Christ’s last great struggle with the power of darkness should ever be kept fresh in the minds of all who believe in him as the propitiation for the sins of the world. God would have us study the lesson taught by the experience of the children of Israel, when they were bitten by serpents. Those bitten were directed to look at the brazen serpent which had been uplifted in the camp, and those who looked in faith lived. Today we are standing in a position similar to that of the children of Israel. As we look upon the world in its moral defilement, we see the poisonous serpents abroad, ready to sting us to death. To the cross of Calvary, bearing a dying Saviour, we must look. “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up.” Only the Lamb of God can take away our sins. We should think more of this than we do. Our eternal interests demand that we show faith in Christ.
In the words spoken by Christ when he gave a representation of true humility by washing the feet of his disciples, I would appeal to all who name the name of Christ: “If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.” Do you see the uplifted Saviour? Do you know that it was for your sins that he suffered and died? Do you do his will? Knowing is only a part of our duty. Our eternal interests demand that we do also. But to many who have had great light the words of Paul are sorrowfully appropriate: “O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?” Though Christ had been set forth among the Gentiles, they had not had a personal sight of the divine Sufferer, enduring the weight of the sins of the world.
Christ crucified is to be presented by those who preach the word. The last scenes of his life, in which he achieved a victory for the world, are not to be set forth in a tame, listless manner, but earnestly, and by those who feel constrained to keep the memory of these mighty deeds from growing old. The past should be made a living reality, as if being transacted before us. But this cannot be done by human ability. Those who preach Christ must have the help of God’s Spirit. Christ is our advocate in the heavenly courts, and he presents in our behalf the sacrifice he offered on Calvary. This we are to present to others. In this way we are to perpetuate the memory of the crucifixion. When this is done, heavenly instrumentalities work at the same time upon the hearts of the hearers. A power independent of human effort is felt. The speaker does not labor in his own unaided strength. He is endued with a power that is wholly from above. As the words flow from his lips, the Holy Spirit co-operates with him; and the hearers are impressed, as though Jesus were in reality before them.
Through the preaching of the word and the administration of the sacramental service, Christ has been set forth among us. The Lord’s supper was ordained by Christ shortly before his death, and the ceremony of feet washing was instituted just prior to the Lord’s supper. As we celebrate these ordinances, we are to remember that Christ is present, making the occasion one of great interest. Thus it will be to all who have a true sense of the situation. We should search our hearts, and confess the sins that we have cherished. If we are guided by the Holy Spirit, our thoughts will not be thoughts of self-exaltation, but of severe self-censure and humiliation. Selfishness, evil speaking, and evil thinking will be put away. We shall remember Christ’s action, as he girded himself with a towel. While the dispute as to who should be greatest was still fresh in the minds of the disciples, Christ humbled himself, and washed their feet, wiping them with the towel wherewith he was girded.
After Christ had washed their feet, he said unto them, “Know ye what I have done to 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.”
During this ceremony, the Holy Spirit was impressing the hearts of the disciples, sweeping away the selfishness that they had shown in their dealings with one another. Not long before, some of them had been offended because their brethren sought the highest place. All this now appeared so insignificant, the mountain was reduced to such a molehill, that shame took the place of disputing. “He that is greatest among you shall be your servant,” declared Christ. He that doeth service will humble himself, and in so doing, he will be placed where the Lord can safely honor him, because he has the Spirit of Christ.