Did you know that Jesus loves you whether you love him or not? He died for you while you were a sinner. Jesus knows us as fully as he knew his disciples. He knows intimately of every time and every way that we have denied or deserted him. Yet knowing us and our shortcomings he willingly died for us. Jesus continually displays his love toward us and reaches out to us. He continues to serve us, guide us and encourages us by his Spirit. He serves us as we serve one another. Are we prepared to love one another with the same kind of love Jesus demonstrated for us?
In our passage today Jesus knew that one of his disciples had already decided to betray him. Another would deny him by the next morning. Even this night, they would all desert him. In the next hours they would repeatedly display ignorance, laziness, and lack of trust. It was indeed a sorry lot that gathered in the upper room. Even with good reasons to reject the entire group, Jesus deliberately showed to them the full extent of his love. The actions, words, and feelings that he shared with his disciples conveyed the highest form of love because his disciples did not deserve nor immediately appreciate this love. Neither do we deserve his love or service.
As Jesus final days on the earth are coming to an end, he shows his closest followers what love is: service, sacrifice and laying his life down.
This story is one of the most memorable incidents in Bible. It was the night before Jesus’ betrayal and crucifixion. It was an intense time in Jesus’ life. His public ministry had ended. Jesus now turns his full attention to his disciples.
I want you to imagine this situation with me for a moment. In that culture the most demeaning task around was to wash the guest’s feet. This was job done by lowest slaves.
It was necessary because people wore sandals did most of their travel by foot. They walked along trails that we not only dusty, or muddy when wet but also cluttered with camel and donkey dung!
I’m sure that guests arrived with more than dust on their feet. It was a common courtesy for the host to have his slave wash the guest’s feet as they entered the house.
Jesus had sent Peter & John to prepare for their meal together. The food had been cooked. The table had been set. And I’m sure the disciples thought this matter would be taken care of as well. It wasn’t!
As Jesus and the disciples enter the room they see towel & water basin in the corner. They do not see a slave to wash their feet. Perhaps some of them pause as they enter the room, wondering where the servant was—maybe wondering why Peter and John had not taken care of this important detail.
As they recline at the table, each disciple feels a little uncomfortable. They may have thought:
“Somebody ought to at least wash Jesus’ feet. But—if I do that, where will that put me on the social pecking order?
“I would be at the Bottom of the heap. If I volunteer I’ll get stuck with that job from now on.”
“Maybe if I just wait, somebody else will do it.”
If you’ve been in church more than week, you know that kind of thinking does occur at times.
“Somebody needs to take care of the nursery, but that’s not my ministry. Somebody needs to clean those bathrooms, who dropped the ball on that?”
I think maybe each disciple was hoping one of others would volunteer.
Each one may have begun to JUSTIFY in own mind why it was not his job to do it.
“I did it last time, its Matthew’s turn he hasn’t done it in long time.”
“Peter and John were supposed to take care of all this-Jesus told them to. One of those guys ought to take care of it.”
“I came to enjoy a time with the Lord—and now we’ve got this problem”
John is thinking—“Look I’m over here leaning next to Jesus, I’m in spiritual intimacy.
Jesus doesn’t want me to leave and help you.”
Peter is thinking—“Don’t these turkeys know the call of God on my life? Don’t they see the leadership giftings in me? I just wish they would remember that I’m the one who answered Jesus’ question: Who do you say that I am?” I got the revelation—‘You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.’ I’m moving in the Spirit don’t disturb that. Don’t you remember the prophecy Jesus gave me on that occasion? I wish these people would pay attention to what God’s doing in me. If they had, they would be over here right now washing mine and Jesus’ feet.”
We don’t know all the specifics, I’m taking some liberties–but we do know that nobody rose to the occasion.
Rather than begin with a lecture, He gave them an EXAMPLE. Verse one says,
Before the Passover celebration, Jesus knew that his hour had come to leave this world and return to his Father. He now showed the disciples the full extent of his love. (vs. 1)
Historically Christians have displayed a number of different kinds of symbols to mark their identity as believers. Such emblems as neck chains with crosses have been used for hundreds of years. In recent years we use bumper stickers, posters, tee shirts, key chains, decorated bibles, jackets, hats and you name it, it has probably been marketed and sold. I don’t have any problem with these items per say. Whether you wear a button or display a fish on your car is of no consequence. More important and more definitive than all the pins, stickers is the sign of a true follower of Christ: ONE WHO SERVES.
In the next post we will examine how we can serve like Jesus.