Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Devotional Thought– A King Who Serves

Michelle Mercer (Major)

Scripture Reading– John 13:1-17

Lest we think Jesus is a victim in the dark drama unfolding and intensifying this week, the Gospel writers give us these little snippets that show Jesus orchestrating and embracing every dark twist and turn in Passion Week. Why? “Because the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 28:20; Mark 10:35) As we’ve been following through Mark’s gospel during Lent, we have seen a growing revelation of Jesus as King but as a King who is different from any other. A King who serves.

On the day before his death, Jesus asks his disciples to prepare for the Passover. Luke tells us that He instructs them to go onto a busy Jerusalem, find a specific man and follow him home. They are to tell him that “their Teacher” requires the guest room to celebrate the Passover with his disciples and it all unfolds just as Jesus had planned. At Jesus’ invitation, the disciples join him to celebrate the Passover in a borrowed room. (Luke 22:7-13)

It was common practice in the first century for a host to arrange for the washing of the feet of his or her guests. Dusty roads… we usually think. But remember that there isn’t a sanitation system in place; every kind of contaminated water is tossed outside the homes lining the dusty streets. Foot washing is an absolute necessity but who would want to do it? No one! So, the most menial of tasks was assigned to the servant who was lowest on the rung.

Jesus and his disciples have borrowed a room to hold the Passover meal and, as such, they do not have a servant.

John says: “Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 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 13:4-5)

In His strength Jesus kneels to serve, reflecting not a temporary mood of His own, but the very character of the Father from whom He had come and to whom He would return. Jesus chooses to serve, having carefully awaited the right moment for demonstrating that love motivates His service, and that His service entails His death. A King who serves!

 Jesus washes His disciples’ feet in order to symbolize the washing of redemption soon to be available through His death and resurrection. The foot washing also signifies the continual cleansing needed during the believer’s spiritual journey.

Having washed each of the disciple’s feet, Jesus takes up his outer garment again and returns to his place at the table. He does not want them to miss or misunderstand the significance of what he has done, so he says:

“Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 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 13:14-17)

“To do as I have done” will take the disciples, and us, down unpredictable pathways where no water or towel will be in sight. Foot washing is no longer a social necessity, but there are so many other paths of humility and service that Jesus calls us to. There are opportunities for service that few of us want to embrace, there are tasks that we prefer to leave to someone else. The attitude of pride, resistance to take up so called menial tasks, the desire to be recognized for what we do still fights to nest in my heart and perhaps in yours as well.

Jesus, Our King who serves, teaches us today to follow his example and embrace the basin and the towel- the path of servanthood.

In our current situation, a part of our service is to pray for those who serve in our city: all those who secure and facilitate our food chain, our public health teams and healthcare workers, leaders who carry heavy responsibilities, shelter and residential facility workers, retirement and long term care facility workers. May God give each of them strength and protection for today’s tasks.

A Song for Reflection- The Basin and the Towel
Commissioner Edward Read
Tune: Brantwood

The basin and the towel
And Jesus on His knees,
What graciousness is here,
What holy mysteries!
How needs of mine assail me when
I watch the Master and His men.

Such love He bore his own,
All selfless to the end,
To take the servant’s part,
On dusty knee to bend,
And girded with humility
He kneels to minister to me.

His lowliness is might,
His meekness majesty,
His holy hands can touch
A traitor lovingly!
Let pride be broken when it sees
That kingly love upon its knees.

The basin brims with grace
As Jesus comes again.
He holds the towel to me
To serve men in His name
To share in Christly ministries
I can but fall upon my knees.