Today is Thursday of the passion week. It’s called Maundy Thursday in many churches, a phrase derived from the Latin translation of “A new commandment I give you …” This was the night before Jesus’ arrest, trial, and crucifixion, the evening with his twelve disciples when he shared a last meal and gave them a new commandment.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John 13:34).
Jesus also washed their feet. It’s this event—and something said about this event—I want to show you. In writing this Gospel, John set up what Jesus was going to do for His disciples. We usually read right through it to get to the main event: washing the feet of the disciples.
“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” (vv. 3-5).
Jesus did the lowliest work a servant would do—washing nasty, dirty feet—as a way to teach us to always have the heart of a servant. But notice the opening phrase. It tells us why Jesus could so easily do such a lowly task.
Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God.
- Jesus knew He had come from God.
- Jesus knew He was returning to God.
Jesus knew where He had come from and He knew where He was going. He knew His past and He knew his future. He knew both His past and His future were settled with God the Father. And because of that, it didn’t matter what He did in the present.
- He could do the most humiliating act, but He knew it wouldn’t affect His relationship with the Father.
- It didn’t matter what others thought of His actions; He was secure in the Father.
Therefore, Jesus picked up a towel and cleaned the gunk out of Peter’s toes.
That opening statement about Jesus gives me confidence. I, too, know where I’m going because of my relationship with Jesus. I also know my past, and I know I’m deeply loved. No matter what I do—no matter what others think about me—none of that changes my future.
Let me put it another way:
Faith. I can look to the past, to what Christ has done for me. I am secure in Him.
Hope. I can look to the future, confident in what Christ has in store for me in eternity.
Love. My faith and hope are secure, so I can love in the present. I can act with total unconditional love, because no matter what others think or do, my faith and hope are secure. I am free to love.
Daily I try to rest in the confidence that truth gives me. I want that truth to keep me serving and loving, no matter how humbling the experience may be.
The future can look uncertain. Christians are increasingly falling out of favor with society. The attitude of non-believers used to be ambivalence or apathy, but more and more people are becoming antagonistic. Some blame Christians for all the problems in our country. It is becoming easier or more acceptable to hate Christians.
And that’s just in America. We’ve got it good compared to our brothers and sisters in places like China and North Korea.
But in one sense, all these outside factors don’t matter. Because no matter what, l am secure in Christ. Therefore, I can respond to any situation with love and grace—and the heart of a servant.
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