TD Jakes - Dressed For What's Next
I want to suggest to you, my brothers and sisters tonight, that this is not added to the Scriptures just so that we could have another sacrament, another ceremony, particularly from a God who came to release and relieve us from much of our ceremonial activities. I'm not preaching against foot washing, but I think that if all we do is to memorialize and institutionalize this particular text by demonstrating it in our congregations, we may miss some of the significant revelation that exists in this text. And I would suggest to you that if you walk into the pages of this text, that you walk into it not only just to chronicle the information of the text, but to feel the intensity of the moment; that while this may be an act of hospitality, it gains particular significance in the fact that Jesus, who is considered to be the guest, has reversed the order and is washing the feet of the disciples.
And it is important to understand then that there is a significant strategy that I believe is released here when he begins to talk about, and supper being ended, that he rose up, and laid aside his garments, and girded himself with a towel. I want to talk about some of those strategies because in this moment where he gets up, and he lays aside his garments, and girded himself with the towel, is not this strategy a look back? And if I don't want to use the word "strategy," perhaps I could use a shadow. Is not this a shadow or a reminder of his whole journey? And I'm going to bring it out in three contexts.
Number one, it is hidden in this imagery is the process of his entry. Because what Jesus did at the table, supper being ended, he got up, laid aside his garments, girded himself with a towel, and began to serve. What he does, he got up, he laid aside his garments, he girded himself with a towel, and began to serve. He got up, he laid aside his garments, he girded himself with a towel, and began to serve. That's what he did in heaven. He got up and laid aside his garments, his omnipresence, his omnipotence, his omniscience. He laid all of that aside, and then stepped over into Mary's womb and girded himself with a towel, and came out that he might serve. He got up, he laid aside his garments, he girded himself with a towel, and began to serve. He came to serve. He came not to be served, but to serve. Girded with the towel, he's wrapped in flesh. Emmanuel, God tabernacled with us and we beheld the wonder of his glory. And I just want to thank Mary for the towel that wrapped up my Savior for service so that through his service he might be able to redeem the world.
Number two, it is imagery that takes us to the procedure of the priesthood. Yeah, because you must realize that the high priest on the Day of Atonement was always dressed with the jewels on his chest and Thummim and Urim in his bosom. And he had on all of the regalia that was appropriate for the priest to wear, including the pomegranates and bells around the bottom of his garment. But when he got ready to go into the presence of God on behalf of the people, he could not go into the presence of God with his bells clinging because God will have no glory stand before him. It was necessary that the priest then would have to get up, and lay aside his garments, and wrap himself up in white linen, and go into the Holies of Holies.
I'm saying to you that he got up, he laid aside his garments, and went into the Holies of Holies dressed in white linen. In fact, you will remember that all the children of Israel gathered around outside of the Tabernacle listening, because when the priest disrobed and rerobed, it would make the bells ring. And if there were no ringing of the bell, it was a sign that the priest was dead. After this imagery, Jesus tells us, "Go to Jerusalem and wait until you be endued with power from on high". And so they were sitting around waiting for the sound in Acts 2, and the Bible said, "And suddenly there came a sound from heaven like a mighty rushing wind. And cloven tongues appeared like as of fire and sat on each of them and they all began to speak with tongues". What was a mighty rushing wind in Acts was the clanging of the bells in Leviticus. It was a sign that we have not a high priest that died in the veil, but he ever liveth and maketh intercession for us.
You see, if the priest went into the Holies of Holies and the bells didn't ring, he died in the procedure and there was no atonement. But before he ever showed himself, if the children of Israel heard bells ringing, they knew the blood had hit the mercy seat and that they had a whole year to walk in the grace and the power of that blood. They didn't even have to see the priest if they heard the sound. That's why you don't see Jesus in chapter 2, you only hear. C'mon, this is a pastors' meeting. We ought to be able to throw down in here. This is grown folks class. And so when they were in one place with one accord, suddenly there came a sound from heaven like a mighty rushing wind. They did not have to see Jesus to begin to preach because the sound was the sign that the blood had hit the mercy seat and now the gospel could be preached around the world. And so when I see Jesus's supper being ended, he got up, laid aside his garments, and girded himself with a towel.
Is he not telling us the process of his entry, number two, the procedure of the priesthood, and number three, the power of what's next. The power of what's next. And I wanna say to you that if we don't get up, and lay aside our garments, and gird ourselves with a towel for service, we will sing about what's next, we will shout about what's next, we will dance and run up and down the aisle about what's next, but we will never have what's next until we are willing to change out of what was. Oh, let's talk about it. Can we talk about a little bit? Can we talk about it a little bit? So I talked a little bit about the strategy that is hidden in this familiar process. He got up, he laid aside his garments, he girded himself with a towel, and he served them.
We talked about that. That was the strategy that we see before the worlds began. That's the strategy of redemption. That's the strategy and the procedure of the priests. It is the promise of what is next. Let us digress a little bit because I think we overlooked something. We overlooked the supper. He didn't do this until supper was ended. You know, one of the problems we have as leaders is that we have too many leaders who are trying to lead too soon.
Now, don't be offended. I'm not saying you have to be a particular age. I'm saying you have to be at a particular stage. We have people who just got saved, and six months later they're opening up a church. And the problem with giving service before you had supper is that you're trying to feed when you need to be fed, and you're trying to teach when you need to be taught, and you're trying to lead when you need to be led. And I just wanna take a minute and talk about supper being ended. Supper being ended is a sign. "And supper being ended". He didn't begin the process of service while in supper.
And I want to suggest to you that one of the problems we're having in our lay leadership is that sometimes God saves people that are talented, or famous, or gifted, and because we have such a need to put them in positions, we put them in positions while they're still hungry. And I brought you here to warn you about trying to position people who are still eating. I wanted to warn you against appointing people into positions who are into you, which is a sign of still being a baby Christian. They're into you, but they're not into the mission. Because when people are into you, they will only work when you are looking. They will only work when you're looking. And when you have people in positions that only wanna work when you're looking, they work you to death. And the reason that you're tired, and the reason that you're exhausted, and the reason that you're worn out is the only way you can get anything done is for you to be present because they're not working for God, they're working for you.
And I wanted to warn you about putting the towel on somebody who's still chewing. Sometimes when I talk about leadership, I like to use the metaphor of a restaurant. And sometimes you go to a particular restaurant and the tablecloths are white, and the candles are lit, and the music is playing, and the ambiance is just absolutely amazing, and you just love that restaurant. The food is so succulent. It's cooked just exactly the way you like it. It is seasoned absolutely correct.
The maître d' is pleasant and he's nice. He's gregarious. He's outgoing. He's absolutely amazing and you love the restaurant. And you love the restaurant so much that you decide you want to work for the restaurant. I want to warn you that what goes on in the restaurant is not what goes on in the kitchen. Having been a chef, having been a cook, I want to tell you that there are no candles in the kitchen. There are no chairs in the kitchen. There are no white linens in the kitchen. There is no politeness in the kitchen. And this is what's happening in our churches. We are putting people who love the restaurant, we are putting them to work in the kitchen and they don't have the ability nor the discipline to work in the kitchen because all they want to do is sit down and eat. And you need somebody who can stand up and work.
Supper was ending and Jesus laid aside his garments. I'm almost finished. I was at a CEO's meeting and Stephen Mansfield, and you know who Stephen Mansfield is. He's president of a Southern Methodist Hospital here and was at that time the president of the Dallas Regional Chamber of Commerce. He was making his farewell speech and he said something. I wrote it down. I never forgot it. He said, "It is not hard to get people to agree on where we want to go". That if you go meet with your staff, or your team, or your church, or your village, or your family, and you start dreaming, it's not hard to get people excited about where you want to go because people get excited about vision and where you wanna go. That's not the problem. In a business, in a church, in an organization, you can get a general consensus around a good vision. Everybody wants to go. The hard part is what are you willing to give up to get there?
So what happens because we don't give up anything to get there, we never strip. We just put on more clothes. We never admit that we've lost passion for some of the things we instituted 10 years ago so we just add new stuff on top of old passions. And we keep adding more, and more, and more, and not deleting anything because we don't want to hurt anybody's feelings. And we have made people chairman over our old ideas and they are the president of what we used to wear. And rather than to move them from their position, we just put more clothes on top of it and we never have the courage to let go of what was so that we can embrace what is. And so what we do, after awhile, we have got layers, and layers, and layers of things on top of us that we no longer care about.
So the problem is, what are you going to lay aside for where you're trying to go? Since you are limited resource and you can only carry so much. And God designed you to have limits so that you will be able to make a distinction between you and him who is limitless. He wants you to be finite so you would recognize that he is infinite. Since you have limits, and you are overloaded, and you are tired, and you are stressed out, and you don't have enough passion for all of the departments you have, and you don't even want to meet with them no more. Oh, sit there, I'm gonna get you. I'm gonna get you. I'm coming right to you. You don't even want to meet with them.
So you assign people to meet with people so they can meet with people about the other people that you don't want to meet with. And you got all of those meetings because you don't do any deleting. And Jesus laid aside his garments. He says, "I cannot put this over top of that". And what I want you to think about over the next three days is what are you going to strip? You want to hear where you're going, and what you're gonna do, and how you're gonna build, and what you're going to take on, and I'm telling you that you cannot do it until you strip some of the weight, and the pressure, and the fatigue that's on you.
And I'm telling you that your niceness is in the way of your greatness; that your need to be liked by them is stopping you from pruning the bush that could be twice as fruitful if you cut it back. You could have twice as much, but because you have no shears, your vineyards are running wild. And they have no grapes because you have stopped being a preacher and become a politician. And you are trying to make people happy who do not have a vision, or a passion, or a calling to do what you've been called to do and all of your energies are exhausted managing their emotions. And I wanna just say to you, God brought you here to lay aside your garments.
And if you will lay aside your garments... I got this one final thing and I'll be done. Give me two minutes. If you will lay aside your garments and find your towel, if you will lay aside your garments and start witnessing in the restaurant where you've been bickering about where they sat you. You don't realize that God brought you in the restaurant to witness to the waiter, but you teach it but you don't do it because you're important. And if you will lay aside your garments, and gird yourself with a towel, you'd be surprised what God would do if you didn't need a pulpit to do it in. You've been on hold for years waiting on a platform worthy of your gifts, walking by people every day who are dying for the lack of what you know.
But you won't help anybody 'til you got a mic. And when you get a mic, you've become a preacher. And you drive past drug addicts, and dope dealers, and whores, and you wouldn't give them the time of day because you don't have a mic. And you say God called you to preach, and the Lord told me to tell you, until you lay aside your garments, he will lock up every blessing that he showed you in the middle of the night and fill you with frustration as the years go by trying to figure out how come I'm not there yet. So Jesus, the Master, got up from the table, and laid aside his garments, and girded himself with a towel, and started service.
Who do you serve? I'm not asking who serves you. If I ask who serves you, you'll give me a list right now. "Oh yes, I got five adjutants, and I've got three deacons". I didn't ask you that. I didn't ask you who serves you. The anointing will fall not when you are being served. It will fall when you serve. And supper being ended, Jesus stood up from the table, and he stripped himself, and girded himself with a towel, and he started to serve. If you will find who you serve, you will unlock what is next in your life. You teach service to them. You teach it good too.
You know the Greek and the Hebrew for the word "service". But you can teach what you know, but you will reproduce what you are. If you want them to serve, they have to see you do it. If you want them to worship, they have to see you do it. If you want them to be honest, they have to see you do it. If you want them to be holy, they have to see you do it. If you want them to be humble, they have to see you do it. And the Holy Spirit told me tonight he's passing our towels. He's passing out towels. And if you find your towel, you'll be dressed for what's next. When God sees your towel, ain't no grave can hold your body down. When God sees your service, tonight I have nothing to offer you. Anybody want it?