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For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves. Luke 22:27

When natural disasters strike we are drawn to the people who give of themselves to help the victims. Movie stars, athletes and other celebrities are held in high esteem for the sacrificial work they have done to help humanity. Those who don’t have much money, but have a passion for a particular cause will join together for marches and walks and vigils to bring attention to the victims of disease or some other calamity in hopes that their cause will be noticed by those who can help in even the smallest way.

I’m in no way minimizing the efforts of these people. They are to be applauded for their work. Some have given their own lives so that others can live and that is a noble gesture indeed. However, the one factor in all these efforts that has to happen for them to be effective is that success comes from gaining public awareness. As good of intentions as these heroes of society have, their work would not be as effective if no one notices. In fact, celebrities are sought out to sponsor a cause for that very reason.

That’s what makes Jesus’ teaching even more astounding. In the hot, dusty streets and paths of Israel, no one was less recognized than the servant who washed people’s feet. It was the dirtiest and lowest job anyone could have. The servant delegated to foot-washing was noticed more if he/she wasn’t there than for the job they did. Never a thank-you. No tips. No appreciation or recognition of any kind. If you were a foot-washer it was unlikely that anyone at Wal-Mart would stop you in the aisle and say, “Remember me? You washed my feet last week. Thank you so much!” That wasn’t going to happen. Ever. Period.

Jesus used the example of washing feet for basic reasons. First of all, he did that to show me how important I am to him. That person with the towel around his waist, kneeling before me on a hot, dusty day, to wash my smelly, calloused, crusty feet was the creator of the universe! He was the one that hung the stars in place. He was the one that created the wonder we call conception and birth. He was the one who formed the massive mountains and the fruitful plain and filled the massive ocean. Then he turned around and place hundreds of thousands of life forms in them. Yet there he was washing my feet. To the King of Kings and Lord of Lords I am held in higher esteem than he holds himself.

A second reason Jesus kneels before me is to show me how to treat others. True heroes do the little things that make others, who deserve it the least, feel like kings! As you go through the journey of life, you may come in contact with hundreds of people who largely go unnoticed for the things they do. The clerk at the gas station. The barista at Starbucks. The greeter at Wal-Mart. The list goes on and on.

So ask yourself this question. At the end of the day, have the people you come in contact with left your presence feeling like a king or a servant?

PRAYER: Dear Jesus. The visual of you kneeling before me to wash my feet is humbling. The fact that you would think so much of me that you lowered yourself to that leaves me without words. I ask that you would empower me with your Holy Spirit to see the unnoticed in my daily walk. Help me leave them feeling like kings, just as you see me. In your name I pray, Amen.

 


After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. John 13:5

So, imagine, just for a moment, that you are one of Jesus’ disciples. It’s been a long day walking along the hot and dusty road through the wilderness. You are hot and tired. Even the thoughts of the people Jesus healed in the last town aren’t lifting your spirits. All you can think of is laying down to eat and giving your hot sore feet a rest.

As you enter the room where the meal is to be served you breathe a sigh of relief. The room is ready. The clay walls have kept the room cool. A welcome relief from the blazing sun outside. You scan the room briefly. Table is ready. Bread is out. Fresh wine is already poured. Foot washing bowl is in the corner complete with towel and ….wait. Where is the foot-washing servant?

You shake your head. Judas and his penny-pinching. How hard would it have been to get a servant to wash your feet? The coolness of the room is replaced by the heat of anger rising inside you. It doesn’t take that much to plan.

You look around once more. Nope. No servant. Most of the others probably think your face is red from being outside. It isn’t. It’s red with anger as you make your way to your spot. Hopefully you’ll get a place near Jesus so that if an opportune time comes you can tell him what you think of the lack of a servant.

John reclines beside you. Great! Everyone knows that he has the smelliest feet of the group and now there’s no one to wash them. Can this day get any worse? Your thoughts are interrupted by the sloshing sound of water. A momentary sense of relief comes as you turn towards the sound. The momentary relief is replaced by shock as you look down and see Jesus at your feet. Towel wrapped around his waist, his hands gently washing the hot dust from your feet. It feels so incredibly good on one hand, and seems so incredibly wrong on the other. He’s the Rabbi! He has no place stooping so low as to wash our feet.

What was that he was saying? No servant is greater than his master? Of course not. A servant is a servant. Then it hits you. We are all servants. John with his stinking feet is no better or worse than you are. Judas with his penny-pinching, shady ways is on the same level as you too. And Peter, with his arrogant, speak-now-think-later ways? No worse than the attitude you are embracing in your heart.

It’s the same Jesus today as in the upper room. He is still willing to kneel down to your level. He’s still willing to touch you in the areas that are most in need of his touch, no matter how dirty, no matter how rotten those areas are.

His love is like soothing cool water on hot, painful feet. His touch softens the hardest calluses of your soul. Jesus thinks nothing of stooping to the lowest level to lift you up. Let him wash your feet today. Feel the soothing, healing relief of his love and forgiveness. Then reach out to those who need to feel that touch as well.

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, thank you for the lesson of the feet washing. I confess that there are too many times I’ve thought myself to important or too busy to reach out to others who need to feel your touch. Refresh me with the soothing touch of your love and forgiveness. Empower me to share your love and forgiveness with those around me. In your name I pray, Amen.


I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them. John 13:15-17

Imagine I gave you a gift and told you it was a jig-saw puzzle and I wanted you to put it together. You unwrap the gift and find nothing but a plain brown box. Inside are several hundred (by your guess anyway) small pieces of weirdly shaped puzzle pieces. No doubt your first question would be, ‘Where’s the picture?’ My response would be, ‘Oh, there’s no picture. Just work at it awhile. It will come to you.’

I’d then go on to tell you that I have no idea how many pieces are in the puzzle or what the picture will be when you get finished. BUT, you must do the puzzle and each piece must fit exactly right or it won’t work.

Even if you were a master puzzle assembler, the task would be immense and frustrating. Most of us have a hard time putting together puzzles even if we have the picture and I would guess a fairly large number of puzzles are never finished do to lost pieces or lost interest.

One day Jesus had just finished washing the feet of His disciples. This was an act of huge humility, especially for a respected teacher such as Jesus. The washing of the feet was the dirtiest and lowest of all jobs during Jesus’ time.

He dried his hands with the towel around His waste and looked at His disciples. All of them with clean feet and, no doubt, confused looks on their faces. None of them that day sensed the significance of the act just performed.

I’d like to make an analogy that may be a bit of a stretch, but bear with me. In a sense Jesus said this to His disciples. “Life is like a jig-saw puzzle with thousands of pieces, each designed to fit perfectly together. I’m the picture on the box. If you look at me and all the things I’ve done with you, the pieces will fit together perfectly. It won’t be an easy task. Life is made up of many little pieces that come together to make a complete picture. I have your picture all completed. The pieces are there. You must find how they fit together. I’ll send my Holy Spirit to help you, but the responsibility is yours to put them together.”

Too many times we look at the big picture and try to get there without putting in place all the little things that make life complete. Too many times we struggle to find pieces that will interlock without looking at the picture that Jesus has for us.

Jesus didn’t give us rules to follow for that would be nothing more than religion and people had enough of religion in His day. He gave principles of living because relationships aren’t built on rules, they are built on principles, on love.

My silly little analogy of life falls short in one way. Remember the gift I gave you? Theoretically, if you tried hard enough and had a mind for puzzles and unlimited time, you could assemble that puzzle. Without Jesus as our example, the pieces of life will never fit together perfectly. Oh, people have tried through out time. They’ve tried science, they’ve tried social awareness, they’ve tried ‘new, improved, people friendly religions’, but all those things are like putting a puzzle together with a hammer. If you hit hard enough the pieces will fit together to form….’something’. Maybe even something that looks half-way acceptable. But nothing can match the picture Jesus has in mind for the puzzle pieces He’s given you. Follow His example in making your live complete.

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, sometimes life is as confusing as a puzzle with no picture. Seems I’ve spent my life trying to make pieces fit together that have no business fitting where I’ve put them. Forgive me for not looking to you. Empower me with your Spirit to see how to put my life together in the way you want. In Your name I pray, Amen.

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