To be like Christ, we ought to have a servant's humble heart
This weekend I wish to talk to you about 'The Mind of Jesus'. There is a book, written by the late William Barclay, a great New Testament theologian and member of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland. On the cover of the book there is a picture of the sculpted head of Jesus - Epstein's 'Majestas' in Llandaff Cathedral in Wales. Above the head, on the cover, is the book's title, 'The Mind of Jesus'. The head, the mind of Jesus - giving us insight into what is at the heart of the Christian faith. As I look at the cover, I come to appreciate that as I deepen my understanding of the mind of Jesus, I touch upon what the Christian and life were all about two thousand years ago, and are all about today.
Of course, understanding the mind of Jesus will not enlighten us about how long it will take the kettle to boil, or what is happening on the international money market, or what the future of the European Union will be, or what is the political relationship between Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump.
But, understanding the mind of Jesus will have another, more far-reaching function altogether. If we are sincere in our quest, our gradual understanding of the mind of Jesus will begin to influence the sort of people we are. Our understanding of Jesus in faith will begin to influence and determine what is in our minds. Our deepening understanding of what was in Jesus' mind will begin to shape our attitudes. And our attitudes - the attitudes in our minds - will determine the sort of people we are: our outlook on life, our attitude to God, our attitude to people.
As we examine the mind of Jesus, our present attitudes will always come under scrutiny: they will be challenged, illuminated and transformed. Are we very narrow, bigoted, intolerant, self-interested? As we begin to understand the mind of Jesus, we see that Jesus' orientation in life was not on self, but on his heavenly Father and on other people. Jesus was interested in God and in others.
This focus was illustrated by the actions of Jesus at the Last Supper in the Upper Room in Jerusalem. There, he set aside his outer garments, took a towel in his hand, and a basin of water, and began to wash the apostles' feet.
This was a startling action for one who was 'Lord' and 'Master'. Simon Peter objected. But Jesus completed his task and said "Now that I, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you". Here we see the dramatic actions of Jesus.
But the actions communicate the mind of Jesus: in his mind, Jesus was a servant of others. In the Upper Room, and here today, Jesus wants the minds of his followers to be like his.
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If our minds are the minds of servants, we will be active in 'washing one another's feet'.
We will think not of self, but of others and of God! Away with haughtiness, superiority, reserve, distance! In with genuine love, humility and service!
St Paul puts it like this: 'Be like-minded, be like Jesus, have the same attitude as Jesus. Be one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.
In humility, count others better than yourself. Your attitude should be like the attitude of Jesus, who became a servant, and humbled himself and became obedient to death, even death on a cross'.