Today we begin a series of seven articles on the cross of Christ. While it might seem odd to begin a series on the cross of Jesus during the week of Thanksgiving, it is this moment in history where we must always show our gratitude.
The cross of Christ is the turning point of human history. Before the cross, God-fearing men awaited the promised Messiah. Day upon day they waited. Approximately 33 years after His birth, Jesus, the Messiah, would hang on the cross as the greatest servant ever known. Even though men rejected Him, He stayed on that cross for them.
The cross of Christ did not end with an undeserving death, but it began the process of the salvation of humanity. Without the cross, there is no hope of the resurrection. Without the resurrection, there is no hope of eternal life. The beginning point of hope is the cross of Christ.
As you walk through these seven stories of the cross, may your life be enriched and your eyes opened to the great servant of humanity – Jesus.
May you be blessed in seeing the cross,
The Servant of the Cross
“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.”
When there was nothing, God created something. When there was nothing, God created everything. In six days, God created everything we see. I know and try to fathom the infinite knowledge of God (Matthew 11.21) as He created the world. I know the scriptures tell us of the awesome power of God (Revelation 19.6). They even further give us details of the all-seeing eyes of God (Psalm 139:7-12). Our God truly is an awesome God.
When He made a tree, was the Son on His mind? The apostle John tells us that Jesus was there in the beginning.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that were made.”
The Son was there in the beginning. The Son was there when man was made. (Genesis 1.26) We know the Son was there when the trees were made. (John 1.1-3) Because of the apostle John’s words, we know Jesus Christ had a hand in the tree’s making, which would produce the seed, which would produce a tree, which generations later, He would hang from to save the world.
That Word became human, the flesh, and dwelt with people. (John 1.14) He left the throne of Heaven to come to earth and serve. (Philippians 2.5-8) He left the greatness of heaven to serve earthly man through serving His Father. If the Father wanted Him to serve to death, Jesus would. Jesus did.
What compelled Jesus to serve the Father to death and the resurrection from death?
Was it fame and fortune? Of course not.
Christ had the power and the majestic nature to claim fame and fortune. After all, everything is His. He created it. The car you own, His. The house where you live, His. The clothes you wear, His. He is the creator giver of every spiritual blessing. (Ephesians 1.3) It was not fame and fortune; it had to be something else.
It was love! Why else would a glorious Child of the Father leave the perfect dwelling place (Revelation 21.3, 4) and come to sin-filled earth? Sin had filled the earth since Eve ate of the forbidden fruit (Genesis 3); Cain murdered Able (Genesis 4), and people continued to grow worse until the flood of the world (Genesis 6-8). People continued in sin through the time of Christ, and people continue in sin today.
Sin will continue until the earth is no more. As long as the sun rises and falls, sin will exist. It will exist because man exists. Man has a choice, the choice to follow God or the choice to create friction. When man creates friction between himself and God, he goes against the Father. Crossing the commands of the Father is sin (1 John 3.4). No “ifs,” “ands” or “buts,” disobeying God is sin.
Sin is the separating factor. (Isaiah 59.1, 2) Sin is the destroying factor. (Romans 6.23) Sin has infected the lives of every person to walk the face of this Earth. (Romans 3.23) There is only one exception, Jesus Christ Himself. (Hebrews 4.15) Christ was tempted in every way as we are, but He was perfect. In the face-to-face meeting with the devil himself, Jesus won! (Matthew 4.1-11)
Hanging on two wooden beams between two thieves was the beginning of victory. The burial and resurrection became the victory over death. (1 Corinthians 15.55-57) The victory was God’s plan from the beginning.
After the choice of sin from Adam and Eve, God said Jesus would crush the head of Satan. (Genesis 3.15) The crushing blow to a poisonous serpent crushes the head. Jesus administered a crushing blow to Satan when the tomb was found empty (Matthew 28.1-6). With the fatal blow, the sting of death has been taken away because of the servant, Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15.54-55).
In Adam, every person will die, in Christ, they will be made alive. (1 Corinthians 15.22) All this because of the humble servant of the Lord. Who would lay down their own life for their friends? It was the humble servant, Jesus (John 15.13).
As His thoughts turned to the cross He was about to bear, physically, mentally, and spiritually, the mind of our Savior turned to servanthood.
Jesus had sent Peter and John to prepare the Passover feast (Luke 22-13). It seems evident that Jesus had done some preparation Himself; a room was ready for the disciples to use. (Luke 22.11-13). While preparing the feast, one simple item was left out. After reading the gospel accounts, one can see that it is in the eternal plan of the Father. It is not clear at first, but the more you read, the more you find.
While the Savior sat in the upper room with His closest followers, His thoughts turned to His father. He knew the hour was drawing near when He would suffer one of the cruelest punishments known to man—the cross. (John 13) Christ must have looked at the tired, worn, and weary faces around Him. He knew they would be scattered because of His punishment. (Matthew 26.31)
Did His face turn toward Peter, who had been the most zealous of the group?
Did His eyes look into the eyes of John, His seemly closest friend?
Did He glance and see 11 men who would later be there on Pentecost preaching of His resurrection?
As His thoughts turned to the knowledge that God the Father (#1) had given all things in to His hands, (#2) that He had come from God and (#3) He was going to God, He rose from the table to begin one of the greatest illustrations of humbleness and service the world has ever seen.
What made this the impressive picture of servitude? It was a King was stepping down to wash the nasty feet of the disciples.
What was missing was a servant to wash the feet of those who entered the upper room to eat? During the time of Christ, a servant would remain by the door to wash the feet of the guests. The roads were not paved as they are today, but made with packed dirt. The role of the foot-washing servant was not a highly motivating position. There were few, if any, young men, or women growing up desiring to wash feet for their days on the Earth. Nevertheless, our Savior washed feet.
Rising from the table, Jesus placed a linen cloth or apron around his waist, filled a basin with water and begins to wash and then dry their feet with the cloth. Why would he take it upon Himself to take the place of the forgotten servant? Simple, He was the servant. If Jesus made plans to reserve the room, do you not think He would make plans for a servant? He did. He made plans for Himself. It was He who would do the serving.
As Jesus washes the feet of Peter, Peter refused (John 13.8). The spokesman finally has his say; Jesus tells Peter that He needs to, not for His sake but Peter’s sake. (John 13.8) Jesus shows Peter there is a noble purpose to this act; the purpose of the plan, the eternal plan.
It seems Jesus washed all the disciples’ feet. The apostle John writes, “So when He had washed their feet…” (John 13.12) Think the following people:
- Did Jesus wash Peter’s feet?–Yes
- Did Jesus wash Andrew’s feet?–Yes
- Did Jesus was Philip’s feet?–Yes
- Did Jesus was Judas’s feet?—Yes
Did Jesus wash the feet of the one about to turn Him over to a mock trial and a cruel death? It seems so. As the disciples sat and watched in embarrassment as their leader washed feet, do you not think they would notice if He left one out?
Jesus knew there was one in the middle who would turn their back on Him. (John 13.2) Jesus knew there was going to be a betrayer before this supper. (John 6.70) Jesus knew He was going to die for the sins of man and He knew that hour was closing fast. (John 13.1)
He left the throne of glory for the linen, apron cloth of a feet washer. Not because He had to, but because He wanted to. The cross was a tough burden, but it was done because of love. The washing of a betrayer’s feet was a tough burden, but it was done because of love.
Understand, Jesus did not institute feet washing. Notice verse 15. Jesus says that “For I have given you an example, which you should do as I have done to you.” (John 13.15, emphasis mine)
Jesus did not say, “That you should do what I have done for you” but “you should do as I have done for you.” It was not the act of feet washing Jesus is discussing, it is the act of serving. Christ wants us to serve our brethren, so the world will see that we are His disciples. (John 13.35)
Why did Jesus go as far as He did? Simple, because He cared.
Amid His trouble, He cared. In the middle of His prayers in the garden, you were in His thoughts to the Father. (John 17.20-26)
Without a serving Savior, there would be no serving church.
Without a serving Savior, there would be no church. He served for you, and He served for me.
Will you serve for Him?
Just a thought,
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Throughout the week, we want to provide you with words of encouragement and hope as you journey towards heaven. We pray your life is a blessed one.
Come back tomorrow and see the next article in the series.