Commentary on "More Clothing Imagery"
Day 3: Monday, June 13, 2011 - He "Laid Aside His Garments"
Today’s passage is all about humility and being a servant. It reviews Matthew 20:20-28 (James and John’s desire to be at Jesus’ side in the Kingdom) and John 13:1-16 (foot washing in the upper room). “What important lesson had the disciples totally failed to grasp, even after all this time with Jesus?” Also, “What lesson is Jesus giving here? Why is this, in so many ways, key to what it means to be a follower of Jesus?” “How ‘low’ are you willing to go for the good of others? When was the last time you ‘took off your outer garment’ in order to minister to the needs of those around you?”
Both of these passages are emphasizing humility. Learning to be great in God’s kingdom is to be a servant—considered the least, perhaps even unimpressive and menial, when measured by human standards. Jesus’ words in Matthew and His example in John all underscore that it’s not about elevated status (all about me), but about being a servant and putting others above yourself (all about others). Christ’s whole life—from His birth to His death—was about service to others. Whether it was for individual needs or for the whole human race, He came to help others, even unto death. Jesus “laid aside His garment”, and His glory, to take on human form so He might save the human race.
In reading this account of foot washing in the upper room, we need to peel back another layer or two before answering the final question, “How ‘low’ are you willing to go for the good of others?” This isn’t about how much humiliation we’re willing to endure, but who we really are and who’s running our life. We can mechanically imitate love or humility, but it’s not enough, real or lasting. Isaiah 64:6 says:
“All of us have become like something unclean, and all our righteous acts are like a polluted garment; all of us wither like a leaf, and our iniquities carry us away like the wind.”
Anyone can copy someone’s example, but are we truly born again? John 3:5-8 tells the story of Jesus talking to Nicodemus, explaining what it means to be born again. Verse 6 says, “Whatever is born of flesh is flesh, and whatever is born of the Spirit is spirit.” It’s a real indwelling of the Holy Spirit in our hearts. If we haven’t accepted Jesus into our hearts through faith in Him, believing in His death, resurrection and full substitution for our sins, then we are spiritually dead. Without the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts, we’re unable to love others as God loves.
“The Spirit is the One who gives life. The flesh doesn’t help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.” (John 6:63)
We cannot have the heart and mind of Christ. All we have to work with is our carnal nature, and without Christ in our heart, our fleshly desires will always dominate. We are naturally sinful and full of pride and only with Christ can we sacrifice and love for His sake and glory, not our own pride and recognition.
“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation; old things have passed away and look, new things have come.” (2 Cor. 5:17)
Jesus has given us a new commandment:
“I give you a new commandment: love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another. By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34, 35)
“This is how God’s children—and the Devil’s children—are made evident. Whoever does not do what is right is not of God, especially the one who does not love his brother….We know that we have passed from death to life because we love our brothers. The one who does not love remains in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.” (1 John 3:10, 14, 15)
“Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent His One and Only Son into the world so that we might live through Him.” (1 John 4:7-9)
“We love because He first loved us. If anyone says, ‘I love God’, yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For the person who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And we have this command from Him: the one who loves God must also love his brother.” (1 John 4:19-21)
As seen in the aforementioned verses, love (followed by humility and servant hood) cannot take place without a genuinely changed heart. How low are we willing to go for the good of another? I believe the answer is in 1 John 3:16, 17:
This is how we have come to know love: He laid down His life for us. We should also lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has this world’s goods and see his brother in need but shuts off his compassion from him—how can God’s love reside in him?”
(Emphasis supplied in all passages.)
Copyright 2011 BibleStudiesForAdventists.com. All rights reserved. Revised June 11, 2011. This website is published by Life Assurance Ministries, Glendale, Arizona, USA, the publisher of Proclamation! Magazine. Contact email: BibleStudiesForAdventists@gmail.com.
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