I think it’s interesting how the Bible talks about itself. In Hebrews, is says:
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
This tells me the Bible can not only be read but experienced. Potentially a pretty intense experience based on the words used in this above verse. I’m ok with intense, though. I don’t want to end up at the end of my life unchanged; still full of apathy, judgement, and pride. In my relationship with Jesus, I want to be changed. My most frequent prayer is “do something deep in me, Jesus.”
Well, he’s faithfully (and slightly painfully) answering my prayer. Here’s another little glimpse of My Journey Through the Gospels…
Let’s jump right into this one and set the stage for what’s going on in John 13: 1-17-
Before the Passover celebration, Jesus knew that his hour had come to leave this world and return to his Father. He had loved his disciples during his ministry on earth, and now he loved them to the very end. It was time for supper, and the devil had already prompted Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus.
So, Jesus knew his time on earth was coming to an end. He loved his disciples a lot. It was time for supper. And one of Jesus’ friends was going to stab him in the back any time now.
The next part is what hit me…
Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God.
Three things stand out to me here:
- Jesus knew what he was supposed to do, what he came for, what his “calling” was, and who gave it to him – “Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority over everything”
- He knew where he came from – “…and that he had come from God…”
- And he knew where he was going – “…and would return to God.”
Jesus was completely confident in himself because he knew who his Father was, knew he had come from him, knew who he was out of his relationship with the Father, had a firm grip on why he was sent to earth, and ultimately knew where he would end up.
Jesus didn’t have any identity issues. His identity was solid. The Father gave him free will and he could have backed out of his calling any minute but he didn’t. He could have been the most prideful guy on earth. In fact, Satan tempted him to be that way [Matthew 4:1-11], just as we’re tempted to be that way sometimes. The difference is, Jesus didn’t give in to the lure for one second.
Instead, he set an example for us…
The next word in the verse is:
Sooo, what? What did he do?
So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him.
What he did was serve. Jesus served. This just wrecks me. Out of his solid identity, he chose to serve. He was God but “he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead he gave up his divine privileges, took the humble position of a slave…humbled himself in obedience to God…”[(Philippians 2:6]. He gave up all his rights, obeyed his Father and just served.
Guess who speaks up while Jesus was washing feet?
Yup, you guessed right: Pete.
When Jesus came to Simon Peter, Peter said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”
Jesus replied, “You don’t understand now what I am doing, but someday you will.”
“No,” Peter protested, “you will never ever wash my feet!”
Jesus replied, “Unless I wash you, you won’t belong to me.”
Simon Peter exclaimed, “Then wash my hands and head as well, Lord, not just my feet!”
Leave it to Peter. But gosh, I love his intensity. A few verses later, we see Jesus explaining why he did what he did:
After washing their feet, he put on his robe again and sat down and asked, “Do you understand what I was doing? You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and you are right, because that’s what I am. And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you. I tell you the truth, slaves are not greater than their master. Nor is the messenger more important than the one who sends the message. Now that you know these things, God will bless you for doing them.
“I have given you an example to follow.
Do as I have done to you.”
Imagine: What Jesus wants from us is for us to know who we are, whose we are, where we came from, what we’re called to do, and confident about where we’re going. And what we’re supposed to do out of all that, out of a solid identity in Him, is serve.
Jesus just wants me to serve.
Serve when no one’s looking, serve when its inconvenient, serve without a title, serve when it’s a little dirty, serve when its unexpected.
And what stops me from doing these things, sometimes? I think it comes down to pride: I want to be seen. I want to be thought of as important. I want to be acknowledged and darn right, I better be thanked.
OUCH, is all I can say. This all hits so close to home.
My favorite book is “anonymous” by Alicia Chole. Do yourself a favor and buy it here. I have read it twice now and while I was devouring it for the second time my husband sarcastically said, “Why don’t you just underline the whole book?” (It’s really that good, folks.)
At the end, Chole adds a story about a little boy. This story has helped me put into perspective the kind of heart attitude I want to have in all I do:
Whenever I am disappointed with my spot in life, I stop and think about the little boy who was trying out for a part in a school play. His mother told me that he’d set his heart on being in it, though she feared he would not be chosen. On the day the parts were awarded, I went with her to collect him after school. The boy rushed up to her, eyes shining with pride and excitement. “Guess what, Mom,” he shouted, and then said those words that will remain a lesson to me: “I’ve been chosen to clap and cheer.”
Am I ok to just “clap and cheer”? Never leading anything? Would I be ok with never having a say? Ok just simply supporting other leaders? Am I ok to always work behind the scenes, never being “seen”?
Oh God, let me have a heart that is ok to be, even happy to be, chosen as the one to “clap and cheer.” May I clap and cheer with all my might. May I do what I’m called to do whole heartedly. May I serve with the right heart and good attitude. May I follow Jesus’ example.
May I heed these words:
“Do as I have done“
May I let my pride fall and simply serve.