Thursday, June 24, 2010

Jesus showed us the meaning of humility.

1It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love.
2The evening meal was being served, and the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, to betray Jesus. 3Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples' feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
6He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, "Lord, are you going to wash my feet?"
7Jesus replied, "You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand."
8"No," said Peter, "you shall never wash my feet."
Jesus answered, "Unless I wash you, you have no part with me."
9"Then, Lord," Simon Peter replied, "not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!"
10Jesus answered, "A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you." 11For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.
12When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. "Do you understand what I have done for you?" he asked them. 13"You call me 'Teacher' and 'Lord,' and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet. 15I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

Why did Jesus' wash the disciples feet? It was a great act of humility. What we truly see is that this really was a great act of humility. This was completely unusual for someone to wash another's feet. It would be the work of a slave or something you did yourself. By Jesus washing the feet of his disciples, we see a great act of humility and selflessness. Was Jesus leaving the example of performing an outer act of foot washing or was Jesus leaving the example of a godly characteristic of service and humility? It was not a ritual outward act that God is looking for, it is what the outward act communicates!
In the thirteenth chapter of his gospel, the apostle John records a ceremony that Christ performed and instituted on the very last night of his life. It may at first seem strange that the other three gospel writers did not address this act at all in their biographies of Jesus' life and ministry, but upon closer examination, it makes perfect sense why God chose John to record it. The foot washing ceremony is at its root an act of love, and who better to describe it than "the disciple whom Jesus loved"
So why are we not washing feet? Because foot washing is not necessary like it was then and because it would not have any meaning for us like Jesus was showing to his disciples. But let us not cast this away as cultural and so we can ignore this passage. This still has meaning for us. We must perform acts of service for one another. But not simply acts of service. We must do things that we think are beneath us for people who we believe are below us. That is the great example that still applies to us today. We must do things that we would say to ourselves that this is humiliating or that is something we would never do for someone else. Nothing is to be beneath us in our service for others. Jesus showed humility and became a servant. There is nothing culturally obsolete about that. We must do the same thing today.
There is even a deeper level of meaning from this Scripture passage. What happens immediately after this? Judas goes out to betray Jesus. Therefore, Jesus served the very person who would betray him. The lesson moves even deeper. Jesus is asking what we will be: self-serving like Judas or serving others like Jesus? We serve ourselves when we are unwilling to bring ourselves to do anything for others. We are self-serving when we are unwilling to serve our enemies. These are the deep lessons of this passage from John's Gospel.
The foot washing ceremony, allows us a window into the character of Jesus. When we apply the lessons of this unique and instructive ritual in our lives, it gives us a better understanding of why some people struggle to find happiness yet never fully achieve it, and why others are brimful and running over with joy. True happiness is not in what we do for ourselves, but in what we do for others.

Peace and love,


"Then Jesus said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me". (Luke 9:23)

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