Posted on Wed, Apr 19, 2017
“Show Us How to Serve”
April 13, 2017
Gospel Text: John 13:1-17, 31-35 “Show Us How to Serve”
Jesus Washes the Disciples’ Feet
Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. 2 The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon Iscariot to betray him. And during supper 3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, 4 got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. 5 Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him. 6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, ‘Lord, are you going to wash my feet?’ 7 Jesus answered, ‘You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.’ 8 Peter said to him, ‘You will never wash my feet.’ Jesus answered, ‘Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.’ 9 Simon Peter said to him, ‘Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!’ 10 Jesus said to him, ‘One who has bathed does not need to wash, except for the feet, but is entirely clean. And you are clean, though not all of you.’ 11 For he knew who was to betray him; for this reason he said, ‘Not all of you are clean.’
12 After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, ‘Do you know what I have done to you? 13 You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is what I am. 14 So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. 16 Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them. 17 If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.
The New Commandment
31 When he had gone out, Jesus said, ‘Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. 32 If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. 33 Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, “Where I am going, you cannot come.” 34 I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.’
The name "Maundy Thursday" is derived from the Latin word mandatum meaning "commandment."
As I went to sleep last night, I was thinking about Jesus’ Great Commandment, Jesus’ great Mandatum for His disciples, and now for us the church: “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
I felt very peaceful about our call to love, but more importantly, I was at peace because before Jesus gives us the commandment to love, Jesus loves us, and physically takes the form of a servant to demonstrate radical, inappropriate and totally outside of social norms kind of love.
But when I woke up, my iPhone lights up with news about more stories about human beings bombing more human beings. In my prayers all I kept thinking was how important Jesus’ commandment was, and I just repeated, “Lord in your mercy, hear our prayers.”
The primary commandment of Jesus' message is found in the story of the Last Supper when Jesus humbles himself to wash the feet of his apostles prior to the traditional Passover meal. He then commands them to "Love one another as I have loved you." He commands his disciples to serve, and then he shows them how.
But the service tonight is made to allow us to act and move our bodies and open our mouths much like the people depicted in the story. We don’t sit back and take everything passively. We need to first allow our imagination to picture what the Gospels are trying to portray.
We also need to read our bodies and see if we begin to feel uncomfortable if we were like one of the disciples, and Jesus came before us and said, “I MUST wash your feet if you are to understand the Kingdom of God.” The point is that the story causes us to react, squirm and feel things, SO THAT WE HAVE TO RESPOND, when the time is right.
Jesus’ ministry wasn’t just about teaching, in order for Jesus to proclaim the Goodness of God, and express the mercy and justice of God, Jesus touched people, He fed people, and in today’s text, he became a servant before his disciples to help them understand that if they are to be a disciple of Jesus, they will need to humble themselves to the level of a servant or slave in order to make Gods’ mercy and justice known in this world.
When Jesus prepares the bowl used to wash feet and remove his outer garment, you can bet the disciples began to squirm! Their master was doing something only a common servant or slave would do!
When a guest would come to the house the guest would enter the home, sit in the chair in the entranceway, and the servant, WITHOUT MAKING EYE CONTACT with the guest, would wash the guests stinky dusty feet. Making eye contact is a human act that will establish some kind of relationship; a slave was more like an expensive vacuum cleaner or blender, but never someone would treat on an equal level let alone recognize someone you would like to have any kind of human-like relationship. The slave may also apply some olive oil mixed with some fragrance; all the while the guest and master would be talking as if the slave or servant didn’t even exist…
There is no dignity offered to the servant, this is just expected from them, and if they embarrassed the master in any way, there could be a flogging or some other kind punishment.
The disciples knew what was expected from a servant as Jesus prepared to wash their feet. They were uncomfortable!
But within the next few days, Jesus would accomplish what he was born to do, give his life so that we may live; and this message is what the disciples were all called to proclaim in word and deed as soon as Jesus sends the Holy Spirit and they are empowered to serve as Christ served.
When Jesus began to act and work as a servant, the disciples became uncomfortable. Sometimes, when we are called to serve as Christ served us, it may make you uncomfortable. Most of the ministry I do everyday, were things we were never ‘trained for in seminary.’ People don’t have emergencies at convenient times. Sometimes it is only the pastor or minister present that is called upon to share a word, a prayer, or do something WAY OUTSIDE their comfort zone. We may be called to:
But service on behalf of the needy is essential in order for us to show our faith as Christians, and make God’s Light of Truth and Mercy known in the world. When we respond to a need, even if we are called to do something we aren’t comfortable with, is like exercising your faith! You don't grow strong if you don’t push yourself. Without tempting God, but going out and doing something because you feel called and your heart can recognize the need can help you see God working through you. You the phrase, “God, make me a vessel of your love.” In order to be a ‘vessel’ you first have to say yes to allow God to work through you.
And as a good Lutheran, I must bring up the point that we do not serve or do good in order to get to heaven! We serve because Christ has first served us. Therefore all of our giving and service is an act of gratitude for what God has first done for us. This should be the first thought of the day when we wake up, “Thank you God for protecting me through the night, and giving me another day to be your servant, your child.”
And lastly, and it is so true, as forgiven and redeemed Children of God, we are blessed when we serve. We are truly blessed to be a blessing. And we will experience joy when, after we have been strengthened and refocused through worship. If you have eyes to see and ears to hear, you won’t have long, the world is full people and situations that are screaming for someone to be the Light, Hope, Truth, Mercy, Hope, Joy and Love of Christ. It might as well be you, don’t let your pastor have all the fun!
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