“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 13:3-5
Jesus knew who He was. He knew where He had come from and where He was going. This was God, the Creator of the universe, King Eternal, Yahweh, washing the feet of the ones He had created.
For the disciples, this was a “shock and awe” moment! No rabbi or any person of significant status had ever washed another’s feet. It just wasn’t done. The job of foot washing was always relegated to the lowest of the low, the refuse of society.
But Jesus never let society dictate His behavior, He never let it deviate Him from His mission. He had come to serve. Just hours from this moment, Jesus would demonstrate His greatest act of service, His coup d’état: the cross! He overthrew the norms, the status quo, and turned this self-driven, people pleasing society on its head.
After Jesus washed the disciples’ feet, He told them,
“Since, I your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each others feet. I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you” (John 13.12-14).
Do what I do. Serve each other.
Having the heart of a servant was a way of living for Jesus and it should be for those of us who are His followers. It wasn’t one act of service, followed by a myriad of self-driven deeds. It was a lifestyle of service. Unconditional service. No expectations. Service born from a heart that loves.
Jesus’ greatest act of service, the cross, came from a heart propelled by love. And so should our service derive from a heart of love for those He created.
Unconditional service is never easy. Unconditional service always has a cost, but it is a way of life for those who choose to follow. It marks us as true followers of the One who first demonstrated His love for us!
Lord, we confess in this every-man-for himself world, we have lost sight of this servant way of living. We have allowed the world and its ways to color our perspective and justify our self-centered choices. Teach us to have the heart of a servant and to live each day, following the example you set for us. Amen.
“Do not cast me off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength is spent.” Psalm 71:9
During my first year of college as a music major, our chorus sang “Go Not Far From Me” by Zingarelli, which is based on verses in Psalm 71. The first part of the song is slow and somber, written in a minor key; the second half modulates to a major key, brighter and filled with joyous praise. Over forty years later, I can still sing my soprano part because it’s such a beautiful, unforgettable song.
At age eighteen, I had no idea what these powerful words meant, but now, I finally understand them in a personal way.
Aging brings not only physical challenges but emotional and mental ones, too. A lifetime of disappointments, betrayals, and even tragic losses can weigh upon one’s soul. If we don’t keep our spiritual focus on Jesus and are not constantly renewed by the Holy Spirit, our souls can dry up and harden in the desert of bitterness.
Like the psalmist, we too can pray to our Father, who will strengthen us when we are weak and powerless. In Isaiah 46:4, he promises,
“Even to your old age I am he, and to gray hairs, I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save.”
Along with our supplication to God, we can continually praise him for all he has done for us. Psalm 71:8 is a good reminder:
“My mouth is filled with your praise and with your glory all the day.”
It’s amazing how quickly our spirits can revive from despair to joy when we remember to thank and praise God for his loving care.
Almighty Father, please don’t forsake me as age slowly steals my strength. Help me to trust utterly in your strength. And help me remember to daily praise you and thank you for all your mercies and blessings. Amen.
Whatever your age and whatever the state of your health, invite the Holy Spirit to keep your eyes focused on Christ and his amazing love in both your working and in your resting moments.