Get Your Hands Dirty
Following Jesus calls us out of the bleachers and into the game. But being in the game means we have to get out of our comfort zones and get our hands dirty. This willingness to lay aside ourselves is at the heart of volunteering. In this message, we’ll see how Jesus gets His hands dirty and why it matters for us to follow His example.
My name’s John; I’m one of the pastors here on staff. Thanks for being here with us at Lifepoint.
We are in week two of a series that we’re calling “Out of the bleachers” and the whole point of Out of the Bleachers is to make you feel uncomfortable.
We want to call you out of your comfort zones, right? We want to see how we can get out of the bleachers where we’re sitting back comfortably, not participating and actually get into the game and get active in our faith and be a part of what God’s doing and so we are really excited about this. So I started thinking about a time that I felt uncomfortable cause I thought if we’re asking you to do it, it would be fair if I share a time that I felt uncomfortable. Um, When I was in high school I worked at a place called Putt Putt Golf and Games and they are – they have lots of them all over the country, I don’t know if you’ve ever been to one, but, um, Putt Putt Golf N’ Games was a fun place to work; I enjoyed it and had a good time, but there was one part of working at Putt Putt that nobody liked and that was because Putt Putt Golf N Games had a mascot, and the Mascot was this guy [points] and his name is Buster Ball. Buster Ball is the face of Putt Putt Golf N’ Games, and I am not in this picture, but this exact same outfit is what I had to wear on multiple occasions working at Putt Putt Golf N’ Games. This was actually from a magazine called Putt Putt World, which is… a thing. Um, so – I worked at Putt Putt and the reason that people didn’t like doing Buster, or working in the Buster Ball costume, is because there were a few different pieces of it that really were not pleasant, or not comfortable, at all. When we would have birthday parties there, kids would go out, they’d play video games, they’d go play put putt, and then, they would be enjoying themselves, and at some point they would always have an appearance from Buster Ball. So Buster had to make an appearance at EVERY birthday party that happened. So the first thing about the Buster costume that you have to understand is that it’s made of this really dense foam and so it doesn’t breathe- at all. So- and this was in South Louisiana, where I’m from- and it would happen in summer time, and you’d have to go outside in this costume. So you would kind of sweatily slide into the Buster Ball costume. So it was really hot, alright? That’s the first reason why people didn’t like it. Another reason why we didn’t like to do it, or why it was uncomfortable is because you couldn’t really move, or see, or do anything on your own. You were totally dependent on your party captain. The party captain was the person who is not in the costume that would laugh at you while you were in the costume, and they would lead you around and bring you to the places where you had to go, right? And so if you noticed there’s really no place for you to see out of that. You can kind of see out of the top of the hat there, but you can’t really, and then you can’t move a whole lot because you have this gigantic frame around you that bumps into stuff and you don’t know when you’re hitting something or when you’re touching anything and then you have these massive clown shoes on and you can’t walk without tripping over yourself, right? So you have this party captain that leads you outside – you’re sweating, you’re sweating, you’re sweating – and they lead you out and they put you up against this fence and you kind of rest against the fence so you can kind of feel it; it’s a secure feeling. And then the party captain says, and this is the third reason why people didn’t like Buster, is the party captain would say, “Hey kids, Buster’s here to take pictures with you!” And then, dozens of ten year olds would run at you from a golf course, holding golf clubs, and see a giant golf ball, and they would proceed to just hit you! And you never stop smiling, so obviously you like it, so they’re just wailing on you, on Buster, right? Now, you’re pretty protected from the frame for the most part but those two little blue sticks at the bottom? Those are your shins. And that’s what gets whacked. I still have bruises that I deal with today, alright? So you talk about a job where it took me out of my comfort zone – man, that was tough! And I think the thing is that there was a lot of joy the kids got from it- I can look back on and laugh now; we’re all laughing about it here; that’s cool – but I really do think that sometimes God works in the same kind of way – he wants to get us uncomfortable. He wants to get us doing something that’s going to challenge us a little bit because I found that following Jesus always takes us out of our comfort zones. Following Jesus, if we’re really following Him, it’s always going to make us kind of uncomfortable with something, right?
In this series we talked about this passage from Ephesians chapter 4. We said in Ephesians 4 verses 11 and 12 that God gifts people in all these different ways: Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers, for the equipping of the Saints to the work of service. We’re given a work to do, and that work is for the building up of the body of Christ- so we have this work that we’re supposed to be doing together – working together – so basically we all have a job to do, right? So if you’re here and I’m here, we all have a job to do as a part of the body of Christ. We’re all gifted in different ways; we’re all supposed to be working for this thing, getting out of our comfort zones, doing whatever job God calls us to.
And so you say, “well, what is this job; what is it that God’s calling us to do?” The thing that I think of is what Jesus says in Matthew chapter 16 and he says, “If anyone wishes to come after me, then let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” Because if you want to save your life, you’re going to lose it – but go ahead and lose your life, and then you’ll find it. So He says, “deny yourself, take up your cross, follow Me, lose your life”- it doesn’t sound like a really appealing job description, right, at least on the surface. But what if Jesus is teaching us something? What if He’s teaching us that in order to really experience the fullness of joy of following Jesus- if we’re really going to follow Him and experience the joy He intends for us, what if that means we have to experience some of the inconvenience ? Some of the… uncomfortableness? What if we have to do that to experience the joy He that has for us? I think that’s what we’re going to see today.
We’re going to look together at John chapter 13. So if you have your Bibles, open them up. Let’s take a look at John chapter 13. We’re going to read a couple of different passages here from that chapter. First we’re going to read verses three through five and then we’re going to skip down to verses 12 through 17. Now, we’re going to put it up here on the screens for you to read along with us-but I want to encourage you to follow along because we really do believe that the Bible is God’s word. It’s powerful, it’s living, and it’s active, and it gives us exactly what He wants us to have, what He knows we need. He guides us into all truth by His spirit when we read this, and so I just want to encourage you -if you don’t have a Bible we want to give you one because we have Bibles for you. We’ve got them right out here at the welcome desk. You can go get a Bible for free! Please, take one. We want you to have those and we want you to be following along. Like, if you have a Bible, read it! It’s really goo- I know that seems simple, but like read the Bible. There’s so much good stuff in here. I want to encourage you to do that so let’s read together John chapter 13 verses three through five and then versus 12 through 17, OK? It says this: “Jesus, knowing that the father had given all things into his hands, and that He had come forth from God, and was going back to God, got up from supper, laid aside his garments, and taking a towel, girded himself. Then he poured water into the basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded.”
Now skip down to verse 12. “And so when He had washed their feet, and taken His garments, and reclined at the table again, He said to them, ‘Do you know what I’ve done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord and you’re right, for so I am. If I then, the Lord and the Teacher washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet, for I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you. Truly, truly I say to you: a slave is not greater than his master. Nor is one who is sent greater than the One who sent him. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them. Now because this is God’s word and it’s so powerful and alive and active, I’m going to pray for our time together here.
Father God, thank you for Your word. Thank you that you speak to us clearly by Your Holy Spirit. I pray that in this time, You would speak, You would show us exactly what you want us to see, God. Help this time not to be focused on me or anybody else in here, but to be focused on You. We want to hear from You. I commit our time to you completely. In Jesus’ name- Amen.
All right, so this section that we just read comes from, if you have one of those Bibles that has headings at the top of it, it might say Jesus washes His Disciples’ feet. Umm, if you’ve ever been to a wedding ceremony, or some other ceremony where you’ve seen foot washing happen, this kind of stuff happens because of, in Christianity, this passage is where it gets referenced, right? So it was a cultural thing, but we know about it in Christianity because of what we read here in John 13.
So I want us to start in those first few verses that we saw – Chapter 13 verses three through five. And this is what we see is that it starts off saying Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands- so we have to stop there for a minute and realize what exactly is going on because I think if we miss this, if we don’t get this part right here, the rest of it is not going to make sense. The first thing that we have to do – we have to understand who this Jesus is that we’re talking about, and what it really means that the Father had given all things into His hands. This means that all dominion, all power, all authority, all rule, the kingdom- everything had been given to Jesus at this point. Jesus was here on Earth to accomplish a mission, and at this point He had done it because this was at the last supper. This is Passover; this is right before He goes to the cross to complete His work here on earth. And so everything was done that He needed to do up to this point and He knew this was it. So this God has all things in His hands. This is Emmanuel, God with us. This is the word become flesh, dwelling among us, making His tabernacle here with us. This is God in the flesh.
Do you get this? Do you get that all the fullness of God was dwelling in Him? All the fullness of deity is here in Jesus? Do you get that this is the One who did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but He emptied Himself, taking the form of a bondservant, being found in the appearance of a man, in the likeness of men? And being found in that appearance of man, He humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. So therefore God also highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the Name that’s above every other name; that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. THAT’s who were talking about. THAT’s who this Jesus is, this God in the flesh. And we read here that all things are in His hands. And so He gets up, lays aside His garments, takes a towel, girds Himself (which just means He ties it around His waist) and then pours water into a basin and begins to wash His disciples’ feet. Now, that should floor us. When we think about what’s really happening here: the God of the universe who created all things, before whom every knee will bow, gets down on His knees, and He washes the feet of the disciples. The one who has all things given into His hands uses those hands to wash the dirty filthy feet of His disciples. The one who is Teacher is Serving His students. The name that’s above every name takes the name of the lowliest servant. We have to understand how great this God is.
So here’s what I want us to do, is when we consider the holiness of God, the otherness, the separateness, how great He really is, we have to elevate His holiness. So whatever idea you have of God? This is what I want you to do: think of however you think of how holy Jesus is, or however you would revere Him, and raise the bar.
Raise your thoughts of who He is. We have to elevate His holiness, because there is no way we can comprehend how great He is. He is able to do exceedingly abundantly above and beyond all that we can ask for, or think. That’s the God that we’re talking about. And in essence that is the gospel, right? That is the good news that we celebrate, is that the God of the whole universe came in the flesh when we couldn’t do anything. He came, and He died for us. He washed away our sins just like He washed the disciples’ feet- His blood washes away our sins when we put our faith in Him. It’s a beautiful, beautiful picture of the Gospel, but it’s only something we understand rightly if we elevate His holiness, so that’s where we have to start.
So let’s look at verse 12 now. So we skip down from there and we look down at verse 12, and we start to get the idea behind foot washing a little bit. So it says, “When He had washed their feet… which right there- the God of the universe… washed… feet. Boom. It should blow our minds, alright? The God of the universe washed feet. Why the deal with foot washing? We have to understand culturally, it’s a lot different, right? So back then, the roads were not paved like we have paved roads. They didn’t have cars. Some of them rode animals sometimes, but most of the time people were walking. And they’re walking on these roads that are dusty, dirty, sandy, unpaved, full of people’s trash and garbage. There wasn’t really a sanitation service so they’re dumping everything outside. They don’t really have plumbing, so there’s a lot of waste outside… animals are walking along so there’s animal waste on these roads, so they’re filthy. They’re disgusting- and they’re walking along them for a long time because it takes a long time to get places. And they don’t have shoes like we have shoes – they have sandals, so their feet are exposed, and so all of the junk of the roads is getting caked on their feet, and sweat from all the walking, and just a ton of… day after day after day, over and over again, it’s nasty, nasty… and they’re feet! I mean, just… feet, right? So they’re- just, so, just start there, right? So you’ve got all this going on, and then you say well, so they’ve got these dirty feet. Well the foot washing, then, is a such a dirty task. They wouldn’t even… it was something that the lowest slave in the house had to do, but Jewish Rabbis often taught that Jewish slaves couldn’t even do it. Like, “we get that you’re a slave, but you’re a Jew. You shouldn’t do that.” Like, they would not let some Jewish slaves do that. They reserved it for Gentile slaves, non-Jewish slaves of the house, to do this because it’s such a dirty task.
And you say, ok, I get it! There are people with nasty feet. Why didn’t they just put their feet under the table and eat dinner? Well, because the tables they had back then were not like the tables that we have today. They were these U-shaped tables that were way down on the floor, and the way – you read in the New Testament a lot about reclining at the table? That’s exactly what they would do, is they would lay down, and they would say, OK, I’m eating, like this [reclining, motions eating], just eating. But if I’m like this, and you’re right there, [points to feet], my feet are in your face. Or my feet are in your food! Right? And then somebody else’s feet are in my face! So you want your feet to not be nasty.
So you’ve got- you’ve got this Jesus here, who is humbling Himself, and it says He gives us an example, and I love the way He words this. He says, “Do you know what I did to you? Do you know what I’ve done? Do you know what I’ve just done to you when I washed your feet? You call me Teacher and Lord, and that’s right, but if I’m the Lord and the Teacher, and I washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I gave you an example.” This is an example for us to follow, that you also should do as I did to you. That’s what Jesus is teaching His disciples. And so what we see here is that we are called to embrace His humility. He calls us to embrace HIS humility. He models the humility that we’re supposed to follow. He models the humility that we’re supposed to do, as an example that He set for us – we follow that and we embrace His humility. And when we do that, when we embrace His humility, then we start to think about, “OK, so that means I’m going to go and get my hands kind of dirty.” ‘Cause you think about Jesus’ hands… He just scraped off caked on dirt and dung and stuff from people’s feet… What’s the condition of His hands after after He washes these feet? His hands are dirty!
Following Jesus, it means getting your hands dirty. If we’re gonna follow Jesus, it’s gonna take us out of our comfort zone because it means we’ve got to get our hands dirty. We’ve got to be involved and invested in getting our hands dirty. I don’t know about you, but I think about smells a lot, umm, and I think about that the smell that Jesus must have experienced with feet to begin with, and all of the other stuff on the feet, and then His hands, and then it’s, “Oh! And now it’s time for dinner!” Like, that just doesn’t seem to fit together, right? The smells that he’s experiencing are pretty gross but why would He do that? Well, because He’s all about love, and love- loving people- isn’t always convenient, and He models that for us so beautifully and perfectly here. So we have to elevate His holiness and understand how high He is, and then we embrace His humility and understand how low He got. So do you see, then? The gap gets wider, and wider: He is so high and we are so low – He came so low to come to us, so then there’s this gap. Why would He do that?
I think we see in the next couple versus what He’s talking about. Look at what He says in verses 16 and 17. He says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, a slave is not greater than his master, nor is one who is sent greater than the one who sent him.” So basically, because I just did this, you don’t have any leg to stand on to say why you wouldn’t do it. If you know these things, then you are blessed if you do them. And now we’re blessed, what’s great about it, is it means happy. If you read in Matthew chapter Five, in the Beatitudes, you know, like ‘blessed are the poor in spirit, blessed are the meek,’ those kind of things, the word is the same word. It means “blessed, happy” and it means the kind of happy that is to be envied. Like, other people see that happiness and they want it. Man, I want what he’s got- I want what she’s got- I want, I want that. There’s something there because it means we’re becoming large because of God‘s provision. Isn’t that a cool idea, of blessing? So I started thinking about – could we really experience happiness, or blessing, because of getting our hands dirty?
And I thought about a time when I was coaching my son’s soccer league just this past couple weeks, I and I was coaching the game. My son- I have an eight year old son who’s playing, and then I have a three year old son who is on the sidelines with my mom and my brother and my wife. And after the game’s over, they come up and they say, “John, we have to show you this video of what your three year old did, and so I want to show you just a few seconds of what my three year old was doing, enjoying himself. Check it out….
So, there he is grabbing handfuls of dirt and grass, and just rubbing it all over himself, on the back of his head. Now what’s funny, is the video goes on a lot longer. Like, it’s… my wife said, “After the first couple of handfuls, I just figured, ‘why not? Let him go… ” so, she… and he did. But there’s something about that that’s to be envied, right? It’s like, “Man there’s just that – there’s an innocence and a fun to that… and we think about, like, could there really be joy in getting our hands dirty? Could there really be joy in like, getting low, and doing something dirty and filthy and ugly – could there be real joy in that?
I think about a time when I worked at a camp in Hot Springs Arkansas and there was a little girl who was ten years old and one morning at breakfast she took out her retainer to eat breakfast, and then wrapped it up in a napkin and threw it away with all the breakfast trash, and then we took all the breakfast trash to the dumpster and then… she starts freaking out. She said, “My mom and dad are going to kill me! I don’t what’s going to happen; this was so expensive…” You know, she’s a ten year old hysterical girl.
So, they, you know, because I was a junior counselor, I got tasked with all the fun tasks, right, so me and this other guy, Nate, jumped into this dumpster, filled with trash, in Hot Springs Arkansas, in the summer, right? Trash cooking all day, right? And so we’re in the middle of all this hot trash, and literally you couldn’t have planned it- like, it was last bag that we got to. We found her retainer wrapped up in this napkin and because the dumpster was pretty empty, we kind of started dancing when we found it. We were so excited – we found this retainer, and we’re joyful in the midst of trash. We’re covered in milk hot trash and it’s nasty and we’re just – but, we’re – we’re happy about it! And we take the retainer to the little girl, and we say, “hey we found this thing- you might want to wash it off first” -then she gave us the biggest hug! And we’re filthy! We’re disgusting! We’re so dirty. But she gave us this gigantic hug and then – it was such a joyful moment – like, “Ahh… this is awesome!”
I think Jesus knows what he’s talking about when he says, “You are blessed if you do them.” Because dirt washes off. But Man! That little girl’s hug- that’s just… I remember it forever.
We have to experience his happiness. Are you experiencing His happiness? Are you are you experiencing that kind of joy in serving the Lord? Are you experiencing the blessing that He intends for you to have? Because He says, “You’re blessed if you do these things.” He says, “here’s the example, now go do it. You get blessed if you go do it.”
Now, I thought of these words playing together, and they all start with the same letter because I’m from a Baptist background, umm, but – when we elevate His holiness, we embrace His humility, and we experience His happiness. Isn’t that cool? But that’s the way that God works. That’s why we’re calling you out of the bleachers- not because we’re trying to force you to do something… because we want you to experience the blessing that God wants you to experience.
Now, I think that what happens at this point is we tend to make excuses. We tend to say, well, either I think too highly of myself and I can’t clean a toilet or change a diaper, I’m – I can’t do that, right? We think too highly of ourselves or, we think too little of other people. And we think well, they don’t deserve it, right? We think we don’t deserve it, or we think they don’t deserve it. But Jesus dismisses both. Because look at His example- what does He do? The God of the Universe washes His disciples’ feet. And if you ever feel like you have an excuse for why you are too high to do something or someone else doesn’t deserve it, I think about this. Remember this sentence, alright? The God of the Universe washed the feet of the one who would betray Him. And He knew it. He knew this guy was going to betray- He knew Judas was there. Judas got his feet washed by Jesus. Judas got HIS feet washed by Jesus. So we have no excuses! Because Jesus didn’t deserve to have to do such a dirty job, but He did. And the disciples certainly didn’t deserve to get their feet washed by the God of the Universe, but Jesus still did it. So we have no excuses. We have no room for excuses anymore.
So let’s get out of the bleachers. Let’s get into the game; let’s get our hands dirty, because there’s some great joy in that. I want us to change our vocabulary. I want us to stop saying “that’s not my job,” and I want us to start saying, “I can do that.” Because we can. I can do that! I can change a diaper. I can wipe a runny nose, I can check a badge and like make sure- I could pour coffee, like, there are things I could do. Let’s not make excuses.
Now what’s cool about today is that you get to actually meet some people who are doing this first hand, alright? We have some missionaries that we support- their names are Oscar and Ana Maria Campos, and they serve in Guatemala. But here’s the cool thing- they’re not from Guatemala; they’re from Peru and El Salvador and they said, “we’re going to go to Guatemala and get uncomfortable, get out of our comfort zone, get out of the bleachers, and get onto the field.” And they have been working in a seminary, and they’re equipping pastors and students and missionaries to go forth with the Gospel and spread this Good News all over the world and they’re here right now so I want you to welcome them on stage with us. Come on up.
Oscar and Ana Maria have given years of their lives to getting their hands dirty for the Gospel. and they’re partners of us here at Lifepoint. We’ve supported them and prayed ,for them for many years and we’re really excited they’re here so I’ve asked them to pray to close out our service for us so if you would please do that- thank you.
[Ana Maria praying in Spanish] Oscar praying: We also pray, Lord, that You would umm, help us also to take the Good News to those who don’t know it. And we know that we enjoy being here today, worshiping you, and being edified with your word. But there are so many people outside in the world – maybe more than us who don’t- who haven’t ever heard-about the name of Jesus. So we ask this morning that you would send witnesses to them, and that you would help us to get our hands dirty so that we can also serve in whatever opportunity you provide for us, right here, or far away. So we pray that, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
What specifically will you do to follow Jesus’ example and get your hands dirty this week? What excuses are tempting you to keep your hands clean?
Read Mark 10:45. Since Jesus came not to be served but to serve, how do we follow that example? When is it appropriate for us to be served?
Read Philippians 2:5-11. What does it look like for us to have the same attitude that was in Christ Jesus? What does it look like to humble ourselves by becoming obedient?
Read 1 John 3:16. Since Jesus showed love by laying down His life and dying for us, what does it mean for us to lay down our lives for others?
How do you experience blessing or happiness when you follow Jesus in getting your hands dirty?
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