Hello to the friends out in Colorado Springs. This is the voice of Orin Graff greeting you
in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and desiring to share with you a portion
of Scripture, God’s Word and a few thoughts about that portion this evening. I’d like to read to you from the thirteenth chapter
of the Gospel of John. The first seventeen verses of John 13. Now before the Feast of the Passover when
Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart of this world unto the Father
having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end. And supper being ended, the devil now having put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God; He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. After that he poured water into a basin,
and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was
girded. Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith
unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet? Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do
thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter. Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash
my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou
hast no part with me. Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet
only, but also my hands and my head. Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth
not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all. For he knew who should betray him; therefore
said he, Ye are not all clean. So after he had washed their feet, and had
taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done
unto you? Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well;
for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed
your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should
do as I have done to you. Verily, verily, I say unto you,
The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. If ye know these things, happy are ye
if ye do them. Thus endeth the reading of the word at the seventeenth verse Let us ask our Lord’s blessing in a word of prayer. Heavenly Father, give us each to our hearts just now of this portion of thy word and help us to understand the happiness of which our Jesus…
spoke about. Help us to know what Thou would have us to know from this portion of the word that will strengthen us and arm us for Christian living and for service that shall be to the glory
of his name. We pray it in Jesus’ name. Amen. It is a rather hard thing to do, friends, to speak to you when I know that you are
interested in hearing my voice and what I will will do with a portion of God’s word
just as much as you say you are interested in listening to God’s word itself. You know, there are so many ways listening to the word of the Lord and most of us are generally guilty of following the wrong way. Reading the Scripture is not just a religious exercise that we ought to be reading the scripture as a very beacon
for living. You know, we’re building a new church here and the contractor often
gets into difficulty because he doesn’t carefully follow the blueprint.
He doesn’t study it to see what should do, he determines in his own mind
what would be the right or the wrong way and then he gets into difficulty every
time. You know it’s necessary for us to accept the blueprint at the very
beginning of the building of our lives and then just follow that blueprint day-by-day. And God word is just that – it’s a blueprint for us that we can follow and
follow profitably in the building of our lives for Jesus Christ. and so I trust
that even though you aren’t interested in my voice and perhaps my way of
developing a portion of scripture or my technique or whatever you want to
call it I really do hope that you may be interested in this portion of word for
what God has to say to you through it just now. The scene that I would like
to hold before your mind is that of redeeming love, as we have read the story of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet You know, the scripture has various kinds of love in the original language. Various words which are diametrically opposed to each other,
actually, and still they are all translated by the
one English word, “love”. For example, there is the Greek word eros which, well, it’s
the stem for the word erotic, for example, and it is means creature love. Sensual love. The love of the, of the flesh
and of the senses. Then there is philos, which means “brother” love. Paul might interpret it as a “rational” love, the love of men. But then there is another word which is used in this passage today, in fact, it’s used all the way through John’s writing and most of the time in the New Testament when we come across the word love, It’s the word “agape” which means, “God love”. There’s eros “creature love”, “philos” human love, (rational love) but agape “God love” or redeeming love. Redemptive love. Always, in the life of Jesus when we read of his love, it’s “agape”. You know, that’s exactly the kind of love
he bids us to have one for the other. Remember how he said, “You have to love each other”?
There, he speaks of “agape”. In the story that we read a few moments ago, Jesus washed men’s feet. And then he bade us to do like that. If I then, your Lord and Master, (verse 14) have washed
your feet, ye also ought wash one another’s feet.
It doesn’t mean of course that the Lord wants us to go about washing each others’ feet literally because foot washing has an altogether different meaning now than it
had at that time. We know that men didn’t wear shoes and stockings in those days as they do now. They didn’t walk on paved sidewalks everywhere. They didn’t ride in an
automobile, but they moved about on dusty roads, wearing open sandals. And when they arrived at a friend’s house they took off their sandals. And if their friend wanted to honor them, he called a slave to come and wash their dusty, tired feet. There was no servant in the upper room the night that Jesus kept the Passover
with his twelve disciples and instituted the Lord’s Supper. There was no servant to wash their feet. And so after they were all in their places, our Lord took this task upon himself. The lowliest task the he could do. You know, it’s interesting to note in Jesus’ life how he always did what he preached. Remember how he preached that men ought to turn the other cheek? And then he
did just that himself. He gave his cheek to the smiter. He preached how men ought to go the second mile and that was particularly galling to the Jewish mind and thought at the time because, you see, there was a Roman law which said that a Roman soldier could requisition
any citizen of the country that he might need at any time, at any place, and
force him to walk a full mile and carry the soldier’s burden or his bag or his (unintelligible). Jesus said if the soldier forces you to walk a mile, go with him two. That’s what he said, that’s what he meant! And Jesus himself fulfilled it! Perfectly! Because he walked not only the second mile, but as we say yet today in our
penal institutions, our penitentiaries, he walked the last mile. Bearing my burden and yours. My burden of guilt and sin, bearing the cross for you and me. Yes, Jesus walked the second mile and still he walked, to teach that men ought to love their enemies. and he loved us to the utter end. Herein God commendeth his love toward us (Roman 5:8) in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for the ungodly he loved us while we were his enemy; otherwise there would be no salvation. You see, what Jesus preached, he did.
He preached that men ought not to seek their own pride, but that men ought to humble themselves and do good to all others in a spirit of humility. That men ought not to seek to be the first, but the last; not the greatest, but the least. Not to find their lives, but to lose them; To humble themselves, to be meek – and then Jesus washed the disciples’ feet. Fulfilling all that preaching in his own life, what Jesus preached, he did. These are just expressions, common, everyday expressions, I believe, of Jesus’ love for his disciples and for all men. And he says if I’ve done these things for you, you have to do them for one another because I’ve given you an example and if you understand this, happy are ye if you do these things. These are expressions of his love, then. Here’s a question for us to ponder a moment:
What are our expressions of his love? Do we ever go the second mile?
Do we ever turn the other cheek? Do we love those who do not love us? Do we love the poor and the blind and the halt (lame)? We’ve just recently come through the Lenten season and past Easter, And each year at this time we think a great deal of the sacrificial offering which we call
One Great Hour of Sharing. I’m sure you people are familiar with it
and have participated in this great opportunity as Christians all over the
world to share with others who are in need. Now in our own Presbyterian church, we
have about two and a half million members. And last year according to the
record, we loved the poor and the naked and the blind and the hungry; we loved
them to the wonderous extent of fifty cents per member! Actually, less than fifty cents per member. We had a little over one million dollars in our offering last year. And rejoice because it was the highest offering of its kind that we’ve ever had in our denomination. A lenten sacrificial offering, mind you! And we paid it to a little less than fifty cents per member. Sacrificial?! Oh, dear friends, there isn’t a Presbyterian in the United States for whom fifty cents represents a sacrificial offering. You know that. There are very few of us for whom fifty dollars would actually be a sacrificial offering. Instead of one million dollars plus, the One Great Hour of Sharing should have been at least a 100 million dollars plus. And yet, you know there’s something
very remarkable about that gift. Fifty cents though it be, God used it… and blessed it. Somewhere in Korea, they know something about sacrifice there. There are some wonderful Christian people in Korea and God has purged them and purified them bringing them through a period of great testing and trial Hundreds of churches were destroyed in the war. We are building a new church here at Forreston Grove because our church was destroyed in an unfortunate fire, not so awfully long ago. And recently, we were discussing borrowing a sum to complete the structure. And the Board said we will pay up to three percent interest – that’s per annum, you understand. And we’ll borrow the money, you see, so that we can complete the church. Three percent interest per annum.
In Korea, they tell me, that interest rates are ten percent. Not per annum, but per month. Why, that would mean it would be impossible for a Korean congregation to borrow funds to complete their church, just because within ten months’ time,
the principal would be doubled by the interest. They could never hope to pay it back.
So they pay as they go.
And they pay by sacrifice. The sell their food and their clothes and the meager furniture from their poor homes in order that they might complete the building of their church.
This is happening in many congregations. Oh, we help with our sacrificial offering you see. We help and God has blessed that offering. We helped to build 450 churches in Korea, or rebuild that many, so far. But do you know what one of the biggest gifts that we of America have given? They tell us the mountains of beer cans, empty beer cans
which our armed forces had left behind, are flattened out and used as shingles to roof the churches over there. Have you really loved in the sense that Jesus loved? We have a missionary we support down in Central America where the hurricanes were so bad last fall. Three – the last three hurricanes came roaring out of the Gulf of Mexico and swept across the peninsula of Yucatan in Central America, where Fred Passler , a very dear friend of mine and a missionary supported by this church is working, and, of course, great cities actually were utterly destroyed and many, many of the churches which had been founded under the mission endeavors of Passler in that part of the world were destroyed and whole congregations were left destitute. We took an offering immediately in our
church here, that amounted to about $570 that we would send down there to
help alleviate some of their suffering. But you know, it took months for that
$570 to get there actually, from the time of the hurricanes. It wasn’t until in the winter sometime that they received the money. But almost immediately, in a
matter of days, they had received $5,000 from our head- our Presbyterian headquarters in New York, and we had a share of that. You see, that five thousand was an emergency fund that was left there or placed there from the One Great Hour of Sharing offering a year ago.
And so we had a part. And God blessed it, and you could help. I’m sure many of you read the story of a
Korean lad who received the only love and expressions of love that are known in his life in an American Hospital in Korea last year. And that expression of love that came from you and me and two and a half million other Presbyterians takes the form of two iron hooks which they gave to him and taught him how to use, because he was an amputee. Both arms were lost. I personally heard Arthur Jay tell the rest of the story. He was there when it happened. Arthur Jay said he’d been talking to (unintelligible) at the Presbyterian headquarters This man… learned how to love… in that mission hospital. His business was taken away. He knew that someone cared for him through the contributions that made possible those two iron hooks for hands. And somehow there was
imparted into those two iron hooks that redeemed love…
that had entered his whole life. One day, not so long ago, there was a knock at the door and when it was opened, the door of the same hospital, there stood the former patient, cradling as tenderly as he knew how,
a little foundling (abandoned) child, barely a few weeks old that someone had abandoned along the street, and he had found. There was love in his heart for this little one and he came to the only place where he knew men cared. You see, his life was changed. Redeeming love had entered his life and was now flowing outward and he did the best he could. I had a part… in helping that man.
You had a part… with our meager 50-cent gift. Not long ago, just a few weeks ago, in fact, I heard Billy Graham speak in Chicago. And he spoke on love. He said we ought to make a list of the things that we can do daily to show how we love God and how we can live for Christ. Showing unto others that we do love Christ and for Christ’s sake, we love them. It is one thing to be a Christian, he said, but it’s quite another thing to live Christ. Though I might add, to live our love for Christ. I’m going to give you an example, Jesus said. I have washed your feet, I am your lord and master and yet…
I am going to wash your feet. You are no greater than I…
You are no greater than your master. He who is sent can be no greater than the one who sent him and I’m the one who bids you (unintelligible) And this order I give you:
As I have washed your feet, wash one another’s feet. He washed men’s feet in love, and bids us do likewise.
Yet, do we know how to do this? Do you not actually need the power of redeeming love?
Do you not need the heart of Christ?
How can we love without his heart? Love with true love? I’m sure you understand what I mean…
when I have said Jesus washed men’s feet. He loved… and bids us do likewise. But now listen to the second statement that I would like to make out of this portion of God’s word. Jesus washed men with his blood…
and bids us do likewise. Now washing men through his blood – this we say is redeeming love and, indeed, it is. This is redeeming love and what is our reaction to it? Here was Peter, the leader of the disciples, and notice in verse eight…
“Thou shalt never wash my feet!” he said. Oh, how the pride and the vanity of the human flesh resists the grace of God! We will do anything, Lord, but please don’t humble us this way. How we resist the redeeming love of Christ And yet how essential it is. We’re talking about the love of Calvary, if you please. In the second part of that verse Jesus answers Peter,
“If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.” Men resist it. I resist it. You resist it. And yet it’s essential. It’s the one essential – to be washed in the blood of Christ. And when we surrender to this… washing, this cleansing, how men are transformed! Jesus said, ye are clean, every whit!
Ye need not wash again, except, of course, the outward dust from your feet. but Peter, in your heart, in your life, you are clean every whit… …if I have washed you in my blood. Now I’d like to ask the question and I – I mean it earnestly, I wish you would try to answer this in your own mind: The love of Christ that was poured out in his blood on Calvary… That love – is it any different than the love of Christ… in the upper room? Is there any difference? Let me answer it for you as I believe the answer… would be… no. In the Upper Room, Jesus gathered his disciples about him and he instituted the Lord’s Supper (unintelligible) After he’d washed their feet, he came and broke the bread and distributed the pieces among his disciples and passed the cup and said, now this is my body. And this cup it, it symbolizes my blood.
For my body is now being broken and my blood is being spent for you… …for you. It was the same love. The very same love You ever think of that? And Jesus bid his disciples to go and do likewise. Now, we have a part, therefore, in the redeeming love of Jesus Christ. and happy are ye, he said, if you do this. Remember the story of the rich young ruler, how he came to Jesus? All the things in the Law, Lord, I’ve done them.
I’ve kept them (unintelligible) what need I yet to be saved? And Mark says, when the Lord beheld this young man, he loved him He loved him with the selfless love that drove him to Calvary. This young man didn’t know anything about love. And Jesus said, young man there’s one thing you lack: You ought to go and sell all that you have and give – give your (unintelligible) to feed the poor and come take up your cross and follow me. And was the young man happy at that saying?
You remember (unintelligible) it said no and he went away sad. Grieved. His love is great, but it’s so humble, it washed his feet and soul alike We are to love God and our neighbor
and this is agape love. We are to love Christ and pick up the cross and follow him.
Do you know what it means to pick up the cross? As Christians we often say that it – it means death, it means hatred, it means persecution. Death. Oh, we are to be ambassadors for Christ.
To pray in Christ then for men to be reconciled to God. To know the fellowship of his suffering.
Your love and mine. Dear friends, if our love comes from Christ’s heart… Instead of the (unintelligible) then it enters into the redemptive work of Jesus Christ. Not just our preaching, this isn’t where our love is revealed, but in our visiting of the sick, and our clothing the naked and our befriending of the friendless all in the name of Jesus Christ. Our Lord even commends the giving of a cup of cold water in his name. So often we think that evangelism and Christian service begins with simply preaching of the gospel and we say our mission offering must go to, to pay the salaries of missionaries. But did you ever consider the very first mission offerings that were ever taken? Read about them in…in the book of Acts, for example, and, and then particularly 2nd Corinthians. From Paul, we see (unintelligible) often for the destitute people at Jerusalem.
Was that to pay missionaries salaries? No. It was to buy food and clothing for people that were starving and naked.