Derek Smith, Lead Pastor LHBC

John 13:1-15
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[b] 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.

When we hear the statement “throw in the towel” we think of quitting, giving up, or considering something not worth the effort anymore. If there was a group that wasn’t worth the effort, it was the disciples. This rag tag bunch of guys were not considered the creme de la creme of society. They questioned Jesus, misrepresented Him, and even corrected Him a few times.  Yet Jesus didn’t throw in the towel in his relationship with them; He threw on the towel.

Scripture says he disrobed Himself, wrapped a towel around His waist, then proceeded to wash their feet at the last supper. This was considered a disgusting and subservient task. Only the lowest of the low of servants would be tasked with such a degrading job. Jesus used it as an example of what true servant leadership and supernatural love is all about.

There are people all around us that we would like to throw in the towel with (or throw something else much harder at!). Some frustrate us, some annoy us, some just downright exasperate us.  But, at the end of the day, we are called to love and serve one another as Christ loved and served us. The greatest example of unfathomable and totally undeserved love is Jesus dying for our sins on Calvary’s cross. While this object lesson of the towel was a picture of godly leadership, it was symbolic of the crucifixion which would take place just a day later. The dirtiest, most repulsive, most unbelievable act of service is when Jesus became our sin on the cross. The eternally pure and perfect Son of God laid aside the privileges of His deity to take on flesh and become my sin and yours. He disrobed Himself of glory in order to become our misery. What amazing love and service!

So, how can I who have been forgiven and served in this unimaginable way not serve others? Sure, there are some hard to get along with people. There are some that may not deserve your love and respect in a worldly sense. If I got what I deserved I’d get the judgment of God, and so would you. Today, don’t throw in the towel, throw on the towel. Throw on the towel and serve those around you in love and kindness. It is this kind of extravagant love that leads people to want the Jesus you and I have.

Father God, I know there will be some hard situations and hard people to deal with that come into my life, possibly even today. Lord, help me throw on the towel and serve them. You tell me the greatness is measured by service, so Lord help me be a servant today. In Jesus name I pray, amen.

John 11:25
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live…”