For the next five weeks, City Church's blog will feature a series designed to prepare hearts for the last days of Lent and the glorious narrative of Easter. "Waiting: Five Reflections" will focus our attention on Christ's final hours leading up to, and following, the Crucifixion. Turning to the gospel accounts, we will examine how Jesus chose to center his love, and reveal God's promised hope, through five significant themes: Servanthood, Supplication, Stranding, Separation, and Satisfaction. We encourage you to tune in each week as a different writer will share reflections on these powerful hours in the life of Jesus Christ.
In John 13, Jesus did the most curious thing the moment he "knew the Father had put all things under his power." He assumed the role of a slave, took off his outer clothing, wrapped a towel around his waist, poured water into a basin, washed and dried his disciples' feet, symbolically modeling for us what Paul later wrote - "he did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage... he made himself nothing..." Jesus made himself nothing to make us something by sacrificing everything.
Peter had no idea what to do with this! "Lord, you are going to wash my feet? No, you shall never wash my feet." One of the most genuine responses to Jesus is, "hold on, wait a minute!" And don't forget, Judas hadn't betrayed Jesus yet, so Jesus washed and dried the feet of his betrayer, too. This is scandalous.
Jesus radically reorients what it looks like to have power, and not just some power, but all the power in the world because his kingdom is not of this world. As adopted members of his upside down family this means everything gets radically reimagined for us. For example, Jesus shows his disciples what it means to be great, a question that often occupied their minds. He had already told them, "whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant," but since they were slow to get it, he not only tells them, he shows them. He puts his hands to their feet.
Martin Luther said, "if there is anything in us, it is not our own; it is a gift of God. But if it is a gift of God, then it is entirely a debt one owes to love... and if it is a debt owed to love, then I must serve others with it, not myself... my learning belongs to the unlearned, my wisdom belongs to the foolish, my power to the oppressed, my wealth belongs to the poor, my righteousness to the sinners."
Luther's namesake, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. preached,
Everybody can be great because everybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You don't have to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve. You don't have to know Einstein's theory of relativity to serve. You don't have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love. And you can be that servant.
How do you get this heart full of grace, this soul generated by love? How do you take on this debt owed to love? If you have power, how do you gladly give it all away? You give your heart the one who was filled with all God's power, yet took off his outer clothes, wrapped a towel around his waist, poured water into a basin, to not only wash and dry your feet, but all your sins and tears away.