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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.

Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. Romans 13:10

It’s the difference between religion and relationship. It’s the difference between peaceful living and stress. It’s the difference between holiness and sinfulness. It’s the difference between abuse and encouragement. It’s the difference between prison and freedom. It’s the difference between fear and courage. It’s the difference between defeat and confidence. It’s love.

Love excites us, brings peace into our lives, cures us of the addiction to sin, encourages us, frees us to be ourselves, gives us courage to survive attack and confidence to use the gifts we have to better the world around us.

In the Old Testament God gave his people all sorts of rules and regulations to show them how to live lives free of all the bad stuff life throws our way. Never forget, when He created Adam and Eve in the garden, He never intended that they be separated from Him. Their sin in the garden destroyed everything. God created us in His image to enjoy life, to enjoy love, to enjoy each other.

The Bible says Adam and Eve were naked and unashamed. That wasn’t just physical nakedness; it was emotional and spiritual nakedness as well. The underlying power of their lives was love, the love of the creator-God to them and their love for Him in return.

Then ‘sin’ got in the way. Sin is really just another way of saying ‘getting what I want in my way’. When sin entered, our relationship with God, ourselves and others was forever changed. There was only one thing that could rescue us from the emptiness and pain of life: LOVE.

True love, Godly love never ever hurts. Period. There are so many things that get in our way, that keep love from showing itself. People get in the way by abusing us for their own selfish purposes. Our past keeps us from enjoying the forgiveness that only Jesus offers. Religion keeps us from enjoying the freedom of enjoying all that God has given us. None of these things are powered by love.

Jesus didn’t come into the world to condemn us or to accuse us or to remind us of all our faults. That job is reserved for religion. Jesus came to love us, just as we are, where we are, regardless of our propensity to rebel against Him.

Don’t try to truly love your neighbor or your enemy until you have learned how to love God and yourself. It won’t happen. Only when we are completely enveloped by a love for God and ourselves will love flow to those around us. When that happens, when we learn to love God and ourselves, love for the other people in our lives, even those who hate us and hurt us, will be a natural result, not a forced action.

PRAYER: Father. I thank you today for your unconditional, unending and undeserved love. I confess to you that the love I’ve learned in life hasn’t been all that great. It’s brought pain, shame, guilt and remorse. I need to learn to love you and myself so I can be free to love others. I’ve hurt so many people in my life and now I resolve to love them your way through the power of your Holy Spirit. Amen.

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