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John 13:13

Posted 01/18/22, by Dan Vis

Yesterday I mentioned that the disciple's struggled with adopting a mindset of servanthood--all through their time with Jesus. He discussed the principle repeatedly, but they were slow to internalize it.

Even down to the very eve of His arrest, trial, and crucifixion, they were still, what shall we say, unconvinced?

That led to one of the most dramatic scenes recorded in the Gospel--Jesus washing their feet in preparation for the last supper. Immediately after He asked this important question: "know ye what I have done to you?" (John 13:12So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you?). And then these words:

John 13:13
Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am.

They had part of the Christian equation clear in their minds. They recognized that Jesus was the Christ, the Messiah. They recognized His divine power and authority. They truly believed. What they failed to recognize was what that meant in terms of how to live their lives.

"If I then, your Lord and Master", Jesus continued, if I "have washed your feet, ye also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you" (Matthew 13:14-1514 And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: 15 For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.). Christianity is not just recognizing who Jesus really was, but also committing to the kind of life Jesus modeled and advocated. A life of service. A life that followed His specific example.

The footwashing incident is not only, and perhaps not even primarily about Jesus implementing a new ordinance to precede the bread and juice in the communion service--as true as that might be. Rather it was an illustration of how to live our entire lives. The unwillingness of every single disciple to humble themselves and take on that duty only revealed how pervasive the world's paradigm really is. And how vital it is to break that mindset of putting self first. This issue goes right to the heart of our sin nature.

Two disciples in particular wrestled with this action by Jesus. Peter objected, seeing it as something too far below Jesus. "Dost thou wash my feet?" (John 13:6Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet?). Jesus responded: "What I do thou knowest not now" (John 13:7Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter.). You just don't get it yet, Peter. But fortunately, he would eventually repent and learn the lesson. "But thou shalt know hereafter".

The other disciple was Judas. He was offended for entirely different reasons--and saw this act as disqualifying for Jesus. That it was wholly demeaning. Unacceptable. Worthy of repudiation. And it proved the final straw in his mind. He "went immediately out" into the darkness, to go betray Jesus (John 13:30He then having received the sop went immediately out: and it was night.).

That question lies at the heart of true Christianity. How do we view the call of Jesus to reject selfishness for selflessness? There's no middle ground. And how we respond to that call says much about the condition of our soul.

The footwashing service can degenerate into a ritual like anything else. But it should be a reminder of how we are to live our entire life. Servanthood needs to be brought into our moment by moment thinking.

Christianity is to be a life of service. We call Jesus Master and Lord. We should follow the example He quite deliberately and intentionally left us.

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Posted by Dan Vis on 01/18/22
Nice post Kathryn. You are right that it is only by staying connected with Him that we can cultivate the kind of servant's heart Jesus had. So important!
Posted by Kathryn D. Search on 01/18/22
I think it helps to constantly remember it is through Him we live and move and have our being. it is not a matter of doing things our way sometimes. It is important to remember we are completely dependant on Him continually. For righteous thoughts, words, and deeds. Does this make us robots? No, we learn to love to do His will, because we discover that His will is always for our best good and our ultimate happiness. When we really learn this, He can do wonderous things in and through us for others, because we will have his compassion for others.


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