“Towel and Basin Christianity”


John 13:1-17

We begin a sermon series on Jesus’ Farewell Discourse (John chapters 13-16). This is Jesus’ last time with disciples before his crucifixion and the content reflects it

The context of Jesus’ Farewell Discourse is what he knew (vs 1-3)

v1 He knew the events of his crucifixion were at hand

v3 Jesus knew this was to fulfill the eternal plan of the Father

v1 Adds Jesus “loved” his own “to the end” (this was also what Jesus knew)


Jesus’ begins his farewell by washing the disciple’s feet

Notice the pacing of John’s description (vs 4-5)

He deliberately draws out his description so we can imagine it

Extraordinary humility dominates this scene

Culturally this was a demeaning job

Jesus’ entire life and ministry were drenched in the theme of humility

Jesus wants his humility to be an unforgettable lesson to those who follow him

Extraordinary love is abounding in this scene

Jesus’ motivation in what he does is his “love to the end”

We abuse Jesus, if we don’t see love in his commands to us

We abuse Jesus, if we don’t see love in his sovereignty over our circumstances


The disciple’s discomfort is finally voiced by Peter (vs 6-11)

Peter is sure in his perspective, yet he was not only wrong, he was opposing Jesus

Jesus tells Peter in v7 that he will “understand later”; yet Peter persists in his opinion

Jesus’ correction deepens our understanding of what is taking place

v8  If I don’t wash you – you have “no share” (i.e. no inheritance, or salvation)

The foot washing points to the cross; it is a lesson about Jesus as much as one from him

v10  Jesus tells Peter, once his feet are bathed, that’s enough, he doesn’t need to be “washed”

Once cleansed by Christ, we don’t need a full washing again, we are justified forever


Our takeaway is Jesus’ example (vs 12-17)

Jesus asked if they understood (we need to follow thoughtfully) 

He points out in v13 they know he is their teacher and Lord

They believed he was the Christ – the Son of God

The thought of the Almighty Lord from heaven washing feet is staggering

Then Jesus reminds us v16 ‘a servant not greater than his master’

Jesus is clear and our obligation is unnegotiable

To be followers of Christ, we must live as Towel and Basin Christians

This is not an action for certain circumstances; it is how we are to live

Washing the disciple’s feet was a display of how Jesus conducted his earthly ministry

His example is meant to be our life perspective


How do we live with a Towel and Basin perspective?

1.  We start by laying aside our rights and our offenses

Jesus laid aside his privilege as he “laid aside” his outer garment

We will not serve like Jesus if we are on the lookout for our rights

We need to stay watchful that how we serve doesn’t fill up with our expectations

Jesus was even willing to wash the feet of Judas who was about to betray him

When we take offense, we may keep the actions of serving, but we  have lost the heart of it

2.  Willingness to serve comes from what we “know”  (vs 1-3)

(1) We know about the cross:  gospel-centered people are servant-hearted people

(2) We know all things come from God and return to him

Towel and Basin Living doesn’t mean we no long desire good things for ourselves, it means we know that we already have them!  

(3) We know that we are loved perfectly to the end

So we don’t need to assert or prove ourselves, and we can be content with what the world thinks are “lesser” roles

3.  Towel and Basin Living is an expression of Great Commandment Living

We abandon our “me first” perspective, because we are overwhelmed and in awe of God

We then see people with fresh eyes:  they are who Jesus came for – and died for

Slow down for people, listen, and show care instead of trying to “fix them” so we can move on

4.  To live consistent Towel and Basin Christianity, we have to take it home

Husbands have a role, and parents have a role; but it is not to be lords in our home

A Christian home has the atmosphere and expectation that we serve one another


Towel and Basin Living may not be natural, but it is good and Christ-like

As in all that we seek to do and be for Christ – it grows prayerfully



Jesus rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. 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.

When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.

Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.” (John 13:4-5, 12-17)

This is a simple, clear and powerful picture that Jesus has given us.

Washing a guest’s feet was the mark of a gracious host. It was meant to serve the guest who had been walking dusty roads wearing a sandals.

The job of washing feet was left to whichever servant had the lowest rank in the house.

Jesus example for us is not to go out and find someone’s feet to wash. It is to place ourselves in the role of a servant who is willing to humble ourselves to care for the needs of someone else.

How can you serve the people you will interact with today?

What unimpressive, yet helpful task of care can you bow your heart to perform?

Are you willing to go through today wearing a servant’s towel?

Next time you are tempted to resist the Holy Spirit’s encouragement to serve someone, picture our Lord Jesus on his knees, before a basin of dirty water as he carefully washes a long row of feet.

“If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them”



 “What is Necessary?”      Luke 10:38-42

This story involves two sisters who loved Jesus

Mary had a rough past, but she deeply loved Jesus (Luke 7:36-46)

Martha had a mature understanding of Christ (John 11:20-27)

Any church would be thrilled to have these women, but even godly people sometimes lose focus

The story starts well; Martha opens her home to Jesus

Jesus had no home of his own, and was constantly traveling. How welcome this must have been

The gospels show Martha to be a woman of action, which is good and biblical

However, Martha’s hospitality turned to anger and accusation 

While doing good things Martha had lost sight of the best thing

Jesus tells Martha, that Mary was the one with her priorities in order

The “good portion” that Mary chose, was time with Jesus

If we are honest, sometimes this can feel like lost time to us:

“I have important things to get done; I can’t stop to read my Bible”

“I have serious requests to pray for; I can’t spend time just worshiping Him”

Time with Jesus is the “necessary thing”, because we desperately need Him (Jn 15:4-5)

Our focus on Jesus is the “good portion”, because he is so wonderful

We must be on guard against losing the greatest priority in life

Don’t let busyness keep us from time in prayer and God’s Word

Don’t let our children’s activities keep them from God’s Church

Martha was not wrong by serving; she was “distracted” in serving

Distraction is a bigger struggle for us than an outward rejection of God

At some point, Martha’s agenda in serving got mixed up

She was no longer hosting, she was finding her identity in it

She was no longer serving Jesus, she working in her kingdom

We see several evidences that Martha was out of focus:

She felt Jesus needed to get with her plans

She became judgmental of Mary’s choice

Getting her self-assigned job done, pushed away being with Jesus

Her heart exuded anxiety and self-pity

Luke’s placement of this story helps us get the point!

Immediately before this story is the parable of the Good Samaritan, which shows that love takes action

Immediately after this story, Jesus is praying and his disciples ask him to teach them to pray

Luke places this story about serving and devotion between Jesus instructing people about love taking action, and Jesus leading his disciples into closer devotion to God

We must not interpret this story as minimizing the value of being people of action

We cannot follow Jesus without having a servant’s heart (Luke 22:24-27)

And if we are not “doers of the Word”, we are deceiving ourselves (James 1:22)

Luke is creating a balanced and healthy picture for us

To love God we must be active as his servants

To live as servants of God must stay connected to the Vine

What can we take home from this story of Mary and Martha?

1.  If you want to stay on track for Christ, then your priority must be time with him

2.  If you are not sure what to do, pursuing God is always the best place

3.  What people need most from you, is a heart that is close to God

4.  The greatest heritage you can pass on, is who you are in Christ


“The Glory of Serving Christ” Acts 26

Paul is still in jail two years after making his defense to Felix, the Roman governor. A new governor named Festus arrives and Paul’s enemies immediately bring back their false charges. Paul uses his right as a Roman citizen and appeals to Caesar.

When Agrippa, the Jewish King arrives, Festus asks advice concerning what charge to send along with the prisoner when he is taken to Rome. Paul makes his fourth defense (Acts 25:23-26:32)

Who was in the most advantageous position?

Agrippa and Bernice who came in with the glitter of celebrity status?

Festus, the man who had power to give the commands?

Or Paul, who in chains, stood surround by the mighty?

Actually it is an easy answer; there is no greater position than to serve great God

The call to be a servant doesn’t demean us, it exalts us v16

We serve the One who is nothing but glorious and we labor for a kingdom that never fails

If we labor for anything else the only results we can have is death and loss

Even if you think you have the satisfaction of serving yourself, it is a pathetic kgdm

Our message is glorious (v18)

Imagine having the privilege of telling someone who was blind how to gain sight. Well we bring news of a greater healing

We offer reality. This is why Paul keeps repeating his testimony? He is a “witness” of real changes God brought in his life

We have this glorious message for each other in the church, because we all need encouragement and support

And we have this glorious message to tell ourselves. Every day we will be helped as we preach gospel truths to ourselves (“A Gospel Primer” is a good resource for this)

Our reward is glorious, v18 we have an inheritance in Christ

Success, stuff or even a happy home, are not the prize, Christ and life with him is the prize

We have an inheritance worth dreaming about – and we can also have a life now that is wonderfully satisfying

Are our hearts filled the joy of being servants of Christ?

People are changed, lives are made whole and God is glorified

We serve the one always perfect and always victorious

If we are not joyful it is on us, because gospel gives us abundant reason for joy

Are our lives filled with the works of serving Christ? (v19)

Serving Christ is not meant to make us busier, but more purposeful

Our daily interactions with people all carry opportunities to serve Christ

The key is to reflect on what your life is being given to do and step into the glorious purpose God has for us

World will never see the glory of being a servant of God

v24 Festus mocked Paul and Jesus resurrection. This is increasingly going to be the response of our world. God has no place in their lives

v28 Agrippa pushed away the message of Christ. This is the most common response. God is an option, but not a priority. Let us make sure this is never our response

We have to decide whose approval we want

World will not welcome those with zeal for God to their table. We have to decide what prize we want and whose favor matters

Sometimes the burdens of life overshadow the glory of the gospel

If anyone could have used that defense it was Paul, yet his heart was not overshadowed by his troubles

Paul’s job as servant and witness not affected by his chains, because they don’t change what makes life glorious

Christ makes life glorious

For those who trust him, He is always at perfectly at work

We should never have the perspective that our God needs to do differently than he is for us to glory in him



Sugar Snails

This morning our kitchen is filled with the activity and smells of pie baking. I enjoy many forms of dessert, but nothing can beat a pie (for those who claim a great dessert must be chocolate, that’s why there are chocolate pies). I think I came by this love of pie from my granddad who, when asked what foods he liked, would answer, “Just as long as it’s pie.” Another reason I love pie is that early on I tasted the mountain peak of piedom, which is a still warm and fragrant Doris Morey apple pie. The apples have a soft texture and the flavor is a perfect mix of sweet tartness. The crust is never over-handled leaving it flaky and melting in the mouth. Oh my it is good!  In his graciousness, God gave me a wife who among her long list of talents is a terrific pie baker. Debbie was raised in a proper farm home, where baking was a constant activity and pies were considered a major food group.

But my thoughts today are not only on pies, I would also like to extol the humble sugar snail. Sugar snails are made from the leftover pie dough that is sprinkled with cinnamon sugar and rolled. Before being placed in the oven, the roll is cut into small pieces or snails. We have to wait until after dinner to eat pie, but sugar snails are the special treat that can be enjoyed right away. A perfect sugar snail has a crust of caramelized sugar that oozed out and is still sticking to the foil wrapping.

I think there is a wonderful lesson to be learned from the sugar snail. They are a side benefit. No one goes into the kitchen to make sugar snails; their attention is on the lofty goal of producing a delicious and much sought after pie. During all the work and mess of making a pie no one even thinks about the sugar snails that will quietly show up in the end. Yet, when the big effort of pie making occurs, the humble sugar snail is also made possible.

So to those of you who are laboring for Christ, and want to do big things for His Kingdom; know that there are many small and very wonderful results that God will accomplish when we faithfully serve Him. When God enables us to be part of something big, we are rightfully amazed and thankful. Yet today let us not neglect being thankful for the privilege of taking part in little things for God – the “cups of cold water” we give in Jesus name. As you go through this day wanting to be used by God, don’t forget the little things that are possible along the way. Even if the impressive pie you tried to make did not turn out perfect, you can still make and share a few sugar snails. Happy Thanksgiving to all!