It is so easy to say and really not a problem to talk about. The action part is the challenge. On this Maundy Thursday of Holy Week, Jesus teaches a lesson. This lesson is one of humility and servanthood. They had watched Jesus put this teaching into practice for years. They understood the concept. But now, Jesus would give them the actual teaching. He would show them this would be the way. This is the direction they were to take as he prepares for his death. This is one he did not want them to miss.
I’m grateful Jesus didn’t just teach but actually lived it out in very practical ways. I cannot imagine the look on the disciples faces as he takes off his outer robe and puts the towel around his waist. Jesus is known for doing things very differently. But this had to be one of the most confounding times for the disciples. Jesus is taking on one of the most menial tasks. He washes feet. He takes the tired, dirty, crusty feet of the disciples into his own hands and pours out his love. His love had to echo throughout the entire house even louder than the water hitting the bottom of the pan. Peter was so confused he initially couldn’t allow Jesus to do it. This was way beneath his leader and his friend. Jesus explains otherwise. Peter plops down right in front of Jesus eager to take it all in – always a little over the top in his response. Jesus washes feet. Hear that for a moment – Jesus washes feet. I wonder what things we think are beneath us?
In this important action, Jesus gives them a new commandment. It doesn’t seem all that new to us, we have read it in the Bible multiple times. I can’t imagine it would be all that new to them initially. Love one another seems to be the whole way of God. So what was so new about these old words? I hear two distinctions – love one another as I have loved you; all will know you by your love. Jesus has just given a powerful lesson through the washing of feet and now they hear – love one another as I have loved you. They are to serve through love. They are to become more like Jesus in their love. Their love for others will become so tangible others will understand they belong to Jesus. It is their love which will define them as followers of Christ.
I wonder what would define us today? Do we define ourselves by the church we attend, by the doctrine we believe, by the tithes we give, by the times we pray? Or are we defined as followers of Christ by our love for one another?
Jesus wants us to love like him. May it be so.
33 Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.’ 34 I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Photos included in Devotions are captured by David Cain – The Cain Gallery. Photos are available for sale by contacting The Cain Gallery