WHEN THE BODY GROWS by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson
Introduction: Back in 2009 our family decided to take a trip out west. We were all able to get in my truck with our luggage under the bed cover. We all had plenty of room. It was a trip of a lifetime! The other day I said to Nicole – “That was so much fun! Maybe we can do that again one day.” To which she replied – “If we all tried to get in your truck and ride 5000 miles, we would kill each other.” So also with our church body. There was a time when 20 people on a Sunday morning was a good Sunday. The children’s ministry had 2 kids, that’s Rebecca and Abigail. We would count anything that breathed. Things have changed since then. God has truly blessed us and our church body keeps growing. If were not careful, we would kill each other. With that said, let’s turn to the book of Ephesians for our message titled “WHEN THE BODY GROWS.” We will do a series through this book soon but for now just a few verses from chapter 4.
Ephesians 4 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.
Question: How do you relate with others in the body? What is your role in this church body at Clearview? Are you helping to edify this body in love? To be a part of this church body, you have to be saved. Are you saved?
Context: Before we can understand the meaning and application of the passage we just read, we need to first ask “Why did Paul write this letter to the Ephesians?” Although there is no clear consensus, most scholars believe that Paul’s main purpose was to promote unity and love among the Ephesian Christians. He wanted them to love one another with the same deep love with which they love God and Christ. Those two are interconnected. Why did he feel that this was important? Maybe because he sensed that they were losing their grip on love. Was he right? Yes. Just a few years later, listen to what John wrote in Revelation 2 1 “To the angel of the church of Ephesus write, ‘These things says He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands: (that’s Jesus) 2 “I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; 3 and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary. 4 Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.” What will people say of our church a few years from now?
With that in mind, let’s return to the passage but let’s begin in Ephesians 4 verse 1 to truly understand what we read. 1 “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord…” Meaning: He is bound to Christ. He goes where Christ goes, does what Christ tells him to do, and says what Christ tells him to say. In other words, he is not writing on his own authority but Christ’s. What does Christ demand? 1 “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, 2 with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love.” Paul begins this section by urging the Ephesians to remember the Christian graces. They are given in 2 Peter but some are here as well. Lowliness means humility. Nothing will destroy unity faster than pride. Gentleness means meekness. It is not weakness. Instead, it is knowing when to be angry and when not. Longsuffering means patience. It means don’t say what comes to your mind and your mouth. Bearing with one another in love means learn to tolerate each other and do it with “agape” love. Don’t resent the other person. What’s the goal? 3 “endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” It makes a difference in how you treat and interact with each other.
Application: Are you marked by Christian graces?
Now, if I were to end the message here and tell you to remember the Christian graces and be nice, kind, and loving to each other, it probably won’t last 10 minutes. Our Christian graces are linked to our foundational beliefs. We stand upon a 7-layered foundation:
- One Universal Church – 4 “There is one body…” Paul was dealing with issue of Jews and Gentiles coming together. So also today, there are many churches and denominations but if you are willing to receive Jesus Christ as your only Savior and God, then we are part of that one body.
- One Spirit – 4 “There is one body and one Spirit…” The same Holy Spirit indwells you who indwells me.
- One Hope – 4 “…just as you were called in one hope of your calling…” We have the same expectation that God will work his plan out for us and this world and Christ will ultimately come for us (the blessed hope and glorious appearing).
- One Master – 5 “one Lord…” The same second person of the godhead who became man and died for me and rose again on the third day is your master as well.
- One Faith – 5 “…one faith…” There is one settled body of truth which Jude calls 3 “…faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.”
- One Baptism – 5 “…one baptism…” This refers to the baptism Paul talks about in Romans 6 where we “were baptized into His death,” “buried with Him through baptism into death” and raised with him to “walk in newness of life.” The water baptism is the demonstration of this inward spiritual baptism.
- One God and Father – 6 “one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” Through Christ we have the same God the Father and we belong to the same family. The Lord’s Prayer is not “my father” but “our father.”
If you are willing to stand on this 7-layered foundation, we can work out any other disagreements we may have. If we step off any of these layers, no amount of pretend niceness is going to hold us together.
Application: Do you know our foundational beliefs?
Remember our Christian graces. Remember our Foundational Beliefs.
Remember our role in the body. 7 “But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift…11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, (established churches along with signs and wonders and miracles. Today we don’t have this gift but we do have missionaries) some prophets, (communicated the divine revelation of God. Today we don’t have this gift because we have the New Testament but we do have revivalists) some evangelists, (preach and explain the good news of salvation like Philip the evangelist to the Ethiopian eunuch but today Billy Graham) and some pastors and teachers 12 for the equipping (katartismos = “mending” restoring, putting things right) of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— (This is my goal as the pastor/shepherd of Clearview) 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.” It’s like a spiral. The more it turns the deeper the unity grows.
Our church body is growing but we need to be aware of our Christian graces, our foundational beliefs, and our role in the body.
Are you doing your part in the body? Are you in the body? Are you saved?
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WINNING WITH GOD AND MEN by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson
This morning I’m preaching a special message from Proverbs titled: WINNING WITH GOD AND MEN. We will actually read 4 verses from 4 different books of the Bible. Hopefully you can identify the common elements.
Proverbs 3 3 Let not mercy and truth forsake you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart, 4 And so find favor and high esteem in the sight of God and man.
1 Samuel 2:26 “And the child Samuel grew in stature, and in favor both with the Lord and men.”
Luke 2:52 “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.
Acts 2 46 So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.
Overall Background: All of us want to win. We especially want to see our children and grandchildren win. Won’t that be something if we could teach them how to win with both God and men (people)! Won’t that be something if both God and men looked at them with favor, with a smile of approval. Won’t that be something if both God and men took pride in them! Won’t it be awesome if they could win in this life and the one to come! Won’t that be something if they could have the blessings of God and men!
People have all kinds of false ideas on what it takes to win before God and men. Some people think it is education. That’s important but that’s not it. Some people think that it’s talent or hard work or some other quality. All those things are important but they do not ultimately help us to win with God and men – Sometimes they do just the opposite!
The answer to how we can win with God and men is given in plain sight in the Book of Proverbs. The Book of Proverbs was written by the wisest man who ever lived. Some people mistakenly think that Solomon wrote some of these proverbs and put the others together to teach us how to be wise like him. Not true. That may have been his second purpose but initially he wrote the first part of the book as series of letters (10 to be exact) to his son Rehoboam, teaching him how to live a successful life. In his 3rd letter, Solomon is trying to warn his son that the path to wisdom is not easy. There are several stumbling blocks on the way. Here he clarifies how he can win with God and men.
Application: All of us need to hear this message. As it stands our young people are losing terribly. I was doing a funeral in New Jersey yesterday and as I was getting ready to leave, I saw this young man (mid 30s) and the Holy Spirit impressed on my heart to talk to him and so I did. When I guided the discussion towards spiritual matters, all he could say is that he is not into the god thing. If there ends up being a reality, he may just call it God. How sad! That young man is losing with God and men. By the way, the principle is the same if we want our work and business to be successful and if we want our church to be successful.
3 things we will see in this message:
I. TWO ESSENTIALS
Proverbs 3 3 Let not mercy and truth forsake you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart, 4 And so find favor and high esteem in the sight of God and man.
Background: Mercy = “Hesed” and does not have a real equivalent in English. It could be translated “kindness” or “help to the needy.” The best you can describe it is that someone is in great need and they cannot get out with your help. You help the person not because you will get any kind of gain out of it but only out of your own heart.
Truth = “Emet” and again it is a tricky one to explain. It can refer to “faithfulness” or “being trustworthy” or “living by truth.” It’s a life lived by the truth or the Word of God – the Bible.
We can spend a long time looking at these individually but that won’t help us much. We need to understand what happens when they are brought together. Many times in the Old Testament they are brought together:
- It’s an old time tested principle passed down from father to sons. Genesis 47:29 When the time drew near that Israel must die, he called his son Joseph and said to him, “Now if I have found favor in your sight, please put your hand under my thigh, and deal kindly and truly with me. Please do not bury me in Egypt,
- It describes the nature of God. When Moses saw God, this is what he said – Exodus 34:6 And the LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth,
- After Rahab the Canaanite woman helped the 2 spies in Jericho, listen to what they said in Joshua 2:14 “…And it shall be, when the LORD has given us the land, that we will deal kindly and truly with you.”
- In 2 Samuel 2 we read that Saul and his 3 sons (Jonathan included) were killed by the Philistines on Mount Gilboa. Then they hung their bodies on the walls of Beth Shan. Some of the valiant men of Jabesh Gilead travelled all night and got their bodies and gave them a proper funeral. We went to this site in January. When David learned the good they had done he said 6 And now may the LORD show kindness and truth to you. I also will repay you this kindness, because you have done this thing.
- David used those two words several times to describe the ways of God – Psalm 25:10 All the paths of the LORD are mercy and truth, To such as keep His covenant and His testimonies.
- Again Psalm 61 6 You will prolong the king’s life, His years as many generations. 7 He shall abide before God forever. Oh, prepare mercy and truth, which may preserve him!
- Again Psalm 86:15 But You, O Lord, are a God full of compassion, and gracious, Longsuffering and abundant in mercy and truth.
- Now in Proverbs again – Proverbs 14:22 Do they not go astray who devise evil? But mercy and truth belong to those who devise good.
- Again Proverbs 16:6 In mercy and truth Atonement is provided for iniquity;
- Again in Proverbs 20:28 Mercy and truth preserve the king, And by lovingkindness he upholds his throne.
- I can go on.
For some reason mercy and truth are mentioned side by side more times than we realize! What does Solomon say in Proverbs 3:3 onwards? “Bind them around your neck” = make them a necklace. “Write them on the tablet of your heart”= make it your identity. When God and people see you they should see these two qualities.
What is the result? 4 And so find favor and high esteem In the sight of God and man.
Application: What kind of a reputation do you have? What are you teaching your children to be like? Are they full of mercy and truth?
II. TWO EXAMPLES
Twice in the Bible this is mentioned – one in the Old and one in the New.
In the Old Testament – 1 Samuel 2:26 “And the child Samuel grew in stature, and in favor both with the Lord and men.”
Background: This was a rough time in the history of Israel. The priest Eli had turned a blind eye towards his sons Hophni and Phinehas who were stealing from the sacrifices and bullying the people and raping the women who were coming to the tabernacle of God. The enemies were getting stronger. There was no unity in the land. A woman named Hannah prayed for a child and promised to give him back to God. This was Samuel. He travelled the length and breadth of Israel uniting God’s people. He preached to them and admonished them. He helped lead the transition from the order of the judges to the order of the kings. He was the one who found King David. Samuel was full of mercy and truth. Remember, he had to deal with Saul!
We are living in tough times. God is looking for men and women and boys and girls who would be full of mercy and truth.
In the New Testament – Luke 2:52 “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.
Background: He challenged the Pharisees and the scribes of trying to act spiritual. Listen to Matthew 23 4 For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. 5 But all their works they do to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments….14 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. Therefore you will receive greater condemnation. 15 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves…23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.
I can give many examples where He demonstrated it perfectly but the best one where mercy and truth came together is in the Woman caught in adultery in John 7 and 8. He said to her in verse 11 “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”
What the world needs desperately is not just Mercy or Truth but both.
Application: Are you a person who has both? Are you teaching your children to have both.
III. THEY ARE A GIFT TO BE RECEIVED
Galatians 5 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.
As you surrender your life to the Holy Spirit, He conforms your life more and more to the person of Jesus Christ. That’s how your bear the fruit of the Spirit.
The similar phrase is heard again in the book of Acts. Acts 2 46 So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.
For e.g. When I think of someone who is selfish and untrustworthy, I think of Mr. Potter from “It’s a Wonderful Life.” He is heartless, cold, apathetic, and downright evil man.
Do you want your children to have favor with God and people? They need mercy and truth. In other words, they need kindness and faithfulness.
We want our children to be loved and appreciated by people. We like to hear that they are being admired and adored. Unfortunately, some of our ideas actually cause them to be resented. We think favor comes when they are best at everything or win a lot of trophies or be in every activity. Instead what they need are eyes, mouth, hands, feet, heart, and mind full of mercy and truth. The place to begin is by bringing them to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Do you know Jesus?
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WHERE ARE THE VIKINGS? (MEN AT CHURCH) by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson
As you know, we are in our series on the Life of Christ from all 4 gospels and this morning our message has a title that has raised some eyebrows – “WHERE ARE THE VIKINGS?” “WHERE ARE THE MEN IN CHURCH?” One compliment I often hear from new people who come to Clearview is how did you get all these men to come to church? My answer is #1 I didn’t God brought them; #2 it was not by accident. It was by intention.
Matthew 4 18 And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. 19 Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” 20 They immediately left their nets and followed Him. 21 Going on from there, He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets. He called them, 22 and immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him.
Overall Background: When Jesus began his ministry, his first action was to call certain people to be his disciples. He knew that his time was short and it was imperative that His message would be passed along when He was gone. He wanted to pour His life, truth, power, and vision into these disciples. That is very understandable. But what is interesting is that every one of these disciples was a man! Did you notice that? Peter, Andrew, James, John, Nathaniel, Matthew, and so on. Why did Jesus do that? Was it because Jesus was just a product of His time? Was He just some patriarchal rabbi who looked down upon women? Was he some narrow-minded, male chauvinist member of the “he-man woman haters club?” Absolutely not.
This morning, we’re going to look at the reason why He called men to be His disciples. Ladies – you need to hear this message because without your wholehearted support, we cannot reach men. Men – you need to hear this message because it’s high time that you wake up. Every church in America needs to hear this message. What’s happening in our churches, community, nation, and the world is because the right men are absent (AWOL) Bottom line: We need men who know Jesus as their Savior to step to the plate.
Three questions we will answer in this message:
I. WHAT DID JESUS THINK OF WOMEN?
Did he look down on them? Absolutely not! We know that Jesus healed women.
- Last week we saw how He healed Peter’s mother-in-law.
- In Luke 7 He came across a widow whose only son had died and verse 13 says, “When the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her” and he healed her son.
- In Mark 5 a certain woman had a flow of blood for 12 years. She was just trying to touch the hem of his garment. He not only identified her but healed her and called her “Daughter.”
We also know that Jesus spent extended time talking to women.
- The woman caught in adultery
- The Samaritan woman at the well
- Mary and Martha, the sisters of Lazarus
We also know that Jesus used women as part of His illustrations.
- Woman who lost her coin
- Ten bridesmaids who were waiting for the bridegroom
- Poor Widow who brought just a mite to the offering.
Did you also know that many women followed Jesus along with his disciples? Luke 8 tells us that not only were the twelve men with Him but also 2 certain women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities—Mary called Magdalene, out of whom had come seven demons, 3 and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others who provided for Him from their substance. In fact, they were the first ones to whom He came after His resurrection.
In a time when women were considered to be just second class citizens, Jesus treated them with respect and honor. In a time when the only woman that had some freedom was the mistress, Jesus reached out to them with no ulterior motive. No wonder a woman came, fell on his feet, broke a bottle of perfume, washed his feet with her tears and then wiped them with her hair. Which one of you women would do that for any man? Unless, you knew that man loved you and came to lift you and seat you on the throne of glory. Someone might say – “Jesus was okay with women but not Paul.” Listen to Galatians 3 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
Application: Girls and ladies – do you know how precious you are to God? Any boy or man who mistreats a girl or woman does not understand Jesus Christ or His Gospel.
II. WHY DID JESUS CALL ONLY MEN TO BE HIS DISCIPLES?
It was not because he was being sensitive to the Jewish culture. Jesus repeatedly broke the Sabbath laws, ate with tax collectors and prostitutes, refused to wash his hands before meals, and repeatedly chastised the keepers of the customs – the Pharisees.
It was not because women were not supposed to be leaders. We know of Deborah in the Old Testament who was a judge. Before Herod the great became king, Queen Alexandra ruled Israel for three decades. In fact, even today women make fine leaders and presidents! Case in point: The Iron Lady Margaret Thatcher.
It was not because women could not handle spiritual matters. Think about Mary sitting by the feet of Jesus listening and learning. When Martha complained in Luke 10 Jesus said, 41 “…“Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. 42 But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”
So why did Jesus call only men to be His disciples? It was a matter of correct representation. A disciple is a representative. A disciple’s job is to communicate not just what the master says but who the master is, his entire being. He wanted them to represent Him when He was gone. Who is Jesus? He is the Son of God. Son implies maleness. Hence the disciples had to be male to truly represent Him. But it goes even further. This Son of God has a Father. John 1:18 No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him. Did you notice all the gender specific nouns and pronouns?
Why has God chosen to reveal himself as our “Heavenly Father” not our heavenly mother? In our gender-neutral world, that is hard for some people to follow. A father symbolizes authority and leadership. He is the initiator, provider, and protector. Does God not have any female attributes? Yes – He is nurturing and caregiving but He is not the receiver (if you know what I’m talking about) or gives birth. He created us.
What does that have to do male disciples? The disciples were to be an image of God the Son who was the image of God the Father. That’s why in the Old Testament the priest were always men. Later, Paul explained it more in I Corinthians 11:3 But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. That’s why in our church the pastors and the servant leaders are men. This does not mean that I can save you or forgive your sins. I am called to be the under shepherd. I work for the Good Shepherd. Who is He? Jesus said in John 10:11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.” Most of the time I am a very representation but that’s what I’m called to be. One day I’ll have to give an account to the Great Shepherd (Hebrews 13:20).
What do you think of women pastors? It’s biblically wrong. What if they can preach? I think some of them can preach better than some of our men preachers but it still doesn’t make it right. How did it happen? Men – it’s because you failed to step up to the plate that they had to step up and do your job. Again, this does not apply to outside the church because it has nothing to do with God’s representation as the Son and the Father.
III. WHAT DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH VIKINGS?
Growing up I loved to read about Vikings and Cowboys. They represented manliness to me. Now, I’m done talking about beating up and shooting up people that are weaker than you. Any coward can do that. But, Vikings represented the adventure spirit, the taking the risk spirit, and the sailing into unchartered waters spirit. It was a no fear spirit. When people heard their name, they were afraid.
The disciples were afraid until the Holy Spirit came upon them on the day of Pentecost and the same bumbling and blundering disciples became bold representatives of Jesus Christ. The Book of Acts tells us – Peter stood up boldly on the day of Pentecost and preached the message and three thousand got saved! Acts 2 43 Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles…47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved. Then we hear about Stephen who was not afraid even when ungodly men rushed him and through his death Paul got saved and the church grew exponentially.
The point is – when men representing Christ lead the church, it grows by leaps and bounds. The church in America is on life support. If anything it’s barely crawling. Is it the fault of the women? No. They’ve had to reluctantly step up and take the job that was meant for men – to be the spiritual leaders of the church, to be the spiritual leaders of their homes, and to be the representation (the disciple) of Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, the church has taken on the attributes of women, which is nurturing and caregiving. It has stopped conquering the world for Jesus Christ. Don’t get me wrong. We need women in church. What will happen if we don’t have women to give the care and grace and love we need. But without men stepping out, taking risks, and being bold, there won’t be anyone left in the church to give care and grace and love to. Sadly men have become whiners and complainers. They walk around with a loser’s limp. Then we talk about being old. Clearview is young people’s church! Even the aged are young.
Is Clearview doing everything right? Probably not but we are trying to go back to biblical Christianity and capture our world for Jesus Christ. We’re trying to create an atmosphere were men (lost men) don’t feel the church is just for women and children. It is reflected in the way we do service, in the way I preach, and in the way we sing. We tried to weed out praise songs that are geared towards women only. Sometimes it can be hard. We tried to introduce new stuff. Women are more open to change than men. We even tried to bring in old hymns. Someone will say – “That’s right. I love those manly hymns.” Here’s a problem – you got tired of them and stop singing them. Men – when you get familiar with something, you lose interest in it. It becomes tradition. Now we do it cause “by golly that’s what we’re going to do.”
Invitation: Where are the Vikings? Are you saved? Are you leading your home and your church? Women – are you letting your men lead? Trust me, they won’t lord over you but wash your feet.
Matthew 16:24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.