by Roger Thomas

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The Towel: A Servant's Model
Object Lessons in Faith
Roger Thomas
John 13:1-17
April 8, 2001

If the Bible were likened to a temple, this passage is the entrance to the Holy of Holies. This begins a very special part of the entire Scriptures. This is the night before the cross.

John's Gospel makes it clear that something special is about to happen. As we have noted before John's 21 chapters divide into two sections. In the first half (chapters 1-11), he summarizes roughly thirty-three and half years of the Savior's life. The last half is devoted almost totally to the last few days. Everything from chapter twelve on points to the cross and the resurrection.

Note how chapter twelve sets the stage: Jesus replied, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me. (John 12:23-33 NIV)

Jesus gathers his disciples in an upper room, probably a large banquet hall above the home of a wealthy Jerusalem family. In all likelihood, the room was built to be rented out and used for such occasions. In this room, Jesus would give his disciples his parting words and some of his most important teachings. First, he gave them "a living parable."

Again today we are considering an event in Jesus' ministry that spotlights God's amazing grace. In this event, as with the other three we are considering in the weeks around Easter, there is a physical object, a symbol, that represents the story and God's grace. Today, consider the towel.

I want to use a very simple technique to open some windows on this passage. We will consider three basic pieces to the story as if they w ...

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