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Show & Tell of a Different Love

January 7, 2024 Preacher: Jeff Griffis Series: Communion in Christ's Love

Scripture: John 13:1–17

Show & Tell of a Different Love – John 13:1–17

PRAY & INTRO: Jesus was different. … When the Son of God walked the earth, he was different.

Not just different like John the Forerunner was different, who wore camel’s hair and ate locusts and wild honey.

Jesus was more fundamentally different. And not just because he could perform miracles no one else could, or because he said things no one else said. But because he knew where he had come from and where he was going (He was very God from very God). He knew why he had come, what he had to accomplish, and he grasped the scope of its eternal significance. 

So at the last supper with his disciples, Jesus prepared them for his impending sacrificial death and resurrection, and also for his departure and for their continued ministry on his behalf. At this same meal where Jesus instituted the Lord’s Table (of which we will partake together today), Jesus demonstrated the truemeaning of love by showing and telling a different way to love.

We’ll be in John 13 this morning, and we’ll focus our attention and our hearts on how Jesus himself uses a show and tell that is a particularly poignant and effective—that of washing the disciples feet at the last supper to establish the model of loving humility (a living illustration to leave a lasting imprint in their minds of how his love is different… and of what they needed him to do for them, and how they must live for him).

Jesus does things differently than the world expects. As we see today in our text, Jesus has very different leadership advice. And this leadership teaching has deeper meaning that is rooted in the love of God toward us in Christ Jesus, so that we should show and tell of this same love.

John 13:1–17 ESV

1 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 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.” 12When 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. 16 Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.

Jesus knows “his hour [has] come to depart out of this world to the Father,” so he invests this final opportunity of devoted time with his disciples to prepare them for not only his impending crucifixion and resurrection, but also for his glorification and ascension to the Father. So Jesus prepares them for what is soon to take place, and he prepares them for their ministry on his behalf while he is no longer physically present.

Jesus shows his disciples how his love is different, and explains his expectation that their leadership be modeled after this same love.

Jesus asks nothing less of his people than to love and lead the way God has displayed His love and leadership in Christ’s sacrifice.

But what does it look like? And even more fundamentally, how is it even possible?

To understand Jesus’ show and tell of a different love, we must first recognize that…

Jesus is the embodiment of Divine love. (vv. 1-3)

The center of these verses that give context to both this passage and the whole of chs. 13-17 (even to the cross and resurrection and ascension) is this phrase, “Having loved his own in the world, he loved them to the end.”

The verb agapao, to love, is repeated for emphasis. We should ask the question: What is love? (Defining complex things is certainly not the simplest task, but it is worth the effort because it brings clarity of understanding and gives weight to the significance.)

Here’s a running to start for you at a definition of love as I believe it is explained and portrayed in the Bible, especially in Jesus Christ.

Love is a deep relational affection that desires and strives for the highest glory or highest good of another.

(highest glory with relationship to God, highest good with relationship to other people)

When I say I love you, I am not only saying that I have a deep affection for you, but that my affection has as its aim your highest good to the glory of God. (***not wise nor loving to leave our children to their own training…)

Because of sin, human love is always tainted, always incomplete. It is not that we have no capacity for affection, because in common grace God has granted emotion to mankind that he created in his image. But our love is… Fickle, Flaky: fall in love and fall out of love. Feeble, Finite: it is weak, it will fall short of staying power… Our love is Filthy, Defiled: not pure, polluted, contaminated.

Not so the love of Christ. God’s love is perfect. God’s love is complete. God’s love is pure. God’s love is powerful. God loves to the end. [Gk word telos]

It’s noteworthy that here it speaks of Jesus loving his own, which most directly corresponds to his chosen disciples, but also in the John’s Gospel to all his chosen ones, his sheep, who hear his voice and follow him.


The show and tell of Jesus’ love stretches far beyond the footwashing.

The overall context is a macrocosm of God’s love revealed in Christ Jesus. - John’s Gospel is a show and tell of the spiritual truth of Christ’s first advent. - signs and statements of Jesus…

- Here are some of the ways we see it in these particular verses:

  1. Notice the references to Passover and to supper. This passover would be the one on which Christ would die on a Roman cross… only one day away. And he would become the passover Lamb, by whose blood we might be passed over for judgment of our sin.

And about supper, our best understanding is that this takes place (chs. 13-17) at the very same meal and same night in which Jesus celebrated the Passover with his disciples and was later betrayed in the garden of Gethsemane. That matters because as Christ instituted the Lord’s Table, or Communion as we often call it, it was to be a living illustration of the sufficiency of his sacrificial love to meet our spiritual need.

So this reference to the Passover and supper reaches back to God’s progressive covenants with Israel and reaches forward to his institution of the Lord’s Table, which is representative of the New Covenant inaugurated by his death and resurrection.

  1. The impending betrayal and instigation of the devil himself is a reminder of the cosmic battle stretching far beyond these immediate events.
  2. Jesus knew the whole narrative. [v. 3] Jesus knew the outcome, knew the glory that God received, of which he himself is included in the Godhead… True love perceives the blessing of sacrificial obedience by seeing the bigger picture.

Jesus knew the whole narrative. We too must contextualize our present in terms of the bigger picture of God’s eternal plan.

Again, the broader context is a macrocosm of the very love Jesus will illustrate. The show and tell of Jesus’ love stretches far beyond the footwashing.

And that matters because God the Son gave full expression of divine love in human form. Such love is not just theoretical, but personal—even as Jesus demonstrates to his disciples.

If we would receive this love, Christ must make us clean. (vv. 4-11)

First, take note that Jesus deliberately uses an illustration (for this show and tell) that will astonish and embarrass them.

The footwashing is a deliberately astonishing illustration.

In the dusty conditions of the region, and everybody wearing sandals, they would have had very dirty feet. More importantly, only the lowliest of household servants did this job. But Jesus [4-5]…

Jesus fully intends to grab their attention and generate questions with this footwashing exercise. And it certainly does the trick. Jesus is ‘show-and-tell’-ing them how to live, and Peter provides a further teaching opportunity.

We aren’t surprised that it’s Peter, the disciple with the foot-shaped mouth who says what everybody else is probably thinking. But we can thank Peter, bc Jesus putting him in his place provides for us such great instruction, for we are all need the same lessons. AND we see in Peter hope for the transformation that Jesus can do in any of us.

Peter’s reaction provides a teaching opportunity concerning the spiritual cleansing we need.

[6-7] You do not understand it yet, but you will.

[8] Peter, you must let me do this for you because there’s more to the story.

The true cleansing they need is a spiritual one, which only he can provide, by the work that he must do on a cross as a perfect sacrifice to purchase forgiveness for sinners. - They are dead in the water, like a ship with no sails, no steam engine, no outboard motor. All paddling in our own strength is less than pointless; it is wasted.

The footwashing illustrates Christ’s sacrificial humility and their/our need for spiritual cleansing. We need Jesus to cleanse us within, not just our dirty feet.

There is a first purification, and there is an ongoing purification. There is a first transformation to new birth, and there is a process of growing to maturity. There is a first change of new standing in Christ, and there is a progressive learning to live more and more like Jesus. There is a first declaration for righteousness (justification) because of Christ, then there is a progress of living up to that new calling (sanctification).

If it were up to us only to achieve either of these, we’re sunk. All we can do is bring our dirty selves (covered in sin and stain) to God and plead with him to make us clean through Jesus. And then still through Jesus and work of his Spirit as we abide in him and submit in obedience, we are further sculpted into the image of Christ.

If we reject the purpose of Christ’s first coming, we remain unclean, and the love of God is not in us.


Are you washed in the blood… in the soul-cleansing blood of the Lamb?


Those who know the love of Jesus must live the love of Jesus. (vv. 12-17)

“Do you understand what I have done do you?” [13-15]


Footwashing displays the leadership of sacrificial love through humble service.

-seeking the spotlight, vying for the seat of *honor (recognition) —> But Jesus could hardly be more highly esteemed by the Father, and the path was submission, service, and suffering… leading to glory.

“If you’re going to get ahead, you must stand out. Leaders are a step ahead and a cut above the rest.” Such is the kind of leadership advice that the world gives. (Such advice is indeed worldly, not godly. That which is worldly is ungodly. Worldly behavior and advice is not indifferent; it is ungodly. If the worldly unwittingly says anything that is good it’s because it reflects the wisdom of God’s own word and ways. It is certainly not Satan intent. Instead, he deliberately twists.


Your job as the head of your home…

Elder, …

Boss, your responsibility as the master of the business …


To be like the One who loved us is our duty and delight.

To love like our Lord, our Teacher, our Master, the One who has even called us friend… is our duty and delight.

John 15:10–11 ESV

10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

It is a duty, yes, but it is also our delight. Serve the Lord with gladness. It is great joy to get to be like Jesus—to serve Jesus and to tell of Jesus by our words and deeds.


Conclusion: As those loved this way by God, our lives are to be a living illustration of the different love of Jesus.

You must care about how different Jesus’ love is because your ability to live this love is an expression of your relationship to God.

Jesus is different, even unexpected. If we are to be different from the world, the difference must be Jesus.

Through Him we too can be different, and must be different, like Jesus is different. What the world views as backwards is right side up according to Jesus.

1 John 4:7–11 ESV

7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 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. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.



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