A Man and His Master

Title: A Man and His Master

Bible Book: John 13 : 1-17

Author: J. Gerald Harris

Subject: Manhood; Men; Father



In our text we have the record of one of the events which took place at the Last Supper. Jesus and his disciples had gathered together in a borrowed room. These men had been together for approximately three years. Together they had walked the dusty roads of Galilee. Together they had slept in the great outdoors with rocks for their pillows, and the heavens for a canopy bed. Together they had faced the winds of a storm-tossed sea. Together they had experienced the miracle of the feeding of the 4000 and the 5000. Together they had faced the opposition of the religious leaders, and the threats of those who had set themselves against Jesus Christ.

Jesus had gathered together these men to be his disciples. Most of them were unlearned and uneducated men. They were rough-hewn men with rugged exteriors. Among them was Peter, the impetuous, impulsive disciple, who was always saying something. There was James and John, the sons of thunder. There was Simon the Zealot who was a revolutionary if there ever was one. Matthew, the despised tax collector, was a part of this group. These were the Master's men.

In our text we see Jesus rising from that Last Supper, and laying aside his garments, and taking a towel, and filling a basin with water, and then washing the feet of the disciples. But there are actually four things that I want us to see about Jesus in this passage of Scripture.

I. What Jesus Devoted Himself To Be - Our Savior

In the first verse of our text, the Bible says that “Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end." Now, this verse speaks of the death that Jesus was about to die on the cross of Calvary.

You know, men are sinful and men need a Savior. In fact, the only answer out of man's dilemma is Jesus Christ. In times like these we need a Savior.

I heard about this fellow who was on a ship, and he was always cursing God and denying the reality of God. And he was up the crow's nest. A storm came suddenly and the boat was rocking, and he fell over. His foot got caught in the loop of a rope and he was swinging out over the sea and over the deck. Some guy heard him crying and screaming. And he said, "0, God, help me. 0, God, help me."

The guy said, "What are you doing screaming for God? I thought you were an atheist."

The man said, "Well, if there isn't a God, there ought to be one for times like this."

Men, I want you to know that Jesus Christ came into this world for men like us and times like these. Jesus Christ devoted himself to be our Savior.

Even as Jesus washed the feet of the disciples, the shadow of the cross loomed before him. Jesus knew that if he was to fulfill the Father’s purpose for his life, he would have to die on the cross.

Jesus had spoken of his death on the cross many times during the course of his ministry. Finally, there came that day when he turned toward Jerusalem for the last time and the Bible says, “And it came to pass when the time was come that he should be received up, he steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem.” So, with a set face, with raw courage and with a determined spirit, Jesus began to make his way toward Calvary.

Speaking of his crucifixion, he said, “I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how I am straightened (burdened) till it be accomplished!”

On another occasion Jesus said, “My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.” Jesus knew that that work would not be completed until from the cross he cried, “It is finished.”

Even in the garden of Gethsemane, with the cross standing like a tower of torture before him, Jesus prayed, “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.”

Jesus was devoted and determined to do the Father’s will, even though that involved a cross. I like to read of men with such determination and with such devotion.

Several years ago in the San Francisco marathon, anyone would be impressed with the discipline and determination of the men who finished last and next to last. The man who finished last had no feet, but he never stopped one time. He finished that 26-mile race running on the stubs of his ankles which were cushioned by foam rubber. The man who finished second to last bragged that he only fell twice, but that wasn’t bad for a man who was totally blind. Determination! Devotion!

The Bible also tells of some men who were determined to accomplish the task before them. The Apostle Paul was one such man. He had a determination to go to Jerusalem. In Acts 20:22-24, Paul said, “And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: Save that the Holy Spirit witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me. But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God."

If it was Paul's attitude about going to Jerusalem, how much more was it the attitude of Jesus. He knew full well what awaited him in Jerusalem, but yet he determined to face Jerusalem and the cross for our sakes. He devoted himself to be our Savior. When I see Jesus hanging on that cruel cross for your sins and for my sins, I do not see him as some of the artists have painted him. I do not see him as a pale Galilean with effeminate features. I see him as a man's man. I see him with the tan of an outdoorsman. I see him with the sinewy muscles of a carpenter. I see him as one who had a rugged, handsome countenance, but under the scourging, one whose face had become so marred and so mangled that it scarcely resembled the face of a man at all. But yet I see a man who took the place of all other men, and who died to set us free.

Now, we have considered what Jesus devoted himself to be — our Savior. Let us now consider

II. What Jesus Demoted Himself To Be - Our Servant

Throughout the course of his earthly ministry, the disciples thought that Jesus would establish some kind of an earthly kingdom. They envisioned Jesus as becoming an earthly king. In fact, on one occasion the Bible says, "When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone."

When Jesus assumed the role of a servant and began to wash the feet of the disciples, Peter protested and said, "Thou shall never wash my feet."

In essence Peter was saying, “No, Lord, this is too demeaning for you. This is not the work of a king. This is the work of a servant.”

But I want you to understand something. Jesus did not gird himself with a towel in order to was feet because it was his unfortunate lot to do that, but because it was his willful, deliberate choice to do that.

I heard about this fellow who was always getting the short end o the deal. Everything that happened turned out bad for him. His friend said, “You know what he needs? He needs a successful experience. He has never been successful at anything. Let’s rig a winning experience for him. We could put a bunch of numbers in a hat and every number in that hat will be “four.” Let’s assign him the number ‘four.’ Then when he picks the number out of the hat, it will have to be ‘four.’

Everyone agreed that this was the thing to do. He was sure to win. Finally, he would have at least one success. The poor guy reached into the hat and pulled out a number and it was “6-7/8.” A lot of people can’t win for losing.

Jesus did not wash feet because it was the luck of the draw, because he got the short straw, or because he got the short end of the deal. He wanted to do it. He chose to do it. He chose to be a servant.

In fact, the Bible says, “Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God…made himself of no reputation and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men.”

You see, Jesus willfully demoted himself to be our servant. You can call that condescension or you can call it humility or you can call it meekness if you want to, but that’s what Jesus did. In fact, on one occasion Jesus said, “I am meek and lowly.”

Now, do you know what people think today? They think that meekness is weakness. But Jesus was not weak. He was strong and courageous. He was the one who took a whip and ade a scourge out of it and drove the money changers out of the Temple. Jesus was the kind of man who could fast 40 days and 40 nights on the mountainside, and then resist the temptations of the devil. Who is there among us who could do that? Jesus was meek and lowly, but he wasn’t weak.

Do you know, other than Jesus, who was the meekest man who ever lived? Moses! He said so himself—the meekest man who ever lived. Moses was a general, a soldier, a mighty man of valor. Moses was not a sissy. He was a not a pantywaist. Now, I believe if you are a Christian, you can still Be a man. When the Lord said, “Put off the old man,” he didn’t say, “Put on the old woman.” We have so many spineless, cowardly, vacillating, sissified men walking around today. You say, “Well, it’s just being meek. It’s just a matter of being humble.” No. That’s not meekness. That’s not humility. That’s being a milk toast, namby-pamby sort of person.

But I contend that a great man is willing to be little, Dwight L. Moody said, "The measure of a man is not how many servants he has, but how many he serves." You see, we may easily be too big for God to use. But we are never too small for God to use. In fact, the branch that bears the most fruit is bent lowest to the ground.

Sometimes we think that to be a man, we've got to be like some macho, baronial landlord who goes around barking orders to everyone. Sometimes we think that the key to greatness is to kick, bite, scratch, claw, out-maneuver, out-manipulate, cheat, deceive and out-hustle your way to the top. But Jesus said, "If a man wants to be great, let him be If the servant of all."

I remember when I was in college, I was on a youth revival team. And I had the opportunity to go to the Druid Hills Baptist Church over on the other side of town. That was during the heyday of Dr. Louie D. Newton's pastorate. Dr. Newton had been the president of the Southern Baptist Convention and was, indeed, one of the most notable pastors in our convention.

While I was there for the revival, I stayed in the home of Dr. Newton. It was a weekend revival, and so I preached the first service on Friday night. I went to Dr. Newton's home and spent the night. When I woke up on Saturday morning. Dr. Newton came into my room. Somehow during the night he had gotten my shoes, and he had taken my shoes and polished them and brought them to me and said, "I got up early this morning and shined your shoes for you. I want you to know how honored we are to have you in our home."

Now, men, that made an indelible impression upon my young mind. I was just a college student. I was not dry behind the ears yet, and certainly a novice as j far as preaching was concerned. But here this great man of God had taken upon himself the form of a servant and shined my shoes.

That's what Jesus did. Lest we get so high and mighty, and so enamored with our position or our business or our success, let us remember what Jesus did. Let us remember that true greatness comes about when we get our eyes off of ourselves and when we prefer others and minister to others and serve others in the spirit of Christ.

III. What Jesus Demonstrated Himself To Be—Our Standard

If you’ll notice in verse 15, Jesus said, “For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have don to you.” Jesus is our example. He is our pattern. He is our standard.

So often we measure our Christian life by the lives of other church members. We see some lukewarm, compromising, half-hearted Laodicean, partially-committed church member, and we say, “Well, I’m as good as he is. I’m doing pretty well. I’m not so bad after all.” But, you see, we limit ourselves because we’ve accepted a lower standard –an example that is less than what God has established in Jesus Christ.

Ever so often I’ll have someone come up to me and they’ll say, “Do you know who you remind me of?”

And I’ll say, “No, but I have an idea.” Because, you see, everywhere I go I remind somebody of this person. And do you know what they say?

The say, “You remind me of Pat Robertson.” Some people think I look like Pat Robertson. I am sure he is a wonderful Christian. He is a very influential man. And so far as I know, he is a man of God. But I’m not trying to pattern my life after Pat Robertson. Jesus is my standard. He is my example.

I want to tell you about a man who was the Sunday School superintendent of his church, and on of the most winsome Christians that you could imagine. You could not have named the ten most popular men in his city without including his name in the list. He was so greatly beloved, so charmingly winsome and so graciously artful with his concern to seek out pople for Christ that he was an example to all.

He had a peculiar genius for catching the men in the foyer of the Sunday School building and tenderly telling them of his concern that they give their lives to the Lord. He was always burdened and concerned for wayward boys, or sons of underprivileged and broken homes, fellows who lived on the other side of the tracks in the community. He was always finding some opportunity to witness to them and tell them about his Savior and Lord.

One morning he had stopped a young fellow in the junior department down at the water fountain near the men's washroom - a bright-faced lad from a very unlikely and underprivileged home. He invited him around the comer for a minute to talk to him before the lad went into his Sunday School class. A few moments later this Sunday School superintendent did a very unusual thing. He pushed open the pastor's study door and interrupted his meditations for a moment. With deep emotion in his voice, he said, "Excuse me, pastor, I did not want to interrupt, but I had something to tell you. I’ve just received the greatest compliment I have ever received in my life. I had to tell you about it.”

He told the pastor about stopping the lad down at the drinking fountain. He told about talking to him about giving his heart to Christ. He told about how he had explained the plan of salvation to the boy. Then he asked the lad the question, “Son, you know what it means to be a Christian, don’t you?”

He said the little boy looked up at him and said, “Yes sir, I know what it means to be a Christian.”

“Then what is it, son? Tell me what it means to be a Christian.”

He said the lad’s eyes looked up into his, the clearest and the steadiest he had ever seen, as he said, “To be a Christian is just to trust Jesus and be like you.”

0, dear friends, what would you not give; what would I not give if someone could see shades of the face of Jesus Christ in this life of mine; to see shades of Jesus Christ in that life of yours. May God help us to stand in the community; in the marketplace with a clear testimony that men may see Jesus in us wherever we go. You see, Jesus demonstrated himself to be our standard. We're to be like him.

Now, we have already considered what Jesus devoted himself to be — our Savior. And we have considered what Jesus demoted himself to be — our servant. And we have considered what Jesus demonstrated himself to be — our standard. But I want to conclude this message by sharing with you…

IV. What Jesus Declared Himself To Be - Our Sovereign

As you follow the narrative in our text, you will find that Peter remonstrated with Jesus and said, "Thou shalt never wash my feet."

This made it necessary for Jesus to answer Peter by saying, "If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me."

At that point Simon Peter said to Jesus, "Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head."

Peter submitted to the authority of Jesus. Many men have not done that. And many men have forfeited their authority in the home and in the nation because they have not submitted to the authority of Christ. You see, you have authority as you submit to authority.

And then Jesus said to the disciples generally, and I believe to Peter particularly, "Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am." At this point Jesus acknowledged his sovereignty. He admitted to being the Master and Lord of those disciples.

Now, I want you to understand the situation. Jesus Christ had to be the greatest optimist who ever lived. The cross was just hours away. He was about to suffer an ignominious death at the hands of cruel men. Yet here Jesus is asserting his sovereignty. Later in this same discourse Jesus said to the disciples, ''"68 of good cheer— I have overcome the world."

You see, beyond the cross Jesus saw a crown. Jesus knew that the day was coming after the cross when God would "highly exalt him, and give him a name above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue would confess that Jesus is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”


You know, until recently they had reruns of the old “Gunsmoke” series on one of the television stations. Martha Jean and I have watched those "Gunsmoke” reruns. There was a nostalgic aspect to it. But we particularly liked the characters and the kind of chemistry that existed between the characters that were cast in that program. Doc Adams had a kind of a crusty exterior, but a compassionate heart. Festus would murder the king's English, but he had his own appealing personality and an uncompromising loyalty to the Marshall. Kitty Russell played the part of a strong frontier businesswoman, but had a tender spot in her heart for Matt. Then there was Matt Dillon, the Marshall — tall, rugged, a man of action, but a man of few words.

I remember on one of those programs that Matt was in a gunfight. He was shot and left lying in the street of Dodge City, Kansas. Kitty was there weeping over what seemed to be the lifeless form of the Marshall. Festus, with a furrowed brow, was trying to comfort her. The doctor was kneeling by the side of Matt Dillon, shaking his head in utter despair. But I want you to know I did not worry and fret when I saw Matt Dillon shot by that desperado. I did not wring my hands in anguish when I saw him lying in the street of Dodge City. I didn't shake my head in despair, even though Doc Adams did, because I had remembered seeing that program before, and Matt Dillon lived to catch hundreds of other outlaws. I knew how the program ended.

But, you see, the final chapter in the Book is not one of defeat, but victory. In Revelation 11:15 the Bible says, "The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.”

Men, since God has destined Jesus Christ to be the undisputed Lord and Master of this universe, we need to go ahead and make sure that we have submitted to his sovereignty in the here and now.

May we say to Jesus what the great Dr. B. H. Carroll said years ago:

Write thy name on my head

That I may think for thee.

Write thy name on my lips

That I may speak for thee.

Write thy name on my feet

That I may walk for thee.

Write thy name on my hands

That I may work for thee.

Write thy name on my ears

That I may listen for thee.

Write they name on my heart

That I may love thee.

Write they name on my eyes

That I may see for thee.

Write thy name on my shoulders

That I may bear burdens for thee.

Write thy name all over me

That I may be wholly thine.

Gentlemen, if you ever come face to face with the reality of Jesus, this God-man, and see him as the Savior for men; the servant for men; the standard for men and the sovereign for men, and if you allow him to come in and take control of your life, a new transforming, dynamic force, revolutionary in nature, will sweep into your like and give you the power to become a promise keeper.

Posted in


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top