Holy Week, Part 4: Thursday

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John 13:1-17

Today is Thursday.

Jesus and His disciples gather to celebrate the Passover, but Jesus is about to change the meal forever.  He is to be the true Pascal Lamb, and tonight He will pledge to offer His body and shed His blood for the salvation and deliverance of His people.  Henceforth this meal will celebrate a new covenant—a covenant fulfilled and marked by the works and sacrifice of Christ Himself.  But first, Jesus will prepare His followers with a very unbecoming act.

As a prelude to the cross, the Prince of glory kneels down at His disciple’s feet to perform the requirements of a common household servant.  Culturally this was wholly unacceptable.  It’s not the dirt, grime, and filth of the task as much as the position.

This is the Lord as a slave.  This is God serving people.

Not surprisingly, Peter refused to accept the service of Christ.  “How dare you Lord?  I should be washing your feet!”  That sounds virtuous, even noble.  But you know who would become the hero that story?  Peter.

Of course Peter couldn’t articulate it, but that’s what is going on.  He’s proud.  He wants to be the man. Hidden behind his well-meaning protest is a deep seeded self-sufficiency.  Peter thinks He doesn’t need anyone to serve Him; in fact He thinks Jesus needs his service.  That’s a lie.  Peter desperately needs Jesus, and Jesus needs nobody.

Jesus says to Him, “It has to be this way.  In fact, I won’t do it any other way.”  Then at the prospect of loosing the Savior He loves, Peter responds, “Then not just my feet, Lord, but my hands and my head as well!”  (Don’t you just love the extremes of Peter)

Jesus will have no part of you if you won’t let Him do the work.

Every other religion demands your service to God.  The image of God washing the feet of His people would be unthinkable, even blasphemous.  We serve God, they would say, not the other way around!  But in this way, every other religion exalts the strong (by their ability to perform) and humbles the weak (by their inability to perform).

The Bible proclaims a kingdom where that paradigm is flipped—the proud are humbled and the lowly are exalted.  How does that happen?  Jesus comes to serve.

To the proud, the service of Jesus says, “You aren’t as great as you think.  In fact, you are in such desperate need that God has come to serve you.”

To the lowly, the service of Jesus says, “You aren’t as worthless as you think.  In fact, you are so loved that God has come to serve you.”

This foot washing ceremony was an important moment for the disciples.  If they couldn’t accept Jesus on His knees, then they certainly wouldn’t accept Jesus on the cross.  Jesus is preparing His disciples for His ultimate act of service, “The Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.”

Are you able to admit utter dependency and repent of all self-sufficiency?  Are you able to be served by Jesus?  If not, you can have no part of Him.

He doesn’t need you.  You need Him.  And it will be that way forever.