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

Pause,
imagine, …
in the midst of the dissonant noise of rivalry & bickering,

Jesus quietly, … without saying a word,
begins
to wash the disciples’ feet
and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

A most humbling moment for the disciples.
Effectively overturning whatever they thought leadership and greatness meant.

Jesus action,
… simple, memorable, humble,
& in perfect sync with His words later.

Jesus voluntarily, spontaneously laid aside his outer garments,
and took  the lowest, … least position
— a servant,
…with a basin and towel.

He humbly &  carefully washed the feet of each one of His disciples … one at a time.

A caring  touch.

Jesuswashfeet2

nothing profound,
… nothing spectacular,
a simple act of quiet kindness
to those around.

In a flash, … the disciples’ aspirations for greatness, grandeur were silenced.
… the bickering grew quieter, … silence.

a humbling moment for his disciples,
a paradigm shifting moment for everyone,
Jesus’ leadership or shepherdship principles
distilled & snapchat in a memorable  servant   moment.

The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship …

But not so with you.  

Rather, let the greatest among you
become as the youngest,

and the leader
as one who serves.

“I am among you
as the one who serves
.”   Luke 22:25-27

The disciples   (us included),
were caught up with
“Who’s the greatest?”
honor, prestige, glamor, importance, power, authority, fame,
top positions in an organization pyramid, etc, … the corner office, the reserved parking space.

But not so with you.
(Jesus used this phrase both in the previous occasion (Mark 10), and at the last supper)

In Jesus’ view:

the greatest … become the youngest
the leader … one who serves

(rather than an organization chart/pyramid)

Everyday, menial, ordinary … practical
… feet washing??

Jesus humble and informal act
smashed societal norms and protocol on what leadership means.

In this sudden, unexpected reversal of roles, … a puzzled Peter expressed,

“No,” said Peter,
“you shall never wash my feet.”

Jesus answered,
“Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”
John 13:8 (NIV)

Is it not …

the lowly who serve the great?
the great … exercise lordship over the rest?
the junior serve the senior?

the great tell,
…the lowly quietly listen, … the least do?

maintain a sociological distance between the great and the lowly?
if we are not winning, … then we are losing? 

Certainly , like Peter, … none of us
have encountered or experienced such a bold leadership model before,
that shakes the core of what and how a leader is normally defined,

Jesus bridged the “greatest-lowest” chasm,
and smashed the glass ceiling.

No longer is it about,
management — workers,
rabbi — lay people,
titles or roles on an organisation chart.

(a truly flat organisation?)

the greatest … become the youngest
the leader … one who serves

Servant leadership not just in words, … but, quiet everyday acts, deeds
… a lifestyle.

To wash each disciple’s feet clean,
Jesus had to stoop below each one … on his knees,
in order to reach their feet .. to gently wash, .. and tenderly dry their feet.
For some, … it may take a little longer to wash & dry, … personalised service

Washing and drying each foot takes time,
… being thorough … tender, gentle touches,
clean.

David acknowledged:
You protect me with your saving shield.
You have stooped to make me great
2 Samuel 22:36 (NCV)

Hence, organizationally, … in God’s kingdom,
its about trusting relationships with one another … a family of God,
that’s built upon servant-heart care, concern, service to one another,
both the great/senior and the least/youngest.

Teamwork, diversity, mutual respect, … caring, serving one another.

Jesus demonstrated  and lived out
what he meant by greatness in His kingdom.

I am among you
as the one who serves

Through being a servant
with a basin and towel,
Jesus clearly showed:

impact and influence,
& mindset change can be achieved

through weakness,
quietly, humbly, consistently
serving others,
in community with others,

not just through words, eloquence, or grand performance,

not through command, control
or continuous reminders from the top.

Jesus leadership or shepherd-ship was through
His consistent example of patience, love & compassion.

For I have given you an example,
that you also should do
just as I have done to you
John 13:15 (NIV)

He said, “Follow me”,
 they trusted Him
and willingly followed Him.

At the last supper, … Jesus silenced the dispute, the division,
through a humble act of service to each one present.

Humility … is disarming to others.

Jesus silenced strife, … with humility, … humble service.
(in the opposite spirit)


Walk the talk … wash the mud

In John‘s gospel, after washing His disciples’ feet,
Jesus said,

14 “If I then, your Lord and Teacher,
have washed your feet,
you also ought to wash one another’s feet.

15 For I have given you an example,

that you also should do
just as I have done to you.”

1Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master,
nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.
 

17 Now that you know these things,
you will be blessed if you do them.
John 13:14-17 (NIV)

No further explanation or lecture.
Jesus action had perfectly sealed it up memorably, … life-changing.

you also should do,   to one another
just as I have done to you

you will be blessed
if you do them

i.e. Walk the talk.
wash one another’s feet

— showing concern, meeting a need, getting personally involved with someone else,
… rolling up our sleeves, … getting our hands dirty, one person at a time.

personal touch, … one on one.

That evening, … the disciples felt something in their heart,
as Jesus washed their feet.

In Jesus day, washing a guest’s feet was a warm welcome into someone’s home, hospitality.  (see Luke 7:44-47)

“Whoever welcomes this little child in my name
welcomes me;”  Luke 9:48

Meeting a physical need — cleaning the dust off someone’s tired grubby (smelly?) feet.

rather than being knowledgeable, or devout, or pious, or on some podium, or ‘cheap’ talk

a simple,
quiet,
everyday, practical act
of love.

meeting a real, practical need,
rather than a perceived need

O, Lord help us to be more like you.

 

no servant is greater than his master …
you also ought to wash
one another’s feet
Inter-dependence, mutual dependence, mutual edification,
… rather than,
independence, individualism.

wash one another’s feet
Rather than just about ‘me’ or ‘my group’,  … ‘my ministry’

a Kingdom mindset,
helping & supporting others
to fulfill God’s plan and purposes for them, … enhancing their ministry.
Collaboration and mutual support in God’s vineyard.

God’s plan is about community, … for the greater good.

By erasing  status and hierarchy, … through serving one another in simple ways,
we promote an awareness of  inter-dependence,
“we need each other”,
… learning from one another,
even from the least,
… a humble heart, … a servant heart develops.

not ‘know-it-all’ gurus, or ‘anointed chosen few’

21… And the head
cannot say to the feet,
“I don’t need you!”
 

24 … But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it,
25 so that there should be no division in the body,
but that its parts should have
equal concern for each other.

26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it;
if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
1 Corinthians 12:21, 24, 26 (NIV)

Others spontaneously, compassionately support & relieve the suffering part.

And, joyfully celebrate when others are honored.
Celebrating the success of others.
(no envy or rivalry)

… we’re a team!

Thus,

Submit to one another
out of reverence for Christ.

Ephesians 5:21 (NIV)

Giving honor to others.
Cooperatively, collaboratively win-win
… rather than just striving to get ahead of others

At the last supper, … none of the disciples won the title as ‘the greatest!’,
rather,
Jesus shared that everyone and anyone can be great,
here’s the greattitude to have

the greatest … become the youngest
the leader … one who serves

Assisting others to win as well, … unleash, realise their fullest potential,
raise others up to greater heights,
supporting others …
affirm, encourage, inspire others,
open doors for others …

Helping & supporting one another,
building trusting bonds of friendships … agape.

“Humility of mind is really an attitude, isn’t it?
It’s a preset mentality that determines ahead of time thoughts like this:

*   “I care about those around me”
*   “Why do I always have to be first?  I’m going to help someone else win for a change.”
*   “Today, it’s my sincere desire to curb my fierce competitive tendencies and turn that energy into encouraging at least one other person.”
*   “I willingly release my way this day.  Lord, show me how You would respond to others, then make it happen in me.”
Source:  Charles Swindoll, Improving Your Serve, Thomas Nelson, 2004, Chapter 3.

One simple way to begin is
… by giving others the gift of time,
patiently listening to one another, 

strive to understand someone’s thoughts
before speaking,

appreciate someone’s true concerns/needs
before acting/helping,
instead of
acting/helping based on our assumptions/presumptions.

humbly inquire,

value their thoughts, concerns, suggestions.

Consider,
in our busy world,

how much of a typical conversation is centered around me,
… ‘what a wonderful person I am’?

Do we see other’s strength … or only their weakness?
Do we complement, affirm, encourage others?
… ‘what a wonderful person he/she is’

Do we make an effort to listen?

Give to everyone what you owe them:
If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue;

if respect,   then respect;
if honor,   then honor.

Let no debt remain outstanding,
except

the continuing debt

to love one another,

for whoever loves others
has
fulfilled the law

Romans 13:7,8 (NIV)

Paul likens loving others
to serving a loan,
repaying an ongoing debt with regular installments
of love and kindness

In the sermon on the mount, Jesus mentions a key ingredient:

18 For I assure you: Until heaven and earth pass away,
not the smallest letter or one stroke of a letter will pass from the law
until all things are accomplished.

 19 Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commands
and teaches people to do so
will be called least in the kingdom of heaven.

But whoever practices
and teaches these commands

will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 5:18,19 (HCSB)

Faithfully, practice and teach God’s Word, Truth,
living out God’s Word daily.


Some side thoughts from the marketplace,

… in today’s interdependent and technologically complex multi-disciplinary, cross-culture world,
can any leader possibly do everything or know-it-all?
We all need help, now and then;
being vulnerable, asking for assistance.

In some service companies, … senior personnel annually clock some days on the ground on the frontlines of their business — personally serving customers at the front desk, washing toilets, etc.
Undercover boss, mystery shopper, customer moments of truth, etc …  are some ways by which companies have put increasing effort to improve customer service by delighting the customer experience; thereby increase customer loyalty, and word-of-mouth marketing.
A customer-centered service leads the way, as companies differentiate through service.

In the software world, good software or user interfaces
are intuitive, user-friendly, … customer-centric.

In various fields, the Internet has tilted the asymmetry of information (eg medical information/research), unlocked instant information to everyone, empowered anyone/everyone with tools, …. and sparked innovative models of cooperation, collaboration and giving — eg open-source (eg Linux, Apache, MySQL), crowd-source, crowd funding, crowd-sourced real-time information/updates, etc.
These demonstrate the possibilities of   flat,   virtual, multi-ethnic organisation structures achieving great results.
Other collaborative flat structure examples — Jazz ensembles, string quartets, cross-genre collaborations, … where both individual and group expressions are celebrated.  Individual virtuosity, instrument sound, … blended into a cohesive artistry of sheer delight to both the musicians and audience.

The whole is so much greater than the sum of its parts.


Huh? … even Judas?

John 13, begins the last supper, with painting the scene

John 13:1, 2 (MSG)
Just before the Passover Feast,
Jesus knew
that the time had come to leave this world to go to the Father.

Having loved his dear companions,
he continued to love them
right to the end
.

It was suppertime.

The Devil by now had Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot,
firmly in his grip, all set for the betrayal.

The devil was lurking in the shadows ready to pounce & strike,
in their midst.

In spite of this looming threat,
… note that John and Luke focused their accounts on Jesus;
while the devil is mentioned as a footnote

… Having loved his own who were in the world,
he [Jesus] now showed them
the full extent of his love.

John 13:1 (NIV 1984)

Jesus patiently washed each and everyone of his twelve disciples feet clean,
one at a time,
… including …. Judas,
who was minutes away from betraying Him
for a bribe of silver.

Jesus also offered Judas the bread  & wine of the new covenant.
(John 13:26, Luke 22:21)

Jesus served & welcomed all of them, individually.
Discriminated none, … prejudiced no one.
Judas was treated with dignity and respect at the last supper by Jesus.

He loved them equally,
each and every one, … including Judas.

Jesus loved unconditionally … in the midst of Judas’ soon betrayal

 18 Everything is from God,
who reconciled us to Himself through Christ
and
gave us the ministry of reconciliation:

19 That is, in Christ,
God was reconciling the world to Himself,
not counting their trespasses against them,
and
He has committed the message of reconciliation to us. 

20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ,
certain that God is appealing through us.
We plead on Christ’s behalf,
“Be reconciled to God.”

2 Corinthians 5:18-20 (HCSB)

Jesus made every effort to plead with Judas,
“Be reconciled to God.”

Jesus yardstick for greatness
— an attitude of humble service to others,
no matter who.

“For even the Son of Man came not to be served
but to serve  (many),

and to give his life
as a ransom for many.”

Mark 10:45 (ESV)

But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back.
Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High,
because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.
Luke 6:35 (NIV)

Jesus’ example is worth to keep in mind,
for any leader … in the face of criticism, disagreement, …. (betrayal?)


And the greatest is ….

Jesus … (of course)

At the last supper, there was only one who was, is and will be the greatest.

And he (Jesus) is the head of the body, the church;
he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead,
so that in everything he might have the supremacy.

Colossians 1:18 (NIV)

Like the disciples,
whenever our eyes are off Jesus,
ego, ambition, pride soars
self marketing .. “look at me” .. starts trumpeting louder & louder

31… “Let the one who boasts
boast in the Lord.”

1 Corinthians 1:31 (NIV)

2 fixing our eyes on Jesus,

the pioneer and perfecter of faith.
For the joy set before him he endured the cross,scorning its shame,
and sat down
at the right hand of the throne of God.

Hebrews 12:2 (NIV)

Greatest? Greatness?
— Jesus basically pointed to collaborative, cooperative teamwork in His body,
as each and every part humbly serve one another and look out for each other.

If I then, your Lord and Teacher,
have washed your feet,
you also ought to
wash one another’s feet.

John 13:14 (NIV)

The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

“If you want to go fast — go alone.
If you want to go far — go together.”
—African Proverb

Consider how and why Jesus chose us:

1 Corinthians 1:26-29 (NIV)
26 Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called.
Not many of you were wise by human standards;
not many were influential;
not many were of noble birth.

27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise;
God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.

28 God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things
—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are,

29 so that no one may boast before him.

Not many influential, noble birth, wise by human standards,
so that no one may boast before him


Do you love me?

After Jesus resurrected, He asked Peter 3 times, “do you love me?”
(John 21:15-17)

Jesus did not ask,
“Peter, what can you do for me?
or “Peter, how can you serve me?
or “Peter, having denied me, … how are you going to make up the lost?”

Rather Jesus asked
“do you love me?”,
first & foremost.

a heart question.

Our motivation, inspiration for service — “… do you love me“,
loving Jesus,
and as a humble expression of our love — service — “tend my lambs, … shepherd my sheep … tend my sheep
… get our hands dirty, personally involved.

Thus, Peter later notes these attitudes to other aspiring leaders, shepherds:

1 Peter 5:1-7 (HCSB)
Therefore, as a fellow elder
and witness to the sufferings of the Messiah and also a participant in the glory about to be revealed,
I exhort the elders among you: 

Shepherd God’s flock
among you,

not overseeing out of compulsion
but freely,
according to God’s will;
(because you are willing,
as God wants you to be   (NIV) )

not for the money
but eagerly;
(eager to serve  (NIV))

not lording it over those entrusted to you,
but being examples to the flock

And when the chief Shepherd appears,
you will receive the unfading crown of glory.

In the same way, you younger men, be subject to the elders.
And all of you clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because

God resists the proud
but gives grace to the humble.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God,
so that He may exalt you at the proper time,

casting all your care on Him,
because He cares about you.

willingly, … eager to serve, … being examples to the flock,
clothe yourselves with humility toward one another

and when the going gets tough,
 casting all your care on Him,
because He cares about you.

And the first step:
Humble yourselves,
therefore, under the mighty hand of God,
so that He may exalt you at the proper time

Serve others,
following Jesus.

God resists the proud
but gives grace to the humble.


At the last supper, Jesus summarised it all up perfectly, … through washing His disciples’ feet

John 13:34, 35 (MSG)
 “Let me give you a new command:

Love one another.

In the same way I loved you,
you love one another

This is how everyone will recognize
that you are my disciples
—when they see
the love you have for each other.”

the love you have for each other,
quenches the sparks of rivalry, division, dispute, individualism,
replacing it
with the warmth of support, compassion, practical help, support, prayers,
… love for one another,
in the same way I loved you, … you love one another

(even with a Judas in the midst)

Thus, everyone will recognize
that you are my disciples
when they see

the love you have for each other.

Later at the last supper, Jesus said again,

John 15:11-14 (MSG)
“I’ve told you these things for a purpose: that my joy might be your joy, and your joy wholly mature.

This is my command:

Love one another
the way I loved you.

This is the very best way to love.
Put your life on the line
for your friends.

You are my friends
when you
do the things I command you. …

When we in His love, lay aside our interests in favor of our friend’s interests for the glory of God,
we become a friend of God.


Someone’s giving all they got for someone else’s sake
If you’re ever doubted just think about the cross
When it comes to love, you don’t count the cost

You don’t count the heartache, you don’t count the sacrifice
It doesn’t really matter what is gained or what  is lost,
When it comes to love, you don’t count the cost
— Tom Shapiro & Chris Waters


Servant hearted?  But, how?

In John 13, John shares how to walk in Jesus footsteps of  humble servanthood,

Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands,
and that he had come from God and was going back to God,

rose from supper.
He laid aside his outer garments,
and taking a towel, tied it around his waist ….
John 13:3,4 (ESV)

Jesus was self-assured and confident of
who He is.

Humility, servant-hood flows out from a healthy, confident
self-image & self-worth, …
identity rooted in Christ, ... alone.
Knowing & trusting our Father has our best interests in mind.

Lacking this, results in a lack of authenticity,
image issues, … even, multiple persona  (eg on-stage/offstage);
approval/affirmation seeking.

Hence, in Christ,
… nothing to lose, … nothing to prove,
… no one to impress, … no loss of face,
always room to improve.

Humility … is not humiliation.

By taking on the position of a servant and washing His disciples feet,
Jesus’ voluntary action did not diminish or undermine
who He really is in anyway.

Similarly for us,
9  …, since you have put off the old man with his deeds,

10 and have put on the new man

who is renewed in knowledge
according to the image of Him
who created him
Colossians 3:9,10 (NKJV)

Recently, … experienced a small choir with 2 wannabe divas trying to out-sing each other’s high notes,
… 2 voices jarringly sticking out, … instead of resonating harmonies.
Sadly, worship … became a performance …
(missing the greater purpose)

In the body of Christ,
sadly, … a competitive spirit brings out the   worst    in us,
while a collaborative spirit brings out the    best   in us and others around us,
that anyone can easily see.

In the Old Testament,
… king Saul’s personal insecurities and jealousy caused him to relentlessly pursue to eliminate David who was gaining in popularity and success.  Saul saw David as a rival to his position, rather than a gift to the kingdom with complementary gifts;  … David as someone whom God had given to assist Saul.

Imagine if
Saul did not see David as a threat,
… but an ally,  … an asset,
in unison, in harmony,
… imagine, … what great possibilities,
what achievements & legacy in history
from such a great team!


some memorable walking sermons … (unscripted,  off-stage,  off-podium)

Once, I was helping out in a Chinese service in an Anglican church.  After the service, both the Chinese and English congregation would have morning tea together.
After a few weeks, I was surprised that I just couldn’t spot the senior pastor of the church, who also leads the English congregation.
Usually, one can tell by the way the leader is dressed, … grins,
… or the way the leader stands, speaks, and acknowledges as the leader talks to parishioners, …
or someone who seems to know everyone and mingles everywhere, … etc.

Somehow … the senior pastor seemed absent, … or invisible.
One day, I asked one of my Chinese friends to help me.
He pointed out the senior pastor …. the smiling one making personal cups of coffee 🙂 ,
as he chatted with each one individually, while their coffee was being made,
and my Chinese friend memorably remarked
“isn’t he like Jesus?”

On another occasion, I was in a Korean church of a few thousand people.  The church had a large compound, and car parks (redeveloped from an old factory).
Each week, the senior pastor taught Bible passages in a clear, concise and  memorable way (in Korean), before he left to pastor in another country.
Being a large congregation, … cars with elderly people or disabled folks, or babies were given special indicator cards, … so that they can park much closer to the entrance of the church sanctuary.

Late one Sunday, … after the last service of the day, … I noticed this pastor walking out of the church compound,
… outside to the nearby street (about 150-200m from the church sanctuary).
He was walking to his car, ... parked outside.
That day, my respect for him went up quite a number of notches.

I shared my memorable observation with a Korean friend, … who added that the pastor encouraged leaders to park outside the church compound, so that more people who need to park near the sanctuary can do so.
Certainly, … one leader who lovingly, and humbly leads by example.

Praise the Lord for these memorable unscripted walking sermons 🙂


Have we found our service gift?

Before we end, a quick note on serving one another.

John 13:8 “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”

As much as we are eager to serve others,
we also need to graciously, humbly receive
from others their kindness & help, … their gifts
from both the great and the youngest.

Give others an opportunity
to be a blessing to us,
and others.

The Sunday meeting at church
is called a service,
— worship the Lord, serving one another,
as each one brings their gift to bless others;
blessing one another with our diverse gifts.

giving opportunities for the least, the youngest, … the nobody … to be a blessing to others;
to hone one’s gifts/skills.

Each priceless sparkling diamond, … begins from a rough piece of rock.

1 Peter 4:10 (ESV, NIV)
As each has received a gift,
use it to serve one another,
as good stewards of God’s varied grace

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others,
as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.

God empowers each of us with His varied grace gifts.
Let’s be faithful stewards of His gifts to serve others.

Like Christmas gifts,
have we opened the gifts God has personally deposited in us?



Conclusion

At the last supper, … Jesus introduced,

the new covenant in His body & blood —
“This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”
“This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.

the new commandment
In the same way I loved you,
you love one another

the new leadership model, … leader’s heart .. a shepherd’s heart
let the greatest among you become as the youngest,
and the leader as one who serves.

… But I am among you as the one who serves.

This is the very best way to love.
Put your life on the line
for your friends.

You are my friends
when you
do the things I command you. …

the new organisation model
distinguished by love, service, … empowered partners, … an inter-dependent body with diverse gifts, …

This is how everyone will recognize
that you are my disciples
—when they see

the love
you have for each other.

In the same way I loved you,
you love one another. 

If I then, your Lord and Teacher,
have washed your feet,
you also ought to
wash one another’s feet.

Jesus demonstrated in a memorably humble way what He meant,
the full extent of His love.

Living & expressing His new covenant through us
in love, in compassion,
in everyday humble, caring service.

Part of Jesus closing prayer for His disciples, at the end of the last supper — perfect unity, love

22 “I have given them the glory you gave me,
so they may be one
as we are one.
 23 I am in them and you are in me.

May they experience such perfect unity
that the world will know
that you sent me
and that
you love them as much as you love me.
John 17:22, 23 (NLT)

perfect unity … that we may be one .. as Jesus and the Father are one,
so that … the world will know … Jesus is Lord,
amen.

In conclusion,
a portrait of the heart of  Jesus leading and shepherding,
as shared  by Paul:

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.
Rather, in humility value others
above yourselves
,

not looking to your own interests
but each of you to the interests of the others.

In your relationships with one another,
have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death—
        even death on a cross!

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
    and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.
Philippians 2:3-11 (NIV)

Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled;
and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.
Matthew 23:12 (NASB)

 … and all of you, clothe yourselves with
humility toward one another,
for God is opposed to the proud,
but gives grace to the humble
.
1 Peter 5:5 (NASB)


Then the King will say,

‘I’m telling the solemn truth:
Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored,
that was me
—you did it to me.’
Matthew 25:40 (MSG)


Endnote:

As an exercise, recall an experience with someone at a shop or restaurant, etc,
where you experienced memorable service.

How did you feel?
What did this person do well?
Why was it memorable?


Further reading:

Jesus leadership style & principles — shepherdship, … shepherd sheep (click here)


Serving Quietly | Church

by 林弟兄, bro Lim
June 1, 2017
laymanointing.wordpress.com

Copyright © 林弟兄 bro Lim, Laymanointing, 2014-2017 – All Rights Reserved,
Creative Commons License


 

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