Today we are considering one of the precious pictures in Christianity … a well known event to those who have experience with church and Bible study.  If you are new to scripture … prepare to be amazed!  It is remarkable in its simplicity … and remarkable in its profundity!

Read John 13: 1 – 17.

Some observations …

First, look again at verse 1.  “Having loved His own who were in the world, He now showed them the full extent of His love.”  Love behaves.  Love does something.  Yes, it is a choice … and, yes, there can be deep emotion.  But love also shows itself … it is not invisible.  And we observe Jesus, Son of God, demonstrating His love by what He does.  It is an action word.  If someone were to ask you, “Whom do you love?”  Which individuals come immediately to mind?  Now … for those dear ones … how do you show it?  What do you do to “demonstrate the full extent of your love?”  That is an important question for those of us who are Christ-disciples.  Are you more concerned about how others demonstrate love toward you than you are about your own demonstrations?  Perhaps there is room for growth in this area for us!  Perhaps, this week, we could each focus more on the giving than on the receiving.  It’s a challenge!  Will you take it? 

Secondly, this encounter is all about humility vs. pride.  We see startling examples from both Jesus and Peter.  Consider Jesus.  He is the central character.  Since this meal could not have been in His home (because He did not have a house of His own on this earth), He was obviously a guest.  It was the responsibility of the host to provide water for foot-washing to remove the dust and dirt of the road from the guests’ feet.  It was a servant’s job.  Don’t miss that … it was a servant’s job.  And we watch the Lord … Messiah … Son of God … Lion of Judah … just do the task because it needed doing … and it allowed Him to “demonstrate His love”.  Where does such humility come from?  Where does the willingness to serve other people come from? 

I suggest to you that it comes directly from knowing who you are.  It comes from being completely secure in your own identity and self.  It comes from being free from the tyranny of self-consciousness.  Jesus KNEW … 1) His position, 2) where He had come from, and 3) where He was going.  (verse 3)  If we are knowledgeable of the same things … we, too, can be free from self-tyranny.  We, too, can be secure enough to demonstrate our love for others.  We, too, can serve other people.  If you are still struggling with doubts about those things, you may want to pursue these passages …

  • my position … read Ephesians 1: 3 – 14
  • where I came from … read Psalm 139: 13 – 16
  • where I am going … read John 14: 1 – 3 (we will get there later this week)

You may need to pray that God will imprint your mind and spirit with these truths.  You may need to say them out loud to yourself every morning.  On the heels of these truths comes genuine humility.  As you more fully realize these truths you become more able and willing to serve others – motivated by love, not by guilt or by needing the praise of people. 

The passage is clear about our Lord’s desire that we follow this example.  We are to be willing, even pleased, to have opportunities to serve other people.  It is a mind-set … and heart condition.  And … it is counter-cultural. 

Several years ago when I was teaching school, we had a particularly difficult 8th grade boy.  He was incredibly smart, intellectually.  But he was difficult – no motivation, no interactions, no involvement – except for trouble-making.  I made a statement at one faculty meeting that I just could not figure out how best to serve him.  One of my friends and colleagues nearly came out of her chair with these words, “I’m not here to SERVE him!”  The whole idea was repulsive and offensive to her.  It was then that I began to realize just how counter-cultural Jesus’ words and examples toward others really are.  But it is clear … there is no “wiggle room” with interpretations.  Jesus said, “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.  I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.”  And so, my friends, we are servants.  And it takes genuine humility.    

In this scene we also observe dear Peter … outgoing, passionate, open Peter.  He is too proud to allow his Lord to perform this humble task for him.  No way!  His pride is so dominant in him right now that he even tells Jesus what He can do and what He will not do!  (verse 6 – 8)  Ever been there?  In your own prayers … have you ever told God exactly what He needs to do and what He must not do?  That’s pride.  I don’t doubt Peter’s intention … it is his wisdom that fails here.  And there is a lesson for me.  I hear the words of James in James 4:10 - “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and HE will lift you up.” 

However, when Jesus reprimands him, Peter jumps in 100%!  We will observe Peter’s continuing battle with pride as we read further in John.  It is such a pertinent, relevant, continuing struggle.  And one that you and I must battle on a daily basis.  Stay in the fight!  It is a battle worth fighting. 

Lord, how we long to be Your servant first … and then be willing to be used by You to serve others in our own circles and world.  Give us eyes to see opportunities.  Give us hearts that desire to follow Your example.  Give us the courage to ‘just do it’!