Jesus vs. Joel Osteen (John 13)
Churches have been known to throw down $10,000 to $40,000 for a speaker to give one speech!
One church in Georgia brought in a motivational speaker for $15,000 because, according to one elder, the church had “the disease of the successful.” That is, a person or institution can hit the cultural mark of success and still feel empty.
It is also true that everyone needs a motivational kick every once in a while.
Yet, when Jesus is spending the last meal with his hand chosen leadership team, what does he do?
13:1 Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. 2 During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, 3 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, 4 rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. 5 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. 6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” 7 Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” 8 Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” 9 Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” 10 Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “Not all of you are clean.”
12 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? 13 You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. 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. 16 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. 17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. 18 I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But the Scripture will be fulfilled, ‘He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’ 19 I am telling you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am he. 20 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.”
21 After saying these things, Jesus was troubled in his spirit, and testified, “Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” 22 The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he spoke. 23 One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was reclining at table close to Jesus, 24 so Simon Peter motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. 25 So that disciple, leaning back against Jesus, said to him, “Lord, who is it?” 26 Jesus answered, “It is he to whom I will give this morsel of bread when I have dipped it.” So when he had dipped the morsel, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. 27 Then after he had taken the morsel, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.” 28 Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him. 29 Some thought that, because Judas had the moneybag, Jesus was telling him, “Buy what we need for the feast,” or that he should give something to the poor. 30 So, after receiving the morsel of bread, he immediately went out. And it was night.
31 When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. 32 If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and glorify him at once. 33 Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek me, and just as I said to the Jews, so now I also say to you, ‘Where I am going you cannot come.’ 34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
36 Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered him, “Where I am going you cannot follow me now, but you will follow afterward.” 37 Peter said to him, “Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” 38 Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the rooster will not crow till you have denied me three times.
Notice, as Andy Stanley points out, that Jesus is the most powerful person in the room (in fact, largely unbeknownst to the disciples Jesus is the most powerful person in the universe), yet, what kind of example does he set in utilizing his power? He becomes a slave.
Stripping down to one’s undies and washing another’s feet was only fit for a slave in the 1st century. In fact, a rabbi took his mother to court because she insisted on washing her son’s feet and the rabbi wanted precedent set stating that this was not appropriate work for anyone but a slave.
Moreover, understand that people walked everywhere with their feet barely covered by awkward fitting leather sandals. The disciples’ feet would have been covered with sweat, sores, blisters, dust and feces. Yet, the eternal god in flesh humiliates himself by stripping down and scrubbing the crap off of his disciples feet.
Furthermore, consider this, Jesus scrubs Peter’s feet and Jesus scrubs Judas’ feet. This is despite the fact that he knows that in only a few short moments, Peter will deny even knowing Jesus and Judas will betray him. He scrubs their feet anyway. Jesus’ spirit is “troubled” by this, which means his heart is breaking but it doesn’t stop him. Jesus is not afraid to be vulnerable or to be hurt. Such is the true Christian life.
Jesus then goes on to state that this attitude evidenced by humble actions is how they are to act. The world is to know they belong to Jesus by behaving likewise.
So, how is it that we have gone from that to paying motivational speakers $15,000 to give one speech at a church?
Well, professional speakers and televangelists can push buttons but they tend to push buttons like ambition, greed, vanity and fear.
In fact, if you recast John 13 in another contest and ran it by these speakers and “ministers” they would say that Jesus’ speech and actions are those of a loser.
But you have to ask yourself what churches would look like if they were filled with “losers” like that? You have to ask what Portsmouth would look like of our churches were filled with “losers”?
There are two different ways to do church, the “successful way” and the “Jesus’ way.” You have to choose.