Love to the End
We want to welcome all of you this day, as our church celebrates 36th anniversary.
We thank and praise God for his faithfulness for the past 36 years.
If it were not God’s love for us, we would not be here today.
There were good times in past 36 years.
There were bad times, difficult times, times we would rather not see in those years as well.
And by no means we are close to what God would desire us to be.
But one thing is certain.
It is the grace of God that kept us thus far.
And we pray that God will continue to pour out his love and grace for us for many more years to come.
Have you ever wondered how you got here?
I mean, how were you able to come to where you are now in your life?
How were we able to come to where we are as a church?
If we are honest with ourselves, we should have been gone a long time ago.
We should not be able to enjoy some of the things we enjoy now.
Our houses, our cars, our family, our health, our… you name it.
If we think we built those things up, then we are not truly honest with ourselves.
I believe it was God’s love and grace that allowed us to enjoy even the littlest things in our lives.
In the words of our former president Barack Obama, “you didn’t build that!”
He is absolutely right in once sense.
God loved us and cared for us.
It was God’s love for us that allows us to enjoy our lives.
It was God’s love that kept this church alive, through the good and bad, for the past 36 years.
And as we move forward, it is God’s love that’s going to carry us on forward.
God’s love for us is displayed prominently through the cross of Jesus Christ.
And in today’s text, Jesus, understanding that he had to bear the cross soon, demonstrates his love for us yet in another way.
Our text today starts, “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.” (유월절 전에 예수께서 자기가 세상을 떠나 아버지께로 돌아가실 때가 이른 줄 아시고 세상에 있는 자기 사람들을 사랑하시되 끝까지 사랑하시니라)
He loved his own people and he is going to love them to the end.
To demonstrate this, he is going to wash the feet of his disciples.
Washing of the feet has a tremendous theological implication.
We are not going discuss all of what it all means.
But on a simple level, washing of the feet shows the humility and servant like attitude of Jesus Christ.
It shows his love and care for his disciples.
Because he loved the disciples, he washed their feet and served them.
No one during Jesus’ time washed other people’s feet.
Yes, it was customary to bring out water to a guest for them to wash their own feet.
Even the servants were not asked to, except perhaps the lowest of the lows.
But Jesus washed the feet of his disciples…getting down on his knees, and touching their feet with his hands…washing them…drying them…
I shared the story of when I washed the feet of other people in Nicaragua.
Yes, I have washed other people’s feet before that.
Churches often have special events and have feet washing ceremony.
I washed my wife’s feet at Father School and elders’ feet at session retreats.
But they do not compare to my experience in Nicaragua.
For most part, our feet are relatively clean.
In Nicaragua, people often wear sandals or, at times, nothing at all.
When these people put their feet into water, water immediately turns dark.
To be honest, it was one of the grossest things I’ve ever done.
I imagine it’s not all that different with Jesus’ disciples.
After all, they’ve been all walking around in their sandals on dirt roads.
Yes, Jesus, their teacher and their master, washed their feet.
This was a sign of his love and care for them.
Of course, it’s more than that as well.
It is foreshadowing of Jesus’ death on the cross and how through death, he was going to show his love for us.
This passage is often set besides Philippians 2 passage to show how Jesus’ washing of feet demonstrates his love for us on the cross.
v. 6 – “who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped” (그는 근본 하나님의 본체시나 하나님과 동등됨을 취할 것으로 여기지 아니하시고)
In today’s text, Jesus got out of his seat and took off his outer garment, signifying he gave up his glory, his equality with God.
v. 7 – “but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.”
(오히려 자기를 비워 종의 형체를 가지사 사람들과 같이 되셨고)
He wrapped towel around his waist, taking on the form of a servant.
v. 8 – “And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
(사람의 모양으로 나타나서 자기를 낮추시고 죽기까지 복종하셨으니 곧 십자가에 죽으심이라)
He completely emptied himself and went to the lowest of positions – on his knees – washing the feet of his disciples.
v. 9-11 – “Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
(이러므로 하나님이 그를 지극히 높여 모든 이름 위에 뛰어난 이름을 주사 하늘에 있는 자들과 땅에 있는 자들과 땅 아래 있는 자들로 모든 무릎을 예수의 이름에 꿇게 하시고 모든 입으로 예수 그리스도를 주라 시인하여 하나님 아버지께 영광을 돌리게 하셨느니라)
After washing the feet, Jesus went back to his proper seat, signifying returning to his glorious state.
That is how much Jesus loved his disciples and how much he loves you and me.
Now this begs a question – why?
Why did God love us?
Why does Jesus love us?
Love of God for us cannot be explained.
It is not because we are lovable, because we are not.
We may think some people are lovable, but that’s because we look at them from human perspectives.
When we look at ourselves, or any human being, from God’s perspectives, there is nothing in us that makes us lovable.
He is holy, but we are not.
He is loving, but we are filled with hatred and all kinds of sin.
God does love us, because we are lovable.
It is not because we loved God first, because we didn’t.
John writes clearly in 1 John 4:10 – “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (사랑은 여기 있으니 우리가 하나님을 사랑한 것이 아니요 하나님이 우리를 사랑하사 우리 죄를 속하기 위하여 화목제물로 그 아들을 보내셨음이라)
It is not because God needed anything from us.
He does not need our praise.
He does not need us to be his children – for God can raise Abraham’s children out of stones.
He does not need anything from us.
Yet he loves us.
He loves us, because he loves us.
There is no suitable explanation beyond that.
He loves us, because he loves us and he is love.
What a grace this is!
If it were up to you and me to do something for God to make him love us, that will be a miserable life.
Even in our relationship with one another – can you imagine if we constantly have to make the other person love us?
But God does not love us based on what we do for him.
He loves us because he loves us.
And his love is not just mere abstract thought.
He demonstrates his love through his actions.
Having loved his own, he loved them to the end.
First, having loved is past tense.
He loved his own…he loved us.
Second, he loved them to the end is what we call an aorist tense.
In Greek, aspect is more important than tense.
Aorist tense is past, but having continuous aspect.
So it applies to the present and future.
Jesus is showing his love and will show his love to the end.
What his passage is talking about his that God has shown us his love and will continue to show us his love.
How has God loved us?
God loved us in creation.
God loved us in calling us to him, to Jesus, through the Holy Spirit.
God loved us in Jesus’ death for his people.
And this death of Jesus is foreshadowed and demonstrated to us in washing of disciples feet.
My friends, the question is this.
Do you know this love of God?
Do you know this love of God that has sustained you thus far?
Do you know this love of God that gave you eternal life by grace?
Do you know this love of God that has rescued you from sin and death?
If you don’t, then please consider…
Consider the historical fact of Jesus Christ dying upon the cross and being raised to life on the third day.
And ask God to come into your heart, so that you will see this love of God.
And if you do know this love of God, then listen to Jesus’ words and obey.
v. 14 – “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.” (내가 주와 또는 선생이 되어 너희 발을 씻었으니 너희도 서로 발을 씻어 주는 것이 옳으니라)
Put it another way…vv. 34-35 – “A new commandment I give you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (새 계며을 너희에게 주노니 서로 사랑하라 내가 너희를 사랑한 것같이 너희도 서로 사랑하라 너희가 서로 사랑하면 이로써 모든 사람이 너희가 내 제자인 줄 알리라)
Serve each other and love each other.
What does that involve?
It involves you humbling yourself.
It involves you putting aside your pride and your ego.
It involves you taking on a servant like form and serving one another.
It involves you thinking of other person and their need more than your own needs.
Philippians 2:4 – “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (각각 자기 일을 돌볼 뿐더러 또한 각각 다른 사람들의 일을 돌보아 나의 기쁨을 충만하게 하라)
Why is there so many broken relationships?
It’s because we think we are right and they are wrong.
It’s because we think we know the best and they don’t know what’s good for them.
It’s because we look to our own interest first, and we look to others only as instruments to fulfill our own needs.
When husband and wife looks to each other as someone that just fills their own needs, then that’s not a happy marriage.
Put away your own selfish desires and thoughts.
And consider others better than yourselves.
Love is not a feeling.
It is a wholehearted commitment that looks at the needs of others.
That’s what Jesus did.
He looked at our need – our need for restored relationship with our Maker – and committed himself to the death on the cross.
He showed us his love to the end.
And now, he calls us to love.
And when we love, God will do amazing things through us.
As we go beyond our 36th anniversary…let love mark who we are in Christ!