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Severian of Gabala (around 400 AD) expressed awe at the love of God, that was displayed by Jesus. As we read his words, let’ remember that to see Jesus in action is also to see God.
“He who wraps the heavens in clouds, wraps around himself a towel.
He who pours the water into the rivers and pools, tipped water into a basin.
And he before whom every knee bends in heaven and on the earth and under the the earth, knelt to wash the feet of his disciples.”
John 13.1-5 – Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.
2 The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon Iscariot to betray him. And during supper 3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, 4 got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. 5 Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him.
Jesus was perfectly aware of who he was and he was clear about why he was on the earth. He, also, wanted his followers of all the ages to know who we are as his followers and why we are on the earth. Consider who Jesus is today. Also, consider who Jesus says we are.
Who is Jesus? He is the Son of God, who has come from the Father. He knew he would shortly be returning to the Father.
Who are we? We are people whom Jesus loved completely and finally to the uttermost. God has no greater way to express his love to us than through what happened on the cross.
Why was Jesus on the earth? He brought a completely new understanding of God to the world. Can you imagine any of the gods of other world religions taking off their robe in the middle of a meal, kneeling down in the posture of a slave, and washing the feet of their followers?
Why was Jesus on the earth? Jesus came to connect people like us with himself and the Father? Foot-washing is a dramatization of the cross event. It is a preview of Jesus’ cleansing death. His death cleanses us from sin by forgiving the guilt of our sins. His amazing love conquers our rebellion and draws us into a friendship-relationship with him.
Why are we on the earth? We are NOT on earth to follow the actions of Judas. On one hand, God was present at the meal with Jesus’ disciples to demonstrate his love for people through the foot-washing experience.
On the other hand, the devil was present through Judas. The devil’s activity primarily operates through people. When we live out of self-will, pride, self-pleasing, our own best thing, and such, we become open to the influence of the devil and demons. Judas lived in close proximity to Jesus for three years, but was able to be deceived by and used by Satan. This should be a warning against living a sloppy Christian life.
Why are we on the earth? We will see more of our place in the Father’s plan as Jesus explains the foot-washing to us. This will be the subject of tomorrow’s article.
Let yourselves be loved by the Lord.
Sometimes people continue to “beat themselves up” over past sins. I tell them, that it is their pride that is doing the talking in their head. I say to them, you’re probably thinking, “How could I have ever done such a thing? I’m better than that.” I say, “The truth is, no you are not. You are exactly what you did.”
By the way, I learned this perspective by looking more closely into my own life.
The next scene in the foot-washing of the disciples shows us an amazing aspect of God. He loves us and is willing to be a servant to us. What a great God, he is! If Jesus wants to serve us and love us, we are the losers if our pride keeps us from accepting his grace.
John 13.6-11 – He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”
7 Jesus answered, “You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”
8 Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.”
Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.”
9 Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!”
10 Jesus said to him, “One who has bathed does not need to wash, except for the feet, but is entirely clean. And you are clean, though not all of you.”
11 For he knew who was to betray him; for this reason he said, “Not all of you are clean.”
Let’s return to the questions we considered earlier in this article.
Who is Jesus? He is our Lord, but he is willing to also be our servant. He has a solution for our sin problem. It is pictured in washing our feet and fully realized on the cross.
Who are we on the earth? We do NOT want to be like Peter, was too proud to be humble. Some of our ways of being humble can actually be deep arrogance in disguise. We need to take a spiritual inventory of our lives on a regular basis. Some of the ways we think about ourselves may not be true.
Who are we on the earth? We are people who trust Jesus with our life, both in the here-and-now and beyond. We are willing to accept Jesus’ statement about our life. “You are entirely clean” (verse 10). Entirely means just that, entirely!
Who are we on the earth? We are people who live in a friendship-relationship with Jesus and begin to live like him. We become more humble and more willing to serve.
Let’s take an inventory. Is there any way that we may end up behaving like Judas or Peter in this story? If so, we definitely need to change our attitude and behavior.
Let’s focus on the amazing humility and love of Jesus. You may want to re-read the thoughts of Severian of Gabala at the top of the article.
Please consider that Jesus came to show us the Father (John 1.18). Jesus lets us know that there is nothing in all of the world that God can do to show his love for you than what he has already done.
In prayer, receive Jesus’ gift of service to you today. Receive his forgiveness. Repeat these words out loud, “I am entirely clean” (see verse 10).
Dear Jesus, we worship you when we consider your great love.
You wrap the heavens in clouds, and you wrapped around yourself a towel.
You pour the water into the rivers and pools, and tipped water into a basin.
One day every knee will bend in heaven and on the earth and under the the earth in your praise, but you knelt to wash the feet of ordinary people.
We praise you today and we receive you amazing gift of love and service to us.